Baja California (literally "lower
California" in Spanish) is the northernmost state of Mexico. It is considered a portion of
Northern America. It is sometimes informally referred to as Baja California Norte, to distinguish it from
both the Baja California peninsula, of which it forms the northern half, and Baja California
Sur, the adjacent state that covers the southern half of the peninsula. Before becoming a state
in 1953, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of
71,576 km² (about 27,600 mi², or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico). The state is bordered on
the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. State of Arizona, and the Sea of
Cortez or Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the
U.S.-Mexico border, adjacent to the U.S. state of California.
The state has a population of 2,844,469 (2005
census), much more than the sparsely populated Baja California Sur to the south. Over 75% of the
population lives in the capital city, Mexicali, or the most populous city in the state, Tijuana.
Both these cities are close to the U.S. border. Other important cities include Ensenada, San
Felipe, and Playas de Rosarito and Tecate. Baja California is not entirely Mestizo (Spanish and
American Indian). The population includes small numbers of other European, East Asian, Middle
Eastern and African descent.
The state's inhabitants are known as "Cachanillas,"
after the wild cachanilla plant which has a fresh aroma and was used by the original inhabitants
to make huts. The first Mestizo colonies used these materials with dried mud. Originally, the
term "Cachanillas" was applied only to the inhabitants of the Mexicali Valley,
although there are tales of the term being used for inhabitants of Santa Rosalía in Baja
California Sur. Composer Antonio Valdéz Herrera's work "Puro Cachanilla" (Pure
Cachanilla) has made use of the term more common.
Baja California Norte, while it is a
well-established term for the northern half of the Baja California peninsula, is incorrect
when used in a political sense. Baja California Norte has never existed as a
political designation for a state, territory, district or region.
The racial make-up of the state is; 75% Mestizo
(Mixed Amerindian and European), 15% White/European, 5% Asian (Most of them Chinese) the
remaining 5% is composed by Amerindians, Black africans and North-Americans.
Baja California is subdivided into five municipios
- Playas de Rosarito