It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light. - Georgia O'Keefe

Visiting New Mexico

It’s too easy to let New Mexico off as simply “The Land of Enchantment.”

It’s true the state has magical desert vistas, Rocky Mountain playgrounds and charming adobe communities that predate Columbus’ arrival by a few thousand years. But there’s an undeniably eclectic and occasionally dark side to the 47th state as well.

In Roswell, residents see UFOs with frightening regularity. In Santa Fe, they burn Zozobra, or “Old Man Gloom,” at the stake every fall. And Trinity Site, near Alamogordo, is the first spot on the planet where humans detonated an atomic bomb.

Considering that New Mexico is essentially a bilingual state, where about one-third of families speak Spanish (some villagers in the northern mountains speak a dialect of 16th-century Spanish), New Mexico often feels like a foreign country. Add the interesting juxtaposition that it’s the fifth-largest state (121,589 square miles), but has a population of about 2 million people (about half the population of Los Angeles), making it one of the least densely populated states in the country.

All of which means that there is quite a lot of space to explore. You might be surprised by what you find.

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New Mexico Facts

Capital: Santa Fe

State abbreviation/Postal code: N.M./NM

Governor: Susana Martinez, R (to Jan. 2015)

Lieut. Governor: John Sanchez, R (to Jan. 2015)

Senators: Tom Udall, D (to Jan. 2015); Martin Heinrich, D (to Jan. 2019)

U.S. Representatives: 3

Historical biographies of Congressional members

Secy. of State: Dianna J. Duran, R (to Jan. 2015)

Atty. General: Gary K. King, D (to Jan. 2015)

State Treasurer: James B. Lewis, D (to Jan. 2015)

Organized as territory: Sept. 9, 1850

Entered Union (rank): Jan. 6, 1912 (47)

Present constitution adopted: 1911

Motto: Crescit eundo (It grows as it goes)

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