New Mexico Fun Facts

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New Mexico has a long history, first as a popular dwelling place for our Native American ancestors, then the Spanish, and finally settlers from the United States. Today, it is a cultural melting pot and also a beautiful place to live, work and visit. Here are some fun facts about the state we bet you didn’t know!

  • Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 7,000 feet above sea level. It is also one of the few United States capitals without a full-fledged airport.
  • The lakes and rivers in New Mexico make up only .002% of the state’s total surface area – the lowest water-to-land ratio in all 50 states. In fact, nearly all of the lakes are man-made reservoirs.
  • White Sands National Monument is a desert, not of sand, but of gleaming white gypsum crystals.
  • Hatch is known as the “Green Chile capital of the world”.
  • More than 25,000 ancient Native American or Anasazi sites have been identified in New Mexico by archeologists.
  • The leaves of the Yucca, New Mexico’s state flower, can be used to make rope, baskets and sandals.
  • 1/4 of New Mexico is forested, and the state has 7 National Forests including the Nation’s largest, the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest which includes the Gila Wilderness.
  • The cub who inspired the National Fire Safety Symbol (Smokey the Bear) was found after a fire trapped in a tree Lincoln National Forest. In 1963, New Mexico choose the black bear as the official state animal to honor that little cub.
  • The Navajo Nation, a Native American Indian Reservation covers 14 million acres. The Navajo Nation is an independent state where tribal laws supersede state law.
  • In some isolated villages in New Mexico, descendants of Spanish conquistadors still speak a form of 16th century Spanish used nowhere else in the world today.
  • New Mexico has far more sheep and cattle than people. There are only about 12 people per square mile.
  • Tens of thousands of bats live in the Carlsbad Caverns.
  • Taos Pueblo is located 2 miles north of the city of Taos. It is one of the oldest continuously occupied communities in the United States. People still live in some of its 900 year old buildings.
  • The Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, built in 1610, is one of the oldest public buildings in America.

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