NEW MEXICO - Relief
Constituent state of the United States of America. Its 121,593 square miles (314,925 square kilometres) make it the fifth largest of the U.S. states; it has only 258 square miles of water. Rectangular in shape except for a small panhandle in the southwestern corner, New Mexico is bounded on the north by Colorado, on the east by Oklahoma and Texas, on the south by Texas and the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and on the west by Arizona, which was part of the Territory of New Mexico from 1850 to 1863. At its northwestern corner it joins Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in the only four-way meeting of states in the nation. The capital is Santa Fe.
New Mexico has some of the flattest land in the world and also some of the most rugged mountains. Some portions have pine forests, rich meadows, and fish-laden mountain streams, while other areas are devoid of streams, and even cacti struggle to survive. The eastern third of the state is an extension of the Great Plains that includes the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plains. The Rocky Mountains extend into the northern centre, the ranges interspersed with valleys and running in a north-south direction. The rest of New Mexico is a high plateau, but it also contains many plains and short mountain ranges.
The average elevation ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 feet (1,500 to 2,500 metres) above sea level in the northwest to less than 4,000 feet in the southeast, with 85 percent of the state more than 4,000 feet above sea level. The highest mountain peaks, Wheeler Peak (13,161 feet [4,011 metres]) and Truchas Peak (13,102 feet), are in the Sangre de Cristo range in the north-central part of the state. The lowest elevation, of 2,841 feet, lies in the southeastern corner of the state. The numerous valleys between the ranges are indispensable to agriculture and grazing. Uniquevolcanic formations abound as reminders of past lava flows. The caverns near Carlsbad are among the most spectacular natural rock formations in the world, while wind and water erosion have created one of the world's most extensive gypsum sand dunes at White Sands National Monument.