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Baja California ( in English) is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexicomarker. 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 peninsula, north of the 28th parallel. The state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Oceanmarker, on the east by Sonoramarker, the U.S. State of Arizonamarker, and the Gulf of Californiamarker (also known as the Sea of Cortezmarker), and on the south by Baja California Surmarker. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of Californiamarker.

The state 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 Countymarker on its north. Over 75% of the population lives in the capital city, Mexicalimarker, or in Tijuanamarker. Both of these cities are adjacent to the U.S. border. Other important cities include Ensenadamarker, San Felipemarker, Playas de Rosaritomarker and Tecatemarker. The population of the state is composed of Mestizos, mostly immigrants from other parts of Mexicomarker, 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 Statesmarker due to its proximity to San Diegomarker and the cheaper cost of life compared to San Diego. 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 Diablomarker, the highest point of the peninsula, is located. 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 Guadalupemarker, the major wine producer area in Mexico. To the east of the mountain range, the Sonoran Desertmarker 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. In fact, the westernmost point in Mexico, the Guadalupe Islandmarker, is part of Baja California. The Coronado, Todos Santos and Cedros Islandsmarker 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, Sugar Pine and Pinon Pine. Understory species include Manzanita. Fauna include a variety of reptiles including the Western fence lizard, which is at the southern extent of its range.

Geography



Baja California has two sea shores. It borders the Pacific Oceanmarker to the west and the Gulf of Californiamarker 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 Martirmarker. These ranges are home to forests similar to those in Southern Californiamarker. 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 Guadalupemarker and the Valle de Ojos Negros. The mild 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 Rosaritomarker and Ensenadamarker have one of the nicest weather patterns in the whole Mexico. 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 area.

There are numerous islands on the Pacific shore. Guadalupe Islandmarker is the remote outpost to the west and it is home to big colonies of sea lions. In Cedros Islandmarker there is a small community living mostly on fishing. The Todos Santos Islands, in front of Ensenada, are popular with surfers offering some of the highest waves worldwide.

To the east, the Sonoran Desertmarker enters the state from both California and Sonora. 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 center. 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 Saladamarker, 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. Fishing and touristic towns such as San Felipemarker and Bahia de los Angelesmarker 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 Mexicali.

The main source of water in the state are the Colorado Rivermarker, which empties in the Gulf of California, (but now rarely reaches the Gulf) and the Tijuana Rivermarker, serving the cities of Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana. 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.

History

The first humans came to the peninsula at least 11,000 years ago, probably following the Pacific coast down from Alaskamarker. At 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, Paipai, Kumeyaay, Cocopa, and Quechan. 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 Islandmarker off the west coast had developed a strongly maritime economy. 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.

Europeans reached the present state of Baja California in 1539, when Francisco de Ulloa reconnoitered its east coast on the Gulf of Californiamarker 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 again surveyed the west coast in 1602, but outside visitors during the following century were few.

The Jesuits founded a permanent mission colony on the peninsula at Loretomarker 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 Ferdinand Konščak made overland explorations northward into the state of Baja California. Jesuit missions were subsequently established among the Cochimí at Santa Gertrudis (1752), San Borja (1762), and Santa María (1767).

After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768, the short-lived Franciscan administration (1768–1773) resulted in one new mission at San Fernando Velicatámarker. More importantly, the 1769 expedition to settle Alta Californiamarker under Gaspar de Portolà and Junípero Serra resulted in the first overland exploration of the northwestern portion of the state.

The Dominicans 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, extending from El Rosario (1774) to Descanso (1817), just south of Tijuana.

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
  • 1848: Alta Californiamarker is annexed by the United States.
  • 1853: Soldier of fortune William Walker captures La Pazmarker, 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 area.
  • 1905: The Magónista revolution, an anarchist movement based on the writings of Ricardo Flores Magón and Enrique Flores Magón, begins.
  • 1911: Mexicali and Tijuana are captured by the Mexican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Mexicano, PLM), but soon surrender to Federal forces.
  • 1930: Baja California is further divided into Northern and Southern territories.
  • 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.
  • 1974: The South Territory of Baja California becomes the 31st state, Baja California Surmarker.
  • 1989: Ernesto Ruffo Appel of the PAN becomes the first non-PRI governor of Baja California and the first opposition governor of any state since the Revolution.


Demographics

The racial make-up of the state is approximately 40% White/European (mostly but not limited to people of Spanish descent), 36% Mestizo (Mixed Amerindian and European), 9% east Asian (predominantly Chinese, Korean and Japanese), the remaining 15% is Native American (of Mexican and Central American origins, but includes Cherokees from the U.S. long settled in Northwest Mexico since the 1850s) and less than 1% Black African.

Historically, the state had sizable east Asian immigration, esp. Mexicali has a large Chinese community, as well many Filipinos from the Philippinesmarker arrived to the state during the eras of Spanish and later American rule (1898–1946) in much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tijuana was a major port of entry for east Asians entering the U.S. ever since the first Asian-Americans were present in California.

Also a 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 Ensenadamarker.

Since 1960, large numbers of migrants from southern Mexican states have arrived to work in agriculture (esp. the Mexicali Valley and nearby Imperial Valley, California, 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," meaning "fleet."

There is also a sizable immigrant community from Central and South America, and from the United States and Canadamarker. An estimated 200,000+ American expatriates live in the state, especially in coastal resort towns such as Rosaritomarker, and San Felipemarker, known for affordable homes purchased by retirees who continue to hold US citizenship. Tijuanamarker also has a large American population (second largest in Mexico next to Mexico City), particularly for its cheaper housing and proximity to San Diego. Most Americans that live in Tijuana work in San Diego, earning higher wages.

About 92% of Baja California is Catholic.

Municipalities

Baja California is subdivided into five municipios (municipalities). See municipalities of Baja California.



Education

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 university.

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 schools.

Economy

As of 2005, Baja California’s economy represents 3.3% of Mexico’s gross domestic product or 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 per hour.

Real estate

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”.

Historical basis

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 Restricted Zone. 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.

See also



Notes

References



External links




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