Area and Population
The municipal area is 773.06 and the population was 1,464 in 2005, with 82% or 1,096 inhabitants residing in the town itself. . (Two other smaller pueblos are part of the municipality; La Mora and Las Delicias.) There were 1.96 inhabitants per square kilometer in the municipality, which has been losing population since the census of 1995. The lack of economic opportunity has caused many people to emigrate, especially to the United States of America. There is anecdotal evidence that this emigration has been reversed with many former residents returning to the area as a result of the Financial crisis of 2007-2010 in the US.
Banámichi is approximately 135 miles (217 km) south of Bisbee, Arizona by road. The town lies on the east side of the Sonora River which defines the region. Much of the land above the river is mountainous and soils are poor. Land along the river bottom is generally more productive, producing alfalfa, fruit trees and small cash crops. There are still pine and oak trees in higher elevations, and some logging is carried out. The area still has wild life such as the mule deer, big horn sheep, white tailed deer, bobcats, possums, mourning dove, wild turkey, and quail.
Education and Health Care
A state highway (paved) links the municipality with the state capital, Hermosillo to the south and the cities of Arizpe and Cananea to the north. There is an airfield for small planes. Telecommunication services available are Telmex voice services, high speed ADSL internet and Telcel cellular services.
The main economic activities are agriculture and cattle raising with limited tourist activity. More than half the population works in these areas . Subsistence farming is carried out to produce corn and beans while most of the farming is of grasses for cattle feed. The cattle herd had over 10,000 head in 2000. .
Industry is limited to a handful of micro industries and a modest plant assembling fish hooks for the North American market. The long abandoned Santa Elena gold and silver mine, has been reopened and is currently being developed on the southern end of the town. Construction employment fluctuates to up to 135 workers. Once in operation, (expected date of Fall 2010) the mine is expected to employ up to 85 workers.
The Miguel Hidalgo Hidalgo Plaza is very attractive with a gazebo/bandstand in the center. Facing the plaza is the main church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, which was begun in the 17th century and retains it original structure with additions from the 1940s. The Palacio Municipal, or city hall also faces the plaza. The city park on the main highway contains the Piedra Historica, an ancient petroglyph, being held aloft by statues of four imposing Opata warriors. Scholars believe the petroglyph represents an irrigation map. Just south of the town is the Bacachi warm springs pools. The town has a baseball stadium where municipal teams play and games are often televised. Quarter horse racing takes place at a track near the airport. Several of the cattle ranches in the area also serve as hunting lodges for organized hunting trips, typically run by professional hunting outfitters. La Posada del Rio Sonora is an historic inn with a full restaurant, cafe and cantina located right on the main square. The main part of the hotel is remodeled from a 17th-century colonial adobe house. Other hotels in Banámichi are Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora, opened in 2009, a combination of restored adobe and modern construction, Los Dos Potrillos and two smaller guest houses, Guest House Guely and Casa Rural Leon. See Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora,La Posada del Rio Sonora, BanamichiMexico.com for a listing of hotels and restaurants and other tourist services in Banámichi.
Origin of the Name and History
The name is derived from the Opata word Banamitzi, which means, "Where the water turns" or "lowered by water". The region was once inhabited by the Opata people; in 1639 the Spanish missionary Bartolomé Castaños S.J. founded the settlement of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios de Banámichi. In 1930 it became part of the municipality of Arizpe and got its autonomy in 1931, with Banámichi as its municipal seat.