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Land of Enchantment

The State of New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the United States. Over its relatively long history it has been inhabited by Native American populations and has been part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory. Among U.S. states, New Mexico has simultaneously the highest percentage of Hispanic Americans (comprised of both recent immigrants and descendants of Spanish colonists) and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska (mostly Navajo and Pueblo peoples). As a result, the demographics and culture of the state are unique for their strong Spanish, Mexican, and American Indian cultural influences. The climate of the state is highly arid and its territory is mostly covered by mountains and desert. At a population density of 15 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth most sparsely inhabited U.S. State.

With a population of 134,000 in 1990, New Mexico still ranks as an important center of American Indian culture. Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres, 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, many older than any European settlement.

More than one-third of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin, the vast majority of whom descend from the original Spanish colonists in the northern portion of the state. Most of the considerably fewer recent Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state.

There are many New Mexicans who also speak a unique dialect of Spanish. New Mexican Spanish has vocabulary often unknown to other Spanish speakers. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language, the local dialect preserves some late medieval Castillian vocabulary considered archaic elsewhere, adopts numerous Native American words for local features, and contains much Anglicized vocabulary for American concepts and modern inventions.

The presence of various indigenous Native American communities, the long-established Spanish and Mexican influence, and the diversity of Anglo-American settlement in the region, ranging from pioneer farmers and ranchers in the territorial period to military families in later decades, make New Mexico a particularly heterogeneous state.

There are natural history and atomic museums in Albuquerque, which also hosts the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

A large artistic community thrives in Santa Fe. The capital city has museums of Spanish colonial, international folk, Navajo ceremonial, modern Native American, and other modern art. Another museum honors resident Georgia O'Keeffe. 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. The weekend after Labor Day boasts the burning of Zozobra, a 50 ft marionette, during Fiestas de Santa Fe.

New Mexico tourist attractions include:
- Santa Fe
      o Plaza of Santa Fe
      o Loretto Chapel
      o San Miguel Mission
      o Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
      o Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
      o Museum of International Folk Art
      o El Rancho de las Golondrinas (Spanish Colonial living history museum)
      o Santa Fe Indian Market
- Taos County
      o Taos Pueblo
      o Taos art colony
      o Taos Ski Valley
- Acoma Sky Pueblo
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- White Sands National Monument, the Trinity Site, and Missile Range, Alamogordo
- Albuquerque
      o Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
      o Old Town Albuquerque
      o Petroglyph National Monument
      o New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
      o Rio Grande Zoo
      o Albuquerque Biological Park
      o Sandia Peak Tramway
      o National Atomic Museum
      o Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
      o Expo New Mexico, formerly the New Mexico State Fairgrounds
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park, San Juan Basin
- Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Silver City
- Roswell
      o Roswell UFO Landing Site
      o International UFO Museum
      o The Roswell UFO Festival, The First Weekend In July
- Upham
      o Virgin Galactic
      o Spaceport America
- Black Jack Ketchum in Clayton
- Billy the Kid Museum, Fort Sumner
- Historic Lincoln, Ruidoso, and Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation
- Sierra County Recreation and Tourism website link
- Silver City was a gold mining town in the Wild West.
      o The Piños Altos is a ghost town located near Silver City.
- Acoma Pueblo & Mission
      o Laguna Pueblo & Mission
      o El Malpais National Monument
      o Zuni Salt Lake
- Socorro
      o Very Large Array
      o Bosque del Apache
      o El Camino Real Heritage Center
      o Mineralogical Museum
      o Quebradas Region
- Catron County
      o Site of the "Alma Massacre"
      o Catwalk National Recreation Trail
      o Mogollon Ghost Town
      o The Lightning Field
      o Whitewater Baldy

The state also has a number of casinos located on Native American Indian Reservations that attract thousands of visitors each year.

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Photos courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department.

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