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Coordinates: 30°33′N 115°10′W / 30.55°N 115.167°W / 30.55; -115.167
Baja California[note 1] (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbaxa kaliˈfoɾnja] ( listen)), (English: Lower California), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California), is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California (El Territorio Norte de Baja California). It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. State of Arizona, and the Gulf of 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 California.
The state has an estimated population of 3,315,766 (2015) much more than the sparsely populated Baja California Sur to the south, and similar to San Diego County, California on its north. Over 75% of the population lives in the capital city, Mexicali, in Ensenada, or in Tijuana. Other important cities include San Felipe, Rosarito and Tecate. The 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 Spanish 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 lower cost of living 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 largest state by area in Mexico. Its geography ranges 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 located. This mountain range effectively divides the weather patterns in the state. In the northwest, the weather is semi-dry and 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 producing area in Mexico. To the east of the mountain range, the Sonoran Desert dominates the landscape. In the south, the weather becomes drier and gives way to the Vizcaino Desert. The state is also home to numerous islands off both of its shores. In fact, 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.
The first people came to the peninsula at least 11,000 years ago. At that time two main native groups are thought to be 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 Island 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 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 or Joan Rodrigues Cabrilho 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 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 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 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.
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 California is annexed by the United States.
- 1853: 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 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 Sur.
- 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.
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 California. 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. 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 climate along the northwestern coast pleasant year round. The coastal city of Ensenada 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.
To the east, the Sonoran Desert 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 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.
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 fishing. The Todos Santos Islands, in front of Ensenada, are popular with surfers offering some of the highest waves worldwide.
The state is also blessed with numerous beaches on its east coast. Fishing 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 Mexicali.
The main source of water in the state are the the Tijuana River, serving the cities of Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana and the Colorado River, and its tributary the Hardy River which empty into the Gulf of California, (but now barely reach the Gulf). 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.
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. The name of the fish genus Bajacalifornia is derived from the Baja California Peninsula.
In the main terrestrial wildlife refuges on the peninsula of Baja California, Constitution 1857 National Park and Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park contain several coniferous species; the most abundant are: pinus jeffreyi, pinus ponderosa, pinus cembroide, pinus quadrifolia, pinus monophylla, juniperus, arctostaphylos drupacea, artemisa ludoviciana, and adenostoma esparcifolium. The flora share many species with the Laguna Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains in southwest California. The lower elevations of the Sierra Juárez are characterized by chaparral and desert shrub.
The fauna in the parks exhibit a large number of mammals primarily: mule deer, bighorn sheep, cougar, bobcat, ringtail cat, coyote, rabbit, squirrel and more than 30 species of bats. The park is also home to many avian species like: bald eagle, golden eagle, falcon, woodpecker, black vulture, crow, several species of Sittidae and duck.
Baja California is subdivided into five municipios (municipalities). See municipalities of Baja California.
Presidential elections results
At 3:40:41 pm PDT on Easter Sunday, 4 April 2010 a 7.2 Mwmagnitude northwest trending strike-slip earthquake hit the Mexicali Valley, with its epicenter 26km southwest of the city Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico. The main shock was felt as far as the Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas; in Yuma, Arizona, was felt with a 7.2 magnitude, in Ensenada was felt a 6.9 magnitude, in Tijuana 6.4 and San Luis Rio Colorado with 7.2. At least a half-dozen aftershocks with magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.4 were reported, including a 5.1-magnitude shaker at 4:14 am. that was centered near El Centro. As of 6:31AM PDT, 5 April 2010, two people have been confirmed dead.
The racial make-up of the state is approximately 40% White/European (mostly but not limited to people of descent), 36% Mestizo (Mixed Amerindian and European), 9% east Asian, 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 Philippines arrived to the state during the eras of Spanish and later American rule (1898–1946) in much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tijuana and Ensenada 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 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, California, US) and manufacturing. The cities of Ensenada, Tijuana and Mexicali grew as a result of migrants, primarily those who sought US citizenship and those temporary residents awaiting 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 Canada. An estimated 200,000+ American expatriates live in the state, especially in coastal resort town such as Ensenada, known for affordable homes purchased by retirees who continue to hold US citizenship. San Felipe, Ensenada and 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.
Some 60,000 Oaxacans live in Baja California, the vast majority being indigenous. Some 40% of them lack proper birth certificates.
According to a Conacyt investigator, a bit under a million people were classified as "poor" in the state, up from 2008 when there were roughly 810,000. Exactly who these people are, whether locals, interstate or international migrants, was not explained.
|Religion in Baja California (2010 census)
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.
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.
Vineyards in the wine region of Valle de Guadalupe
The Foreign Investment Law of 1973 allows 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 “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.
- ^ Sometimes informally referred to as Baja California Norte (North Lower California) to distinguish it from both the Baja California Peninsula, of which it forms the northern half, and Baja California Sur, the adjacent state that covers the southern half of the peninsula. While it is a well-established term for the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, however, its usage would not be correct, because Baja California Norte has never existed as a political designation for a state, territory, district or region.
- ^ Delta in the northeast, recorded 54.0 °C (129.2 °F) on 3 August 1998.
- ^ The state is currently (2008) looking at a plan by SDSU Adj. Professor Newcomb (ICATS) to do this using his geothermal desalination system to supply water locally. SEMARNAT believes this to be the first viable plan presented.