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Northern Mexico

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Earth : North America : Mexico : Northern Mexico
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Northern Mexico is a vast desert region bordering the United States of America. The north is sometimes referred to as "unknown Mexico" or "lost Mexico" because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists.


  • Chihuahua - The biggest state in Mexico, Chihuahua served as the battle ground between federal and revolutionary forces led by Pancho Villa and has played a crucial role in the development of high-tech enterprises in Mexico.
  • Coahuila - Mexico's top mining state, Coahuila has also been a leader in modern policies such as offering civil unions to same-sex couples and, like Baja California, plays an important role in Mexico's wine production.
  • Durango
  • New Leon - Mexico's industrial heartland, Nuevo León is home to world-renowned companies Cemex, Bimbo and Femsa (Coca-cola in Latin America) and represents 11% of Mexico's GDP, placing the state's living standard higher than European countries such as Hungary or Slovakia.
  • Sinaloa - Right under the state of Sonora on the West coast of Mexico. Its music is more influential than any other Mexican state and its climate is unique among the other Northern states since it is mainly tropical.
  • Sonora - Quintessentially northern in lifestyle and traditions, Sonora was the original destination for European immigrants during the Mexican gold rush in late 1800s, the same immigrants that would later spread into the rest of northern Mexico. Sonora also generates the most extreme temperatures throughout Mexico, with snow covering the peaks of Sierra Madre Occidental during winter and heat waves reaching 50 degrees Celcius during the summer.
  • Tamaulipas - Strongly focused on export-oriented manufacturers (i.e. maquiladoras), the average wage for an employee in Tamaulipas is the highest in Mexico, making Tamaulipas also a leader in education with minimal illiteracy compared to other states.


  • Ciudad Juárez - home to the original "burrito", Juarez is also a practical entry point for Americans going to Copper Canyon.
  • Creel- the tourist center of NW Mexico and an area that is increasingly compared to Moab, Utah for its excellent biking opportunities.
  • Culiacán - The capital of the state of Sinaloa. It is located at the center of the state.
  • Los Cabos - World-famous beach resort, Los Cabos also has the largest variety of restaurants in Northern Mexico and still practices at large local activities like fishing, diving and whale-watching.
  • Monterrey - a large, vibrant young city, it is the center of industry in Mexico.
  • Puerto Peñasco - originally called "Rocky Point" by the British, it is the nearest beach resort to Arizona.
  • Saltillo - small city with colonial charm, capital of the state of Coahuila.
  • Tampico - busy port city on the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Tijuana - The north-westernmost city in Mexico, Tijuana is the world's most visited city thanks to easy policies on the U.S.- Mexico port of entry as well as the birthplace of Ceasar Salad and current avant-garde acts such as music project Nortec and art movement La Tercera Nación.

Other destinations[edit]

  • Copper Canyon- world famous for good reason.
  • Isla Tiburon- the largest Island in Mexico, located in the Sea of Cortez and a part of the state of Sonora.
  • Sierra del Carmen-- just across the river from Big Bend NP. This is the largest wilderness area in Latin America north of Patagonia. Owned and preserved by Monterrey's CeMex corporation (which has a strong tradition of conservation projects). No tourist infrastructure in place, but if you're self-sufficient this area is certainly worth exploring.
  • Paquime - archaelogical site at Casas Grandes in a remote area of Chihuahua. Related to Pueblo culture of southwestern United States.
  • Cuatro Cienegas - protected nature preserve with unique desert oasis ecosystem. Snorkling and swimming is allowed in some pools.
  • Reserva de la Biosfera El Cielo - unusual subtropical rain forest in Tamaulipas, just a few hours drive south of U.S./Mexico border


This is not the tourist Mexico of the Colonial altiplano or the southern beach resorts. Rather the Norte is the Mexico of popular imagination. A place of vaqueros, horses, small towns, soaring mountains, and sweeping deserts. At the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. This is a very rich region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways, traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie.

Northern Mexico is one of the country's most wealthy and modern regions. Maquiladoras (factories) are located along the northern border. American music, television, and other forms of entertainment are present near the American border. A lot of Mexicans cross the border to shop, go to school, or for work.


As in the rest of the country, Spanish is the predominant language among the population. The variety of Mexican Spanish spoken in the region distinguishes itself from the rest of the country with its strong intonation and contraction of words. Due to the proximity to the United States, it receives a great deal of influence from English. For example, English words such as troca (truck), lonche (lunch), and bai (bye) are common.

Education in English is widespread among the middle and upper economical classes of the population, with varied degrees of fluency. Students and business workers are most likely to speak English.

Northern Mexico has the lowest concentration of indigenous communities of all of Mexico. There is no indigenous language with more than 100,000 speakers. Some of the most significant indigenous languages include Tarahumara, Mayo, Huichol, and Paipai. Please note that is not essential to learn any of these languages unless you go into a very remote area or you want to be immersed in the local culture. The great majority of indigenous people are bilingual in Spanish as well.

Get in[edit]

Get around[edit]

Northern Mexico has the best highway system in the country. Additionally, the area's sparse population means heavy traffic congestion is seldom an issue (outside of the Monterrey area). As a result, taking the bus or finding a few friends to carpool with are probably the best option for getting around. If you are short on time there are many regional flights between the larger cities. If you have plenty of time buying a horse or bicycle would really allow one to slow down and absorb the region's unique scenery, culture and lifestyle; it could be the travel experience of a lifetime.

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

Explore a largely overlooked area that is several times the size of Spain.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Fajitas - Chicken or meat strips usually marinaded with lemon, salt and Worcester sauce and often served as a burrito filling.
  • Coyotas - Round, flat and oversized sugar cookies filled with brown sugar and traditionally prepared at Villa de Seris, Sonora.
  • Tortillas de Harina - The most popular tortilla in Northern Mexico. Unlike corn tortillas, a traditional flour tortilla is at least twice the size of a corn tortilla.
  • Machaca con huevo - Traditional scrambled beef and egg dish served with flour tortillas.
  • Quesadillas - Tortillas grilled with white cheese and salsa.
  • Burritos - flour tortilla wrapped around a wide variety of fillings.
  • Chimichanga - a fried burrito usually filled with shredded chicken and covered by lettuce, sour cream and spicy sauce.
  • Nachos - Snack consisting of fried tortilla chips covered with melted cheese and jalapeño peppers.
  • Cabrito - Young goat.
  • Ensalada Cesar - originated at Tijuana's Hotel Cesar, it's a romaine lettuce with croutons salad mixed with olive oil, sliced garlic, wine vinegar, lemon, raw egg yolks, parmesan cheese and Worcester sauce.
  • Asado de chile colorado - Pork with ancho and guajillo chilies and cumin.
  • Charro beans - Cowboy-style beans with bacon and chilies.
  • Coahuila sausage' - Made of pork seasoned with ancho chiles.
  • Enchiladas de olla - Ancho chili, tortillas, poblano and grated cheese.
  • Menudo norteño - Tripe soup with ancho and guajillo chilies.
  • Cajeta de membrillo - Carmelized milk candy flavored with quince.
  • Empanadas de Santa Rita - Stuffed with pork fried with onions, almonds, raisins.

Drink[edit][add listing]

You might wish to try L.A. Cetto Wine, world-renowned wine produced in Baja California and known for its outstanding quality of Merlots and Cabernets.

Get out[edit]

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