Chihuahua, Mexico

Encyclopedia Article


The largest state in Northern Mexico. Chihuahua shares borders with the U.S states of New Mexico and Texas. This state is known for its U.S. border-patrol presence and the Mexican drug cartel trade, which is largely based in Ciudad Juarez. The region’s border location is strategically and diplomatically significant to Mexico, especially after the signing of the 1994 North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. NAFTA lifted tax and trade restrictions on much of the trade between these nations, which brought some economic success to Chihuahua. The state has one of the fastest growing economies in Mexico based on its maquiladoras, or factory and assembly plants, which bring a lot of foreign manufacturing business into Mexico, though many of its laborers live in poverty.

A lot of rural conflict occurred between peasant factions in Chihuahua during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). To this day, tourists can visit one of the lead revolutionary figures, Pancho Villa's, mansion. The tourist industry also thrives off of Copper Canyon, a system of canyons larger than the United States’ Grand Canyon, inhabited by the Tarahumara Indigenous tribe and home to many scenic waterfalls. Before Spanish settlement, the geographic region was home to more than 200 Indigenous tribes, many of whom were killed-off over centuries of Spanish colonization. However, many Indigenous peoples still inhabit the area including the Tarahumara, Apache, Comanche, and Guarijio peoples.

The state's name allegedly comes from the Náhuatl language and means "dry, sandy place." A small breed of dog, the Chihuahua, is named after the region. The Chihuahuan desert is a diverse ecoregion; much of the rocks, and plant and animal life, are distinct to the area. The desert encompasses most of the state and also crosses into parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Photo Credit: 

"Ciudad de Chihuahua, October 18, 2003" by Emerson Posadas is licensed under CC BY.

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