Chihuahua (state)

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Chihuahua is a state in northern Mexico with a mainland area of , slightly bigger than the United Kingdom. It is surrounded by the Mexican states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the south-west, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east, and by the U.S. states of Texas to the north-east and New Mexico to the north. Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico by area, and therefore has the nickname "El Estado Grande."

Although Chihuahua is primarily identified with its namesake, the Chihuahuan Desert, it has more forests than any other state. On the slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains (around the regions of Casas Grandes, Cuauhtémoc and Parral), there are vast prairies of short yellow grass, the source of the bulk of the state's agricultural production.

As of 2005, there were 3.2 million inhabitants of the state. The largest city is the U.S.-border city of Ciudad Juárez, which has 1,301,452 residents (2005 census). The capital, Chihuahua, has 748,518 inhabitants.

The state also has a large service sector: tourism, banking and high-tech enterprises.

One of the most notable features of Chihuahua is the Barranca del Cobre, or Copper Canyon, a spectacular canyon system larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Chihuahua played a pivotal role in the Mexican Revolution and was a battleground between revolutionary forces led by Pancho Villa and federal forces.

Chihuahua is one of the Mexican states that holds a slight population plurality of people that are primarily of European ancestry (as is the case in much of northern Mexico), with around 49% of the state population being of European descent, commonly Spanish, Italian, German, French, Irish, Russian and Dutch. Around 45% of its population has mixed European and Amerindian ancestry (Mestizo). The population of Amerindians in northern Mexico tends to be low compared to the southern part, and Chihuahua is no exception. While there are Amerindians in Chihuahua, they comprise only around 6% of the state's population, and they mostly live in isolated areas in the mountains.


Nueva Vizcaya was the first province of northern New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. In 1823, after the Mexican War of Independence, the province was divided into two states, Chihuahua and Durango.

Constituent legislatures

In the constituent legislature or convention, the conservative and liberal elements formed using the nicknames of Chirrines and Cuchas. The military entered as a third party. The elections for the first regular legislature were disputed, and it was not until May 1, 1826, that the body was installed. The liberals gained control and the opposition responded by fomenting a conspiracy. This was promptly stopped with the aid of informers, and more strenuous measures were taken against the conservatives. Extra powers were conferred on the Durango governor, Santiago Baca Ortiz, deputy to the first national congress, and leader of the liberal party.

Gonzalez’ rebelion

Opponents continued to plot against the new government. In March 1827, Lieutenant J.M. González proclaimed himself comandante general, arrested the governor, and dissolved the legislature. General Parras was sent to suppress the movement. Comandante general J. J. Ayestaran was replaced by José Figueroa. When elections failed, the government intervened in favor of the Yorkino party, which had elected Vicente Guerrero to the presidency.

Because of the general instability of the federal government during 1828, the installation of the new legislature did not take place until the middle of the following year. It was quickly dissolved by Governor Baca, who replaced it with a more pronounced Yorkino type. When Guerrero’s liberal administration was overthrown in December, Gaspar de Ochoa aligned with Anastasio Bustamante, and in February 1830, organized an opposition group that arrested the new governor, F. Elorriaga, along with other prominent Yorkinos. He then summoned the legislature, which had been dissolved by Baca. The civil and military authorities were now headed by J. A. Pescador and Ochoa.

Vicente Guerrero

The general features of the preceding occurrence applied also to Chihuahua, although in a modified form. The first person elected under the new constitution of 1825 was Simón Elías Gonzalez, who being in Sonora, was induced to remain there. J. A. Arce took his place as ruler in Chihuahua. In 1829, González became comandante general of Chihuahua, when his term of office on the west coast expired. Arce was less of a yorkino than his confrere of Durango. Although unable to resist the popular demand for the expulsion of the Spaniards, he soon quarreled with the legislature, which declared itself firmly for Guerrero, and announcing his support of Bustamante’s revolution, he suspended, in March 1830, eight members of that body, the vice-governor, and several other officials, and expelled them from the state. The course thus outlined was followed by Governor J. I. Madero, who succeeded in 1831, associated with J. J. Calvo as comandante general, stringent laws being issued against secret societies, which were supposed to be the main spring to the anti-clerical feeling among liberals.

Durango and Bustamante

The anti-clerical feeling was wide-spread, and Durango supported the initial reaction against the government at Mexico. In May 1832, José Urrea, a rising officer, supported the restoration of President Pedraza. On July 20, Governor Elorriaga was reinstated, and Baca along with the legislative minority were brought back to form a new legislature, which met on September 1. Chihuahua showied no desire to imitate the revolutionary movement and Urrea prepared to invade the state. Comandante-general J.J.Calvo threatened to retaliate, and a conflict seemed imminent. The entry of General Santa Anna into Mexico brought calm, as the leaders waited for clarity.

Santa Anna

Bishop Zubiria was banished for resisting the law relating to priests and other encroachments on the church; another joined the western states in a short lived coalition for sustaining the federal system. Chihuahua adopted the Cuernavaca Plan in July 1834 while President Valentín Gómez Farías was in power. Because the plan was not enforced, commanding officer, Colonel J.I. Gutiérrez, declared the term of the legislature and governor expired on September 3. At a convention of citizens called to select a new provisional ruler, Gutierrez obtained the vote, with P. J. Escalante for his deputy, and a council to guide the administration. Santa Anna ordered the reinstatement of Mendarozqueta as comandante general. Gutiérrez yielded, but Escalante refused to surrender office, demonstrations of support ensued, but Escalante yielded when troops were summoned from Zacatecas. A new election brought a new legislature, and conforming governors. In September 1835 José Urrea a federalist army officer came into power.

Comandante general Simón Elías González, was nominated governor and military command was given to Colonel J.J. Calvo, whose firmness had earned well-merited praise. The state was in the midst of a war with the Apaches, which became the focus of all their energy and resources. After a review of the situation, Simón Elías González declared that the interests of the territory would be best served by uniting the civil and military power, at least while the campaign lasted. He resigned under opposition, but was renominated in 1837.

Human settlement

Chihuahua is subdivided into 67 municipios (municipalities)''. See municipalities of Chihuahua.

The state's major communities include:


As of 2005, Chihuahua’s economy represents 4.5% of Mexico’s total gross domestic product or 29,826 million USD. Chihuahua's economy has a strong focus on export oriented manufacturing (i.e. maquiladora / INMEX). As of 2005, 329,939 people are employed in the manufacturing sector. There are a more than 406 companies operating under the federal INMEX or Prosec program in Chihuahua. The average wage for an employee in Chihuahua is approximately 193 pesos per day.


See also


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