Mexican Plateau

Last updated
Mexican Plateau
Altiplanicie Mexicana
Region
Field near San Miguel de Allende.jpg
A view of Mexican Plateau near San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Geographic Map of Mexico.jpg
Geographic map of the highest Mountain Ranges of Mexico.
Coordinates: 24°N103°W / 24°N 103°W / 24; -103 Coordinates: 24°N103°W / 24°N 103°W / 24; -103
Country Mexico
State Chihuahua
Area
  Total 601,882 km2 (232,388 sq mi)
Population (2000 [1] )
  Total 74,900,000
  Density 120/km2 (320/sq mi)

The Central Mexican Plateau, also known as the Mexican Altiplano (Spanish : Altiplanicie Mexicana), is a large arid-to-semiarid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico. Averaging 1,825 m (5,988 ft) above sea level, it extends from the United States border in the north to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the south, and is bounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental to the west and east, respectively.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a 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.

Plateau An area of a highland, usually of relatively flat terrain

In geology and physical geography, a plateau, also called a high plain or a tableland, is an area of a highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain, that is raised significantly above the surrounding area, often with one or more sides with steep slopes. Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes, including upwelling of volcanic magma, extrusion of lava, and erosion by water and glaciers. Plateaus are classified according to their surrounding environment as intermontane, piedmont, or continental.

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.

Contents

A low east-west mountain range in the state of Zacatecas divides the plateau into northern and southern sections. These two sections, called the Northern Plateau (Mesa del Norte) and Central Plateau (Mesa Central), are now generally regarded by geographers as sections of one plateau.

Zacatecas State of Mexico

Zacatecas, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Zacatecas, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas City.

The Mexican Plateau is mostly covered by deserts and xeric shrublands, with pine-oak forests covering the surrounding mountain ranges and forming sky islands on some of the interior ranges. The Mexican Altiplano is one of six distinct physiographic sections of the Basin and Range Province, which in turn is part of the Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division.

Deserts and xeric shrublands biome defined by the World Wildlife Fund

Deserts and xeric shrublands are a habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Deserts and xeric shrublands form the largest terrestrial biome, covering 19% of Earth's land surface area.

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.

Sky island

Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. The term originally referred to those found near the southern borders of Arizona and New Mexico, and has extended to similarly isolated high-altitude forests. The isolation has significant implications for these natural habitats. The American Southwest region began warming up between ∼20,000–10,000 years BP and atmospheric temperatures increased substantially, resulting in the formation of vast deserts that isolated the Sky Islands. Endemism, altitudinal migration, and relict populations are some of the natural phenomena to be found on sky islands.

In phytogeography, the Sonoran Desert is within the Sonoran Floristic Province of the Madrean Region in southwestern North America, part of the Holarctic Kingdom of the northern Western Hemisphere.

Phytogeography or botanical geography is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species and their influence on the earth's surface. Phytogeography is concerned with all aspects of plant distribution, from the controls on the distribution of individual species ranges to the factors that govern the composition of entire communities and floras. Geobotany, by contrast, focuses on the geographic space's influence on plants.

Madrean Region

The Madrean Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in North America, as delineated by Armen Takhtajan and Robert F. Thorne. It occupies arid or semiarid areas in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the Rocky Mountain Region and North American Atlantic Region of the Holarctic Kingdom in the north and in the east, Caribbean Region of the Neotropical Kingdom in the south.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

While the plateau stretches from north to south, the southern east-west arc of the Central Mexican Plateau from Jalisco to Veracruz states historically as well as today has served as the population nexus of the Mexican nation, it is home to its biggest metro areas of Guadalajara, Leon, Querétaro, Morelia, Mexico City, Toluca, Cuernavaca, and Puebla.

Geography

Mesa del Norte is part of the extreme northern part of the Mexican Plateau. Chihuahua Steppe.jpg
Mesa del Norte is part of the extreme northern part of the Mexican Plateau.

The Mesa del Norte or northern plateau averages 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in elevation above mean sea level and extends south from the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) through the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí. Various narrow, isolated ridges cross the Mesa del Norte and numerous depressions also dot the region, the largest of which is the Bolsón de Mapimí. The Río Bravo del Norte and its tributary, the Río Conchos, drain portions of the northern plateau, and the Río Pánuco and its tributaries drain the southeastern corner. Both drain to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the northern plateau comprises internal drainage basins that do not drain to the sea. The Chihuahuan Desert extends across the northern portion of the northern plateau, while the Meseta Central matorral covers the central portion, and the Central Mexican matorral extends from the southern portion of the northern plateau across the southern plateau.

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Chihuahua (state) State of Mexico

Chihuahua, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, is one of the 31 states of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. Its capital city is Chihuahua City.

Coahuila State of Mexico

Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Coahuila de Zaragoza, is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.

The Mesa Central or southern plateau is higher than its northern counterpart, averaging 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in elevation. The southern plateau contains numerous valleys originally formed by ancient lakes. It extends across the states of Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Michoacán. Several of Mexico's most prominent cities, including Guadalajara, are located in the valleys of the southern plateau. Much of the southern plateau is drained by the Río Grande de Santiago and its tributaries, including the Río Lerma, which drain west into the Pacific Ocean. Tributaries of the Río Pánuco drain the eastern portion of the southern plateau. The Central Mexican matorral covers much of the southern plateau, with the subtropical Bajío dry forests occupying the lower portions of the Lerma–Río Grande de Santiago basin. Higher altitudes are covered by Mixed Forests, then Temperate Coniferous Forests, up to the snow line in the top of the volcanoes that surround the southern and western edges.

Aguascalientes State of Mexico

Aguascalientes, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Aguascalientes, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 11 municipalities and its capital city is Aguascalientes.

Jalisco State of Mexico

Jalisco, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Jalisco, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and is bordered by six states which are Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Colima. Jalisco is divided into 125 municipalities, and its capital city is Guadalajara. Jalisco is one of the most important states in Mexico because of its natural resources as well as its history. Many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, particularly outside Mexico City, are originally from Jalisco, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, jaripeo, etc., hence the state's motto: "Jalisco es México." Economically, it is ranked third in the country, with industries centered in the Guadalajara metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico. The state is home to two significant indigenous populations, the Huichols and the Nahuas. There is also a significant foreign population, mostly retirees from the United States and Canada, living in the Lake Chapala and Puerto Vallarta areas.

Guanajuato State of Mexico

Guanajuato, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Guanajuato, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, are the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato. The largest city in the state is León.

Related Research Articles

Rio Grande rift

The Rio Grande rift is a north-trending continental rift zone. It separates the Colorado Plateau in the west from the interior of the North American craton on the east. The rift extends from central Colorado in the north to the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, in the south. The rift zone consists of four basins that have an average width of 50 kilometers. The rift can be observed on location at Rio Grande National Forest, White Sands National Monument, Santa Fe National Forest, and Cibola National Forest, among other locations.

Geography of Mexico

The geography of Mexico describes the geographic features of Mexico, a country in the Americas. Mexico is located at about 23° N and 102° W in the southern portion of North America. From its farthest land points, Mexico is a little over 3,200 km (2,000 mi) in length. Mexico is bounded to the north by the United States, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by the Gulf of Mexico, and to the southeast by Belize, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. The northernmost constituent of Latin America, it is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexico is the world's 13th largest country, three times the size of Texas.

Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division of the United States

The Intermontane Plateaus of the Western United States is one of eight U.S. Physiographic regions (divisions) of the physical geography of the contiguous United States. The region is composed of intermontane plateaus and mountain ranges. It is subdivided into physiographic provinces, which are each subdivided into physiographic sections.

Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range

The Sierra Madre Occidental is a major mountain range system of the North American Cordillera, that runs northwest–southeast through northwestern and western Mexico, and along the Gulf of California. The Sierra Madre is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western 'backbone' of North America, Central America, South America and West Antarctica.

Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in Mexico

The Sierra Madre Oriental is a mountain range in northeastern Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.

Pánuco River river in Mexico

The Pánuco River, also known as the Río de Canoas, is a river in Mexico fed by several tributaries including the Moctezuma River and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is approximately 510 kilometres (320 mi) long and passes through or borders the states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. Since one of the headwaters of the Moctezuma River is the Tula River, the Pánuco ultimately drains the Valley of Mexico containing Mexico City.

North American Cordillera mountain chain along the western side of North America

The North American Cordillera is the North American portion of the American Cordillera which is a mountain chain (cordillera) along the western side of the Americas. The North American Cordillera covers an extensive area of mountain ranges, intermontane basins, and plateaus in western North America, including much of the territory west of the Great Plains. It is also sometimes called the Western Cordillera, the Western Cordillera of North America, or the Pacific Cordillera.

Lerma River river in Mexico

The Lerma River is Mexico's second longest river. It is a 750 km-long (470 mi) river in west-central Mexico that begins in Mexican Plateau at an altitude over 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) above sea level, and ends where it empties into Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest lake, near Guadalajara, Jalisco. Lake Chapala is the starting point of Río Grande de Santiago, which some treat as a continuation of the Lerma River. In combination, the two are often called the Lerma Santiago River. The Lerma River is notorious for its pollution, but the water quality has demonstrated considerable improvement in recent years due mostly to government environmental programs and through massive upgrading projects of sanitation works.

Grande de Santiago River river in Mexico

The Grande de Santiago River is one of the longest rivers in Mexico, measuring up 433 km (269 mi) long. The river begins at Lake Chapala and continues roughly north-west through the Sierra Madre Occidental, receiving the Verde, Juchipila, Bolaños, and other tributaries. At La Yesca, the La Yesca Dam was completed in 2012 and the El Cajón Dam was completed downstream in 2007. Below El Cajón, the Aguamilpa Dam was completed in 1993, creating a reservoir covering a large part of the territory of the municipality of El Nayar in Nayarit. From Aguamilpa, the river descends to the coastal lowlands, passing by Santiago Ixcuintla and empties into the Pacific Ocean, 16 km (10 mi) northwest of San Blas, in Nayarit. The river is viewed by some sources as a continuation of the Lerma River, which flows into Lake Chapala.

Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was a 2560 kilometer long trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, from 1598 to 1882.

Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests ecoregion of Mexico

The Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests is a subtropical coniferous forest ecoregion of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt of central Mexico.

The Llanos el Salado is a large endorheic basin of central Mexico. It is located on the Mexican Plateau, and covers portions of several Mexican states, including eastern and northeastern Zacatecas, Northern San Luis Potosí, western Tamaulipas, southwestern Nuevo León, and southeastern Coahuila. El Salado blends into the Bolsón de Mapimí, another endorheic basin, on the north.

The Datil-Mogollon Section is a physiographic section of the larger Colorado Plateau province, which in turn is part of the larger Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division. It is a transitional area between the Basin and Range Province and the Colorado Plateau Province. It is also a newly defined unit that includes the southern part of the area previously designated the Datil Section.

The Acoma-Zuni Section is a physiographic section of the larger Colorado Plateaus province, which in turn is part of the larger Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division. It is bounded on the east by the Albuquerque Basin, a Rio Grande Rift basin in the northern part of the Basin and Range Province. The Datil-Mogollon Section lies to the south. It is also a newly defined physiographic unit that includes the northern part of the area previously designated the Datil Section. The southeastern edge of the Colorado Plateau from Springerville, Arizona, northeastward to the tip of the Sierra Nacimiento comprises this area.

Bolaños River river in Mexico

jhuhouho

The Moctezuma River is a river in Mexico that drains the eastern side of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It is a tributary of the Pánuco River and flows through the Mexican states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, and Veracruz.

Central Mexican matorral

The Central Mexican matorral is an ecoregion of the deserts and xeric shrublands biome of central Mexico.

Bajío dry forests

The Bajío dry forests ecoregion, of the Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests Biome, is located in western−central Mexico.

References