American state, admitted in 1912. Has a population of about 1.3 million, with an area of 121,666 square miles. The capital is Santa Fe, and the largest city is Albuquerque. The state bird is the roadrunner, and the state nickname is "Land of Enchantment". The state dinosaur is the coeleophysis. No, really. And the official state question is "Red or Green?" Don't get it? Think chile peppers, people...

New Mexico is a culturally and racially mixed state, with Anglos, Hispanics, and American Indians dominating most of the state. Poverty is higher than the national average, as are deaths from drunk driving.

The state is notable for, among other things, Carlsbad Caverns, the Taos art colony, Los Alamos National Laboratory, White Sands National Monument, the Four Corners area, the Santa Fe Opera, the site of the first detonation of an atomic bomb, the grave of Billy the Kid, and the Roswell UFO crash.

The scenery, which ranges from flat deserts to forested mountains, is almost universally beautiful. Visit for that reason alone.

Art is a very big business here, especially in Santa Fe and Taos, and examples of beautiful architecture can be found in almost every part of the state. Actually, the Land of Enchantment attracts artists in colossal numbers -- scenic beauty, cultural diversity, isolation, cheap rent, and a long-standing acceptance of artistic temperaments all have something to do with it. New Mexico artists produce some truly beautiful works in every style and medium, but there are also a lot of hack jobs out there who sculpt kachinas, storytellers, and (ugh) howling coyotes to sell to tourists. Let the buyer beware...

Parts of the state seem to suffer from a severe inferiority complex. Many people here seem to hate people from Colorado, and many more hate people from Texas. Central New Mexico residents often have an adversarial relationship with state residents who live too close to the borders of either Texas or Colorado. The State Legislature, in particular, dislikes Texas -- if the Lone Star State passes a decent, common-sense law, chances are the New Mexico Legislature will reject it out of spite. To be honest, quite a few residents are pretentious egomaniacal snobs -- avoid them, if possible, in favor of the many interesting and worthwhile people in the state.

All in all, I like New Mexico a lot. You should take a week off and visit there sometime.

Thanks to futilelord for reminding me about the silly state question

Little known fact ... the license plates in New Mexico say "New Mexico, USA" because many (easily confused) people living in America don't think that New Mexico is part of our Union, but a Mexican state. I've had people, thinking to show off their eloquent Spanish, give me monologues in a tongue I barely understand. Simply because "Mexico" is part of the name of a state where I spent a goodly chunk of my life.

I've always theorized that the reason no one knows that this state exists is because it's always hidden by Willard Scott; it's the perfect place to stand in front of a map of the country to point to his left to tell us what's happening in Texas, from there to do a quick 180 and tell us what's happening on the left coast.

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