New Mexico: Modern New Mexico

Modern New Mexico

In 1943 the U.S. government built Los Alamos as a center for atomic research. The first atom bomb was exploded at the White Sands Proving Grounds in July, 1945. The growth and use of military and nuclear facilities continued after World War II. High-altitude experiments were apparently responsible for a 1947 incident near Roswell that led to persistent claims that the government was concealing captured extraterrestrial corpses and equipment. In the 1990s the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, deep in salt formations near Carlsbad, was readied for storage of nuclear wastes, amid controversy. The Las Cochas Fire (2011)--the largest wildfire in the state to that date--burned from June 26-August 7th, came close to the Los Alamos facilities, which were temporarily evacuated in late July; the fire was followed by devestating floods. A year later, it was surpassed by the Whitewater-Baldy fire, which burned from May 9-July 31and devestated nearly 300,000 acres.

Democrat Bill Richardson, who had served as a member of the Hosue of Representatives (1983-1997), the U.N. Ambassador (1997-98) and Secretary of Energy (1998-2001) under President Bill Clinton , won two terms as the state's governor (2003-11). Republican Susana Martinez (2011-19) was the first woman in the state and the first Hispanic and first person of color in the country to serve in the office. In 2018, another Hispanic American, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham was elected governor. She had previously served in the House of Representatives (2013-19),

New Mexico's climate, tranquillity, and startling panoramas have made the state a place of winter or year-round residence for those seeking health or a place of retirement. Many writers and artists have made their homes in communities such as Taos and Santa Fe, including D. H. Lawrence and Georgia OKeeffe . The Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo, and some Ute , live on federal reservations within the state—the Navajo Nation, with over 16 million acres (6.5 million hectares), is the largest in the country—and the Pueblo, a settled agricultural people, live in pueblos scattered throughout the state. Hispanics account for nearly half of the state's total population, with Native Americans making up 9.5% of the total. The state's population grew by nearly 12% between 2000-10, but that growth slowed in the next decade to 2.8%.

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