Chihuahua State Attractions
Mexican StateChihuahua is the largest as well as one of the richest states in Mexico. It borders the USA (New Mexico and Texas) to the north and north-east, Coahuila to the east, Durango to the south, and Sinaloa and Sonora to the west. The frontier with Texas is constituted by the Río Bravo del Norte (Río Grande del Norte) into which Chihuahua's principal river, the Río Conchos, flows. The greater part of the state comprises a high plateau with an altitude between 1200 and 2400 m (3940 and 7875 ft) above sea level. In the west the land rises to merge with the deeply fissured mountain chains of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Chihuahua's population is mainly composed of mestizos and Whites, the Indian tribes - the Guarijio in the west, the Tarahumara in the mountainous south-west, and the Tepehuano in the south - having retreated into outlying areas following the Conquest.Apart from the Casas Grandes archaeological zone, Chihuahua's principal pre-Columbian sites are found around Pacheco (El Willy and Cueva de la Olla) and Ciudad Madera (Huaynopa, Vallecito and Cuarenta Casas), and in the Sierra Tarahumara (Arroyo de Guaynopa). Most consist of cliff or cave dwellings proper and are frequently difficult to reach.HistoryThe region is known to have had a long pre-Columbian history, the details of which, though, remain largely obscure. What can be said with certainty is that the main cultural influence on the area was from the north, in particular from what is now the south-western USA. Any impact from central Mexico came relatively late and was limited in extent. Casas Grandes is known to have been a site of major cultural importance for over 700 years.In the period immediately before the Conquest, the Nahua peoples inhabiting Chihuahua were driven back by tribes from the north, such as the Apaches. By this time the Tarahumara were probably already the dominant group.The first Spaniard, Àvaro Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, arrived in the area in 1528. Although the 16th c. Spanish prospectors were quick to find sources of valuable ore, few of their settlements were able to withstand the unceasing attacks by Indians. Even well into the last century, the Comanches from Texas in particular were notorious for their frequent raids into Chihuahua, incursions which saw them rampaging as far south as Zacatecas. In the colonial period Chihuahua and Durango together formed part of the province of Nueva Vizcaya. Chihuahua was separated from Durango in 1823 and became a fully-fledged state the following year. From the time of Mexican Independence onwards, the history of the state and its capital are closely intertwined.EconomyCattle rearing (mainly beef) is by far the most important sector of Chihuahua's economy. In those areas with artificial irrigation, cereals, cotton, beans, alfalfa, fruit and vegetables are grown. Mining (iron, antimony, gold, silver, copper, lead and coal) also makes a significant contribution, as too does forestry. Refining is one of the fastest growing activities.SightsApart from the state capital Chihuahua, the three neighbouring towns of Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad Camargo and Hidalgo del Parral, and the magnificent Barranca del Cobre, places of interest in Chihuahua are comparatively few.
Outside the town of Casas Grandes is the archeological site of the same name, which shares similarities with cultures of the south-western U.S.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Cuidad Juárez (1144 m (3755 ft); population: 1,100,000; fiestas: December 4th, Día de Santa Bárbara; December 5th-12th, celebration of the city's foundation; August 10th-12th, cotton fair; air, bus and rail connections with Mexico City) is situated 336km/209mi north-west of Nuevo Casas Grandes on the U.S. frontier. It lies on the south bank of the Río Grande, directly opposite El Paso (Texas). Originally called Paso del Norte, in 1888 the city was renamed in honour of Benito Juárez who, in 1865 and 1866 at the time of the War of Intervention, had his headquarters here. During the Mexican Revolution (1910-21) it was used as a base by the revolutionary hero and bandit leader Francisco ("Pancho") Villa. Today Cuidad Juárez is an important agricultural processing and distribution centre ("maquiladoras").Among places of interest in the city are the mid 17th c. Guadalupe mission church and the recently built cultural centre (Centro Cultural). The latter incorporates a museum of history and archaeology (ceramics from Casas Grandes, memorabilia from the Mexican Revolution) and displays of folk art.If visiting El Paso's Mexican sister city the best plan is to take the bus to Santa Fe Bridge, cross the frontier on foot, then make enquiries at the Juarez Tourist Office on the Mexican side. Cheap shopping is one of Ciudad Juarez's chief attractions, all manner of goods being available.