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Satellite view of Baja California peninsula

The Baja California peninsula (Spanish: Península de Baja California, meaning Lower California peninsula) is a peninsula in western Mexico. It extends some 1250 km (775 miles) from Mexicali, Baja California, in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, in the south, separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California (or "Sea of Cortés"). The total area of the Peninsula is 143,396 km2. The peninsula is connected to the mainland of Mexico by a strip of land that belongs to the state of Sonora. There are four main desert areas on the peninsula: the San Felipe Desert, the Central Coast Desert, the Vizcaíno Desert and the Magdalena Plain Desert.

Contents

Geology

The Baja California peninsula was once a part of the North American Plate, the tectonic plate of which mainland Mexico remains a part. About 12 to 15 million years ago the East Pacific Rise began cutting into the margin of the North American Plate, initiating the separation of the peninsula from it. Spreading within the Gulf of California consists of short oblique rifts or ridge segments connected by long northwest trending transform faults.[1] The north end of the spreading center is located in the Salton Sea basin between the Cerro Prieto fault and the San Andreas fault.[1] The Baja California peninsula is now part of the Pacific Plate and is moving with it away from the East Pacific Rise in a north northwestward direction.

Along the coast north of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur is a prominent area of volcanic activity.

Volcanoes of the peninsula and adjacent islands include:[2]

The backbone of the peninsula is the Jurassic to Cretaceous Peninsular Range batholith. The Baja Peninsular ranges include the Sierra Juarez, Sierra San Pedro Mártir, Sierra de la Giganta, and Sierra de la Laguna.

History

In the minds of European explorers California existed as an idea before it was discovered. The earliest known mention of the idea of California was in the 1510 romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. The book described the Island of California as being west of the Indies, "very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons."

Following Hernán Cortés conquest of Mexico, the lure of an earthly paradise as well as the search for the fabled Strait of Anián, helped motivate him to send several expeditions to the west coast of New Spain in the 1530s and early 1540s. The first expedition reached the Gulf of California and California, and proved the Island of California was in fact a peninsula. Nevertheless, the idea of the island persisted for well over a century and was included in many maps. The Spaniards gave the name "California" to the peninsula and to the lands north, including both Baja California and Alta California, the region that became parts of the present-day U.S. states of California, Nevada, and others.

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Partition

Marker of the Upper-Lower California partition

New Spain's province of California was divided into Alta California and Baja California on May 19, 1773 near San Juan Bautista Creek by Fray Francisco Palóu. A marker is erected in the place where the dividing committee began the measurements for the province's partition. The marker is behind the Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera, near Ensenada, Baja California.

Translated into English, the inscription on the marker reads:

San Juan Bautista Creek (Crespi, May 1 for the setting of the first international division line between Old or Lower California (Dominicans) and New or Upper California (Franciscans) five leagues to the north (Valley of the Medanos) being established by: Priest Francisco Palou on 19 August 1773 (Mojonera of Palou) in compliance with the instructions put forth on the April 7, 1772 Concordato. Rosarito Historical Society, Baja California A.C. at The Mission, Baja California, on 20 May 1990. Fieldwork and research: Mario Reyes Meléndez. Monument donation: Christenson - Carrozo Family. Construction: Students of the School of Tourism at U.A.B.C.(Autonomous University of Baja California).

Territory

The whole peninsula of Baja California was a Spanish, then Mexican territory from 1804 until 1931.

Timeline

  • 1532: Hernán Cortés sends three ships north along the coast of Mexico in search of the Island of California. The three ships disappear without a trace.
  • 1533: Cortés sends a follow-up mission to search for the lost ships. Pilot Fortún Ximénez leads a mutiny and founds a settlement in the Bay of La Paz before being killed.
  • 1539: Francisco de Ulloa explores both coasts.
  • 1690s–1700s: Spanish settlement in California
  • 1804: The Spanish colony of California is divided into Alta ("Upper") and Baja ("Lower") California.
  • 1847:The Battle of La Paz and the Siege of La Paz occurs, as well as several other engagements.
  • 1850: after Alta California annexed by the United States, Baja California is divided into northern and southern territories.
  • 1853: William Walker, with 45 men, captures the capital city of La Paz and declares himself President of the Republic of Lower California. Mexico forces him to retreat a few months later.
  • 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.
  • 1973: The 1700 km (1060 miles) long Trans-Peninsular Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 1), is finished. It is the first paved road that spans the entire peninsula.[3] The highway was built by the Mexican government to improve Baja's economy and increase tourism.[4]
  • 1974: The South Territory of Baja California becomes the 31st state, Baja California Sur.
  • 1989: Baja California elects Ernesto Ruffo Appel the first non PRI governor since 1929.

Political divisions

The peninsula is divided into two parts:

Geographic features

A series of mountain ranges runs the length of the peninsula, which are known as the Peninsular Ranges, and extend into Southern California.

  • The Sierra Juárez is the northernmost range in Mexico.
  • The Sierra San Pedro Mártir lies south of the Sierra Juárez, and is higher. The highest point is Cerro de la Encantada, 3096 m.
  • The volcanic complex of Tres Virgenes lies in Baja California Sur, near the border with the state of Baja California.
  • The Sierra de la Giganta runs along the shore of the Gulf of California south of the Tres Virgenes complex.
  • At the south end of Baja California Sur, the Sierra de la Laguna forms an isolated mountain range rising to 2406 m.
  • The Bahía de los Ángeles is a bay located on the east side of the peninsula facing the Gulf of California.

Ecoregions

The peninsula is home to several distinct ecoregions. Most of the peninsula is deserts and xeric shrublands, although pine-oak forests are found in the mountains at the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. The southern tip of the peninsula, which was formerly an island, has many species with affinities to tropical Mexico.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/trent/alles/GeologySaltonTrough.pdf Alles, David L., Geology of the Salton Trough,
  2. ^ http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/region.cfm?rnum=1401 Volcanoes of México and Central America
  3. ^ Baja Highway: Drive the Baja California Peninsula
  4. ^ Barkenbus, Jack, The Trans-Peninsular Highway: A New Era for Baja California, Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Aug., 1974), pp. 259-273.
  5. ^ Baja California, it is sometimes 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.

References

Coordinates: 29°N 114°W / 29°N 114°W / 29; -114

External links


Coordinates: 29°N 114°W / 29°N 114°W / 29; -114


The Baja California peninsula (Spanish: Península de Baja California meaning "Lower California peninsula") is a peninsula in northwestern Mexico. Its land mass separates the Pacific Ocean on the west from the Gulf of California (or "Sea of Cortés") on the eastern coastline. The Peninsula extends 1250 km (775 miles) from Mexicali of Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas of Baja California Sur in the south. The total area of the Baja California Peninsula is 143,396 km2 (55,365 square miles). The peninsula is connected to the mainland of Mexico on the east by a small northern band of land crossing the Colorado River in the Mexican state of Sonora. There are four main desert areas on the peninsula: the San Felipe Desert, the Central Coast Desert, the Vizcaíno Desert and the Magdalena Plain Desert.

Contents

History

In the minds of European explorers California existed as an idea before it was discovered. The earliest known mention of the idea of California was in the 1510 romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. The book described the Island of California as being west of the Indies, "very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons."

Following Hernán Cortés's conquest of Mexico, the lure of an earthly paradise as well as the search for the fabled Strait of Anián, helped motivate him to send several expeditions to the west coast of New Spain in the 1530s and early 1540s. The first expedition reached the Gulf of California and California, and proved the Island of California was in fact a peninsula. Nevertheless, the idea of the island persisted for well over a century and was included in many maps. The Spaniards gave the name "California" to the peninsula and to the lands north, including both Baja California and Alta California, the region that became parts of the present-day U.S. states of California, Nevada, and others.

Partition

New Spain's Province of Las Californias was divided into Alta California and Baja California on May 19, 1773 near San Juan Bautista Creek by Fray Francisco Palóu. A marker is erected in the place where the dividing committee began the measurements for the province's partition. The marker is behind the Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera, near Ensenada, Baja California.

Translated into English, the inscription on the marker reads:

San Juan Bautista Creek: Juan Crespí, May 1 for the setting of the first international division line between Old or Lower California (Dominicans) and New or Upper California (Franciscans) five leagues to the north (Valley of the Médanos) being established by: Priest Francisco Palóu on 19 August 1773 (Mojonera of Palou) in compliance with the instructions put forth on the April 7, 1772 Concordato.
Rosarito Historical Society, Baja California A.C. at The Mission, Baja California, on 20 May 1990. Fieldwork and research: . Monument donation: Mario Reyes Coronado De Villasari & family . Construction: Students of the School of Tourism at U.A.B.C.(Autonomous University of Baja California).

Territory

The whole peninsula of Baja California was: the lower part of the Las Californias Province of the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain; and then a single territory of Mexico from 1773 until 1931, when it was divided into Northern and Southern territories. In 1952 the "North Territory of Baja California" becomes the 29th State of Mexico as Baja California; and in 1974 the "South Territory of Baja California" becomes the 31st as Baja California Sur.

Timeline

  • 1532: Hernán Cortés sends three ships north along the coast of Mexico in search of the Island of California. The three ships disappear without a trace.
  • 1533: Cortés sends a follow-up mission to search for the lost ships. Pilot Fortún Ximénez leads a mutiny and founds a settlement in the Bay of La Paz before being killed.
  • 1539: Francisco de Ulloa explores both coasts.
  • 1690s– first decade of the 18th century: Spanish settlement and colonization in lower Las Californias (Baja peninsula), the Spanish missions in Baja California established.
  • 1773: The Spanish province of Las Californias is divided into Alta ("Upper") and Baja ("Lower") California.
  • 1810-1821: Mexican War of Independence
  • 1821: First Mexican Empire, Baja California peninsula becomes a Mexican territory.
  • 1847:The Battle of La Paz and the Siege of La Paz occurs, as well as several other engagements.
  • 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo cedes Alta California to the United States. As a U.S. territory it receives the California Gold Rush, causing increased maritime traffic along the peninsula.
  • 1850: California admitted to U.S. statehood.
  • 1853: William Walker, with 45 men, captures the capital city of La Paz and declares himself President of the Republic of Lower California. Mexico forces him to retreat a few months later.
  • 1930-31: The Territory of Baja California is further divided into Northern and Southern territories (North Territory of Baja California & South Territory of Baja California).
  • 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.
  • 1973: The 1700 km (1060 miles) long Trans-Peninsular Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 1), is finished. It is the first paved road that spans the entire peninsula.[1] The highway was built by the Mexican government to improve Baja's economy and increase tourism.[2]
  • 1974: The South Territory of Baja California becomes the 31st state, Baja California Sur.
  • 1989: Baja California elects Ernesto Ruffo Appel the first non PRI governor since 1929.

Political state divisions

The peninsula is divided into two States (Estados):

Baja California

The northern part is the State of Baja California.[3] The citizens of Baja California are named Baja-Californiano (Lower-Californian in English).

Baja California Sur

The southern part, below 28° north, is the State of Baja California Sur. The citizens of Baja California Sur are named Sud-Californianos ( "South-Californian" in English ).

Geology

The Baja California peninsula was once a part of the North American Plate, the tectonic plate of which mainland Mexico remains a part. About 12 to 15 million years ago the East Pacific Rise began cutting into the margin of the North American Plate, initiating the separation of the peninsula from it. Spreading within the Gulf of California consists of short oblique rifts or ridge segments connected by long northwest trending transform faults,[4] which together comprise the Gulf of California Rift Zone. The north end of the rift zone is located in the Brawley seismic zone in the Salton Sea basin between the Cerro Prieto Fault and the San Andreas Fault.[4] The Baja California peninsula is now part of the Pacific Plate and is moving with it away from the East Pacific Rise in a north northwestward direction.

Along the coast north of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur is a prominent volcanic activity area.

Volcanoes of the peninsula and adjacent islands include:[5]

and

The backbone of the peninsula is the Jurassic to Cretaceous Peninsular Range batholith which is part of the same original batholith chain which formed much of the Sierra Nevada mountains in U.S. California. This chain was formed primarily as a result of the subduction of the Farallon Plate millions of years ago all along the margin of North America.

The Peninsular Ranges in Baja include north to south: the Sierra Juarez, the Sierra San Pedro Mártir, the Sierra de la Giganta, and the Sierra de la Laguna.

Geographic features

See also: Natural history of Baja California Sur and Category: Geography of Baja California

A series of mountain ranges runs the length of the peninsula, which are known as the Peninsular Ranges, that extend up into Southern California.

  • The Sierra Juárez is the northernmost range in Mexico.
  • The Sierra San Pedro Mártir lies south of the Sierra Juárez, and is higher. The highest point is Cerro de la Encantada, 3096 m.
  • The volcanic complex of Tres Virgenes lies in Baja California Sur, near the border with the state of Baja California.
  • The Sierra de la Giganta runs along the shore of the Gulf of California south of the Tres Virgenes complex.
  • At the south end of Baja California Sur, the Sierra de la Laguna forms an isolated mountain range rising to 2406 m.
  • The Bahía de los Ángeles is a bay located on the east side of the peninsula facing the Gulf of California.

Ecoregions

The peninsula is home to several distinct ecoregions. Most of the peninsula is deserts and xeric shrublands, although pine-oak forests are found in the mountains at the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. The southern tip of the peninsula, which was formerly an island, has many species with affinities to tropical Mexico.

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Baja Highway: Drive the Baja California Peninsula
  2. ^ Barkenbus, Jack, The Trans-Peninsular Highway: A New Era for Baja California, Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Aug., 1974), pp. 259-273.
  3. ^ Baja California, it is sometimes informally referred to as Baja California Norte, to distinguish it from both the Baja California peninsula, of which it covers the northern half, and the adjacent state Baja California Sur 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. ^ a b http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/trent/alles/GeologySaltonTrough.pdf Alles, David L., Geology of the Salton Trough,
  5. ^ http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/region.cfm?rnum=1401 Volcanoes of México and Central America
Sources

Simple English


The Baja California Peninsula or Lower California is a peninsula of North America. It is located west of Mexico. It extends some 1,250 km (775 miles) from Mexicali in the north to Cabo San Lucas in the south, separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California (or "Sea of Cortés").

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