About Baja

”There’s something about Baja,” said Judy Smith, a motor sports journalist and an off-road racer herself. ”Something happens to people here. Something happens, and after that they can never stay away.”

Baja Surf Photos is all about sharing, sharing the photographic and video records of good times spent enjoying northern Baja, Mexico. Still largely undeveloped and unspoiled by over population, Baja is a special place for those that appreciate Baja’s appeal. The topography reminds one of Santa Barbara, with hills rimming the ocean’s shore. These hills you will find are barren and still not littered with multi-million dollar homes as you will find in Southern California. A few miles inland you will discover terrain similar to Ranch Santa Fe near San Diego, along with the best wine country in Mexico.

Baja California (state, Mexico) or Lower California, state in northwestern Mexico occupying the northern half of the peninsula of Baja California. The Mexican state is on the southern border of the United States, directly south of California. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Gulf of California and the Mexican state of Sonora, and on the south by the state of Baja California Sur, which occupies the southern end of the peninsula.

The northern part of Baja California has a climate similar to that of southern California, with rainfall ranging from 250 to 640 mm (10 to 25 in) per year. The rest of the state, however, receives very little rainfall and has few creeks or streams that run year-round. Vegetation in much of this region is characterized by desert plants, such as the giant cactus, although some areas are virtually barren. The highest peak in the state is El Picacho del Diablo, 3095 m (10,154 ft) high. The Colorado River forms the eastern-most boundary with the state of Sonora. Constitución de 1857 National Park, located in the Sierra de Juárez Mountains in the northern part of the state, protects temperate forests of pine and oak, habitat that is critical for local animal species such as puma, bobcat, and bald eagle. The state covers an area of 71,576 sq km (27,636 sq mi).

All of Baja California’s major cities—Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California; Mexicali, the state capital; and Ensenada, an important coastal resort—are located in the northern quarter of the state. Tecate, a small city known for its beer-making industry, is located on the U.S. border. The population is largely mestizo—a mix of Native American and European ancestry—and many people are recent immigrants. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Baja California attracted more immigrants from within Mexico than any other Mexican state, except Quintana Roo. Most of the state’s population lives in urban areas, giving it the third highest percentage of urban residents in Mexico, after the Distrito Federal and the state of Nuevo León. The Colegio Frontera del Norte in Tijuana is a noted university. In addition, the state is home to four campuses of the Autonomous University of Baja California (1957)—in Ensenada, Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana. Baja California’s estimated population in 1995 was 2,112,140.

Baja California is an important site of assembly industries along the border with the United States, particularly between San Diego and Tijuana, where North American and Japanese investors own numerous plants. Fishing is also an important industry in the state, with lobster, shellfish, and tuna being some of the most prominent species. Agriculture, which depends on irrigation, is directed primarily toward markets in the United States, particularly California, for which Baja California has increased its production of organically grown foodstuffs. The state is also an important center for the production of beer, wine, and soap. Baja California has three major highways: a north-south route from Tijuana to San José del Cabo, at the southern tip of the peninsula; an east-west route along the northern border connecting Baja California to the state of Sonora; and a shorter north-south route extending south from Mexicali. A major multi-lane toll road runs from Tijuana south to Ensenada on the Pacific Coast. Economic and population growth in southern California have contributed to Baja California’s economy and millions of tourists cross from San Diego into Tijuana each year. Rapid development along Baja California’s northern border, however, has exacerbated serious environmental problems. Local leaders in San Diego and Tijuana often collaborate on efforts to resolve some of these difficult issues.

Originally part of the Spanish territory of California, Baja California was designated a territory under the 1917 constitution because of its small population. It became a state in 1952. In 1989 a candidate for governor from the National Action Party defeated a candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, making Baja California the first state in the nation to elect a governor from an opposition political party.

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