With a population of 1,819,046, New Mexico ranked 36th among the states in 2000. The population density was only 6 persons per sq km (16 per sq mi) in 2006. Like other states in the Southwest, New Mexico underwent a rapid population increase after 1950. Migration from other parts of the United States contributed to this growth. In 1950 only 681,187 people lived in the state. The population increased by 40 percent in the 1950s, by 7 percent in the 1960s, by 28 percent in the 1970s, by 16 percent in the 1980s, and by 20 percent in the 1990s. The regions around Albuquerque and Santa Fe are the most rapidly growing areas.
The population is unevenly distributed. Most of the people live near the Río Grande, Pecos, and San Juan rivers. Albuquerque is located on the Río Grande. More than one-third of the state’s total population lives in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. In 2000 some 75 percent of the state’s inhabitants were classified as living in urban areas. Of the remainder, classified as rural residents, some lived on isolated farms and ranches, but the majority lived in small villages, especially in the north.
New Mexico’s rural population tends to live in or around settlements related to its tri-cultural history. Most of the villages and towns are small, but relatively stable, adhering to traditional cultural values. In the eastern counties, Anglo-American populations are still primarily tied to agriculture or energy production; in the central and northwestern regions, Native Americans are rapidly modernizing their economies, but remain faithful to their reservations and traditional lifestyles. Throughout the state, but particularly in the north-central mountains, Hispanic towns dating back to the early period of Spanish and Mexican land grants represent enclaves of traditional life and family culture.
Small towns and villages throughout the state often provide too little employment and have too little agricultural potential to provide steady and secure income to their residents. Long distance commuting for employment at federal or state government facilities, or local employment in extractive industries such as mining and lumbering or tourist services provide the economic means for these settlements to continue. New Mexico is proud of its tri-cultural heritage, which is evident in its cuisine, architecture, languages, and cultural events. Native Americans, Hispanics, and Anglo-Americans each contribute to the unique culture that is New Mexico.
Many Native Americans, comprising 9.5 percent of the population, reside on six reservations and in 19 pueblos. They are the fourth largest Native American community in the United States. Some of the pueblos, such as Taos, Acoma Pueblo, and Santa Domingo, predate the Spanish conquest of New Mexico. The three major Native American cultures are the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache. Most of the Navajo live on a large reservation in northwestern New Mexico and adjoining states. Many Navajo raise sheep, but they also earn income from oil and other mineral production, manufacturing of missile guidance systems for the United States Department of Defense, lumbering, and from vast expanses of irrigated cropland. The Navajo irrigation project is one of the largest in the state.
Most of the pueblos are located in the Río Grande Valley. A few of the pueblos (Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna) are found in west central New Mexico. Some of the best-known pueblos are Taos, Zuni, Santa Clara, San Idelfonso, Acoma, and Jemez. Most of the pueblo people are employed in cities near the pueblos, although some engage in farming. Los Alamos National Laboratory employs many pueblo people who live nearby. Traditional arts and crafts are a source of income for the pueblos and are sold to both tourists and local residents. "New Mexico" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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