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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 30°33′N 115°10′W / 30.55°N 115.167°W / 30.55; -115.167

Baja California

Free and Sovereign State
of Lower California

Estado Libre y Soberano
de Baja California
—  State  —


Coat of arms
Location within Mexico
Municipalities of Baja California
Country  Mexico
Capital Mexicali
Municipalities 5
Largest City Tijuana
Admission January 16, 1952[1]
Order 29th
 - Governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán (PAN)
 - Federal Deputies PAN: 8
 - Federal Senators Alejandro González (PAN)
Rafael Díaz (PAN)
Fernando Castro (PRI)
Ranked 12th
 - Total 69,921 km2 (26,996.6 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 - Total 2,844,469 (Ranked 14th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)(note: beinning 2010 Baja California uses the USA DST schedule, while the rest of Mexico starts DST 3-4 weeks later and ends DST one week earlier)[2]]])
HDI 0.868 - high
Ranked 4th
ISO 3166-2 MX-BCN
Postal abbr. B.C.
Website State government

Baja California[3] (pronounced /ˈbɑːhɑː kælɨˈfɔrnjə/ in English) is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 71,576 km2 (27,636 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California peninsula, north of the 28th parallel. The state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. State of Arizona, and the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

The state has a population of 2,844,469 (2005 census), and estimated 3,165,776 (June 2009) [4] much more than the sparsely populated Baja California Sur to the south, and similar to San Diego County on its north. Over 75% of the population lives in the capital city, Mexicali, or in Tijuana. Both of these cities are adjacent to the U.S. border. Other important cities include Ensenada, San Felipe, Playas de Rosarito and Tecate. The population of the state is composed of Mestizos, mostly immigrants from other parts of Mexico, and, as with most northern Mexican states, a large population of Mexicans of European ancestry, and also a large minority group of East Asian, Middle Eastern and indigenous descent. Additionally, there is a large immigrant population from the United States due to its proximity to San Diego and the cheaper cost of living compared to San Diego. There is also a significant population from Central America. Many immigrants moved to Baja California for a better quality of life and the number of higher paying jobs in comparison to the rest of Mexico and Latin America.

Baja California is the twelfth state by area in Mexico. Its geography ranges from beaches to forests and deserts. The backbone of the state is the Sierra de Baja California, where the Picacho del Diablo, the highest point of the peninsula, is located. This mountain range effectively divides the weather patterns in the state. In the northwest, the weather is semi-dry and mediterranean. In the narrow center, the weather changes to be more humid due to altitude. It is in this area where a few valleys can be found, such as the Valle de Guadalupe, the major wine producer area in Mexico. To the east of the mountain range, the Sonoran Desert dominates the landscape. In the south, the weather becomes drier and gives place to the Vizcaino Desert. The state is also home to numerous islands off both of its shores. In fact, the westernmost point in Mexico, the Guadalupe Island, is part of Baja California. The Coronado, Todos Santos and Cedros Islands are also on the Pacific Shore. On the Gulf of California, the biggest island is the Angel de la Guarda, separated from the peninsula by the deep and narrow Canal de Ballenas.


Flora and fauna

Common trees are the Jeffrey Pine, Sugar Pine and Pinon Pine.[5] Understory species include Manzanita. Fauna include a variety of reptiles including the Western fence lizard, which is at the southern extent of its range.[6] The name of the fish genus Bajacalifornia is derived from the Baja California peninsula.[7]


Central Desert in Catavina
Sierra de San Pedro Martir, with Picacho del Diablo in the center.
Coronado Islands, to the west of Tijuana.

Baja California has two sea shores. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of California to the east. Even though the state is not large in area, its geography is very diverse. The Sierra de Baja California (also known as the Peninsular Ranges) runs in the middle of the state with different denominations. The two most important are the Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. These ranges are home to forests similar to those in Southern California. The Picacho del Diablo is the highest peak in the whole peninsula, offering spectacular views of the Gulf of California. Lying in between these mountain ranges, there are some valleys that are suitable for agriculture such as the Valle de Guadalupe and the Valle de Ojos Negros. The mild weather makes this area excellent for the production of citrus fruits and grapes. This area is also rich in minerals. The mountain range gets closer to the Gulf of California towards the south of the state and the western slope becomes wider, forming the Llanos del Berrendo in the border with Baja California Sur. The mountain ranges located in the center and southern part of the state include the Sierra de La Asamblea, Sierra de Calamajué, Sierra de San Luis and the Sierra de San Borja.

The cool winds from the Pacific Ocean and the cold California Current make the climate along the northwestern coast pleasant year round.[8] The coastal cities of Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada have one of the nicest weather patterns in the whole Mexico. But due to the California current, rains from the north barely reach the peninsula and this makes the weather drier towards the south. The area becomes a desert south of El Rosario River. This desert, however, is rich in succulents such as the Cardon, Boojum tree, Ocotillo and others. These plants can flourish in part due to the coastal fog.

There are numerous islands on the Pacific shore. Guadalupe Island is the remote outpost to the west and it is home to big colonies of sea lions. In Cedros Island there is a small community living mostly on fishing. The Todos Santos Islands, in front of Ensenada, are popular with surfers offering some of the highest waves worldwide.

To the east, the Sonoran Desert enters the state from both California and Sonora. Some of the highest temperatures in Mexico are recorded in or nearby the Mexicali Valley.[9] However, with irrigation from the Colorado River, this area has become truly an agricultural center. The Cerro Prieto geothermical province is nearby Mexicali as well (this area is geologically part of a large pull apart basin); producing about 80% of the electricity consumed in the state and enough more to export to California. Laguna Salada, a saline lake below the sea level lying in between the rugged Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de los Cucapah, is also in the vicinity of Mexicali. The state government has recently been considering plans to revive Laguna Salada.[10] The highest mountain in the Sierra de los Cucapah is the Cerro del Centinela or Mount Signal. The Cucapah are the primary indigenous people of that area and up into the Yuma AZ area.

The state is also blessed with numerous beaches on its east coast. Fishing and touristic towns such as San Felipe and Bahia de los Angeles are a major attraction for people in search of adventure, nice beaches and fresh fish. The area south of San Felipe is basically undeveloped and pristine beaches can be found in many bays. All of the islands in the Gulf of California, on the Baja California side, belong to the municipality of Mexicali.

The main source of water in the state are the Colorado River, which empties in the Gulf of California, (but now rarely reaches the Gulf) and the Tijuana River, serving the cities of Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana. The rest of the state depends mostly on wells and a few dams. Tijuana also purchases water from San Diego County's Otay Water District. Potable water is the largest natural resource issue of the state.


The first people came to the peninsula at least 1,000 years ago. At that time two main native groups are thought to be present on the peninsula. In the south were the Cochimí. In the north were several groups belonging to the Yuman linguistic family, including the Kiliwa, Paipai, Kumeyaay, Cocopa, and Quechan. These peoples were diverse in their adaptations to the region. The Cochimí of the peninsula's Central Desert were generalized hunter-gatherers who moved frequently; however, the Cochimí on Cedros Island off the west coast had developed a strongly maritime economy. The Kiliwa, Paipai, and Kumeyaay in the better-watered northwest were also hunter-gatherers, but that region supported denser populations and more sedentary lifeways. The Cocopa and Quechan of northeastern Baja California practiced agriculture in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River.

Europeans reached the present state of Baja California in 1539, when Francisco de Ulloa reconnoitered its east coast on the Gulf of California and explored the peninsula's west coast at least as far north as Cedros Island. Hernando de Alarcón returned to the east coast and ascended the lower Colorado River in 1540, and Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo completed the reconnaissance of the west coast in 1542. Sebastián Vizcaíno again surveyed the west coast in 1602, but outside visitors during the following century were few.

The Jesuits founded a permanent mission colony on the peninsula at Loreto in 1697. During the following decades, they gradually extended their sway throughout the present state of Baja California Sur. In 1751–1753, the Croatian Jesuit mission-explorer Ferdinand Konščak made overland explorations northward into the state of Baja California. Jesuit missions were subsequently established among the Cochimí at Santa Gertrudis (1752), San Borja (1762), and Santa María (1767).

After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768, the short-lived Franciscan administration (1768–1773) resulted in one new mission at San Fernando Velicatá. More importantly, the 1769 expedition to settle Alta California under Gaspar de Portolà and Junípero Serra resulted in the first overland exploration of the northwestern portion of the state.

The Dominicans took over management of the Baja California missions from the Franciscans in 1773. They established a chain of new missions among the northern Cochimí and western Yumans, first on the coast and subsequently inland, extending from El Rosario (1774) to Descanso (1817), just south of Tijuana.


Nineteenth and twentieth centuries

The colonial governors were:

  • 1804–1805 José Joaquín de Arillaga (s.a.)
  • 1806–1814 Felipe de Goycoechea
  • 1814 – 11 April 1822 José Darío Argüello
  • 1848: Alta California is annexed by the United States.
  • 1853: Soldier of fortune William Walker captures La Paz, declaring himself President of the Republic of Lower California. The Mexican government forces his retreat after several months.
  • 1884: Luis Huller and George H. Sisson obtain a concession covering much of the present state, in return for promises to develop the area. [11]
  • 1905: The Magónista revolution, an anarchist movement based on the writings of Ricardo Flores Magón and Enrique Flores Magón, begins.
  • 1911: Mexicali and Tijuana are captured by the Mexican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Mexicano, PLM), but soon surrender to Federal forces.
  • 1930: Baja California is further divided into Northern and Southern territories.
  • 1952: The North Territory of Baja California becomes the 29th state of Mexico, Baja California. The southern portion, below 28°N, remains a federally administered territory.
  • 1974: The South Territory of Baja California becomes the 31st state, Baja California Sur.
  • 1989: Ernesto Ruffo Appel of the PAN becomes the first non-PRI governor of Baja California and the first opposition governor of any state since the Revolution.


The racial make-up of the state is approximately 40% White/European (mostly but not limited to people of Spanish descent), 36% Mestizo (Mixed Amerindian and European), 9% east Asian (predominantly Chinese, Korean and Japanese), the remaining 15% is Native American (of Mexican and Central American origins, but includes Cherokees from the U.S. long settled in Northwest Mexico since the 1850s) and less than 1% Black African.[citation needed]

Historically, the state had sizable east Asian immigration, esp. Mexicali has a large Chinese community, as well many Filipinos from the Philippines arrived to the state during the eras of Spanish and later American rule (1898–1946) in much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tijuana was a major port of entry for east Asians entering the U.S. ever since the first Asian-Americans were present in California.

Also a significant number of Middle Eastern immigrants such as Lebanese and Armenians settle near the U.S. border, and small waves of Russian settlers in the early 20th century, usually members of the Molokan sect of the Russian Orthodox church fled the Russian Revolution of 1917 when the Soviet Union took power, had established a few villages along the Pacific coast south of Ensenada.[citation needed]

Since 1960, large numbers of migrants from southern Mexican states have arrived to work in agriculture (esp. the Mexicali Valley and nearby Imperial Valley, California, US) and manufacturing. The cities of Tijuana and Mexicali grew as a result of migrants, primarily those who sought US citizenship and those temporary residents awaiting their entry into the United States are called Flotillas, which is derived from the Spanish word "flota," meaning "fleet."

There is also a sizable immigrant community from Central and South America, and from the United States and Canada. An estimated 200,000+ American expatriates live in the state, especially in coastal resort towns such as Ensenada Rosarito, and San Felipe, known for affordable homes purchased by retirees who continue to hold US citizenship.Ensenada and Tijuana also has a large American population (second largest in Mexico next to Mexico City), particularly for its cheaper housing and proximity to San Diego. Most Americans that live in Tijuana work in San Diego, earning higher wages.

About 92% of Baja California is Catholic.


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


Baja California has one of the best educational programs in the country, with first places in schooling and achievement.

The State Government provides education and qualification courses to increase the workforce standards, such as School-Enterprise linkage programs which helps the development of labor force according to the needs of the industry.

91.60% of the population from six to fourteen years of age attend elementary school. 61.95% of the population over fifteen years of age attend or have already graduated from high school. Public School is available in all levels, from kindergarten to university.

The state has 32 universities offering 103 professional degrees. These universities have 19 Research and Development centers for basic and applied investigation in advanced projects of Biotechnology, Physics, Oceanography, Digital Geothermal Technology, Astronomy, Aerospace, Electrical Engineering and Clean Energy, among others. At this educational level supply is steadily growing. Baja California has developed a need to be self-sufficient in matters of technological and scientific innovation and to be less dependent on foreign countries. Current businesses demand new production processes as well as technology for the incubation of companies. The number of various graduate degrees offered, including Ph.D. programs, is 121. The state has 53 graduate schools.[12]


As of 2005, Baja California’s economy represents 3.3% of Mexico’s gross domestic product or 21,996 million USD.[13] Baja California's economy has a strong focus on tariff-free export oriented manufacturing (maquiladora). As of 2005, 284,255 people are employed in the manufacturing sector.[13] There are a more than 900 companies operating under the federal Prosec program in Baja California. The average wage for a maquiladora employee in Baja California is in the range of 2 to 3 US Dollars per hour.[citation needed]

Real estate

The Foreign Investment Law of 1973 allows foreigners to purchase land within the borders and coasts of Mexico by way of a trust, handled through a Mexican bank (Fideicomiso). This trust assures to the buyer all the rights and privileges of ownership, and it can be sold, inherited, leased, or transferred at any time. Since 1994, the Foreign Investment Law stipulates that the Fideicomiso must be to a 50 year term, with the option to petition for a 50 year renewal at any time.

Any Mexican citizen buying a bank trust property has the option to either remain within the Trust or opt out of it and request the title in “Escritura”.

Mexico’s early history involved foreign invasions and the loss of vast amounts of land; in fear of history being repeated, the Mexican constitution established the concept of the “Restricted Zone”. In 1973, in order to bring in more foreign tourist investment, the Bank Trust of Fideicomiso was created, thus allowing non-Mexicans to own land without any constitutional amendment necessary. Since the law went into effect, it has undergone many modifications in order to make purchasing land in Mexico a safer investment.

See also


  1. ^ "Transformación Política de Territorio Norte de la Baja California a Estado 29" (in Spanish). 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Baja California, it is sometimes in informally referred to as Baja California Norte, to distinguish it from both the Baja California peninsula, of which it forms the northern half, and Baja California Sur, the adjacent state that covers the southern half of the peninsula. While it is a well-established term for the northern half of the Baja California peninsula, however, its usage would not be correct, because Baja California Norte has never existed as a political designation for a state, territory, district or region.
  4. ^ Sociodemographic profile of BC
  5. ^ Katharine Layne Brandegee (1894) Zoe: Volume IV, Zoe Publishing Company, Townshend Stith Brandegee
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) "Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)", Globaltwitcher, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
  7. ^ C. H. Townsend & J. T. Nichols: Deep sea fishes of the 'Albatross' Lower California Expedition. Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 52, article 1
  9. ^ Delta in the northeast, recorded 54.0 degrees celsius on August 3, 1998
  10. ^ The state is currently (2008) looking at a plan by SDSU Adj. Professor Newcomb (ICATS) to do this using his geothermal desalination system to supply water locally. SEMARNAT believes this to be the first viable plan presented.
  11. ^ de Novelo, Maria Eugenia Bonifaz (1984). "Ensenada: Its background, founding and early development". The Journal of San Diego History 30 (Winter). Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  12. ^ State Government of Baja California and Secretariat of Public Education.
  13. ^ a b Industrial Costs in Mexico - A Guide for Foreign Investors 2007. Mexico City: Bancomext. 2007. pp. 86. 


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Mexico : Baja California

A peninsula extending into the Pacific Ocean from the south end of the U.S. state of California, Baja California provides some of Mexico's most dramatic sea and landscapes. This includes everything from vast and remote deserts, dormant volcanoes and wonderful old mission towns. The first political capital of "old California" is found here as well as remnants of the colonial past. Camping and hiking opportunities are plentiful, and much of the region is sparsely or even unpopulated. The "Baja" is also home to world class surfing, sailing and deep sea fishing destinations. Lastly, traditionally the peninsula has provided south-of-the-border fun for youthful miscreants from the USA in both the border region to the north and at the far end of the peninsula in the resort towns of Los Cabos. The Baja peninsula is one of the longest in the world and offers an interesting mix of cultures with a wonderful mix of Latino, Hispanic, pre-Hispanic and Anglo influences. It varies greatly even from the Mexican "mainland" with its own lifestyle and identity within Mexico.

  • General Baja Highway Considerations
  • Tijuana - Mexicali (Mex-2)
  • Tijuana - Cabo San Lucas (Mex-1)
  • Mexicali - San Felipe (Mex-5)
  • Ensenada - Crucero de Trinidad (Mex-3)
  • Tecate - Ensenada (Mex-3): Do this as a wine tour. There are at least 10 wineries along the route, some with tours and tasting rooms, and additional wine tasting rooms can be found in Ensenada. Salud!


Much of Baja's coastline is composed of beautiful beaches. In general, the Sea of Cortez side is much less exposed to the open sea as the western shore. Therefore, it tends to be less rocky and more sandy than the Pacific side. The Pacific side is ideal for surfing whereas the eastern shoreline is potentially more inviting to beach-goers. The central and southern sections are home to remote and extremely desolate deserts which include substantial mountains, large sand dunes, towering cacti and dormant volcanoes projecting an almost alien landscape similar to parts of the American Southwest. Into A Desert Place is non-fiction account of a circumnavigation of the Baja by foot.


As in most of Mexico some Spanish can go a long way and is greatly appreciated. Many locals have been to or worked in the United States, so the knowledge of English is high, particularly in the north along the border and in the tourist towns of Los Cabos and La Paz. Some Mexican school children also receive English education in schools.

Get in

By car

Border Crossings

By plane

Most tourists who visit Baja fly directly to Los Cabos (SJD). There are international airports located in Tijuana and Mexicali, but US tourists will find it easier to fly to US destinations and drive in (be sure you're allowed to take your rental car to Mexico).

Baja is a popular destination for private pilots. There are general aviation airports along the peninsula, most with decent facilities and fuel. Procedures for entering Baja should be checked regularly, as they may change. Flying clubs may not allow aircraft rentals to travel to Baja.

By bus

Charter bus service in Mexico is superior to that of the United States, with modern, comfortable buses for long-distance travel.

By train

There are no regularly scheduled trains entering Baja from the USA, but Amtrak has service to San Diego, from there you can easily cross to Tijuana, and take onward buses to elsewhere in the peninsula.

Get around

By car

Many people travel from the USA and Canada to Baja by car, RV, or motorcycle. The Transpeninsular Highway is well maintained, but it is very narrow and winding in many places. The middle section is the most remote and desolate. Driving it alone can be a serious challenge and driving at night is not recommended. Horses and cows, in addition to other wildlife often cross the road or stray right into the road! This is a serious hazard. The other major hazard are the driving habits of Mexican nationals, who can be very reckless at times. Trucks in particular are very dangerous and be alert whenever anyone is passing, or head on collisions may result. While well kept and clean and friendly, the Pemex stations are not always open or may run out of gas. ALWAYS drive on a full tank of gas in the Baja whenever possible! There are numerous checkpoints manned by the Mexican Army along the highway. It is mandatory to stop. The soldiers are only interested in illegal drugs or guns. They are very professional in general. They have the right to search your car or RV and ask what your destination is. Always have your Mexican green tourist card and passport ready. Once they have determined you are not a drug smuggler, you will be on your way. They are manned 24 hours a day.

By bicycle

There is a slow but steady trickle of travelers riding their bicycles in Baja. On the Transpeninsular Highway this is fairly straightforward. It's easy to find the way, and in populated areas small shops or restaurants can be expected almost daily, and there are plenty of good wild campsites, and RV parks. A traditional touring, or hybrid bike is an excellent choice for the Transpeninsular. The middle stretch of the road and the peninsula present regions that are both very mountainous and desolate. Riding a bike on the numerous other roads would certainly require a mountain bike, and would be preferable with a support vehicle due to the difficulty in acquiring basic supplies (the main concern being water) and the difficulty carrying baggage on rough roads. Trying to travel by bike unsupported off the Transpeninsular is for those who don't distinguish between masochism and adventure. Either on or off the Transpeninsular, good quality tires, lots of patches, spare tubes, and other puncture resistant measures are important, due to the large numbers of vicious thorns. Drivers on the Transpeninsular Highway are often very reckless, however most drivers treat cyclists with more respect (perhaps due to their novelty) then cyclists get elsewhere in North America. If one chooses to bike in what is normally a very hot climate and incredibly remote region at times, the whole endeavor should only be undertaken with much prudence and planning.

  • AdventureSmith Baja Cruises, [1]. A California based tour operator specializing in expedition cruises and wilderness adventures.

By Thumb

Most of the people you meet will tell you that you are crazy for hitching, but pick you up none the less. In-town hitching is much more widely accepted and you will often see trucks filled with people in the back. The biggest problem with hitching across Baja is that the amount of traffic depends heavily on the tourist season. Surfers are a good bet for a ride, at least across Baja north. Expect that traversing the entire peninsula will take you between 3 1/2 - 4 days, less if in the tourist season. Be adamant about not carrying drugs when your driver asks if you are caring any. Your average wait is about an hour and a half, but do not be surprised if you wait up to four.

  • Whale Watching The waters off Baja California are home to several species of great whales including Blue, Fin, Bryde's, Humpback, Orca, Sperm, and many others. This is perhaps the richest area in the world for whale and dolphin diversity. The world's entire population of Gray Whales breeds in the lagoons on the west side of the peninsula.
  • Diving and Snorkeling Excellent scuba, free diving, and snorkeling. Great white shark cage diving off Guadalupe Island. Hammerhead schools over a seamount near La Paz. The Sea of Cortez holds a fantastic diversity of marine life for accessible to divers and snorkelers. The convergence of tropical influences from the south and temperate conditions from the north bring together an amazing array of species. Local dive shops and charters are available.
  • Kayaking Week-long beach camping kayak tours of the wilderness islands in the Loreto Marine National Park. Local guides, access to prime whale watching and snorkeling. 360-378-5767 or 888-589-4253, Kayaking Tours from Loreto, Mexico [2]
  • Fishing This region has long been regarded as one of the best places for fishing. Marlin, sailfish, tuna, yellowtail, wahoo, roosterfish, and dorado are abundant in the blue waters surrounding the peninsula.
  • Cave Paintings Various archaeological sites can be toured in the rugged mountains.
  • The SCORE Baja 500 and Baja 1000 off-road races explore some of the more remote regions of the peninsula and attract participants and tourists from Mexico and the US.


Baja is famous for fish tacos; there is some disagreement about whether they were "invented" in San Felipe or Ensenada - try both and make up your own mind!

Mexicali's Chinese restaurants are well-known.


Beer is often sold by the case, from local distributors. Keep the empties - the deposit makes up a large portion of the price, and the bottles are not just recycled - they're washed out and reused!

The Tecate brewery is located its namesake city, in the mountains between Tijuana and Mexicali on Highway 2.

Locals distill their own tequilas from the blue agave plant (not a cactus). One common drink is Tequila and Sangrita (not Sangria), a spiced fruit punch drunk in shots.

The Santo Thomas region south of Ensenada is known for its wineries.

Get out

Ferries are available from La Paz to mainland Mexico. They are not cheap!

Stay safe

Scofflaws - gringos getting drunk, using drugs or visiting prostitutes - are the most likely to experience Mexico's legal system. Most laws in Baja, though less frequently enforced, carry more severe penalties than they do in the United States.

Bandits (Bandidos) are more urban legend than reality, though there are occasional reports of robberies on remote highways. Crime is more common in Northern Baja, especially between Tijuana and Ensenada. Since June of 2007, about a half-dozen robberies and carjackings that targeted U.S. surfers en route to camping spots along the 780-mile Baja California peninsula have occurred, according to unconfirmed tallies reported via the Internet."Troubling Sign in Baja - San Diego Tribune" [3]

Violent crimes are rare between San Quentin and Cabos San Lucas, but due to isolation and lack of development this portion of Baja has a different set of risks. This portion of the peninsular highway is extremely remote and traveling in a well fueled reliable vehicle is essential. Gas stations often run out of gas or are closed, so never risk driving while low on fuel. Driving at night is not recommended. One of several reasons is due to the risk of livestock and wild horses in the roads. Another is to avoid other intoxicated drivers. Mexican drivers are often overly aggressive while overtaking and the Baja's main highway Number "1" is marked with literally hundreds of crosses marking spots where drivers met their untimely end. Car insurance, though expensive, is highly recommended.

Drug Dealers, mostly international, use the remote areas of Baja for operations; most tourists are unlikely to encounter them. However, because of this problem there are several checkpoints maintained by the Mexican military along the highway. The inter-peninsular border is a particularly sensitive area and expect to ask for your tourist card and or passport when crossing. Soldiers and officials are usually very friendly and courteous provided your full cooperation. Never run trough military checkpoints as guards are armed and have the right to shoot! Drug smuggling, any form of firearm (illegal in Mexico) and fruits and vegetables are their main concerns.

Mexico is a traditional Catholic country, therefore nude (and for women, topless) sunbathing is illegal in Mexico - while you often will get away with it on remote beaches, many of the locals strongly disapprove, and there are reports of large fines.

The Water in restaurants is generally bottled and purified. Do not drink tap water as in most of Mexico.

Calling home

Some if not all USA cell phone services can be set to call USA numbers just like any other long distance call. High roaming charges may apply. See your cell phone service provider for details. Portions of the Baja include some of the most remote parts of North America so service will only apply to major cities.

To call USA numbers from a local pay phone or local private phone, use a calling card. Calling the USA via numbers suggested on payphones are outrageously high. All Mexican pay phones require a pre-paid plastic phone card. For longer term travels, SIM cards can be purchased cheaply that allows various plans for calls to both Mexico and the United States. It is virtually impossible to call 800 numbers from the Baja; therefore it is prudent to carry a non-800 number alternative. Directory assistance calls are rapaciously expensive, so jot all important numbers in advance of your trip.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Map of Mexico highlighting Baja California


Spanish baja (lower) California

Proper noun

Baja California


Baja California

  1. a mountainous peninsula of western Mexico between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California
  2. a state of Mexico that occupies the northern part of the peninsula


See also


Proper noun

Baja California f.

  1. A state of Mexico.

Related terms

See also

  • Wikipedia-logo.png Baja California on the Spanish

Simple English

Baja California may refer to:


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