The state of Baja California is located on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and is internationally famous for its tourism. The state borders the U.S. states of California and Arizona and the Mexican states of Baja California Sur and Sonora. Its western border is the Pacific Ocean and much of its eastern border is the Sea of Cortez. With its capital of Mexicali, Baja California boasts many important cities such as Rosarito, San Felipe, and Ensenada.
Baja enjoys a population of 3,233,744 and is ranked the fourteenth most populous state in Mexico. Its most populous city is Tijuana which is situated on the border across from San Diego, California. Baja was admitted as a state in 1952. Its mountains and coastal climates make it some of the nation’s most extraordinary landscape.
Geography and Environment
The state’s area is slightly over 27,000 square miles of Mexico, but although it is ranked twelfth in terms of size, it is incredibly diverse with regions of mountains, forests, desert, and coast. Although the topography is riddled with mountains, the most notable ranges include the Sierra de San Pedro Martir, the Sierra de Juarez, and the Sierra de San Luis of Mexico. The state of Baja also has jurisdiction over various islands like the Coronado Islands. The desert region around Mexicali has some of the hottest temperatures recorded in the country while the coastal areas are famous for their comfortable Mediterranean climate.
Flora and Fauna
From various species of pine trees to Manzanita, the plant life of the state varies with the landscape. Cacti and drought tolerant shrubs and grasses can be found in the dry regions of Baja while other regions exhibit similar plants and flowers than can be seen in southern California. On land, the wildlife includes animals such as pronghorn antelope, cougars, coyotes, bobcats, eagles, bats, and various snakes. The waters around the Baja are home to various species of sharks, whale, crustaceans, and sport fish.
Historians believe the first people began to settle the Baja roughly eleven thousand years ago. Early groups that settled the various geographical regions of Mexico included the Cochimi, Kiliwa, Cocopa, and Quechan. Hunter gathering, maritime activities like fishing, and small scale agriculture constituted the way of life on the peninsula until the Spanish arrived in 1539. Until 1637 when the Jesuits founded their mission at Loreto, the region remained seldom visited. After the Jesuits dominated the management of the area, the Dominicans took control. Under the influence of the missions, the Baja stretched much of the upper area of present day California until it was annexed as a U.S. state. The Baja and its peoples were corralled into the Republic of Lower California in 1853. At one point later in the nineteenth century, the peninsula was offered to the U.S. for sale. Eventually, however, the northern half of the peninsula was admitted as a Mexican state while its southern counterpart, Baja California Sur, remain a Mexico-controlled territory until it was admitted as a state in 1974.
The state of Baja California is well known for many charming small towns, but its large cities draw a multitude of visitors. Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, Tecate, and Rosarito each are the state’s largest cities. The cities offer many historical and cultural attractions, but are also known for their entertainment venues, restaurants, and recreational attractions. Many visitors head to the state’s main cities to experience the beaches, scuba, fishing, camping, and off-roading that are popular among both locals and vacationers.
While there are various populated sections of Baja California like Tijuana, there are also remote sections and rugged terrain that adds to the wild charm of the peninsula. Aside from the wide array of beach and water sport popular throughout the coastal regions of the state, there are also eco-tourist opportunities such as whale watching, environmental tours, and rock climbing adventures. Visitors to the state will find luxury accommodations as well as affordable travel lodges. Health and beauty spas, cave paintings, and wine country—Baja California is popular among vacationers for so many reasons!
So Many Things to See and Do in Baja California
Sport Fishing: Baja California is renowned for its sport fishing. Marlin, red snapper, dorado, wahoo, sailfish, and yellow fin tuna—these are just a few of the sport fish that thrive in the waters around the peninsula.
San Felipe: Situated on the Sea of Cortez, this beautiful beach city is famous for its beach camping, sport fishing, restaurants, resorts, and thrilling vacation experience!
Todos Santos Islands: The smallest of these islands attracts surfers from around the world; the waves that hit are said to be the biggest anywhere in North America.
Rock Painting of Sierra de San Francisco: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its ancient cave paintings. The rock shelters and paintings date to prehistoric times.
San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park: Located on the Sea of Cortez, this marine park is designed to help protect the fragile marine life and ecosystems of the region. Visitors delight to see killer whales, sperm whales, swordfish, dolphins, and more!
Coronado Islands: Essentially uninhabited, these islands lure snorkelers and eco-tourists who are interested in the animal life of the islands. Scuba diving around the islands is also popular.
Valle de Guadalupe: Internationally known for its boutique wines, this region is located near Ensenada and is home to a wide variety of wineries that are popularly visited by tourists. Wine tastings and delicious foods are hallmarks of vineyard tours.
El Vallecito: This archeological site is located near the city of Tecate. It is believed to date back to 8000 B.C.
Mexicali Chinatown: Many Chinese have settled in the capital to create a section of the city famous for its quaint shops and delightful restaurants.
Rancho La Puerta: Regarded as one of the best spas in the world, Rancho La Puerta is situated amidst the mountain trails of the Tecate Municipality. A plethora of services and activities awaits those who visit this illustrious spa and resort.
Parque Nacional Constitucion: This stunning woodland area is known for its conifer trees and wildlife. The park is located in the Sierra de Juarez range near the city of Ensenada.