New Mexico

New Mexico
State of New Mexico
Estado de Nuevo México  (Spanish)
Yootó Hahoodzo  (Navajo)
Nickname(s): 
Land of Enchantment
Motto(s): 
Crescit eundo (English: It grows as it goes)
Anthem: "O Fair New Mexico" and "Así Es Nuevo México"
Map of the United States with New Mexico highlighted
Map of the United States with New Mexico highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Nuevo México (1598–1848)
New Mexico Territory (1850–1912)
Admitted to the Union January 6, 1912 (47th)
Capital Santa Fe
Largest city Albuquerque
Largest metro and urban areas Greater Albuquerque
Government
 • Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
 • Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales (D)
Legislature New Mexico Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Judiciary New Mexico Supreme Court
U.S. senators
U.S. House delegation (list)
Area
 • Total 121,590[1] sq mi (314,917 km2)
 • Land 121,298[1] sq mi (314,161 km2)
 • Water 292[1] sq mi (757 km2)  0.24%
Area rank 5th
Dimensions
 • Length 371 mi (596 km)
 • Width 344 mi (552 km)
Elevation
5,701 ft (1,741 m)
Highest elevation 13,161 ft (4,011.4 m)
Lowest elevation
( Red Bluff Reservoir on Texas border [3] [4])
2,845 ft (868 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 2,120,220
 • Rank 36th
 • Density 17.2/sq mi (6.62/km2)
 • Density rank 45th
 • Median household income
$46,744[5]
 • Income rank
47th
Demonym(s) New Mexican (Spanish: Neomexicano, Neomejicano)[6]
Language
 • Official language None
 • Spoken language English, Spanish, Navajo, Keres, Zuni [7]
Time zones
entire state (legally) UTC−07:00 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (MDT)
Nara Visa (informally) UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
USPS abbreviation
NM
ISO 3166 code US-NM
Traditional abbreviation N.M., N.Mex.
Latitude 31°20′ N to 37°N
Longitude 103° W to 109°3′ W
Website www.newmexico.gov

New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo México [ˈnweβo ˈmexiko] (About this soundlisten); Navajo: Yootó Hahoodzo [joː˩tʰo˥ ha˩hoː˩tso˩]) is a state in the Southwestern United States; it has the oldest capital city in the contiguous United States at Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México (itself established as a province of New Spain in 1598), while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States of the southern Rocky Mountains, sharing the Four Corners region of the western U.S. with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. New Mexico is also bordered by the state of Texas to the east-southeast, Oklahoma to the northeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a total area of 121,590 sq mi (314,900 km2), it is the fifth-largest of the 50 states, but with just over 2.1 million residents, ranks 36th in population and 46th in population density.[Note 1] Due to its geographic location, New Mexico has a varied climate and topography: the northern and eastern regions exhibit a colder alpine climate, while the west and south are warmer and more arid; the Rio Grande and its fertile valley runs from north-to-south, creating a riperian climate through central New Mexico that supports a bosque habitat and distinct Albuquerque Basin climate.

New Mexico's economy is highly diversified, with major sectors including oil drilling, mineral extraction, dryland farming, cattle ranching, acequia and landrace agriculture, lumber, retail, scientific research laboratories, technological development, and the arts, especially textiles and visual arts. Its total gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 was $95.73 billion, with a GDP per capita of roughly $46,300.[8][9] State tax policy is characterized by low to moderate taxation of resident personal income by national standards, with tax credits, exemptions, and special consideration for military personnel and favorable industries; subsequently, its film industry is one of the largest and fastest growing in the country.[10] Due to its large area and economic climate, New Mexico has a significant U.S. military presence, most notably the White Sands Missile Range, and many U.S. national security agencies base their research and testing arms in the state, such as the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories; during the 1940s, Project Y of the Manhattan Project was responsible for the world's first atomic bomb and first nuclear test, Trinity.

In prehistoric times, New Mexico was home to Ancestral Puebloans, Mogollon, and the modern Comanche and Utes.[11] Spanish explorers and settlers arrived in the 16th century, naming the territory Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of Mexico, more than 250 years before the establishment and naming of the present-day country of Mexico; thus, the state did not derive its name from Mexico.[12][13] Isolated by its rugged terrain and the relative dominance of its indigenous people, New Mexico was a peripheral part of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Following Mexican independence in 1821, it became an autonomous region of Mexico, though this autonomy was increasingly threatened by the centralizing policies of the Mexican government, culminating in the Revolt of 1837; at the same time, the region became more economically dependent on the United States. At the conclusion of the Mexican–American War in 1848, the U.S. annexed New Mexico as part of the larger New Mexico Territory. It played a central role in American westward expansion, was admitted to the Union in 1912.

New Mexico's history has contributed to its unique demographic and cultural character. One of only six majority-minority states, it has the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino Americans and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska.[14] New Mexico is home to part of the Navajo Nation, 19 federally recognized Pueblo communities, and three different federally recognized Apache tribes. Its large Hispanic population includes Hispanos descended from early Spanish settlers, Chicanos, and Mexicans. The New Mexican flag reflects the state's eclectic origins, with the same scarlet and gold coloration as Spain's Cross of Burgundy, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Puebloan tribe.[15] These indigenous, Hispanic, Mexican, Spanish, and American frontier roots are also evident in the eponymous New Mexican cuisine and the New Mexico music genre.

Etymology

New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821. Though the name "Mexico" itself derives from Nahuatl, and in that language, it originally referred to the heartland of the Empire of the Mexicas (Aztec Empire) in the Valley of Mexico far from the area of New Mexico, Spanish explorers also used the term "Mexico" to name the region of New Mexico (Nuevo México in Spanish) in 1563. In 1581, the Chamuscado and Rodríguez Expedition named the region north of the Rio Grande "San Felipe del Nuevo México".[16] The Spaniards had hoped to find wealthy indigenous Mexica (Aztec) cultures there similar to those of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire of the Valley of Mexico. The indigenous cultures of New Mexico, however, proved to be unrelated to the Mexicas, and they were not wealthy,[17][18] but the name persisted. Before statehood, the name "New Mexico" applied to various configurations of a former U.S. New Mexico Territory and, even before its former Mexican territorial status, a former provincial kingdom of New Spain called Nuevo México, all in the same general area, but of varying extensions.[19]

Geography

With a total area of 121,590 square miles (314,900 km2),[1] New Mexico is the fifth-largest state. New Mexico's eastern border lies along 103°W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and (due to a 19th-century surveying error)[20] 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometres) west of 103°W longitude with Texas.[21] On the southern border, Texas makes up the eastern two-thirds, while the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora make up the western third, with Chihuahua making up about 90% of that. The western border with Arizona runs along the 109° 03'W longitude.[22] The southwestern corner of the state is known as the Bootheel. The 37°N parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in New Mexico's northwestern corner. Its surface water area is about 292 square miles (760 km2).[1]

The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, auburn-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north–south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico's rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is tied for the fourth-longest river in the United States.[23]

The U.S. government protects millions of acres of New Mexico as national forests, including:[24]

Areas managed by the National Park Service include:[25]

Areas managed by the New Mexico State Parks Division:[26]

Visitors also frequent the surviving native pueblos of New Mexico. Tourists visiting these sites bring significant money to the state. Other areas of geographical and scenic interest include Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and the Gila Wilderness in the southwest of the state.[27]

Climate

Köppen climate types of New Mexico

New Mexico's climate is generally semiarid to arid, though areas of continental and alpine climates exist, and its territory is mostly covered by mountains, high plains, and desert. The Great Plains (High Plains) are in eastern New Mexico, similar to the Colorado high plains in eastern Colorado. The two states share similar terrain, with both having plains, mountains, basins, mesas, and desert lands. New Mexico's statewide average precipitation is 12.9 inches (330 mm) a year, with average monthly amounts peaking in the summer, as at Albuquerque, and Las Cruces in the south. The average annual temperatures can range from 65 °F (18 °C) in the southeast to below 40 °F (4 °C) in the northern mountains.[22] During the summer, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100 °F (38 °C) at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the average high temperature in July ranges from 99 °F (37 °C) at the lower elevations down to 78 °F (26 °C) at the higher elevations. In the colder months of November to March, many cities in New Mexico can have nighttime temperature lows in the teens above zero, or lower. The highest temperature recorded in New Mexico was 122 °F (50 °C) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Loving on June 27, 1994, and the lowest recorded temperature is −50 °F (−46 °C) at Gavilan (near Lindrith) on February 1, 1951.[28]

Astronomical observatories in New Mexico take advantage of unusually clear skies, including the Apache Point Observatory, the Very Large Array, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, and others.[29][30]

Flora and fauna

Greater roadrunner (the state bird of New Mexico)

New Mexico has five unique floristic zones, providing diverse sets of habitats for many plants and animals. The Llano Estacado (or Shortgrass Prairie) in the eastern part of the state is characterized by sod-forming short grasses such as blue grama, and it used to sustain bison. The Chihuahuan Desert extends through the south of the state and is characterized by shrubby creosote. The Colorado Plateau in the northwest corner of New Mexico is high desert with cold winters, and is characterized by sagebrush, shadescale, greasewood, and other plants adapted to the saline and seleniferous soil. The mountainous Mogollon Plateau in the west-central of the state and southern Rocky Mountains in the north-central, have a wide range in elevation (4,000 to 13,000 ft or 1,200 to 4,000 m), with vegetation types corresponding to elevation gradients, such as piñon-juniper woodlands near the base, through evergreen conifers, spruce-fir and aspen forests, Krummholz, and alpine tundra. The Apachian zone tucked into the southwestern bootheel of the state has high-calcium soil, oak woodlands, and Arizona cypress, and other plants that are not found in other parts of the state.[31][32]

Some of the native wildlife includes black bears, bighorn sheep, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, deer, elk, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, javelina, porcupines, pronghorn antelope, roadrunners, western diamondbacks, wild turkeys,[33][34][35] and the endangered Mexican gray wolf and Rio Grande silvery minnow.[36]

Environmental Issues

In January 2016, New Mexico sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency over negligence after the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. The spill had caused heavy metals such as cadmium and lead and toxins such as arsenic to flow into the Animas River, polluting water basins of several states[37]

History

Ancestral Pueblo territory shown in pink over New Mexico

Prehistory

The first known inhabitants of New Mexico were members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians.[38]:19 Later inhabitants include American Indians of the Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo peoples cultures.[39]:52

Seven Cities of Cibola and Nuevo México

Statue of Popé, leader of the Pueblo Revolt. The statue, entitled Po'pay, is among two statues depicting New Mexicans at the United States Capitol National Statuary Hall Collection, the other being Dennis Chávez.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mythical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza.[39]:19–24 The name New Mexico was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra, who explored far to the north of New Spain in 1563 and reported his findings as being in "a New Mexico".[40] Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598.[39]:36–37 The same year, he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros capital at San Gabriel de Yungue-Ouinge, the first permanent European settlement in New Mexico,[41] on the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.[39]:37 Oñate extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Royal Road of the Interior, by 700 miles (1,100 km) from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua, to his remote colony.[42]:49

The settlement of La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís was established as a more permanent capital at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1610.[42]:182 As a result of the Pueblo Revolt, the only successful revolt against European expansion by Native Americans, these early cities were occupied by the Puebloan peoples until the Spanish returned with an offer of better cultural and religious liberties for the Pueblos.[43][44][38]:6,48 After the death of the Pueblo leader Popé, Diego de Vargas restored the area to Spanish rule.[39]:68–75 The returning settlers founded La Villa de Alburquerque in 1706 at Old Town Albuquerque as a trading center for existing surrounding communities such as Barelas, Isleta, Los Ranchos, and Sandia,[39]:84 naming it for the viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque.[45]

Territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México when it belonged to Mexico in 1824

As a part of New Spain, the claims for the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence.[39]:109 The Republic of Texas claimed the portion east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836 when it incorrectly assumed the older Hispanic settlements of the upper Rio Grande were the same as the newly established Mexican settlements of Texas. Texas's only attempt to establish a presence or control in the claimed territory was the failed Texan Santa Fe Expedition. Their entire army was captured and jailed by the Hispanic New Mexico militia.

At the turn of the 19th century, the extreme northeastern part of New Mexico, north of the Canadian River and east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was still claimed by France, which sold it in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. When the Louisiana Territory was admitted as a state in 1812, the U.S. reclassified it as part of the Missouri Territory. The region (along with territory that makes up present-day southeastern Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, and southwestern Kansas) was ceded to Spain under the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819.

By 1800, the population of New Mexico had reached 25,000.[46]

Territorial phase

Following the victory of the United States in the Mexican–American War (1846–48), the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo resulted in Mexico ceding its northern holdings to the U.S., including the territories of California, Texas, and New Mexico.[39]:132 The American government vowed to accept the residents' claims to their lands and to accept them as full citizens with rights of suffrage.

After Texas was admitted as a state in 1845, it continued to claim a northeastern portion of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande. Under the Compromise of 1850, it was forced by the U.S. government to drop these claims in exchange for $10 million in federal funds.[39]:135 Pursuant to the compromise, Congress established the separate New Mexico Territory in September. of that year;[47] it included most of present-day Arizona and New Mexico, along with the Las Vegas Valley and what would later become Clark County in Nevada.

In 1853, the U.S. acquired the mostly desert southwestern bootheel of the state, along with Arizona land south of the Gila River, in the Gadsden Purchase, which was needed for the right-of-way to encourage construction of a transcontinental railroad.[39]:136

Civil war effects in New Mexico
New Mexico territory including Arizona, 1860
Territories divided, 1867

When the U.S. Civil War broke out in 1861, both Confederate and Union governments claimed ownership and territorial rights over New Mexico Territory. The Confederacy claimed the southern tract as its own Arizona Territory, and as part of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the war, waged the ambitious New Mexico Campaign to control the American Southwest and open up access to Union California. Confederate power in the New Mexico Territory was effectively broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. However, the Confederate territorial government continued to operate out of Texas, and Confederate troops marched under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. More than 8,000 men from New Mexico Territory served in the Union Army.[48]

During the American frontier, many of the folklore characters of the Western genre had their origins in New Mexico, most notably businesswoman Maria Gertrudis Barceló, outlaw Billy the Kid, as well as lawmen Pat Garrett and Elfego Baca.

In the late 19th century, the majority of officially European-descended residents in New Mexico were ethnic mestizos of Native Mexican and Native American (Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, Genízaro, and Comanche) ancestry, many of whom had deep roots in the area from early Spanish colonial times, this distinctly New Mexican ethnic group became referred to as the Hispanos of New Mexico. Politically, they still controlled most of the town and county offices through area elections, and wealthy sheepherder families commanded considerable influence, preferring business, legislative, and judicial relations with fellow indigenous New Mexican groups. The Anglo Americans (which included recent African American arrivals) tended to have more ties to the territorial governor and judges, who were appointed by officials outside of the region. The Anglo minority was "outnumbered, but well-organized and growing".[49] These newly arrived settlers often tried to maintain New Mexico as a territory, since the governor was being assigned by the President of the United States, and they were worried about Native and Hispano communities being in positions of power. This mob mentality would sometimes culminate in the lynching of the Native, Hispanic, and Mexican peoples, as was attempted at the Frisco shootout. Prominent people attempted to fight this prejudice, including Vigil, Garrett, Otero, Curry, Larrazolo, Baca, Hagerman, and major constituents from both major political parties, the Democratic Party of New Mexico and the Republican Party of New Mexico.[50][51]

Statehood

A Hispano boy in Chamisal, 1940.
A homesteader and his children at the New Mexico Fair in Pie Town, New Mexico, 1940

The United States Congress admitted New Mexico as the 47th state on January 6, 1912.[39]:166 It had been eligible for statehood 60 years earlier but was delayed due to its majority of the population being "alien" (i.e. Mexican-American).[52]

European-American settlers in the state had an uneasy relationship with the large Native American tribes, most of whose members lived on reservations at the beginning of the 20th century. Although Congress passed a law in 1924 that granted all Native Americans U.S. citizenship, as well as the right to vote in federal and state elections, New Mexico was among several states with Jim Crow laws, e.g. those who do not pay taxes cannot vote.[53]

A major oil discovery in 1928 brought wealth to the state, especially Lea County and the town of Hobbs. The town was named after James Hobbs, a homesteader there in 1907.[54] The Midwest State No. 1 well, begun in late 1927 with a standard cable-tool drilling rig, revealed the first signs of oil from the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928. Drilled to 4,330 feet and completed a few months later, the well-produced 700 barrels of oil per day on state land. The Midwest Refining Company's Hobbs well-produced oil until 2002. The New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources called it "the most important single discovery of oil in New Mexico's history".[55]

During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos, a site developed by the federal government specifically to support a high-intensity scientific effort to rapidly complete research and testing of this weapon. The first bomb was tested at Trinity site in the desert between Socorro and Alamogordo on what is now White Sands Missile Range.[39]:179–180

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 61,547
1860 93,516 51.9%
1870 91,874 −1.8%
1880 119,565 30.1%
1890 160,282 34.1%
1900 195,310 21.9%
1910 327,301 67.6%
1920 360,350 10.1%
1930 423,317 17.5%
1940 531,818 25.6%
1950 681,187 28.1%
1960 951,023 39.6%
1970 1,016,000 6.8%
1980 1,302,894 28.2%
1990 1,515,069 16.3%
2000 1,819,046 20.1%
2010 2,059,179 13.2%
2020 2,117,522 2.8%
Source: 1910–2020[56]

Native Americans from New Mexico fought for the United States in both the First and Second World Wars. Veterans were disappointed to return and find their civil rights limited by state discrimination. In Arizona and New Mexico, veterans challenged state laws or practices prohibiting them from voting. In 1948, after veteran Miguel Trujillo, Sr. of Isleta Pueblo was told by the county registrar that he could not register to vote, he filed suit against the county in federal district court. A three-judge panel overturned as unconstitutional New Mexico's provisions that Indians who did not pay taxes (and could not document if they had paid taxes) could not vote.[53] Judge Phillips wrote:

Any other citizen, regardless of race, in the State of New Mexico who has not paid one cent of tax of any kind or character, if he possesses the other qualifications, may vote. An Indian, and only an Indian, in order to meet the qualifications to vote, must have paid a tax. How you can escape the conclusion that makes a requirement with respect to an Indian as a qualification to exercise the elective franchise and does not make that requirement with respect to the member of any race is beyond me.[53]

New Mexico has received large amounts of federal government spending on major military and research institutions in the state. It is home to three Air Force bases, the White Sands Missile Range, and the federal research laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The state's population grew rapidly after World War II, nearly doubling between 1940 and 1960;[57] by 2000, residents numbered over 1.8 million from roughly 532,000 in 1940.[58] While the high military presence brought considerable investment, it has also been the center of controversy; on May 22, 1957, a B-36 accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb 4.5 miles from the control tower while landing at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque; only its conventional "trigger" detonated.[59][60]

In addition to federal personnel and agencies, many residents and businesses moved to state, particularly from the northeast, often drawn by its warm climate and low taxes. The pattern continues into the 21st century, with New Mexico adding over 400,000 residents between 2000 and 2020.

In the late 20th century, Native Americans were authorized by federal law to establish gaming casinos on their reservations under certain conditions, in states which had authorized such gaming. Such facilities have helped tribes close to population centers generate revenues for reinvestment in the economic development and welfare of their peoples.

In the 21st century, employment growth areas in New Mexico include electronic circuitry, scientific research, call centers, and Indian casinos.[61]

Demographics

Population

The United States Census Bureau recorded a population of 2,117,522 as of April 2020, an increase of 2.8% from the 2,059,179 counted in the 2010 census.[62] This was the lowest rate of growth in the western U.S. after Wyoming, and among the slowest overall.[63] By comparison, between 2000 and 2010, the population increased by 11.7% from 1,819,046.[64] A report commissioned in 2021 by the New Mexico Legislature attributed the slow growth to a negative net migration rate, particularly among those 18 or younger, as well as a 19% decline in the birth rate.[63] However, growth among the Hispanic and Native American communities remained healthy.

More than half of New Mexicans (51.4%) were born there; 37.9% were born in another state; 1.1% were born in either Puerto Rico, an island territory, or abroad to at least one American parent; and 9.4% were foreign born.[65] Almost a quarter of the population (22.7%) was under the age of 18, and the state's median age of 38.4 is slightly above the national average of 38.2. Hispanics and Latinos constitute nearly half of all residents (49.3%), giving New Mexico the highest proportion of Hispanic ancestry among the fifty states. This broad classification includes descendants of Spanish colonists who settled between the 16th and 18th centuries as well as recent immigrants from Latin America.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of persons in poverty increased to 400,779, or approximately one-fifth of the population.[64] The latest 2020 census recorded a slightly reduced poverty rate of 18.2%, albeit the third-highest among the U.S. states, compared to a national average of 10.5%.

New Mexico's population is among the most difficult to count, according to the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York, owing to its size, sparse population, and numerous isolated communities.[63] Likewise, Census Bureau estimated that roughly 43% of the state's population (about 900,000 people) live in such "hard-to-count" areas.[63] Subsequently, in 2020 New Mexico invested heavily in public outreach to increase census participation, resulting in a final tally that exceeded earlier estimates and outperformed several neighboring states.[66]

Birth data

The majority of live births in New Mexico are to non-Hispanic whites, with Hispanics of any race consistently accounting for well over half of all live births since 2013.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother [Note 2]
Race 2013[67] 2014[68] 2015[69] 2016[70] 2017[71] 2018[72] 2019[73]
White:[Note 3] 21,325 (80.9%) 21,161 (81.2%) 21,183 (82.0%) ... ... ... ...
> Non-Hispanic White 7,428 (28.2%) 7,222 (27.7%) 7,157 (27.7%) 7,004 (28.4%) 6,522 (27.4%) 6,450 (28.0%) 6,218 (27.1%)
American Indian 3,763 (14.3%) 3,581 (13.7%) 3,452 (13.4%) 2,827 (11.4%) 2,694 (11.3%) 2,603 (11.3%) 2,643 (11.5%)
Asian 597 (2.3%) 578 (2.2%) 517 (2.0%) 425 (1.7%) 420 (1.8%) 409 (1.8%) 392 (1.7%)
Black 669 (2.5%) 732 (2.8%) 664 (2.6%) 354 (1.4%) 387 (1.6%) 387 (1.7%) 355 (1.5%)
Hispanic (of any race) 14,402 (54.6%) 14,449 (55.5%) 14,431 (55.9%) 13,639 (55.2%) 13,362 (56.2%) 12,783 (55.4%) 12,924 (56.3%)
Total New Mexico 26,354 (100%) 26,052 (100%) 25,816 (100%) 24,692 (100%) 23,767 (100%) 23,039 (100%) 22,960 (100%)

Settlements

New Mexico population density map

New Mexico is one of the least densely populated states in the U.S., ranking 45 out of 50.

Residents are concentrated in the north-central region of the state, anchored by its largest city, Albuquerque. Centered in Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque metropolitan area includes the state's third-largest city, Rio Rancho, and has a population of over 918,000, accounting for one-third of all residents. It is adjacent to Santa Fe, the capital and fourth-largest city.

The other major center of population is in south-central New Mexico around Las Cruces, the second-largest city in the state, whose metropolitan area includes roughly 214,000 residents.

Only two cities in New Mexico have more than 100,000 residents: Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

Race and ethnicity

New Mexico is one of six "majority-minority" states where non-Hispanic whites constitute less than half the population.[74]

According to the 2020 census, the majority of Hispanics in New Mexico claim descendance from Spanish colonists who settled between the 16th and 18th centuries, when the state was then part of New Spain. Most remaining Hispanics are first and second generation immigrants from Mexico and Central America

New Mexico has one of the five largest Native American populations in the U.S., who comprise the second largest proportion of residents after Alaska, at over 10%.[75][76]

New Mexico Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1970[77] 1990[77] 2000[78] 2010[79] 2020
White: 90.1% 75.6% 66.7% 68.6% 73.9%
> White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 36.8%
Native 7.2% 8.9% 9.5% 9.4% 9.5%
Black 1.9% 2.0% 1.9% 2.1% 2.3%
Asian 0.2% 0.9% 1.1% 1.4% 1.7%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Other race 0.6% 12.6% 17.0% 15.0% 9.0%
Two or more races 3.6% 3.7% 2.6%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 49.3%

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.5% of the population identifies as multiracial/mixed-race, a population larger than both the Asian and NHPI population groups.[75]

According to the 2000 United States Census,[80]:6 the most commonly claimed ancestry groups in New Mexico were:

Languages

Languages Spoken in New Mexico
English only 64%
Spanish 28%
Navajo 4%
Others 4%

New Mexico ranks third after California and Texas in the number of multilingual residents.[81] According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 28.45% of the population age 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 3.50% speak Navajo.[82] Some speakers of New Mexican Spanish are descendants of pre-18th century Spanish settlers.[83] Contrary to popular belief, New Mexican Spanish is not an archaic form of 17th-century Castilian Spanish; though some archaic elements exists, linguistic research has determined that the dialect "is neither more Iberian nor more archaic" than other varieties spoken in the Americas.[84][85] Nevertheless, centuries of isolation during the colonial period insulated the New Mexican dialect from "standard" Spanish, leading to the preservation of older vocabulary as well as its own innovations.[86][87]

Besides Navajo, which is also spoken in Arizona, several other Native American languages are spoken by smaller groups in New Mexico, most of which are endemic to the state. Native New Mexican languages include Mescalero Apache, Jicarilla Apache, Tewa, Southern Tiwa, Northern Tiwa, Towa, Keres (Eastern and Western), and Zuni. Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache are closely related Southern Athabaskan languages, and both are also related to Navajo. Tewa, the Tiwa languages, and Towa belong to the Kiowa-Tanoan language family, and thus all descend from a common ancestor. Keres and Zuni are language isolates with no relatives outside of New Mexico.

New Mexico's original state constitution of 1911 required all laws be published in both English and Spanish for twenty years after ratification;[88] this requirement was renewed in 1931 and 1943,[89] with some sources stating the state was officially bilingual until 1953.[90] Nonetheless, the constitution does not declare any language "official".[91] While Spanish was permitted in the legislature until 1935, all state officials are required to have a good knowledge of English; consequently, some analysts argue that New Mexico cannot be considered a bilingual state, since not all laws are published in both languages.[89]

However, the state legislature remains constitutionally empowered to publish laws in English and Spanish, and to appropriate funds for translation. Amendments to the New Mexico constitution must be approved by referendum printed on the ballot in both English and Spanish.[92] Certain legal notices must be published in English and Spanish, and the state maintains a list of newspapers for Spanish publication.[93]

With regard to the judiciary, witnesses and defendants have the right to testify in either of the two languages, and monolingual speakers of Spanish have the same right to be considered for jury duty as do speakers of English.[91][94] In public education, the state has the constitutional obligation to provide bilingual education and Spanish-speaking instructors in school districts where the majority of students are Hispanophone.[91] The constitution also provides that all state citizens who speak neither English nor Spanish have a right to vote, hold public office office, and serve on juries.[95]

In 1989, New Mexico became the first of only four states to officially adopt the English Plus resolution, which supports acceptance of non-English languages.[96] In 1995, the state adopted an official bilingual song, "New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo México".[97]:75,81 In 2008, New Mexico was the first to officially adopt a Navajo textbook for use in public schools.[98]

Religion

San Miguel Chapel, built in 1610 in Santa Fe, is the oldest church structure in the continental U.S.
Religion in New Mexico (2014)[99]
Religion Percent
Protestant
38%
Catholic
34%
Unaffiliated
21%
Latter-day Saint
2%
Jehovah's Witness
1%
Buddhist
1%
Other faith
3%

Like most U.S. states, New Mexico is predominantly Christian, with Roman Catholicism and Protestantism each constituting roughly a third of the population. According to Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), the largest denominations in 2010 were the Catholic Church (684,941 members); the Southern Baptist Convention (113,452); The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (67,637), and the United Methodist Church (36,424).[100] Approximately one-fifth of residents are unaffiliated with any religion, which includes atheists, agnostics, deists.

Catholicism is deeply rooted in New Mexico's history and culture, going back to its settlement by the Spanish in the early 17th century. The oldest Christian church in the continental U.S., and the third oldest in any U.S. state or territory, is the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, which was built in 1610.Within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, New Mexico belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe. The state has three ecclesiastical districts:[101] the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the Diocese of Gallup, and the Diocese of Las Cruces.[102]

Since the 1970s, New Mexico has been a leading center of New Age faith, attracting adherents from across the U.S.[103] The state's "thriving New Age network" encompasses various schools of alternative medicine, holistic health, psychic healing, and new religion churches; it also hosts many celebrations, festivals, and pilgrimage sites. New Mexico's popularity among practitioners of alternative medicine and religion has been linked to the ancient spirituality of its indigenous population, which emphasized spiritual connections to nature and the land.[103]

According to a 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center, New Mexico ranks 18th out of the 50 U.S. states in religiosity, with 63% stating they believe in God with certainty and 59% considering religion to be important in their lives.[104]

Economy

New Mexico state quarter, circulated in April 2008

Oil and gas production, tourism, and federal government spending are important drivers of the state economy.[105] State government has an elaborate system of tax credits and technical assistance to promote job growth and business investment, especially in new technologies.

Economic indicators

In 2010, New Mexico's gross domestic product was $80 billion, and an estimated $85 billion for 2013.[106] In 2007, the per capita personal income was $31,474 (ranked 43rd in the nation).[107] In 2005, the percentage of persons below the poverty level was 18.4%.[108] The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates that in Fiscal Year 2006, the travel industry in New Mexico generated expenditures of $6.5 billion.[109] As of April 2012, the state's unemployment rate was 7.2%.[110] During the late-2000s recession, New Mexico's unemployment rate peaked at 8.0% for the period June–October 2010.[111]

Oil and gas production

New Mexico is the third-largest crude oil and ninth-largest natural gas producer in the United States.[112] The Permian and San Juan Basins, which are located partly in New Mexico, account for some of these natural resources. In 2000 the value of oil and gas produced was $8.2 billion,[113] and in 2006, New Mexico accounted for 3.4% of the crude oil, 8.5% of the dry natural gas, and 10.2% of the natural gas liquids produced in the United States.[114] However, the boom in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling beginning in the mid-2010s led to a large increase in the production of crude oil from the Permian Basin and other U.S. sources; these developments allowed the United States to again become the world's largest producer of crude oil in 2018.[115][116][117][118] New Mexico's oil and gas operations contribute to the state's above-average release of the greenhouse gas methane, including from a national methane hot spot in the Four Corners area.[119][120][121][122]

Federal government

Federal government spending is a major driver of the New Mexico economy. In 2005, the federal government spent $2.03 on New Mexico for every dollar of tax revenue collected from the state, higher than any other state in the Union.[123] In 2017, federal expenditure per state tax dollar increased to $2.34, the third highest after Virginia and Kentucky.[124] New Mexico received $9,624 per resident in federal services, or roughly $20 billion than what the state pays in federal taxes.[125] The state governor's office estimated that the federal government spends roughly $7.8 billion annual in services such as healthcare, infrastructure development, and public welfare.[63]

Many federal jobs in New Mexico relate to the military; the state hosts three air force bases (Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base); a testing range (White Sands Missile Range); and an army proving ground (Fort Bliss's McGregor Range). A May 2005 study by New Mexico State University estimated that 11.65% of the state's total employment arises directly or indirectly from military spending.[126] New Mexico also hosts two major federal research institutions, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories; the former alone accounts for 24,00 direct and indirect jobs and over $3 billion in annual federal investment.[127]

Economic incentives

Albuquerque Studios, built in 2007 for the rising demand of film production in the state

New Mexico provides a number of economic incentives to businesses operating in the state, including various types of tax credits and tax exemptions. Most incentives are based on job creation: state and local governments are permitted to provide land, buildings, and infrastructure to businesses that will generate employment.[128] Several municipalities impose an Economic Development Gross Receipts Tax (a form of Municipal Infrastructure GRT) to pay for these infrastructure improvements and for marketing their areas.[129]

The state provides financial incentives for film production.[130][131] The New Mexico Film Office estimated at the end of 2007 that the incentive program had brought more than 85 film projects to the state since 2003 and had added $1.2 billion to the economy.[132]

Taxation

Since 2008, personal income tax rates for New Mexico have ranged from 1.7% to 4.9%, within four income brackets.[133] As of 2007, active-duty military salaries are exempt from state income tax.[134] New Mexico is one of the largest tax havens in the U.S., offering numerous economic incentives and tax breaks on personal and corporate income.[135][136] It does not have inheritance tax, estate tax, or sales taxes.[133][137]

New Mexico imposes a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on many transactions, which may even include some governmental receipts. This resembles a sales tax but, unlike the sales taxes in many states, it applies to services as well as tangible goods. Normally, the provider or seller passes the tax on to the purchaser, however legal incidence and burden apply to the business, as an excise tax. GRT is imposed by the state and there may be an additional locality component to produce a total tax rate.[138] As of July 1, 2013 the combined tax rate ranged from 5.125% to 8.6875%.[139]

Property tax is imposed on real property by the state, by counties, and by school districts. In general, personal-use personal property is not subject to property taxation. On the other hand, property tax is levied on most business-use personal property. The taxable value of property is one-third the assessed value. A tax rate of about 30 mills is applied to the taxable value, resulting in an effective tax rate of about 1%. In the 2005 tax year, the average millage was about 26.47 for residential property, and 29.80 for non-residential property. Assessed values of residences cannot be increased by more than 3% per year unless the residence is remodeled or sold. Property tax deductions are available for military veterans and heads of household.[140]

According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, in 2021 New Mexico ranks 23rd in business tax climate; its property taxes are the least burdensome in the U.S. while taxation for unemployment insurance and corporations are each the ninth-lightest.[141]

Wealth and poverty

New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the U.S. It is one of only six states without a billionaire, and ranks 39th in the share of households with more than $1 million in wealth (5%). By contrast, the state has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation, at slightly over 18%, exceeded only by Louisiana and Mississippi. Consequently, New Mexico a relatively high rate of income disparity, with a Gini coefficient of 0.4769, albeit below the national average of 0.486. Household income is slightly less than $47,000, which is the fourth lowest in the U.S.

Transportation

In this photo, the Mexico–United States border divides Sunland Park and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

New Mexico has long been an important corridor for trade and migration. The builders of the ruins at Chaco Canyon also created a radiating network of roads from the mysterious settlement.[142] Chaco Canyon's trade function shifted to Casas Grandes in the present-day Mexican state of Chihuahua; however, north–south trade continued. The pre-Columbian trade with Mesoamerican cultures included northbound exotic birds, seashells and copper. Turquoise, pottery, and salt were some of the goods transported south along the Rio Grande. Present-day New Mexico's pre-Columbian trade is especially remarkable for being undertaken on foot. The north–south trade route later became a path for colonists with horses arriving from New Spain as well as trade and communication. The route was called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.[143]

Santa Fe Trail sign IMG 0516.JPG

The Santa Fe Trail was the 19th-century territory's vital commercial and military highway link to the Eastern United States.[144] All with termini in Northern New Mexico, the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the Old Spanish Trail are all recognized as National Historic Trails. New Mexico's latitude and low passes made it an attractive east–west transportation corridor.[145] As a territory, the Gadsden Purchase increased New Mexico's land area for the purpose of the constructing a southern transcontinental railroad, that of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Another transcontinental railroad was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The railroads essentially replaced the earlier trails, but brought on a population boom. Early transcontinental auto trails later crossed the state, bringing more migrants. Railroads were later supplemented or replaced by a system of highways and airports. Today, New Mexico's Interstate Highways approximate the earlier land routes of the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the transcontinental railroads.

Interstate Highways

New Mexico has only three Interstate Highways. In Albuquerque, I-25 and I-40 meet at a stack interchange called The Big I.

Interstate 10 travels in the southwest portion of New Mexico starting from the Arizona state line near Lordsburg to the area in between Las Cruces and Anthony, near El Paso, Texas.

Interstate 25 is a major north–south interstate highway starting from Las Cruces to the Colorado state line near Raton.

Interstate 40 is a major east–west interstate highway starting from the Arizona state line west of Gallup to the Texas state line east from Tucumcari.

U.S. Highways

New Mexico currently has 15 United States Highways: US 54, US 56, US 60, US 62, US 64, US 70, US 82, US 84, US 87, US 160, US 180, US 285, US 380, US 491, and US 550.

US 66, The Mother Road, was replaced by I-40 in 1985. US 85 is currently unsigned by the NMDOT, but the AASHTO still recognizes it. It runs in the same alignment with I-10 and I-25. US 666, The Devil's Highway, was replaced by US 491 in 2003 because the number "666" was known as the "Number of the Beast".

Road

National-atlas-new-mexico.png

New Mexico has had a problem with drunk driving, but that has lessened. According to the Los Angeles Times, for years the state had the highest alcohol-related crash rates in the US, but ranked 25th in alcohol-related fatal crash rates as of July 2009.[146]

New Mexico had 59,927 route miles of highway as of 2000, of which 7,037 receive federal aid.[147] In that same year there were 1,003 miles (1,614 km) of freeways, of which a thousand were the route miles of Interstate Highways 10, 25 and 40.[148] The former number has increased with the upgrading of roads near Pojoaque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces to freeways. The highway traffic fatality rate was 1.9 fatalities per million miles traveled in 2000, the 13th highest rate among U.S. states.[149] Notable bridges include the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos. As of 2001, 703 highway bridges, or one percent, were declared "structurally deficient" or "structurally obsolete".[150]

Rural and intercity public transportation by road is provided by Americanos USA, LLC, Greyhound Lines and several government operators.

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter operation that runs along the Central Rio Grande Valley.

Urban mass transit

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail system serving the metropolitan area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It began operation on July 14, 2006.[151] The system runs from Belen to downtown Santa Fe. Larger cities in New Mexico typically have some form of public transportation by road; ABQ RIDE is the largest such system in the state.[152]

Rail

There were 2,354 route miles of railroads in the year 2000; this number increased by a few miles with the opening of the Rail Runner's extension to Santa Fe.[153] In addition to local railroads and other tourist lines, the state jointly owns and operates a heritage narrow-gauge steam railroad, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, with the state of Colorado since 1970. Narrow-gauge railroads once connected many communities in the northern part of the state, from Farmington to Santa Fe.[154]:110 No fewer than 100 railroads of various names and lineage have operated in the jurisdiction at some point.[154]:8 New Mexico's rail transportation system reached its height in terms of length following admission as a state; in 1914, eleven railroads operated 3124 route miles.[154]:10

Railroad surveyors arrived in New Mexico in the 1850s.[155] The first railroads incorporated in 1869.[154]:9 The first operational railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), entered the territory by way of the lucrative and contested Raton Pass in 1878. It eventually reached El Paso, Texas in 1881 and with the Southern Pacific Railroad created the nation's second transcontinental railroad with a junction at Deming. The Southern Pacific Railroad entered the territory from the Territory of Arizona in 1880.[154]:9, 18, 58–59[155] The Denver & Rio Grande Railway, which would generally use narrow gauge equipment in New Mexico, entered the territory from Colorado and began service to Española on December 31, 1880.[154]:95–96[155] These first railroads were built as long-distance corridors; later railroad construction also targeted resource extraction.[154]:8–11

New Mexico is served by two class I railroads, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. Combined, they operate 2,200 route miles of railway in the state.[153]

Downtown Santa Fe train station

A commuter rail operation, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects the state's capital, its largest city, and other communities.[156] The privately operated state owned railroad began operations in July 2006.[151] The BNSF Railway's line from Belen to a few miles south of Lamy was sold to the state, partially for the construction of Phase II of this operation, which opened in December 2008.[157] Phase II of Rail Runner extended the line northward to Santa Fe from the Sandoval County station, the northernmost station under Phase I service. The service now connects Santa Fe, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia counties. The trains connect Albuquerque's population base and central business district to downtown Santa Fe with up to eight roundtrips in a day. The section of the line running south to Belen is served less frequently.[158] Rail Runner operates scheduled service seven days per week.[159]

The railway station in Tucumcari

With the rise of rail transportation many settlements grew or were founded and the territory became a tourist destination. As early as 1878, the ATSF promoted tourism in the region with emphasis on Native American imagery.[160]:64 Named trains often reflected the territory they traveled: Super Chief, the streamlined successor to the Chief;[160] Navajo, an early transcontinental tourist train; and Cavern, a through car operation connecting Clovis and Carlsbad (by the early 1950s as train 23–24),[154]:49–50[161]:51 were some of the named passenger trains of the ATSF that connoted New Mexico.

Passenger train service once connected nine of New Mexico's present ten most populous cities (the exception is Rio Rancho), while today Rail Runner Express regional passenger train service connects just two: Albuquerque and Santa Fe.[156] With the decline of most intercity rail service in the United States in the late 1960s, New Mexico was left with minimal services. No less than six daily long-distance roundtrip trains, supplemented by many branch-line and local trains, served New Mexico in the early 1960s. Declines in passenger revenue, but not necessarily ridership, prompted many railroads to turn over their passenger services in truncated form to Amtrak, a state owned enterprise. Amtrak, also known as the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, began operating the two extant long-distance routes on May 1, 1971.[154][160][161] Resurrection of passenger rail service from Denver to El Paso, a route once plied in part by the ATSF's El Pasoan,[161]:37 has been proposed over the years. As early as the 1980s, former Governor Toney Anaya proposed building a high-speed rail line connecting the two cities with New Mexico's major cities.[162] Front Range Commuter Rail is a distant project to connect Wyoming and New Mexico with high-speed rail.[163]

Amtrak's Southwest Chief passes through daily at stations in Gallup, Albuquerque, Lamy, Las Vegas, and Raton, offering connections to Los Angeles, Chicago and intermediate points.[164] The Southwest Chief is a fast Amtrak long-distance train, being permitted a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h) in various places on the tracks of the BNSF Railway.[165] It also operates on New Mexico Rail Runner Express trackage. The Southwest Chief is the successor to the Super Chief and El Capitan.[161]:115 The streamliner Super Chief, a favorite of early Hollywood stars, was one of the most famous named trains in the United States and one of the most esteemed for its luxury and exoticness—train cars were named for regional Native American tribes and outfitted with the artwork of many local artists—but also for its speed: as brief as 39 hours 45 minutes westbound from Chicago to Los Angeles.[160]

Sierra County NM - new mexico space port sign.jpg

The Sunset Limited makes stops three times a week in both directions at Lordsburg, and Deming, serving Los Angeles, New Orleans and intermediate points.[166] The Sunset Limited is the successor to the Southern Pacific Railroad's train of the same name and operates exclusively on Union Pacific trackage in New Mexico.

Aerospace

The Albuquerque International Sunport is the state's primary port of entry for air transportation.

Upham, near Truth or Consequences, is the location of the world's first operational and purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America.[167][168][169] Rocket launches began in April 2007.[169] It is undeveloped and has one tenant, UP Aerospace, launching small payloads.[170] Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, plans to make this their primary operating base.[168][171]

Government and politics

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)

Government

The Constitution of New Mexico established New Mexico's governmental structure. The executive branch of government is fragmented as outlined in the state constitution. The executive is composed of the governor and other statewide elected officials including the lieutenant governor (elected on the same ticket as the governor), attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and commissioner of public lands. The governor appoints a cabinet who lead agencies statutorily designated under their jurisdiction. The New Mexico Legislature consists of the House of Representatives and Senate. The judiciary is composed of the New Mexico Supreme Court and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, municipalities and special districts.[172]

Politics

Party registration by county (February 2021):
  Democrat >= 40%
  Democrat >= 50%
  Democrat >= 60%
  Democrat >= 70%
  Republican >= 40%
  Republican >= 50%
  Republican >= 60%

Current Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales (D) were first elected in 2018. Terms for both the governor and lieutenant governor expire in January 2023. Governors serve a term of four years, and may seek re-election for one additional term (limit of two terms). Other constitutional officers, all of whose terms also expire in January 2023, include Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D),[173] Attorney General Hector Balderas (D),[174] State Auditor Brian Colón (D),[175] State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard (D),[176] and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg (D).[177]

Party registration as of May 2021[178]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 603,290 44.96%
Republican 418,052 31.16%
Independent 293,181 21.85%
Other 14,421 1.07%
Libertarian 12,865 0.96%
Total 1,341,809 100%

Currently, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature have Democratic majorities. There are 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the Senate, and 47 Democrats and 23 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

New Mexico's members of the United States Senate are Democrats Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján. The state's three United States House of Representatives members are Democrat Melanie Stansbury, Republican Yvette Herrell, and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez representing the first, second, and third districts respectively.

New Mexico has traditionally been considered a swing state, whose population has favored both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, but it has become more of a Democratic stronghold beginning with the presidential election of 2008. The governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who succeeded Susana Martinez (R) on January 1, 2019, after she served two terms as governor from 2011 to 2019. Gary Johnson served as governor from 1995 to 2003. Johnson served as a Republican, but in 2012 and 2016, he ran for president from the Libertarian Party. In previous presidential elections, Al Gore carried the state (by 366 votes) in 2000; George W. Bush won New Mexico's five electoral votes in 2004, and the state's electoral votes were won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Since achieving statehood in 1912, New Mexico has been carried by the national popular vote victor in every presidential election of the past 104 years, except 1976, when Gerald Ford won the state by 2%, but lost the national popular vote by 2%.[179] It has also awarded its electoral votes to the candidate who would ultimately win, with the exception of 1976, 2000, and 2016.

Democrats in the state are usually strongest in the Santa Fe area, parts of the Albuquerque metro area (such as the southeast and central areas, including the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood and the vicinity of the University of New Mexico), Northern and West Central New Mexico, and most of the Native American reservations, particularly the Navajo Nation. Republicans have traditionally had their strongholds in the eastern and southern parts of the state, the Farmington area, Rio Rancho, and the newly developed areas in the Northwest mesa. Albuquerque's Northeast Heights have historically leaned Republican, but have become a key swing area for Democrats in recent election cycles. While registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 200,000, New Mexico voters have favored moderate to conservative candidates of both parties at the state and federal levels.

New Mexico abolished its death penalty statute, though not retroactively, effective July 1, 2009. This means individuals on New Mexico's Death Row can still be executed. On March 18, 2009, then-Governor Bill Richardson signed the law abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico following the assembly and senate vote the week before, thus becoming the 15th U.S. state to abolish the penalty.[180]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2020 43.50% 401,894 54.29% 501,614
2016 40.04% 319,667 48.25% 385,232
2012 42.84% 335,788 52.99% 415,335
2008 41.78% 346,832 56.91% 472,422
2004 49.8% 376,930 49.1% 370,942
2000 47.85% 286,417 47.91% 286,783
1996 42% 232,751 49% 273,495
1992 37% 212,617 46% 261,617
1988 51% 270,341 46% 244,49
1984 59% 307,101 39% 201,769
1980 55% 250,779 36% 167,826
1976 50% 211,419 48% 201,148
1972 60% 235,606 36% 141,084

On gun control, New Mexico arguably has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the country. State law pre-empts all local gun control ordinances. New Mexico residents may purchase any firearm deemed legal under federal law. There are no waiting periods under state law for picking up a firearm after it has been purchased, and there are no restrictions on magazine capacity. Additionally, New Mexico is a "shall-issue" state for concealed carry permits.

Before December 2013, New Mexico law neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited same-sex marriage. Policy concerning the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was determined at the county level; that is, some county clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples while others did not. In December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling directing all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, thereby making New Mexico the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriage at the statewide level.

Fiscal policy

On a per capita basis, New Mexico's government has one of the largest state budgets, at $9,101 per resident.[181] As of 2017, the state had an S&P Global Rating of AA+, denoting a very strong capacity to meet financial commitments alongside a very low credit risk.

Education

Due to its relatively low population, in combination with numerous federally funded research facilities, New Mexico had the highest concentration of Ph.D. holders of any state in 2000.[182] Los Alamos County, which hosts the eponymous national laboratory, leads the state in the most post secondary degree holders, with an estimated 38.7% of residents, or 4,899 out of 17,950.[183] However, the state routinely ranks near the bottom in studies of the quality of primary and secondary school education.[184] It places 34th in public education spending, but by some metrics ranks last in overall performance and quality, with some of the highest dropout rates and lowest math and reading scores.[185]

By national standards, New Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of persons who did not finish high school or have some college education, albeit by a low margin. A little over 14% of residents did not have a high school diploma, compared to the national rate of 11.39%, the fifth lowest out of 52 U.S. states and territories. Almost a quarter of people over 25 (23.9%) have not completed college,[64] compared with 21% of the nation as a whole.[186] New Mexico ranks among the bottom ten states in the proportion of residents with bachelor's degrees or higher (27.67%), but 21st in Ph.D. earners (12.15%); the national average is 33.13% and 12.79%, respectively.

In 2018, a state judge issued a landmark ruling that "New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with sufficient education", in particularly those with indigenous, non-English-speaking, and low-income backgrounds.[187] The court had ordered the governor and Legislature to provide an adequate system by April 2019;[188] in response, New Mexico increased teacher salaries, funded an extended school year, and expanded prekindergarten childhood education programs, while developing budget formula for delivering more funding to schools that serve at-risk and low-income students.[189] Nevertheless many activists and public officials contest the sufficiency of these efforts, particularly with respect to Native American schools and students.[189]

Primary and secondary education

The New Mexico Public Education Department oversees the operation of primary and secondary schools; individual school districts directly operate and staff said schools.

Postsecondary education

New Mexico is one of eight states that fund college scholarships through the state lottery.[190][191][192] The state of New Mexico requires that the lottery put 30% of its gross sales into the scholarship fund.[193] The scholarship is available to residents who graduated from a state high school, and attend a state university full-time while maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher.[194] It covered 100% of tuition when it was first instated in 1996,[195] decreased to 90%, then dropped to 60% in 2017.[191] The value slightly increased in 2018, and new legislation was passed to outline what funds are available per type of institution.[195]

Culture

Symbols of the Southwest: a string of dried chile pepper pods (a ristra) and a bleached white cow's skull hang in a market near Santa Fe

New Mexican culture is a unique fusion of indigenous, Spanish, Hispanic, and American influences. The state is an important center of Native American culture, with a Native American population of close to 200,000 in 2010.[196] Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres (6,500,000 ha), mostly in neighboring Arizona, the reservation of the Navajo Nation ranks as the largest in the United States. The prehistorically agricultural Pueblo Indians live in pueblos scattered throughout the state. Almost half of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin; many are descendants of colonial settlers called Hispanos or Neomexicanos. They settled in the state's northern portion. Most of the Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state. Also, 10–15% of the population, mainly in the north, may contain Hispanic Jewish ancestry.[citation needed]

Many New Mexicans speak a unique dialect of Spanish. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language, some of the vocabulary of New Mexican Spanish is unknown to other Spanish speakers. It uses numerous Native American words for local features and includes anglicized words that express American concepts and modern inventions.

Albuquerque has the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, as well as hosts the famed annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every fall.

Art and literature

The earliest New Mexico artists whose work survives today are the Mimbres Indians, whose black and white pottery could be mistaken for modern art, except for the fact that it was produced before 1130 CE. See Mimbres culture. Many examples of this work can be seen at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum[197] and at the Western New Mexico University Museum.[198]

A large artistic community thrives in Santa Fe, and has included such people as Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, John Connell and Steina Vasulka. The capital city has several art museums, including the New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, SITE Santa Fe and others. Colonies for artists and writers thrive, and the small city teems with art galleries. In August, the city hosts the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world. Performing arts include the renowned Santa Fe Opera which presents five operas in repertory each July to August, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival held each summer, and the restored Lensic Theater a principal venue for many kinds of performances. Santa Fe is also home to Frogville Records, an indie record label. The weekend after Labor Day boasts the burning of Zozobra, a fifty-foot (15 m) marionette, during Fiestas de Santa Fe.

Interior of the Crosby Theater at the Santa Fe Opera, viewed from the mezzanine

Art is also a frequent theme in Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. The National Hispanic Cultural Center has held hundreds of performing arts events, art showcases, and other events related to Spanish culture in New Mexico and worldwide in the centerpiece Roy E Disney Center for the Performing Arts or in other venues at the 53-acre facility. New Mexico residents and visitors alike can enjoy performing art from around the world at Popejoy Hall on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Popejoy Hall hosts singers, dancers, Broadway shows, other types of acts, and Shakespeare.[199] Albuquerque also has the unique and memorable KiMo Theater built in 1927 in the Pueblo Revival Style architecture. The KiMo presents live theater and concerts as well as movies and simulcast operas.[200] In addition to other general interest theaters, Albuquerque also has the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall which showcases achievements by people of African descent[201] and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center which highlights the cultural heritage of the First Nations people of New Mexico.[202]

Luminarias in the old mission church, Jemez State Monument

New Mexico holds strong to its Spanish heritage. Old Spanish traditions such zarzuelas and flamenco are popular in New Mexico.[203][204] Flamenco dancer and native New Mexican María Benítez founded the Maria Benítez Institute for Spanish Arts "to present programs of the highest quality of the rich artistic heritage of Spain, as expressed through music, dance, visual arts, and other art forms". There is also the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque held each year in which native Spanish and New Mexican flamenco dancers perform at the University of New Mexico.

In the mid-20th century, there was a thriving Hispano school of literature and scholarship being produced in both English and Spanish. Among the more notable authors were: Angélico Chávez, Nina Otero-Warren, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Aurelio Espinosa, Cleofas Jaramillo, Juan Bautista Rael, and Aurora Lucero-White Lea. As well, writer D. H. Lawrence lived near Taos in the 1920s, at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, where there is a shrine said to contain his ashes.

New Mexico's strong Spanish, Native American, and Wild West frontier motifs have provided material for many authors in the state, including internationally recognized Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman.[205]

Silver City, in the southwestern mountains of the state, was originally a mining town, and at least one nearby mine still operates. It is perhaps better known now as the home of or exhibition center for large numbers of artists, visual and otherwise.[206] Another former mining town turned art haven is Madrid, New Mexico.[207] It was brought to national fame as the filming location for the movie Wild Hogs in 2007. The City of Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico, has a museum system affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program.[208] Las Cruces also has a variety of cultural and artistic opportunities for residents and visitors.[209]

Aside from the aforementioned Wild Hogs, other movies filmed in New Mexico include Sunshine Cleaning and Vampires.

The various seasons of the A&E/Netflix series Longmire have been filmed in several New Mexico locations, including Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Eagle Nest, and Red River.[210]

The widely acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul were both set and filmed in and around Albuquerque.[211]

Sports

No major league professional sports teams are based in New Mexico, but the Albuquerque Isotopes are the Triple-A West baseball affiliate of the MLB Colorado Rockies. New Mexico is home to several baseball teams of the Pecos League: the Roswell Invaders, Ruidoso Osos, Santa Fe Fuego and the White Sands Pupfish. The Duke City Gladiators of the Indoor Football League (IFL) plays their home games at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. New Mexico United, also based in Albuquerque, began play in the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, the USL Championship, in 2019. Another soccer team from that city, Albuquerque Sol FC, plays in the fourth-tier USL League Two.

Collegiate athletics in New Mexico involve various New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies teams in many sports. For many years the two universities have had a rivalry often referred to as the "Rio Grande Rivalry" or the "Battle of I-25" in recognition of the campuses' both being located along that highway. NMSU also has a rivalry with the University of Texas at El Paso which is called "The Battle of I-10". The winner of the NMSU-UTEP football game receives the Silver Spade trophy.

Olympic gold medalist Tom Jager, who is an advocate of controversial high-altitude training for swimming, has conducted training camps in Albuquerque at 5,312 feet (1,619 m) and Los Alamos at 7,320 feet (2,231 m).[212]

NRA Whittington Center in Raton is the United States' largest and most comprehensive competitive shooting range and training facility.[213]

Historic heritage

Owing to its millennia of habitation and over two centuries of Spanish colonial rule, New Mexico features a significant number of sites with historical and cultural significance. Forty-six locations across the state are listed by the U.S. National Historic Landmark Program, which is the 18th highest of any state.

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