Baja California ( in
English) is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico.
Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the
North Territory of Baja California
. It has an area
of , or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern
half of the Baja California
, north of the 28th parallel. The state is bordered
on the west by the Pacific
Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the
U.S. State of Arizona, and the
California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), and on the south by Baja California
Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of
has a population of 2,844,469 (2005 census), and estimated
3,165,776 (June 2009) much more than the sparsely populated Baja
California Sur to the south, and similar to San Diego
County on its north. Over 75% of the
population lives in the capital city, Mexicali, or in Tijuana.
of these cities are adjacent to the U.S. border. Other important cities
include Ensenada, San Felipe, Playas de Rosarito and Tecate.
population of the state is composed of Mestizos, mostly immigrants from other parts of
Mexico, and, as with most northern Mexican states, a large
population of Mexicans of European ancestry, and also a large
minority group of East Asian, Middle Eastern and Indigenous descent.
Additionally, there is a large immigrant
population from the United
States due to its proximity to San Diego and the cheaper cost of life compared to San
There is also a significant population from Central America
. Many immigrants moved to
Baja California for a better quality of life and the number of
higher paying jobs in comparison to the rest of Mexico and Latin America
Baja California is the twelfth state by area in Mexico. Its
geography ranks from beaches to forests and deserts. The backbone of the
state is the Sierra de Baja California; where the Picacho del
Diablo, the highest point of the peninsula, is
This mountain range effectively divides the weather
patterns in the state. In the northwest, the weather is semi-dry,
mediterranean. In the narrow center, the weather changes to be more
humid due to altitude. It is in this area where a few valleys can
be found, such as the Valle de
Guadalupe, the major wine producer area in Mexico.
east of the mountain range, the Sonoran Desert dominates the landscape.
In the south, the
weather becomes drier and gives place to the Vizcaino Desert. The
state is also home to numerous islands in both of its shores.
the westernmost point in Mexico, the Guadalupe Island, is part of Baja California. The Coronado, Todos
Santos and Cedros
Islands are also on the Pacific Shore.
On the Gulf
of California, the biggest island is the Angel de la Guarda
, separated from
the peninsula by the deep and narrow Canal de Ballenas.
Flora and fauna
Common trees are the Jeffrey Pine
and Pinon Pine
. Understory species include Manzanita
. Fauna include a variety of reptiles
including the Western fence
, which is at the southern extent of its range.
Baja California has two sea shores. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of California to the east.
Even though the state is not
large in area, its geography is very diverse. The Sierra de Baja
California (also known as the Peninsular Ranges
) runs in the middle of
the state with different denominations. The two most
important are the Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de San Pedro
Martir. These ranges are home to forests similar to
those in Southern
The Picacho del Diablo is the highest peak
in the whole peninsula, offering spectacular views of the Gulf of
California. Lying in between these mountain ranges,
there are some valleys that are suitable for agriculture such as
the Valle de Guadalupe and the Valle de Ojos Negros.
weather makes this area excellent for the production of citrus
fruits and grapes. This area is also rich in minerals. The mountain
range gets closer to the Gulf of California towards the south of
the state and the western slope becomes wider, forming the Llanos
del Berrendo in the border with Baja California Sur. The mountain
ranges located in the center and southern part of the state include
the Sierra de La Asamblea, Sierra de Calamajué, Sierra de San Luis
and the Sierra de San Borja.
The cool winds from the Pacific Ocean and the cold California Current
make the weather along
the northwestern coast pleasant year round. The coastal cities of
Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada have one of the nicest weather patterns in the
But due to the California current, rains from
the north barely reach the peninsula and this makes the weather
drier towards the south. The area becomes a desert south of El
Rosario River. This desert, however, is rich in succulents such as
the Cardon, Boojum tree, Ocotillo and others. These plants can
flourish in part due to the coastal fog. Driving along MX-1
provides a good view of this
There are numerous islands on the Pacific shore. Guadalupe
Island is the remote outpost to the west and it is home to
big colonies of sea lions. In Cedros Island there is a small community living mostly on
The Todos Santos Islands, in front of Ensenada, are
popular with surfers offering some of the highest waves
east, the Sonoran
Desert enters the state from both California and
Some of the highest temperatures in Mexico are
recorded in or nearby the Mexicali Valley. However, with irrigation
from the Colorado River, this area has become truly an agricultural
. The Cerro Prieto geothermical province is nearby
Mexicali as well (this area is geologically part of a large pull
apart basin); producing about 80% of the electricity consumed in
the state and enough more to export to California. Laguna
Salada, a saline lake below the sea level lying in between
the rugged Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de los Cucapah, is also
in the vicinity of Mexicali.
The state government has
recently been considering plans to revive Laguna Salada. The
highest mountain in the Sierra de los Cucapah is the Cerro del
Centinela or Mount Signal. The Cucapah are the primary indigenous
people of that area and up into the Yuma AZ area.
The state is also blessed with numerous beaches on its east coast.
and touristic towns such as San Felipe and Bahia de los Angeles are a major attraction for people in search of
adventure, nice beaches and fresh fish.
The area south of
San Felipe is basically undeveloped and pristine beaches can be
found in many bays. All of the islands in the Gulf of California,
on the Baja California side, belong to the municipality of
source of water in the state are the Colorado River, which empties
in the Gulf of California, (but now rarely reaches the Gulf) and
River, serving the cities of Mexicali, Tecate, and
The rest of the state depends mostly on wells and a
few dams. Tijuana also purchases water from San Diego County's Otay
Water District. Potable water is the largest natural resource issue
of the state.
humans came to the peninsula at least 11,000 years ago, probably
following the Pacific coast down from Alaska.
the time of European contact, two main native groups were present
on the peninsula. In the south were the Cochimí
. In the north were several groups
belonging to the Yuman linguistic family, including the Kiliwa
. These peoples were diverse in their
adaptations to the region. The Cochimí of the peninsula's Central
Desert were generalized hunter-gatherers who moved frequently;
however, the Cochimí on Cedros Island off the west coast had developed a strongly
The Kiliwa, Paipai, and Kumeyaay in the
better-watered northwest were also hunter-gatherers, but that
region supported denser populations and more sedentary lifeways.
The Cocopa and Quechan of northeastern Baja California practiced
agriculture in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River.
reached the present state of Baja California in 1539, when Francisco de Ulloa reconnoitered its east
coast on the Gulf of
California and explored the peninsula's west coast at least as
far north as Cedros Island. Hernando de Alarcón
returned to the
east coast and ascended the lower Colorado River in 1540, and
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
completed the reconnaissance of the west coast in 1542. Sebastián Vizcaíno
surveyed the west coast in 1602, but outside visitors during the
following century were few.
Jesuits founded a permanent mission
colony on the peninsula at Loreto in 1697.
During the following decades, they
gradually extended their sway throughout the present state of Baja
California Sur. In 1751–1753, the Croatian Jesuit mission-explorer
overland explorations northward into the state of Baja California.
Jesuit missions were subsequently established among the Cochimí at
and Santa María
expulsion of the Jesuits
in 1768, the short-lived Franciscan
administration (1768–1773) resulted in one new mission at San Fernando Velicatá. More importantly, the 1769 expedition to
settle Alta California under Gaspar de
Portolà and Junípero Serra
resulted in the first overland exploration of the northwestern
portion of the state.
took over management
of the Baja California missions from the Franciscans in 1773. They
established a chain of new missions among the northern Cochimí and
western Yumans, first on the coast and subsequently inland,
(1774) to Descanso
(1817), just south of
Nineteenth and twentieth centuries
The colonial governors were:
- 1804–1805 José Joaquín de Arillaga (s.a.)
- 1806–1814 Felipe de Goycoechea
- 1814 – 11 April 1822 José Darío Argüello
California is annexed
by the United States.
Soldier of fortune William
Walker captures La Paz, declaring himself President of the Republic of
Lower California. The Mexican government forces his retreat
after several months.
- 1884: Luis Huller and George H.
Sisson obtain a concession covering
much of the present state, in return for promises to develop the
- 1905: The Magónista revolution, an anarchist movement based on the writings of
Ricardo Flores Magón and
Enrique Flores Magón,
- 1911: Mexicali and Tijuana are captured by the Mexican Liberal Party (Partido
Liberal Mexicano, PLM), but soon surrender to Federal
- 1930: Baja California is further divided into Northern and
- 1952: The North Territory of Baja California becomes
the 29th state of Mexico, Baja California. The southern portion,
below 28°N, remains a federally administered territory.
The South Territory of Baja California becomes the 31st
- 1989: Ernesto Ruffo Appel of
the PAN becomes the
governor of Baja California and the first opposition governor of
any state since the Revolution.
The racial make-up of the state is approximately 40% White
(mostly but not limited to
people of Spanish
(Mixed Amerindian and European), 9%
east Asian (predominantly Chinese
), the remaining 15% is Native
American (of Mexican and Central American origins, but includes
from the U.S. long settled in
Northwest Mexico since the 1850s) and less than 1% Black
Historically, the state had sizable east Asian immigration, esp.
has a large Chinese community, as well many Filipinos from the Philippines arrived to the state during the eras of Spanish and
later American rule (1898–1946) in much of the 19th and 20th
Tijuana was a major port of entry for east Asians
entering the U.S. ever since the first Asian-Americans
were present in
significant number of Middle Eastern immigrants such as Lebanese and Armenians settle near the U.S. border, and small
waves of Russian settlers in the
early 20th century, usually members of the Molokan sect of the Russian Orthodox church fled the Russian Revolution of 1917 when
the Soviet Union took power, had established a few villages along
the Pacific coast south of Ensenada.
Since 1960, large numbers of migrants from southern Mexican states
have arrived to work in agriculture (esp. the Mexicali Valley and
nearby Imperial Valley,
, US) and manufacturing. The cities of Tijuana and
Mexicali grew as a result of migrants, primarily are those who
sought US citizenship and those temporary residents awaiting for
their entry into the United States are called Flotillas
which is derived from the Spanish word "flota
also a sizable immigrant community from Central and South
America, and from the United States and Canada.
estimated 200,000+ American expatriates
live in the state, especially in coastal resort towns such as
Rosarito, and San Felipe, known for affordable homes purchased by retirees
who continue to hold US citizenship. Tijuana also has a large American population (second
largest in Mexico next to Mexico City), particularly for its
cheaper housing and proximity to San Diego.
that live in Tijuana work in San Diego, earning higher wages.
About 92% of Baja California is Catholic.
Baja California is subdivided into five municipios
). See municipalities of Baja
Baja California has one of the best educational programs in the
country, with first places in schooling and achievement.
The State Government provides education and qualification courses
to increase the workforce standards, such as School-Enterprise
linkage programs which helps the development of labor force
according to the needs of the industry.
91.60% of the population from six to fourteen years of age attend
elementary school. 61.95% of the population over fifteen years of
age attend or have already graduated from high school. Public
School is available in all levels, from kindergarten to
The state has 32 universities offering 103 professional degrees.
These universities have 19 Research and Development centers for
basic and applied investigation in advanced projects of
Biotechnology, Physics, Oceanography, Digital Geothermal
Technology, Astronomy, Aerospace, Electrical Engineering and Clean
Energy, among others. At this educational level supply is steadily
growing. Baja California has developed a need to be self-sufficient
in matters of technological and scientific innovation and to be
less dependent on foreign countries. Current businesses demand new
production processes as well as technology for the incubation of
companies. The number of various graduate degrees offered,
including Ph.D. programs, is 121. The state has 53 graduate
As of 2005, Baja California’s economy represents 3.3% of Mexico’s
gross domestic product
21,996 million USD. Baja California's economy has a strong focus on
tariff-free export oriented manufacturing (maquiladora
). As of 2005, 284,255 people are
employed in the manufacturing sector. There are a more than 900
companies operating under the federal Prosec
program in Baja California. The average
wage for a maquiladora employee in Baja California is in the range
of 2 to 3 US Dollars
In 1973, the Mexican constitution was amended with the
Foreign Investment Law
, which allowed foreigners
to purchase land within the borders and coasts of Mexico by way of
a trust, handled through a Mexican bank (Fideicomiso). This trust
assures to the buyer all the rights and privileges of ownership,
and it can be sold, inherited, leased, or transferred at any time.
Since 1994, the Foreign Investment Law stipulates that the
Fideicomiso must be to a 50 year term, with the option to petition
for a 50 year renewal at any time.
Any Mexican citizen buying a bank trust property has the option to
either remain within the Trust or opt out of it and request the
title in “Escritura”.
Mexico’s early history involved foreign invasions and the loss of
vast amounts of land; in fear of history being repeated, the
Mexican constitution established the concept of the
In 1973, in order to bring in more foreign tourist investment, the
Bank Trust of Fideicomiso was created, thus allowing non-Mexicans
to own land without any constitutional amendment necessary. Since
the law went into effect, it has undergone many modifications in
order to make purchasing land in Mexico a safer investment.