New Mexico welcomes you with color and art, music and dance, breathtaking landscapes, and a heritage of Indian, Anglo, and Hispanic cultures that cannot be found in any other state in the union. From prehistoric times until the present, cultures and tribes have journeyed through New Mexico’s land. From the north, various native American tribes have wandered in, and from the south, people from Mexico, and Spaniards as well, and Europeans have added to the mix. Pueblo, Apache, Navajo and others are all part of the incredible diversity that marks the vibrant culture of New Mexico.

The people, their heritage and traditions, their skills and their arts, and the land, its awesome beauty, all make New Mexico the unique and colorful place that it is today.

The name of this state is an anglicized version of “Nuevo Mexico,” the Spanish name for the upper Rio Grande. Mexico, an Aztec spelling, means “place of Mexitli” one of the Aztec gods.


Land of Enchantment (Official)

The “Land of Enchantment” describes New Mexico’s scenic beauty and its rich history. This legend was placed on New Mexico license plates in 1941. This nickname became the official State Nickname of New Mexico on April 8, 1999.

The Cactus State

or “Land of the Cactus” refers to the cacti that grow so abundantly in the state, particularly along the border with Mexico and on the plains.

The Spanish State

New Mexico has been referred to as “The Spanish State” because of its border with Mexico, its historical background and the proportion of its Spanish speaking population.

The Land of Sunshine

or “The Sunshine State” are nicknames that refer to the generous portion of sunshine that “rains” down upon New Mexico. “Sunshine State” appeared on state license plates before 1941.

The Land of the Delight Makers

This nickname, suggested by George Wharton James, was to celebrate the state’s influence on literature and art and because “…it is also the home of the first real field-school of American Archaeology in America.” The name was suggested by a book by Adolf Bandelier, The Delight Makers.

The Land of Opportunity

So called because of its natural beauty, its climate, its newness at the time, its free lands and its industries. New Mexico was described as place that offered enough opportunity to fulfill the hopes of all who came.

The Land of the Heart’s Desire

This is another historical nickname that promoted New Mexico as a land of unbound opportunity. Its location was between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, it provided an ideal climate and was still relatively undeveloped.

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