The economy of New Mexico is dependent on oil drilling, mineral extraction, dryland farming, cattle ranching, lumber milling, and retail trade. As of 2016-17, its total gross domestic product (GDP) was $95 billion with a GDP per capital of $45,465. New Mexico's status as a tax haven yields low to moderate personal income taxes on residents and military personnel, and gives tax credits and exemptions to favorable industries. Because of this, its film industry has grown and contributed $1.23 billion to its overall economy. Due to its large area and economic climate, New Mexico has a large U.S. military presence marked notably with the White Sands Missile Range. Various U.S. national security agencies base their research and testing arms in New Mexico such as the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. During the 1940s, Project Y of the Manhattan Project developed and built the country's first atomic bomb and nuclear test, Trinity.
Inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before European exploration, it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. It was named Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of Mexico by Spanish settlers, 223 years before the establishment of the present-day country of Mexico. The present-day state of New Mexico was not named after, nor is it a part of, Mexico. Its geographic characteristics made settlement and effective political control difficult which prompted Mexico's invasion and control of the area from 1824 to 1846. New Mexico's Spanish origins made cultural integration with Mexico unsuitable, which sparked the Revolt of 1837 and a growing economic association with the expanding United States. The 1848 Mexican–American War indirectly capitalized on this tension and created the U.S. New Mexico Territory. It was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912.
Its history has given New Mexico the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans as a population proportion (after Alaska). Three federally-protected Native American tribes–the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache peoples–inhabit New Mexico; historically the Ancestral Puebloans, Mogollon, and the modern extant Comanche inhabited the state. The largest Hispanic and Latino groups represented include the Hispanos of New Mexico, Chicanos, and Mexican Americans. The flag of New Mexico features the state’s Spanish origins with the same scarlet and gold coloration as Spain's Cross of Burgundy, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe.
New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821. Spanish explorers recorded this region as New Mexico (Nuevo México in Spanish) in 1563. In 1581, the Chamuscado and Rodríguez Expedition named the region north of the Rio Grande "San Felipe del Nuevo México." The Spaniards hoped to find wealthy Mexican Indian cultures there similar to those of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire of the Valley of Mexico. The indigenous cultures of New Mexico, however, proved to be unrelated to the Aztecs and were not wealthy. Before statehood, the name "New Mexico" was applied to various configurations of the U.S. Territory, to a Mexican state, and to a province of New Spain, all in the same general area but of varying extensions.
At total area 121,699 square miles (315,200 km2), the state is fifth largest state of the US and slightly larger than British Isles. New Mexico's eastern border lies along 103° W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and (due to a 19th-century surveying error) 2.2 miles (3.5 km) west of 103° W longitude with Texas. On the southern border, Texas makes up the eastern two-thirds, while the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora make up the western third, with Chihuahua making up about 90% of that. The western border with Arizona runs along the 109° 03' W longitude. The southwestern corner of the state is known as the Bootheel. The 37° N latitude parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in New Mexico's northwestern corner. New Mexico, although a large state, has very little water. Its surface water area is about 250 square miles (650 km2).
The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north-south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico's rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is tied for the fourth-longest river in the United States.
The U.S. government protects millions of acres of New Mexico as national forests, including: