Baja California Sur

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This article is about the Mexican state. For other uses, see California (disambiguation).
Baja California Sur
Estado Libre y Soberano de
Baja California Sur
Flag of Baja California Sur
Official seal of Baja California Sur
Nickname(s): El Acuario Del Mundo
(The aquarium of the world)
Anthem: Canto a Baja California
State of Baja California Sur within Mexico
State of Baja California Sur within Mexico
Coordinates: 25°51′N 111°58′W / 25.850°N 111.967°W / 25.850; -111.967Coordinates: 25°51′N 111°58′W / 25.850°N 111.967°W / 25.850; -111.967
Country Mexico
Capital La Paz
Municipalities 5
Largest City La Paz
Admission October 8, 1974[1]
Order 31st
 • Governor PRD Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor
 • Senators[2] PT Francisco J. Obregón
PRD Josefina Cota
PAN Luis Coppola Joffroy
 • Deputies[3]
 • Total 73,909 km2 (28,536 sq mi)
  Ranked 9th
Highest elevation[5] 2,080 m (6,820 ft)
Population (2012)[6]
 • Total 691,161
 • Rank 31st
 • Density 9.4/km2 (24/sq mi)
 • Density rank 32nd
Demonym Sudcaliforniano (a)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
Postal code 23
Area code
ISO 3166 code MX-BCS
HDI Increase 0.789 Very High Ranked 3rd of 32
GDP US$ 3,967,628.2 thousands or US$ 3.968 billion [a]
Website Official Web Site
^ a. The state's GDP was 50,785,641 thousands of pesos in 2006,[7] amount corresponding to 3,967,628.2 thousands of dollars, being a dollar worth 12,80 pesos (value of June 3, 2010).[8]

Baja California Sur (About this sound /ˈbaxa kaliˈfornja sur/ ), lit. "Lower California South", officially Free and Sovereign State of Baja California Sur (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California Sur), is the second smallest Mexican state by population and the 31st admitted state of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state on October 8, 1974, the area was known as the South Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 73,475 km2 (28,369 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and occupies the southern half of the Baja California peninsula, south of the 28th parallel. It is bordered to the north by the state of Baja California, to the west by the Pacific Ocean, and to the east by the Gulf of California, also known as the "Sea of Cortés". Also, the state has maritime borders with Sonora and Sinaloa to the east across the Gulf of California.

As of 2010, the population was 637,026. The state is home to the tourist resorts of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Its largest city and capital is La Paz, a tourist resort and historic landmark. It includes Loreto, the historic first capital of all three Californias (Baja California Sur, Baja California, and California), and the town of Santa Rosalía which is the site of a historic church designed by Gustave Eiffel.


Pre-Columbian period[edit]

The first inhabitants are thought to have arrived to the peninsula at least 11,000 years ago, to judge by the archaeological discovery of several Clovis points in the northern part of the state.[9] The possibility of an even earlier occupation has been raised by radiocarbon dates from a site on Isla Espíritu Santo, but this interpretation still remains controversial.

Before phases of the state's prehistory are manifested in several archaeological complexes:[10]

  • The Las Palmas Complex in the Cape Region and on nearby islands in the Gulf of California is primarily a mortuary pattern. Hallmarks include caves or rock shelters containing secondary burials of human bones painted with red ochre.
  • The Comondú Complex represents late prehistoric occupation throughout the central portion of the peninsula, perhaps dating between about A.D. 500 and 1700. It is recognized, in particular, by small, triangular projectile points that attest to the introduction of the bow and arrow into the region.
  • The Great Mural Rock Art is the best-known archaeological phenomenon in northern Baja California Sur. In the Sierra de Guadalupe and Sierra de San Francisco, many rockshelters contain larger-than-life paintings of humans, deer and other animals.

Four distinct ethnolinguistic groups were encountered in Baja California Sur by the early explorers and missionaries: the Pericú in the south, between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, and on several of the islands in the Gulf; the Guaycura from La Paz to south of Loreto; the Monqui, in the area around Loreto; and the Cochimí, in extensive areas throughout the middle of the peninsula.

Colonial period[edit]

The European discovery of Baja California Sur is credited to Fortún Ximénez, a mutineer on an expedition dispatched by the conqueror of central Mexico, Hernán Cortés in early 1533. Cortés himself led an expedition to the "Island of California" 1535, but he soon abandoned the fruitless enterprise. In 1539–1542, both coasts of Baja California Sur were reconnoitered by Francisco de Ulloa and Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Over the next century and a half, a variety of explorers and pearl hunters (including Sebastián Vizcaíno) visited the peninsula's shores but seem to have had little lasting impact.

The Jesuits began their involvement in 1683–1685 when Eusebio Francisco Kino, along with the admiral Isidro de Atondo y Antillón, made two major but ultimately unsuccessful efforts at colonization, at La Paz and then at San Bruno, north of Loreto. In 1697 the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra established Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, the first permanent mission in Baja California Sur. Jesuit control over the peninsula was gradually extended, first in the region around Loreto, then to the south in the Cape region, and finally toward the north across the northern boundary of Baja California Sur.

The Jesuits were expelled from the peninsula in 1768 and replaced by the Franciscans under Junípero Serra. In 1773, the Franciscans in turn ceded control of the Baja California missions to the Dominicans. The native population of Baja California Sur steadily diminished during the colonial period, primarily under the impacts of Old World diseases but also in occasional violent conflicts. While the Jesuits had striven to limit lay Spanish or Mexican settlement on the peninsula, fearful of corrupting influences and competing power centers, the missions under the Franciscans and Dominicans had to accept a growing lay presence and increased control from central New Spain.

The peninsula was divided into two separate entities in 1804, with the southern one having the seat of government established in the port of Loreto.

  • The colonial governors were:
  • 1804–1805 Claytoné de Allín (s.a.)
  • 1806–1814 Ritchié de Níko
  • 1814 - 11 April 1822 José Darío Argüello

Post-independence period[edit]

After the Mexican War of Independence, President Guadalupe Victoria named Lt. Col. José María Echeandía governor of Baja California Sur and divided it in four municipios (municipalities). In 1830, the capital was moved to La Paz after Loreto was partially destroyed by heavy rains.

On October 2, 1847, the army of the United States was defeated near the town of Mulegé by Captain Manuel Pineda, as part of the Mexican-American War. As a consequence of this battle, the U.S. army was forced to withdraw from the peninsula and could not lay claim to it as part of the new territories acquired through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848.

In 1853 a group of 45, led by journalist William Walker, without the authorization of the United States Government, captured the city of La Paz, before the Mexican Army forced the 45 to retreat back to the United States.

The Territory of Baja California was created in 1888 under the government of President Porfirio Díaz. In 1930, Baja California was again divided into North and South parts, renamed later as North and South districts, then, into North and South territories.

In 1952, the North Territory of Baja California became the 29th state of Mexico, Baja California. The southern portion, below 28°N, remained a federally administered territory until 1974, when the South Territory of Baja California became the 31st state, Baja California Sur, along with the state of Quintana Roo.

Geography, climate and ecology[edit]

Suburb in Cabo San Lucas, with terrain illustrating the mixture of the State's common environments, semi-arid desert, mountains and the coastal plains.

Baja California Sur is characterized by deserts, mountains and coastal flatlands. Plants such as cardon, mezquite and wild-lettuce; animals including mountain lions; and other plants and wildlife characteristic of this ecosystem are found in the Central and Vizcaino Deserts of Baja California Sur.

Climate over most of the state is arid and semi-arid, with a limited sub-humid area in the mountains near the southern tip of the peninsula that receives over 20 inches of precipitation per year due to summer thunderstorms and tropical storms (chubascos) and hurricanes. Hurricanes can strike any part of the state in late summer and fall, but are most frequent on the Pacific side. The Pacific hurricanes are mostly category 1 and 2, and rarely cause catastrophic wind damage, although excessive rainfall can cause flooding.

Parallel to the coast lies the Sierra de la Giganta, with pine and oak forests. To the west, the coastline flatlands form beautiful plains like the Llanos Santa Clara, Magdalena and Hiray, just to name a few.

The Biosphere Natural Reserve of El Vizcaíno, with its 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 sq mi), is the largest natural reserve in Latin America. It is located in the Mulegé municipality and extends from the west end of the Vizcaíno Peninsula and the San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre lagoons, passing over the San Francisco Sierra, to the shores of the Gulf of California and the islands in the Gulf of California.

The state is known for its natural features. The Vizcaíno Desert and small coastal lakes San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre in the north are protected by the federal government. The state includes the Pacific islands of Natividad, Magdalena, and Santa Margarita, as well as the islands of San Marcos, Coronados, Carmen, Montserrat, Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Partida, Espíritu Santo, and Cerralvo, which are located in the Gulf of California. Rocas Alijos are a group of tiny, steep and barren volcanic islets found offshore.

Numerous flora and fauna are found in Baja California Sur. Notable among the tree species is the Elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, which species exhibits a contorted multi-furcate architecture.[11]

Playa Santispac of Bahía Concepción, Baja California Sur

Native species[edit]

Flora and fauna of Baja California Sur
Kure BrownBooby.jpg MountainLion.jpg White shark.jpg White Marlin in North Carolina 1394318584.jpg Zalophus californianus - Morro Bay.jpg
Red-footed Booby Cougar Great white shark Marlin California sea lion
California Quail mail in Golden Gate Park.JPG Antilocapra americana.jpg Coragyps-atratus-002.jpg Desert Bighorn Sheep Joshua Tree 4.JPG
California Quail Pronghorn Black Vulture Bighorn sheep
Boojum tree 02.jpg Phoenix dactylifera1.jpg Bear Canyon Trail at Sabino Canyon.jpg Pinus ponderosa 9681.JPG
Boojum tree Date palm Saguaro cacti or Pachycereus cacti Ponderosa Pine


Coat of arms of Baja California Sur.svg Demographic development of Baja California Sur from 1895

Source: INEGI[12]

The 2005 Population and Housing Census registered 512,170 inhabitants. According to the number of inhabitants per state, Baja California South ranks last in the country at 32nd place. It also has the lowest population density: only 6 persons per km2.

The state population is young - more than half under 29 years of age. Only 2% of the population speaks an indigenous language, Mixteco, Náhuatl and Zapoteco being the main ones.


Religion in Baja California Sur (2010 census)[13]
Roman Catholicism
Other Christian
Other Religion
No religion


Baja California Sur has the lowest illiteracy levels in the country (3.6%).[citation needed]

Institutions of higher education includes:


Baja California Sur is subdivided into five municipalities (municipios). See Municipalities of Baja California Sur.

The state includes Loreto, the historic first capital of all three Californias (Baja California Sur, Baja California, and California), the town of Santa Rosalía which is the site of a historic church designed by Gustave Eiffel. The smoke stack of the silver smelters in El Triunfo, Baja California Sur was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel never visited Baja California Sur, rather his early architectural works were sold as 'cookie cutter' designs and can be seen in hundreds of locations around the world. Although the silver industry ended full scale production in the 1950s the stack and ruins of the silver industry remain as a significant landmark today.

Major communities[edit]

Towns (Pueblos)[edit]

See also[edit]

Line notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Poder Legislativo del Estado de Quintana Roo" (in Spanish).  (Spanish)
  2. ^ "Senadores por Baja California Sur LXI Legislatura". Senado de la Republica. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Listado de Diputados por Grupo Parlamentario del Estado de Baja California Sur". Camara de Diputados. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Baja California Sur". SRE. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Saldierna, J. F. Mexico y sus estados. Editorial Emán. p. 68. 
  6. ^ "ENOE". Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Sistema de Cuantas Nacionales de Mexico.". 2010. p. 40. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Reporte: Jueves 3 de Junio del 2010. Cierre del peso mexicano.". Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  9. ^ William C. Massey. 1947
  10. ^ Don Laylander and Jerry Moore. 2006
  11. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  12. ^ Population Census. Online:
  13. ^ "Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010". INEGI. Retrieved 2013-02-04. 


  • Harry W. Crosby. 2005. Antigua California: Mission and Colony on the Peninsular Frontier, 1697–1768. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
  • C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Elephant Tree: Bursera microphylla,, ed. N. Stromberg
  • Don Laylander and Jerry Moore (editors). 2006. The Prehistory of Baja California: Advances in the Archaeology of the Forgotten Peninsula. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
  • William C. Massey. 1947. "Brief Report on Archaeological Investigations in Baja California". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 3:344–359.
  • Ignacio del Río. A la diestra mano de las Indias: descubrimiento y ocupación colonial de la Baja California. Gobierno del Estado de Baja California Sur, La Paz.
  • WorldStatesmen — see each present country

External links[edit]