New Mexico, which is recognized for its natural beauty, is one of the longest inhabited and most historically rich areas in America. It's one of only three states that border Mexico and is heavily influenced by Hispanic culture. It also contains the highest percentage of Hispanics of any state in the nation.
Here are seven things about New Mexico you may not know about:
1. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta:
Albuquerque hosts the world's largest international hot air balloon festival every fall. The event started with 13 balloons in 1972, and today's festivals see upwards of 1,000 balloons, according to its official website.
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2. Nearly waterless:
"The lakes and rivers in New Mexico make up only .002 percent of the state’s total surface area," according to See the Southwest
. The state has the lowest water-to-land ratio of all 50 states in the U.S. Of the few water masses that do exist, almost all are man-made.
3. Atomic Bomb:
The world's first atomic bomb, which was built under the Manhattan Project, was detonated in the town of Alamogordo in 1945. The project had been in the works since 1939, according to History.com.
4. Smokey Bear:
The inspiration behind the National Fire Safety's famous symbol, Smokey the Bear, can be traced to the Land of Enchantment. In 1950, a cub was discovered to be trapped in a tree when his home in Lincoln National Forest was destroyed by fire. The state went on to select the black bear to be their official state animal in 1963.
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5. Hispanic Population:
New Mexico is the most heavily Hispanic state in the nation, which correlates with the fact that one of every three families there speak Spanish at home. According to a study published by Pew Research Center in August 2013
, "Hispanics make up 46.7 percent of the state's population, the highest Hispanic population share among the 50 States and District of Columbia."
6. Oldest Community:
Taos Pueblo is considered one of the longest continuously occupied communities in America, and some people still live in buildings there that are over 1,000 years old. According to Taos.org
, "Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark."
7. White Sands National Monument:
White Sands National Monument, the largest gypsum dune field in the world, is located in South Central New Mexico and considered one of the world's great natural wonders. It was formulated as "the result of water evaporating from transitory lakes with a high mineral content," according to History.com.
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