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Baja California

Travel Guide North America Mexico Baja California

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Introduction

Baja California is one of the 31 states in Mexico and is located in the northwest of the country, bordering California, USA. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California (El Territorio Norte de Baja California).

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Geography

Baja California encompasses a territory which exhibits diverse geography for a relatively small area. The Peninsular ranges of the California cordillera run down the geographic center of the state. The most notable ranges of these mountains are the Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. These ranges are the location of forests cognizant of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains. Picacho del Diablo is the highest peak in the whole peninsula. Valleys between the mountain ranges are located within a climate zone that are suitable for agriculture. Such valleys included the Valle de Guadalupe and the Valle de Ojos Negros, areas that produce citrus fruits and grapes. The mineral-rich mountain range extends southwards to the Gulf of California, where 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.

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. However, with irrigation from the Colorado River, this area has become truly an agricultural center. The Cerro Prieto geothermal province is near 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 sea level lying 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. 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.

There are numerous islands on the Pacific shore. Guadalupe Island is located in the extreme west of the state's boundaries and is the site of large colonies of sea lions. Cedros Island exists in the southwest of the state's maritime region. The Todos Santos Islands and Coronado Islands are located off the coast of Ensenada and Tijuana respectively. All of the islands in the Gulf of California, on the Baja California side, belong to the municipality of Mexicali.

Baja California obtains much of its water from the Colorado River. Historically the river drained into the Colorado River Delta which flowed into the Gulf of California, but due to large demands for water in the American Southwest, less water now reaches the Gulf. The Tijuana metropolitan area also relies on the Tijuana River as a source of water. Much of rural Baja California depends predominantly 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.

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

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Weather

Baja California's climate varies from Mediterranean to arid. The Mediterranean climate is observed in the northwestern corner of the state where the summers are dry and mild and the winters cool and rainy. This climate is observed in areas from Tijuana to San Quintin and nearby interior valleys. The cold oceanic California Current often creates a low-level marine fog near the coast. The fog occurs along any part of the Pacific Coast of the state. Rainfall in the Tijuana to Ensenada area is about per year, increasing inland with elevation. Tecate, in the mountains east of Tijuana, receives of precipitation per year.

The change of altitude towards the Sierra de Baja California creates an alpine climate in this region. Summers are cool while winters can be cold with below freezing temperatures at night. It is common to see snow in the Sierra de Juarez and Sierra de San Pedro Martir (and in the valleys in between) from December to April. Due to orographic effects, precipitation is much higher in the mountains of northern Baja California than on the western coastal plain or eastern desert plain. The highest slopes receive up to of rainfall per year, during winter frontal passages and summer thunderstorms. Pine, cedar and fir forests are found in the mountains.

The east side of the mountains produce a rain shadow, creating an extremely arid environment. The Sonoran Desert region of Baja California experiences hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters. The Mexicali Valley (which is below sea level), experiences the highest temperatures in Mexico, that frequently surpass 47 °C in mid-summer, and have exceeded 50 °C on some occasions.

Further south along the Pacific coast, the Mediterranean climate transitions into a desert climate but it is milder and not as hot as along the gulf coast. Transition climates, from Mediterranean to Desert, can be found from San Quintin to El Rosario. Further inland and along the Gulf of California the vegetation is scarce and temperatures are very high during the summer months. The islands in the Gulf of California also belong to the desert climate. Some oases can be found in the desert in which few towns are located – for instance, Catavina, San Borja and Santa Gertrudis.

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Getting There

By Plane

The Tijuana-General Abelardo L. Rodtríguez International Airport (TIJ) is the main airport. It is served by Mexican airlines Aeromexico and Mexicana as well as a few low cost carriers: Volaris, Interjet and VivaAerobus. It is mainly a domestic airport, although in recent times Aeromexico has started including it on routes from Mexico City to Tokyo-Narita and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. As such, it can be used as an alternative way to reach California from Asia.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 9:18 on Jun 27, 16 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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