Baja California Peninsula

Last updated

Coordinates: 28°00′N113°30′W / 28.000°N 113.500°W / 28.000; -113.500

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Contents

Baja California Peninsula
Baja peninsula (mexico) 250m.jpg
Satellite image of the Baja California Peninsula
Geography
LocationNorth America
Adjacent bodies of water
Area143,390 km2 (55,360 sq mi)
Administration
Mexico
Demographics
Population4,085,695 (2015)

The Baja California Peninsula (English: Lower California Peninsula, Spanish : Península de Baja California) is a peninsula in Northwestern Mexico. It separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The peninsula extends 1,247 km (775 miles) from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south. It ranges from 40 km (25 miles) at its narrowest to 320 km (200 miles) at its widest point and has approximately 3,000 km (1,900 miles) of coastline and approximately 65 islands. The total area of the Baja California Peninsula is 143,390 km2 (55,360 sq mi).

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian, is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Peninsula A piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland

A peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

The peninsula is separated from mainland Mexico by the Gulf of California and the Colorado River. There are four main desert areas on the peninsula: the San Felipe Desert, the Central Coast Desert, the Vizcaíno Desert and the Magdalena Plain Desert.

Gulf of California A gulf of the Pacific Ocean between the Baja peninsula and the Mexican mainland

The Gulf of California is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa with a coastline of approximately 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Rivers which flow into the Gulf of California include the Colorado, Fuerte, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the Yaqui. The gulf's surface area is about 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi). Depth soundings in the gulf have ranged from fording depth at the estuary near Yuma, Arizona, to in excess of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) in the deepest parts.

Colorado River major river in the western United States and Mexico

The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Starting in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the river flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the Arizona–Nevada border, where it turns south toward the international border. After entering Mexico, the Colorado approaches the mostly dry Colorado River Delta at the tip of the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora.

History

The land of California existed as a myth among European explorers before it was discovered. The earliest known mention of the idea of California was in the 1510 romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. The book described the Island of California as being west of the Indies, "very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons". [1]

Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo was a Castilian author who arranged the modern version of the chivalric romance Amadis of Gaul, written in three books in the 14th century by an unknown author.

Island of California phantom island

The Island of California refers to a long-held Spanish misconception, dating from the 16th century, that the Baja California Peninsula was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island separated from the continent by a strait now known as the Gulf of California.

West Indies Island region in the Caribbean

The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean in the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago.

Following Hernán Cortés' conquest of Mexico, the lure of an earthly paradise as well as the search for the fabled Strait of Anián, helped motivate him to send several expeditions to the west coast of New Spain in the 1530s and early 1540s. Its first expedition reached the Gulf of California and California, and proved the Island of California was in fact a peninsula.[ citation needed ] Nevertheless, the idea of the island persisted for well over a century and was included in many maps. The Spaniards gave the name Las Californias to the peninsula and lands to the north, including both Baja California and Alta California, the region that became parts of the present-day U.S. states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.[ citation needed ]

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Strait of Anián name given to the Northwest Passage in the sixteenth century

The Strait of Anián was a semi-mythical strait, documented from around 1560, that was believed by early modern cartographers to mark the boundary between North America and Asia and to permit access to a Northwest Passage from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific. The true strait was discovered in 1728 and became known as the Bering Strait. The Strait of Anián had been generally placed nearby but sometimes appeared as far south as California.

Timeline

Fortún Ximénez was Spanish sailor who led a mutiny during an early expedition along the coast of Mexico and is the first European known to have landed in Baja California.

Francisco de Ulloa Spanish explorer

Francisco de Ulloa was a Spanish explorer who explored the west coast of present-day Mexico under the commission of Hernán Cortés. The reports of his expeditions along the Baja California Peninsula are credited with being influential in the perpetuation of the 17th century cartographic misconception of the existence of the Island of California.

Spanish missions in Baja California

The Spanish missions in Baja California were a large number of religious outposts established by Catholic religious orders, the Jesuits, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, between 1683 and 1834 to spread the Christian doctrine among the Native Americans or Indians living on the Baja California peninsula. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in the frontier land, and introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and industry into the region. The Indians were severely impacted by the introduction of European diseases such as smallpox and measles and by 1800 their numbers were a fraction of what they had been before the arrival of the Spanish.

Political divisions

Mexico in 1854, with Baja California Territory in gray (left) Mapa de Mexico 1854.PNG
Mexico in 1854, with Baja California Territory in gray (left)

The province of the Californias was united until 1804, in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain, when it was divided into Alta (upper) and Baja (lower) California.

The two Californias division was kept after Mexican independence in 1821. The Spanish Baja California Province became Mexican Baja California Territory, and remained a separate territory until 1836. In 1836, the Siete Leyes constitutional reforms reunited both Californias in the Departamento de las Californias . After 1848, the Baja California Peninsula again became a Mexican territory when Alta California was ceded to the United States (see 1854 map).

In 1931 Baja California Territory was divided into northern and southern territories. In 1952, the "North Territory of Baja California" became the 29th State of Mexico as Baja California. In 1974, the "South Territory of Baja California" became the 31st state as Baja California Sur.

Baja California

Isla Partida, which is part of the San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park Ensenada Grande.jpg
Isla Partida, which is part of the San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park

The northern part is the state of Baja California. [3] The citizens of Baja California are named bajacalifornianos ("Lower Californians" in English). Mexicali is the capital.

Baja California Sur

Port of Cabo San Lucas CaboSanLucasPort09.JPG
Port of Cabo San Lucas

The southern part, below 28° north, is the state of Baja California Sur. The citizens of Baja California Sur are named sudcalifornianos ("South Californians" in English). La Paz is its capital.

Geology

The Baja California Peninsula was once a part of the North American Plate, the tectonic plate of which mainland Mexico remains a part. About 12 to 15 million years ago the East Pacific Rise began cutting into the margin of the North American Plate, initiating the separation of the peninsula from it. Spreading within the Gulf of California consists of short oblique rifts or ridge segments connected by long northwest trending transform faults, [4] which together comprise the Gulf of California Rift Zone. The north end of the rift zone is located in the Brawley seismic zone in the Salton Sea basin between the Imperial Fault and the San Andreas Fault. [4] The Baja California Peninsula is now part of the Pacific Plate and is moving with it away from the East Pacific Rise in a north northwestward direction.

Along the coast north of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur is a prominent volcanic activity area.

Volcanoes of the peninsula and adjacent islands include: [5]

and

Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography have found a 2,000-year-old layer of non-decomposed roots, or peat, up to four meters (13 feet) under the desert mangroves. The peat layer acts like a sponge for stored atmospheric carbon, a record of sea-level-rise is also recorded in the peat layer.

The desert mangroves restricted to rocky inlets on the rugged coast of Baja California have been growing over their own root remains over thousands of years to compensate for sea-level rise, accumulating a thick layer of peat below their roots. However, mangroves in flat coastal floodplains have accumulated a thinner peat layer. [6]

Geography

Baja California as seen in April 1984, from the bay of a Space Shuttle (STS-41-C) LDEF over payload bay.jpg
Baja California as seen in April 1984, from the bay of a Space Shuttle (STS-41-C)

The Peninsular Ranges form the backbone of the peninsula. They are an uplifted and eroded Jurassic to Cretaceous batholith, part of the same original batholith chain which formed much of the Sierra Nevada mountains in U.S. California. This chain was formed primarily as a result of the subduction of the Farallon Plate millions of years ago all along the margin of North America.

The two most prominent capes along the Pacific coastline of the peninsula are Punta Eugenia, located about halfway up the coast, and Cabo San Lazaro, located about a quarter of the way north from Cabo San Lucas.

The Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino, the largest bay in Baja, lies along the Pacific coast halfway up the peninsula. The large island of Isla Cedros is situated between the bay and the Pacific, just north of Punta Eugenia. Onshore southeast of the bay is the Desierto de Vizcaino, an extensive desert lying between the Sierra Vizcaino to the west, and the Tres Virgenes range which runs along the Gulf of California to the east.

The largest bays along the coastline of the Gulf are Bahia de La Paz where the city of La Paz is located, and Bahia Concepcion. The Bahía de los Ángeles is a small bay located west of the Canal de las Ballenas which separates the Baja California peninsula from the large island of Angel de la Guarda in the Gulf of California.

Ecoregions

The peninsula is home to several distinct ecoregions. Most of the peninsula is deserts and xeric shrublands, although pine-oak forests are found in the mountains at the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. The southern tip of the peninsula, which was formerly an island, has many species with affinities to tropical Mexico.

Tourism

The peninsula is known colloquially as Baja by American and Canadian tourists, and is known for its natural environment. It draws ecotourists who go whale watching for migrating California Gray Whales as well as tourists that arrive to the Baja California Gold Coast and resorts on the southern tip of the Peninsula. Its location between the North Pacific and Gulf of California give it a reputation for sports fishing.

See also

Related Research Articles

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Baja California Sur State of Mexico

Baja California Sur, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California Sur, is the second-smallest Mexican state by population and the 31st admitted state of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.

Pacific Coast Ranges

ThePacific Coast Ranges, are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south to Northern and Central Mexico.

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir mountain range

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a mountain range located within southern Ensenada Municipality and southern Baja California state, of northwestern Mexico.

La Paz, Baja California Sur City in Baja California Sur, Mexico

La Paz is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial center. The city had a 2015 census population of 244,219 inhabitants, making it the most populous city in the state. Its metropolitan population is somewhat larger because of the surrounding towns, such as El Centenario, Chametla and San Pedro. It is in La Paz Municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size and reported a population of 290,286 inhabitants on a land area of 20,275 km2 (7,828 sq mi).

Peninsular Ranges

The Peninsular Ranges are a group of mountain ranges that stretch 1,500 km (930 mi) from Southern California to the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula; they are part of the North American Coast Ranges, which run along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico. Elevations range from 500 to 10,834 feet.

Baja California Desert desert ecoregion of Mexicos Baja California Peninsula

The Baja California Desert is a desert ecoregion of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. This ecoregion occupies the western portion of the Baja California peninsula, and occupies most of the Mexican states of Baja California Sur and Baja California. It covers 77,700 square kilometers. The climate is dry, but the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean provides humidity and moderates the temperature. The flora mostly consists of xeric shrubs and over 500 species of recorded vascular plants.

Madrean pine-oak woodlands

The Madrean pine-oak woodlands is an ecoregion of the Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests biome, located in North America. They are subtropical woodlands found in the mountains of Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Sierra de Juárez mountain range

The Sierra de Juárez, also known as the Sierra Juarez, is a mountain range located in Tecate Municipality and northern Ensenada Municipality, within northern Baja California state of northwestern Mexico.

Sierra Juárez and San Pedro Mártir pine-oak forests

The Sierra Juárez and San Pedro Mártir pine-oak forests is an ecoregion, in the Temperate coniferous forests biome, that covers the higher elevations of the Sierra Juárez and Sierra San Pedro Mártir ranges, of the Peninsular Ranges, in the northern Baja California Peninsula of Mexico, near the border with California.

Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay is a bay along the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula in northwestern Mexico.

Sierra de la Giganta

The Sierra de la Giganta is a mountain range of eastern Baja California Sur state, located on the southern Baja California Peninsula in northwestern Mexico.

The Californias Region of North America

The Californias, occasionally known as the Three Californias or Two Californias, are a region of North America spanning the United States and Mexico and consisting of the U.S. state of California and the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Historically, the term "The Californias" was used to define the vast northwestern region of Spanish America, as the Province of the Californias, and later as a collective term for Alta California and the Baja California Peninsula.

Volcanoes of east-central Baja California

The volcanoes of east-central Baja California are located on the Baja California Peninsula near the Gulf of California, in the state of Baja California Sur, in Mexico.

The Sierra de San Francisco is a mountain range in Mulegé Municipality of the northern region of Baja California Sur state, in northwestern Mexico.

Sea urchins of the Gulf of California

The sea urchins of the Gulf of California live between the coasts of the Baja California Peninsula to the west and mainland state of Sonora, Mexico to the east. The northern boundary is the lateral band of land with the remains of the Colorado River Delta, and the southern is the Pacific Ocean.

Geography of southern California

The geography of southern California refers to the geography of southern California in the United States.

San Matias Pass, or Paseo San Matias, is a pass at the crest of the east west divide between the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California watersheds of the Baja California Peninsula located in Baja California. The pass lies between the Peninsular Ranges of Sierra de Juarez to the north and the Sierra San Pedro Martir to the south.

References

Notes
  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2017-01-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. Barkenbus, Jack, "The Trans-Peninsular Highway: A New Era for Baja California", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Aug., 1974), pp. 259–273.
  3. Baja California , it is sometimes informally referred to as Baja California Norte, to distinguish it from both the Baja California Peninsula, of which it covers the northern half, and the adjacent state Baja California Sur that covers the southern half of the peninsula. While it is a well-established term for the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, however, its usage would not be correct, because Baja California Norte has never existed as a political designation for a state, territory, district or region.
  4. 1 2 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2016-12-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Alles, David L., Geology of the Salton Trough,
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2010-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Volcanoes of México and Central America
  6. "New Study Shows Desert Mangroves Are Major Source of Carbon Storage | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego". scripps.ucsd.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
Sources