Interesting Facts About Chihuahua, Mexico

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Bordered to the north by the Rio Grande, Texas and New Mexico is the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Rich in the history of the Tarahumara and other indigenous people and largely untouched by industrialization, Chihuahua draws tourists and visitors from around the globe. It is said that any visitor to the diverse geography and culture of Chihuahua will soon understand the famed Mexican expression of awe, "aye, Chihuahua!"

The State of Chihuahua

Covering an area of 244,938 square kilometers, Chihuahua is Mexico's largest state. The word "Chihuahua" (both the name of the state and the capital city) translates "Lady of the Desert." While Chihuahua has a fair share of desert, it also boasts beautiful waterfalls, plunging canyons and has more green forests than any other Mexican state. The state of Chihuahua is known for its production and export of apples, nuts, cattle, dairy products and timber.

Chihuahua Dogs

Perhaps better known in the U.S. is the other Chihuahua, a small breed of dog (the oldest breed in the Americas) found in the bag of many Hollywood starlets. Chihuahuas are believed to be descendants of Techichi breed, small Chinese dogs belonging to Conquistadors or a combination of both. The history of Chihuahuas probably predates the Mayans. The Aztecs viewed Chihuahuas as sacred icons and used them in religious ceremonies as guides for the dead. Rediscovered in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1850, the Chihuahua became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904.

Copper Canyon

Chihuahua's Copper Canyon is at least seven times larger than Arizona's Grand Canyon. Located in the Sierra Madre Mountains, the Copper Canyon system covers 10,000 square miles and is home to the second and third deepest canyons in North America. Copper Canyon was so named due to the copper and green colored lichens that grow on the valley walls. Though "Copper Canyon" is the most well known name, it references only one of the six gorges that make up the canyon system. The more accurate name for the canyon is "Sierra Tarahumara," after the area's indigenous Tarahumara people.

Zone of Silence

In the middle of the barren Chihuahuan desert lies an area that baffles all who know it's name, the Zone of Silence. Largely unknown, "the Zone" drew worldwide attention in 1970 when a U.S. missile fired from New Mexico went off course unexpectedly and landed in the desert. Scientists researching the area have found high levels of magnetite in the area and have discovered that television, radio, short wave, microwave and satellite signals fail to penetrate the area (leading to its name.) Wayward U.S. missiles aren't the only things that find their way to "the Zone;" the area is also a hot spot for meteorites. While the exact cause of the phenomena is unknown, it is interesting to note that the Zone of Silence is just north of the Tropic of Cancer and "shares the same latitude south of the 30th parallel as the Bermuda Triangle." Witnesses in the area also report regular activity of "strange lights, floating orbs, burning bushes, flying saucers and alien encounters."

Pancho Villa

Though Pancho Villa is a familiar name for many since their days in elementary school, few can tell you about Doroteo Arango. Born Doroteo Arango in 1878, Pancho Villa took on the moniker sometime between 1894 and 1910. During a long career as a very successful bandit, Pancho Villa conquered many areas of Mexico, including Chihuahua. In May 1920, Adolfo De la Huerta became Mexico's interim president. Seeking peace for Mexico, De la Huerta negotiated with Villa for Villa's retirement. As part of the agreement, Villa received a hacienda in Chihuahua. Assassinated just three years later, Villa lives on as a celebrated folk hero of Mexico.

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