Soap-tree yucca (Yucca elata) growing in the gypsum sand of White Sands National —Tom Algire
State, southwestern U.S. Area: 121,590 sq mi (314,917 sq km). Pop. (2009 est.): 2,009,671. Capital: Santa Fe. New Mexico is bordered by Mexico and the U.S. states of Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. In the west it is crossed north-south by the Continental Divide. The Rio Grande bisects the state and for a short distance forms the boundary with Texas. Human settlement in the area has probably spanned 10,000 years. Before the Navajo and Apache arrived in the 15th century, an agricultural Pueblo Indian civilization had developed irrigation systems, pueblos, and cliff dwellings, whose ruins remain throughout the state. Spaniards from Mexico claimed the area for Spain in the 16th century, and in 1540 Francisco Vázquez de Coronado explored it. The first settlement was at Santa Fe in 1610. Missionaries were active in the 1600s. It became part of Mexico in 1821 and was ceded to the U.S. in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. The Territory of New Mexico was established by Congress in 1850. It became the 47th U.S. state in 1912 and retained its frontier image. World War II spurred economic and social change, bringing research facilities, including that at Los Alamos. The economy today is largely dependent on the export of raw materials and on federal government expenditures; oil and natural gas are also important. Tourism is New Mexico's leading industry. The University of New Mexico (1889) is in Albuquerque, and fine-arts communities are in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.