Northern Mexico

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Northern Mexico location (light green).

Northern Mexico (Spanish: el Norte de México), commonly referred as El Norte, is an informal term for the northern cultural and geographical area in Mexico. Depending on the source, it contains some or all of the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora and Tamaulipas.

In fact there is not a border that separates the northern states from the southern states in Mexico, for some authors, only states that have a border with the US are considered as northern Mexico, i.e. Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sonora and Tamaulipas.[1] Others also include Durango, Sinaloa and Baja California Sur.[2] Other people consider that the north starts above the Tropic of Cancer,[3] but this description would include some parts of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí that are usually not considered northern states.[citation needed]


Before colonization[edit]

It is not known exactly when the first settlers came to Northern Mexico, the bad weather in the region limited the practice of agriculture, so ancient cultures developed a nomadic lifestyle dedicated to hunting and gathering.[4]

One of the most important native cultures at northern Mexico are the Tepehuanes in Durango, who are actually named the Odamis, meaning "people from the mountains".[5] Something similar has happened with the Raramuris in Chihuahua; Raramuri means "people who run", but they are known as Tarahumaras. Other important cultures are Mayos and Yaquis in Sonora, and Laguneros in Coahuila. In Nuevo Leon, many nomads were exterminated for resisting the construction of Monterrey.[6]

Colonial era[edit]

The first city of the region was Durango, founded by Francisco de Ibarra, a Basque explorer. During the colonial era, Durango, Chihuahua and some parts of Sinaloa and Coahuila were a Basque colony named the Nueva Vizacaya. Now, most Duranguenses are Basque descendants.[7] Other important cities like Monterrey were founded almost 50 years later.


Baja California Baja California Sur Chihuahua
Coat of arms of Baja California.svg Coat of arms of Baja California Sur.svg Coat of arms of Chihuahua.svg
Mexicali La Paz Chihuahua
Coahuila Durango Nuevo León
Coat of arms of Coahuila.svg Coat of arms of Durango.svg Coat of arms of Nuevo Leon.svg
Saltillo Durango Monterrey
Sinaloa Sonora Tamaulipas
Coat of arms of Sinaloa.svg Coat of arms of Sonora.svg Coat of arms of Tamaulipas.svg
Culiacán Hermosillo Ciudad Victoria