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Chihuahua (State)

Travel Guide North America Mexico Chihuahua

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Introduction

Chihuahua is one of the 31 states of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas.

Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico by area, with an area of 247,455 square kilometres, it is slightly larger than the United Kingdom. The state is consequently known under the nickname El Estado Grande ("The Big State").

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Geography

The state is made up of three geologic regions: Mountains, Plains-Valleys, and Desert, which occur in large bands from west to east. Because of the different geologic regions there are contrasting climates and ecosystems.

The main mountain range in the state is the Sierra Madre Occidental reaching a maximum altitude of 3,300 metres known as Cerro Mohinora. Mountains account for one third of the state's surface area which include large coniferous forests. There are two national parks found in the mountainous area of the state: Cumbres de Majalca National Park and Basaseachic Falls National Park.

The plains at the foot of the Sierra Madre Occidental is an elongated mesa known as Altiplanicie Mexicana that exhibits a steppe climate and serves as a transition zone from the mountain climate in the western part of the state to the desert climate in the eastern side of the state.

The most important river in the state is Río Conchos which is the largest tributary to the Río Grande from the Mexican side; the river descends from the zenith of the Sierra Madre Occidental in the southwest part of the state and winds through the center of the state where the water is exploited in the steppe zone and it eventually empties into the Río Grande in the small desert town of Ojinaga.

The desert zone also accounts for about a third of the state's surface area. The Chihuahuan Desert is an international biome that also extends into the neighboring Mexican state of Coahuila and into the U.S. states of Texas and New Mexico. The desert zone is mainly of flat topography with some small mountain ranges that run north to south. The desert in the state varies slightly with a small variant in climate. The lower elevations of the desert zone are found in the north along the Rio Grande which experience hotter temperatures in the summer and winter while the southern portion of the desert zone experiences cooler temperatures due to its higher elevation. The Samalayuca dunes cover an area of about 150 km2; it is an impressive site of the Chihuahuan Desert and is a protected area by the state due to unique species of plants and animals.

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Sights and Activities

Copper Canyon

Sunrise in Copper Canyon

Sunrise in Copper Canyon

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Barranca del Cobre, also known as Copper Canyon, is a series of 6 different canyons in the Sierra Tarahumura, which is in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua. All the canyons added together are larger and some parts are deeper then the Grand Canyon in the USA, although no individual canyon in Barranca del Cobre is larger then the Grand Canyon. The Chihuahuah Pacifico railroad goes up and down the canyon, which is known by the nickname Chepe. The canyons are the traditional home of the Tarahumara people, which are known for their long distance running ability. These people have been known to run 160 kilometres in order to run down an animal to kill it. The Tarahumara people still live a traditional lifestyle and practice a traditional religion with a Roman Catholic twist.

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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 except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere 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

The climate in the state depends mainly in the elevation of the terrain. According to Köppen climate classification the state has five major climate zones. The Sierra Madre Occidental dominates the western part of the state; there are two main climates in this area: Subtropical Highland (Cfb) and Humid Subtropical (Cwa). There are some microclimates in the state due to the varying topology mostly found in the western side of the state. The two best known microclimates are: Tropical savanna climate (Aw) in deep canyons located in the extreme southern part of the state; Continental Mediterranean climate (Dsb) in the extremely high elevations of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Satellite image to the right shows the vegetation is much greener in the west because of the cooler temperatures and larger amounts of precipitation as compared to the rest of the state.

In the far eastern part of the state the Chihuahuan Desert dominates due to low precipitation and extremely high temperatures; some areas of the eastern part of the state are so dry no vegetation is found like the Sand Dunes of Samalayuca. There are two distinctive climate zones found in the eastern part of the state: Hot Desert (BWh) and Cool Desert (BWk) which are differentiated by average annual temperature due to differences in elevation. There is a transition zone in the middle of the state between the two extremely different climates from the east and west; this zone is the Steppe characterized by a compromise between juxtaposed climate zones.

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Getting There

By Plane

General Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport (CUU) has a range of flights, with the main destinations being Mexico City, Houston, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, Dallas/Fort Worth and Cancun.

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Getting Around

By Train

You can travel through the Copper Canyon by train. Chihuahua is the starting point for the famous Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico which travels two times daily to the Pacific coastline to the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa and its port Topolobampo, though the beautiful Copper Canyon. One trip is for tourists only and is much faster, the second daily trip is slower, stopping en route at about 15 places and is a combined trip with cargo.

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Contributors

as well as Sander (2%)

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This is version 8. Last edited at 8:43 on Jun 3, 16 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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