Located in northeastern Mexico, Nuevo Leon borders the U.S. state of Texas as well as the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and San Luis Potosi. Admitted as a Mexican state in 1824, Nuevo Leon’s capital and largest city is Monterrey. Its border with the U.S. is only nine miles, but it has one border crossing in the town of Columbia that is situated on the Rio Grande.
Nuevo Leon boasts an area of 24,800 square miles. It has a population of 4,745, 535 people and is ranked as the nation’s eighth most populous state. Aside from the capital, other major cities of Nuevo Leon include Santa Catarina, Guadalupe, Apodaca, San Nicolas de los Garza and San Pedro Garza Garcia. The state is known for its strong education record; Nuevo Leon boasts one of the country’s lowest rates of illiteracy. Moreover, it has a substantial industry base steel work and iron work. It is also a center for oil refining and manufacturing.
Nuevo Leon has a very dry climate. Its territory can be divided into three geographic regions: semi arid, desert, and temperate mountain zones. The large Monterrey metropolitan area receives water from the San Juan River. The mountainous region features pine and oak forests in many areas. The plains feature flora like agave and yucca. This region is immensely popular for tourism—particularly with outdoor enthusiasts who visit to rappel, rock climb, and camp. The state is also known for its caves, waterfalls, and scenic vistas. The state’s desert regions are filled with dramatic scenes, as well, and also attract tourists. Cumbres National Park is also located in the Sierra Madre Oriental near Monterrey and is an important tourist attraction of the state. Animals that are commonly found in regions of the state include bobcats, white-tailed deer, boars, badgers, and roadrunners.
Archeologists assert that people were hunting and gathering in the region of Nuevo Leon by 8900 B.C. They also maintain that nearly 250 indigenous tribes were located in the area and many were based around the region of present-day Monterrey. However, by the time the Spanish arrived, the region did not boast major settlements; tribes were still largely nomadic relying on hunting and gathering practices. In 1535, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca entered the area of Nuevo Leon. However, major colonization efforts did not occur until the 1600s in conjunction with missionaries desiring to convert the Native Americans there to Catholicism. These, however, were largely abandoned by the eighteenth century. Silver and gold mining exhausted the regions stores by the late eighteenth century; nevertheless, the Catholic Church began to establish convents and seminaries at this time. In more recent times, the area witnessed considerable political instability after the War of Independence. Industrialization for the state did not really begin to progress until a road was constructed linking Monterrey with Mexico City. Nuevo Leon was one of the earliest states to support the Mexican Revolution. In the years after the revolution, Nuevo Leon prospered as a cattle ranching state just as the capital solidified its position as a northern hub for industry and finance in the country.
Nuevo Leon is especially known for its outdoor tourist activities. With its canyons, pine forests, waterfalls, and caves, Nuevo Leon has many breathtaking scenic attractions. Famed for its eco-tours and outdoor adventures, Nuevo Leon is popular among campers, rock climbers, and hikers. On the other hand, its major cities like Monterrey are rich with cultural and historical attractions. Visitors to the state invariably find much to love, making this one of the country’s most celebrated northern states.
The state’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the Tlaxcaltecan Native Americans as well as by Spanish Catholics and Spanish Jews. Traditional dishes tend to be based on beef or goat. Carne asada is, perhaps, the most popularly eaten food in the state along with tamales. Kid goat, known as cabrito, is one of the capital’s most popular dishes. People of the state also love to make homemade candies using goat milk. Of course, in the capital, it’s popular to enjoy nearly any world cuisine.
The capital is the third largest city in Mexico. Monterrey boasts a plethora of attractions. While visitors will find unsurpassed examples of northern Mexican cuisine, they will also be greeted with many international types of restaurants. Its museums are celebrated for their world class exhibitions and the amenities—hotels and inns—are available to suit any budget. The capital attracts lots of business executives with its convention centers and thriving business sector. It’s regarded as the second wealthiest economy in Mexico. Visitors to Monterrey will find a city bursting with exciting things to see and do.
Other Things to See and Do
Cerro de la Silla: This saddle-shaped mountain is a recognizable symbol of Monterrey. As a major Nuevo Leon landmark, it is a popular recreational site among locals and travelers alike.
Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey: This museum is one of the nation’s best known museums of contemporary art and boasts world class exhibits each year.
La Huasteca: This famed climbing area outside of Monterrey is known for its challenging limestone formations that are more slippery than other types of limestone.
Potrero Chico: One of the most renowned rock climbing destinations in Mexico, Potrero Chico has an international reputation as one of the best climbing sites in the entire world. Located near the town of Hidalgo, this area is also popular with mountain bikers, campers, and hikers.
Boca de Potrerillos: This archaeological site is located east of the capital in the valleys or the Sierra Madre Oriental; it contains one of the largest examples of ancient rock art and petroglyphs in the nation.
Macroplaza: This Monterrey central plaza is touted as one of the biggest in the world. It boasts many sightseeing attractions like the governor’s palace, the Fero del Comercio monument, the Teatro de la Ciudad, and City Hall.
Fiestas: During nearly every month of the year, there are fiestas in honor of various anniversaries. The Festival del Barrio Antiguo and the Guadalupe Cattle-Ranching Exposition draw visitors from around the country. Many of the fiestas tend to be local events, but offer glimpses traditional culture that are popular among tourists.