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The History of the Baja California Sur State

Everybody is aware of where Cabo San Lucas is.  Or do we?  We understand it is in Mexico and it has been referred to as Land’s End.  But Land’s End to what?  Visitors arriving on cruise ships have mistaken Los Cabos for an island.  Los Cabos is just a part of the state of Baja California Sur at the tip of the Baja peninsula.  The state north of Baja California Sur is called Baja California and borders with the United States.

We know that Los Cabos is the perfect place to spend your holiday in one of many luxury Cabo Villas. We know that the climate is near ideal and the people of Los Cabos are warm and welcoming.  But what do we understand about the state where this paradise is located in.  Baja California has a really fascinating history.

Early History
Baja California Sur was inhabited as early as 11000 B.C. Nomadic tribes left behind artifacts like arrow heads and Clovis points, which have been found in the northern part of the state.

Primitive paintings dating to 1700 B.C. can be seen in Cueva de Palma, San Gregorio, Sierra de San Francisco  and Sierra de Guadalupe. The paintings depict animals in motion, such as snakes, cougars, birds and wild cats. Hunters with arrowheads and primitive swords also appear in the paintings. These images are consistent with other proof suggesting that most of the inhabitants were nomadic hunters and gatherers.

When early explorers and missionaries arrived, these folks found 4 ethnic groups, including the Pericú to the south, between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and on various islands in the Gulf. The Guaycura occupied the region north of the Pericú, from La Paz to south of Loreto. The Monquil also lived near Loreto. The last group was the Cochimí, who ranged throughout the center of the peninsula. A lot of these tribes were hunters-gatherers lacking agriculture or metallurgy. Having said that, these folks created pottery and were fairly skilled fishermen. The Pericú improved their angling techniques by making wooden rafts and various uncomplicated sorts of watercraft.

Middle History
The first Spaniard to arrive in Baja California Sur is considered to have been Fortún Ximénez who landed there in 1533. Hernán Cortés led an expedition in 1535 but did not stay long. Other explorers came and went over the next hundred years and a half. Considering that Baja California Sur is one of the most isolated parts of Mexico, there were no serious efforts at colonization till the late 17th century.
In 1697 the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra established Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, the first permanent mission in Baja California Sur. The Jesuits then extended their presence south to the Cape and north to the modern border with Baja California..

The Franciscans had control of Baja California Sur in 1768 and then ceded it to the Dominicans in 1773. These administrative changes reflected increasing Spanish curiosity in the region. As the Spanish presence grew, colonization bred sickness and violence which brought on a considerable decrease in the number of inhabitants of the indigenous people in the course of this period.

Recent History
In the course of the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), Baja California Sur was primarily separated from the hostilities because of its remote location. After the war, the region was divided into 4 municipalities by President Guadalupe Victoria and Governor José María Echeandía.

Loreto, the oldest continuous settlement in the area, served as the capital until 1830. That year, heavy rains forced the government to move to La Paz, which has remained the capital since then.

At the conclusion of the Mexican American War in 1847, the United States withdrew from Baja California Sur. The following year the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in which Mexico agreed to sell the land which now includes the modern states of Ca, Nevada and Ut and parts of Arizona, Coloradao, New Mexico and Wyoming. In return, the US acknowledged Mexico's ownership of the Baja Peninsula. Despite the agreement, in 1853 a journalist named William Walker led a group of 45 Americans to capture the city of La Paz. The expedition did not have the official support of the United States, however, and the Mexican Army speedily drove out the Americans.

The territories of Baja California Sur and Baja California were formally established in 1888 under the government of President Porfirio Diaz.  Baja California Sur became a state on October 8, 1974.

 

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 6:27 PM by Nick Fong

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