39 New Mexico Facts and Weird Laws

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Known as the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico is one beautiful place to visit, as it is loaded with sights for days. The New Mexico region, which is populated by over 2 million citizens, has over the years become a go-to place for businesses and home to some of the finest wine in the US. 

Most of the citizens of New Mexico speak Spanish more than other states in the US.

The topography of the state is a mixture of tableland and mountain tops, and this can be a great opportunity for those who love the thrill of adventure.  Before New Mexico was admitted in 1912, people inhabited the state with Taos Pueblo having been inhabited for over 1000 years. 

So, this and many more are the information this post would be bringing to you, as we explore New Mexico and highlight things you might not know about the beautiful state.

New Mexico Facts – Politics

  1. New Mexico is a republican state governed by popular sovereignty and separation of powers, and its constitution was adopted by referendum in 1911. This constitution also declared it to be bilingual.
  2. Most issues concerning the state may be decided by popular votes and the majority votes of lawmakers and electorate can lead to an amendment of New Mexico’s state constitution.
Credit: Sotheby’s
  1. Tax rates in New Mexico range from low taxation of resident personal income to moderate taxation by national standards with tax credits, exemptions, and special consideration for military personnel.
  2. New Mexico has several US military presence owing to its large area and economic climate. These include the white sand missile range and other valuable federal research centers ranging from Sandia national laboratories and Los Alamos national laboratories.
  3. The state is known as the Land of Enchantment
  4. The Land of Enchantment also has the oldest government building in the United States.
  5. It also houses the oldest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as the seat of government of Nuevo Mexico in New Spain. 
  6. Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 7,198 feet above sea level.
Credit: Culture Trip
  1. The term Nuevo Mexico is from Spanish with Nuevo being New, and the word Mexico was derived from the name of an Aztec god.
  2. After the revolt of 1837, New Mexico became a region more economically dependent on the United States and after the Mexican-American War, where Mexico fought the US. After that it was taken by the US as part of the larger New Mexico territory.
  3. The flag of New Mexico is one of the most recognizable in the U.S. It includes the scarlet and cold colors of the Spanish flag in blend with the ancient Zia sun symbol.
Credit: Everyday Wanderer
  1. New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics and Latinos in the country, while Alaska has the highest percentage of Native Americans. 
  2. New Mexico has a highly diversified economy with its major sectors ranging from out and mineral extraction, cattle ranching, agriculture, scientific and technological research, tourism, and the arts which includes textile and visual arts.

New Mexico Facts – Geography and Climate

Credit: Unsplash
  1. A third of New Mexico is covered with forests and mountains, mainly in the north, while the great plains occupy the eastern third of the state.
  2. More than four-fifths of New Mexico rises about 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level with an average elevation range from up to 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level in the northwest, to less than 4,000 feet in the southeast.
  3. New Mexico boasts the fourth-longest river in the United States: Rio grande in addition to its four major river systems: the Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila.
Credit: National Geographic
  1. It once held the title of having the most composition of uranium, earning them the name “Uranium capital”. All of this was more relevant to the nation during the post world war II and Cold war era, as they handled the nation’s uranium supply.
  2. It ranks 36th in population and 46th in density amongst the 50 states, and has just under 2.1 million residents. There are 12 persons per square mile in most of the state.
  3.  In New Mexico, terrain ranges from forested mountains to sparse deserts; northern and eastern regions are more Alpine, while western and southern regions are hotter and drier.
  4. Albuquerque hosts the renowned hot air balloon festival every October
Credit: Unsplash
  1. New Mexico has a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $95.73 billion as of 2020 with a GDP per capita of roughly $46,300
  2. The Puebloans, Mogollon, Comanche, and Utes lived in New Mexico when Spanish settlers arrived in the 16th century.
Taos Pueblo: Evoking the Story of Ancestral Puebloans for 1000 Years | Ancient Origins
  1. The Enchanted State also has the highest capital city in the country with most of the land at over 7000 feet above sea level.
  2. New Mexico is the fifth-largest state in the United States following Alaska, Texas, California, and Montan. It has a total area of 121,590 square miles (314,900km2)
  3. Its Elephant Butte reservoir is the largest man-made reservoir in the world 
Credit: TripAdvisor
  1.  The river Pecos which flies parallel to the Rio grande in the was acted as the main travel route for European explorers. Except river Gila, all major rivers in the state are dammed to provide the major source of water for irrigation and flood control
  2. It has a charming temperate climate with the whole state going from semi-arid to arid and certain areas possessing continental and Alpine climates at higher elevations.
  3. Plants and animals alike inhabit New Mexico’s six vegetation zones, with the upper Sonoran region claiming about three-fourths of the state.
The Sonoran Desert – WorldAtlas
  1. New Mexico along with other 12 western states make up for 93% of all federally owned land in the United States with roughly one-third of the state or 24.7 million of 77.8 million acres owned by the United States government; the tenth highest percentage in the country.
  2.  It was here that the Wilderness Act was born in the early 20th century, with the Gila wilderness becoming the world’s first wilderness in 1924.
LBJ signs Wilderness Act, Sept. 3, 1964 – POLITICO
  1. The state of New Mexico sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January of 2016 after a gold King mine wastewater spill caused heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and arsenic to leak into wildlife areas.
  2. Increasingly dry land and climate have necessitated controlled burning. The national fire safety symbol Smokey the Bear was rescued from a fire that rocked the state in 1950.
Credit: Twitter

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New Mexico Facts – History & Heritage

  1. The first atomic bomb was exploded in New Mexico. Trinity, the first nuclear testing range, was located in Los Alamos national laboratory. New Mexico’s leading industries became a leading force in the aerospace industry here, testing rocket ship models.
Credit: History.com
  1. The name New Mexico came just before the present-day nation of Mexico gained its independence from Spain and coined that name in 1821. 
  2. Nahuati coined the name New Mexico and it was initially known in the valleys of Mexico far from New Mexico as the heartland of the Mexican Empire.
  3. Following the defeat of the Mexican (Aztec) empire in the early 16tg century, an exploration of the now western United States by the Spanish began using Mexico in 1563 to name the region of New Mexico.
How the Aztec Empire Was Forged Through a Triple Alliance. Credit: HISTORY.com
  1.  It holds nine out of the eighty-four national monuments, the most after Arizona. The second oldest monument is El Morro, which was created in 1906, and the Gila cliff dwelling was proclaimed in 1906.
  2. The state hosts numerous protected wilderness areas and national monuments including three UNESCO world heritage sites.
  3. Some of the monuments were considered controversial and removed 
A statue of Juan de Oñate is part of a collection known as La Jornada (The Journey) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Oñate statue has been removed from the site and placed in storage by the city.  Credit: indianz.com/
Credit: National Park Service

Famous location in New Mexico

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Southeastern New Mexico
Credit: National Park
  1. White Sands National Monument, Southern New Mexico
  2. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
  3. Bandelier National Monument.
  4. Petroglyph National Monument
  5. Taos Pueblo
  6. Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway
  7. Lincoln national forest
  8. Green Chile capital
  9. White Sands Testing range
  10. Santa Fe Trail

Famous people from New Mexico

Here are some of the famous New Mexicans in the sport, film and music industry.

  1. Neil Patrick Harris 
  2. Demi Moore 
  3. Demi Lovato 
  4. Holly Holm 
  5. John Denver 
  6. Adrian Grenier 
  7. Ralph Bunche – Nobel Peace prize winner

Common Misconceptions

#1. New Mexico is a different country

Despite sharing its name with a neighboring country to the south, New Mexico remains the 48th state of the United States which gained statehood in 1912. It is often viewed as a different country, thus making indigenes of the state foreigners, but this is incorrect, since New Mexico is a state, not a country.

#2. New Mexico is a desert

Despite the fact that most parts of the state have desert-like terrain, it’s not true that all of New Mexico is a desert, as the state boasts of diverse landscapes The landscape is a mixture of plains, mountains, and mesas. New Mexico also boasts of one of the best skiing locations in the country.

#3. People in Santa Fe are driving around in limos 

Santa Fe is said to be a gentrified place which is a mecca for the urban wealthy, especially retirees. There is a certain “elite” element. 

High housing costs prevent local workers from living in town, as well as an aging population and closing schools. In addition, there is a complaint about the rise in status-oriented people.

And, people often compare it with Albuquerque, debating where is a better place to call home, rather than to be seen.

But, the notion that people in Santa Fe drive around in limos and hand out $100 bills to panhandlers is likely wrong.

Weird Laws in New Mexico

Many of the laws below were passed a long time ago, but they still exist in many  New Mexico cities, but many of them go unenforced. It is easier to pass laws than to revoke them, so some very strange laws remain on the books. Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

Here are some of our favorites.

  1. You can’t spit on the steps of the Opera house in Deming. 
  2. You can’t gamble on camel and ostrich racing.
  3. You can’t trip an equine, or a horse for sport or entertainment. 
  4. If you sing, play or perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “Oh Fair New Mexico” in any public place within the state, you must do so as an entire or separate composition or number
  5. A cab driver is not allowed to reach out and pick up potential customers.
  6. You may not carry a lunchbox down Main Street in Las Cruces.
  7. A female cannot appear unshaven in public.
A female cannot appear unshaven in public in New Mexico. Image: RTE

Final Thoughts

New Mexico is one of the most constructed places in the US, and this is why we have decided to bring you some of the unknown facts about this beautiful state. With this, more people can now have an idea about New Mexico and change others’ perspectives. Some of the places listed are also beautiful sights to visit when you visit New Mexico.

New Mexico Stats And Facts

CapitalSanta Fe
GovernorMichelle Lujan Grisham
Date of AdmissionJanuary 6, 1912
US SenatorsMartin HeinrichBen Ray Lujan
US House of Representatives70 of 435
State NicknameLand of Enchantment
State MottoCrescit Eundo
State SongO Fair New Mexico
New Mexico’s State FlowerYucca 
State FishNew Mexico Cutthroat Trout
State Bird Great Road Runner
State Tree Pinyon Pine
State MammalAmerican Black Bear
State Sport 
State Mineral 
State GemTurquoise
State FossilCoelophysis


Are there more details about New Mexico on Google?

Yes, information can not be completely delivered, but we have tried to pass across as much information as possible

Based on data from Google, how well ranked is New Mexico?

From the information gathered on Google, New Mexico ranks as the 47th state.

How conducive is New Mexico to tourists?

New Mexico is a culturally diverse state, and tourists would be welcome to different cultures and heritages.

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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