Francisco VÃ¡squez de Coronado, a Spanish explorer searching for gold, traveled the region that became New Mexico in 1540â€“1542. In 1598 the first Spanish settlement was established on the Rio Grande River by Juan de Onate; in 1610 Santa Fe was founded and made the capital of New Mexico.
The U.S. acquired most of New Mexico in 1848, as a result of the Mexican War, and the remainder in the 1853 Gadsden Purchase. Union troops captured the territory from the Confederates during the Civil War. With the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, the Apache Wars and most of the Indian conflicts in the area were ended.
Since 1945, New Mexico has been a leader in energy research and development with extensive experiments conducted at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and Sandia Laboratories in the nuclear, solar, and geothermal areas.
Minerals are the state's richest natural resource, and New Mexico is one of the U.S. leaders in output of uranium and potassium salts. Petroleum, natural gas, copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, and molybdenum also contribute heavily to the state's income.
The principal manufacturing industries include food products, chemicals, transportation equipment, lumber, electrical machinery, and stone-clay-glass products. About two-thirds of New Mexico's farm income comes from livestock products, especially dairy and cattle. Pecans, hay, and onions are the most important field crops. Corn, peanuts, beans, onions, chilies, and lettuce are also grown.
Tourist attractions include the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument, the ruins at Fort Union, Billy the Kid mementos at Lincoln, the White Sands and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monuments, Bandelier National Monument, and the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Kathy Baker actress;
- Notah Begay III golfer;
- Judy Blume author;
- Ernest L. Blumenshein artist;
- William â€œBilly the Kidâ€ Bonney outlaw;
- Richard Bradford author;
- Ralph Bunche Nobel Peace Prize winner;
- Bruce Cabot actor;
- Kit Carson army scout and trapper;
- Dennis Chavez former senator;
- John Chisum cattle king;
- Mangus Coloradas Apache leader;
- Edward Condon physicist;
- Bill Daily actor;
- John Denver singer;
- Bo Diddley blues guitarist;
- Patrick Garrett lawman;
- Greer Garson actress;
- Sid Gutierrez astronaut;
- William Hanna animator;
- Neil Patrick Harris actor;
- Carl Hatch senator;
- Tony Hillerman author;
- Conrad Hilton hotel executive;
- Dennis Hopper actor;
- Peter Hurd artist;
- Preston Jones playwright and actor;
- Ralph Kiner baseball player and sportscaster;
- Nancy Lopez golfer;
- Maria MartÃnez San Ildefonso Pueblo potter;
- Demi Moore actress;
- Jim Morrison singer and songwriter;
- Bill Mauldin political cartoonist;
- PopÃ© San Juan Pueblo medicine man and leader;
- Georgia O'Keeffe painter;
- Harrison Schmitt astronaut and representative;
- Kim Stanley actress;
- Slim Summerville actor;
- Clyde Tombaugh astronomer;
- Al Unser, Bobby Unser auto racers;
- Victorio Apache chief;
- Linda Wertheimer NPR correspondent;
- Kathy Whitworth golfer.
Here are the facts and trivia that people are buzzing about.