New Mexico is officially nicknamed The Land of Enchantment for its scenic beauty, rich multicultural history and various art forms.
As the fifth largest state in area, it has a relatively small population of slightly more than 2 million people.
Most people live in cities, with more than one-fourth residing in Albuquerque, the state's largest city.
The state's economic pillars are its natural resources, tourism, retail trade and federal government spending. Its wealth of natural resources makes it the seventh-largest state in energy supply to the nation. Much of the state's income is derived from oil and gas. New Mexico ranked sixth in crude oil production in 2015, contributing more than 4 percent of the country's crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Permian Basin in New Mexico has more than 25,000 oil wells, including two of the 100 largest oil fields in the nation. As of 2015, its natural gas production accounted for 4.3 percent of marketed natural gas in the United States.
Also known as The Land of Sunshine, the state has on average 320-plus days of sunshine per year. And with its expansive land, New Mexico has many solar and wind energy projects that provide electricity to neighboring states such as Texas, Arizona and California.
With many breathtaking national parks, forests and historical sites in memory of Native American and Hispanic cultures, New Mexico attracts more than 30 million tourists every year. The tourism boom also boosts retail sales, one of the keys to the state's economy. The state welcomes thousands of people during annual events such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, an annual hot air balloon festival held in in early October that draws people from around the world and bills itself as the largest of its kind in the world.
Before Europeans arrived in New Mexico, the state was sparsely populated by Native Americans. In 1598, Juan de Oñate led a Spanish mission to colonize the state. In the following two centuries, the Pueblo people revolted but Spanish settlers re-colonized the land, and in 1789 a peace treaty was established, leading to 35-year period of peace between the Native Americans with the colonizers.
In the spring of 1821, Mexico won independence from Spain and established the Mexican Empire and Federal Republic of Mexico. The United States invaded New Mexico in 1846. The empire's independence lasted until 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War.
Since achieving statehood on Jan. 6, 1912, as the 47th state, New Mexico has ranked first among all the states in the country for its Hispanic population – 49 percent of its 2 million people. It also has the second-highest percentage of Native Americans, 10 percent, following Alaska.
The state's integration of various cultures is pictured on the state flag. Yellow and red are the colors of Spain. Rays reaching from the red circle in the middle of the flag represent an ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Native American group. The Zia believe that a higher being gave all good to them in groups of four, and the circle stands for life and love without a beginning or end.
Catholics account for about one in three of all adults in New Mexico; Protestants comprise sightly more. Sixty percent say religion plays a very important role in their lives. The state's colleges include the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and other state campuses, as well as art schools such as the public Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and the private Sante Fe University of Art and Design.
The federal government is the state’s biggest employer. More than one-third of the land in New Mexico is protected by the federal government, employing people in agencies such as the National Park Service to protect national parks and historic sites. The U.S. government also maintains military and research institutions in the state. Three Air Force bases, White Sands Missile Range and the federal research facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are located in New Mexico.
The state was home to the famous mystery surrounding the Roswell UFO, which was officially declared an Air Force weather balloon by the government in mid-1947. UFO enthusiasts have continued for decades with elaborate government conspiracy theories, while insisting that an extraterrestrial spaceship had crashed there. It's also said that the balloon was not flown for weather measurement, but rather as part of Project Mogul, an expensive top-secret military project by the U.S. Army Air Forces to detect sound waves from Soviet atomic bomb tests from 1947 to early 1949.
The state's governor, Susana Martinez, a Republican first elected as the 31st governor in 2010, also was the first elected female governor of New Mexico and the nation's first Hispanic woman governor. With its large Hispanic population, the state has voted Democratic in most presidential elections since 1992.