Sonora is one of 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Sonora is home to eight indigenous peoples, including the Mayo, the Yaqui, and Seri. It has been economically important for its agriculture, livestock (especially beef), and mining since the colonial period, and for its status as a border state since the Mexican–American War. With the Gadsden Purchase, Sonora lost more than a quarter of its territory. From the 20th century to the present, industry, tourism, and agribusiness have dominated the economy, attracting migration from other parts of Mexico.
Sonora is located in northwest Mexico, bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border with the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.
Sonora's natural geography is divided into three parts: the Sierra Madre Occidental in the east of the state; plains and rolling hills in the center; and the coast on the Gulf of California. It is primarily arid or semi-arid deserts and grasslands, with only the highest elevations having sufficient rainfall to support other types of vegetation.
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.
There are four major climate regions in the state: dry desert (Köppen BW), arid lands (BS), semi moist lands, and temperate zones (Cwb). Ninety percent of the state has desert or arid conditions. The other two climates are restricted to the areas of the state with the highest altitude such as the Yécora area, the mountains north of Cananea and a strip along the southeast of the state on the Chihuahua border.
Average high temperatures range from 12.7 °C in Yécora to 35 °C in Tesia, municipality of Navojoa. Average low temperatures range from 5.9 °C in Yécora to 35.2 °C in Orégano, municipality of Hermosillo. In the winter, cold air masses from the north reach the state, and can produce below freezing temperatures and high winds at night in the higher elevations, but the temperature can then jump back up to over 20 °C during the day. Freezing temperatures in the lowlands almost never occur. In February 2011, the Mexican government recorded a low in Yécora of -12 °C.
Precipitation is seasonal and most occurs in the higher elevations. In hot and arid or semi arid lands, evaporation vastly exceeds precipitation. Mexico’s most arid area, the Altar Desert is located in this state. The east of the state is dominated by the Sierra Madre Occidental, which has less extreme temperatures and relatively more rainfall due to altitude. Most moisture comes in from the Pacific Ocean and the tropics, which is pushed against the Sierra Madre. This cools the air masses, leading to rain and occasionally snow in the higher elevations. Most of the year’s precipitation falls during the rainy season, which is locally called “las aguas” (the waters). These last from July to mid September, when monsoon winds bring moist air from southerly tropical waters. Most of this is from the Pacific Ocean west of Central America but can also come from Gulf of Mexico as well. This moister flow results in nearly daily afternoon thunderstorms. After the las aguas, there may be additional moisture brought in by hurricanes, which generally move west along the Pacific coast of Mexico and occasionally come inland, especially in southern Sonora. However, these storms tend to drop large quantities of rain in a short time, causing flooding and destruction.
In the winter, from November to February, there are light rains called equipatas ("horse hoofs", named after the sound the rain makes). These rains come in from the north from the southern extensions of frontal storms that originate in the northern Pacific Ocean. These end by March or April when the fronts are no longer strong enough to reach this far south. They end even earlier in the extreme south of the state as the storm systems retreat, with the dry season lasting eight or nine months in this part of the state. In the north these rains support a wide variety of spring annuals and wildflowers, but the water they supply in the south of the state is still important to help replenish wells.
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