Die Region Chihuahua
Chihuahua – you immediately think of the dog. This is also the name of the largest state in Mexico (with around 247,500 square kilometers) and its capital. The name comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl and means dry place. In addition to barren desert and steppe landscapes, the region on the northern border with the USA also has mighty mountains and more forest than almost any other state in the nation to offer, as well as impressive waterfalls, hot springs, stalactite caves and nature reserves.
Chihuahua City has a pretty historic center with colonial buildings and interesting museums dedicated to local art and history. The metropolis played an important role in the fight for Mexican independence against the Spaniards. The prison of Priest Miguel Hidalgo (1753-1811), revered as the father of the nation and executed here, can be seen in the cultural center. And Pancho Villa (1878-1923), popular hero of the Mexican Revolution, worked in Chihuahua City, his house is now a museum.
In the area around the mountain town of Creel, however, the culture of the Tarahumara, who call themselves Raramuri (“fast runners”) is still alive. They are considered the only indigenous people in Mexico who have never allowed themselves to be oppressed. The best way to explore authentically Mexican Chihuahua is on foot, on horseback or by train.
Source: Infographic WORLD
Mennonites in northern Mexico
“Wir räde – Wir Speak” is the title of a cultural project that was presented for the first time in 2013 in Chihuahua’s Mennonite Museum. It is dedicated to the most peculiar (and wealthiest) group of residents in the region: around 100 years ago, 7,000 German-speaking Mennonites founded a number of colonies in northern Mexico, and the number of evangelical Anabaptists has now grown to 80,000.
Their lifestyle varies by community, with some wearing traditional costumes and, like the Amish, refusing modern technology while others use it. In everyday life, the Plautdietsche language is common, which resembles the old East Prussian-Low German dialect. High German is spoken at school and in church services.
In Ascensión, in northern Chihuahua, Mennonites leave a church
The Copper Canyon trumps the Grand Canyon
Four times larger than the Grand Canyon, but much less well known: The Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) in Chihuahua. It is one of the most exciting mountain landscapes on the planet. In fact, it is a canyon system made up of six individual canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
Its name was inspired by the play of colors on the rock faces, reminiscent of copper with verdigris. Considered the best way to experience the rugged Copper Canyon—and one of the world’s most spectacular train travel experiences—is to ride the Chepe: the historic Chihuahua-al-Pacífico Railway, which runs from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the Pacific Coast with its many bridges and tunnels as an engineering marvel.
The historic Chihuahua al-Pacífico Railway runs from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the Pacific Coast
Quelle: Picture Alliance/Christian Kober
The smallest dog in the world
The Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world. On average, he measures 17 centimeters, with one to three kilos, he weighs half as much as some cats. But the little one has the energy and willpower for two and needs more exercise and attention than many larger breeds.
Its origin is mysterious. According to one theory, the giant-eared mini-dogs were kept in the temples of the ancient Aztecs and ritually sacrificed. At the end of the 19th century, travelers discovered the “chi” in the Mexican region and took it abroad as a souvenir.
Chihuahuas weigh just one to three kilos
Quelle: Getty Images/Tony Anderson
White dunes in North America’s largest desert
North America’s largest desert measures 501,896 square kilometers: The Chihuahua Desert covers half of the region of the same name, extends into other states of Mexico and the US states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The famous White Sands National Park in New Mexico with its white dunes made of gypsum crystals is one of their many protected areas. The “Desierto de Chihuahua” is characterized by desert plants such as yucca and agaves, pronghorn antelope, cactus wren and even the rare Mexican wolf live here.
Dinosaur skeletons, crystals and meteorites in the museum
Go back more than 70 million years at the Paleontology and Mammoth Museum in Chihuahua City. At that time, parts of the desert-rich region were covered by the sea. Ammonites, dinosaur skeletons and other fossils, crystals and meteorites (including Allende, famous for being the oldest material in our solar system) show Chihuahua’s evolution.
The highlight is the skeleton of a prairie mammoth (up to four meters at the shoulder, one of the largest animals that have ever lived on earth), surrounded by saber-toothed tigers, American rhinoceros and the Glyptotherium, a cousin of the armadillo that is almost two meters long.
Source: Infographic WORLD
“I felt responsible to do something”
In her film “Bordertown”, Jennifer Lopez addressed the series of femicides in Chihuahua’s largest city, Ciudad Juárez, where hundreds of female factory workers were murdered – the number of unreported cases is estimated at several thousand. The border town is a cheap production site for the US market, the Mexican workers live in slums and have practically no rights. Amnesty International honored the Berlinale film with an award.
Bizarre, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.
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This article was originally published in September 2021.
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