Origin of state name: The name comes from the native word queréndaro, which means "the place of the crags" (rocky terrain).
Capital: Santiago de Querétaro (The name was officially changed to Santiago de Querétaro from Querétaro in July 1996, but it is still commonly known as Querétaro.)
Entered country: October 3, 1824.
Coat of Arms: The coat of arms features a shield divided into three sections. A picture of the Sun with a human face is at the top of the shield, underneath the symbol of the cross. A horseman carrying a flag is pictured next to a picture of a tree. The flags that surround the shield are Mexican flags. The figure on top of the shield is the Mexican coat of arms.
Holidays: Año Nuevo (New Year's Day—January 1); Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day—February 5); Benito Juárez's birthday (March 21); Primero de Mayo (Labor Day—May 1); Revolution Day, 1910 (November 20); and Navidad (Christmas—December 25).
Flag: There is no official state flag.
Time: 6 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Querétaro is located in the central region of the country known as the breadbasket of Mexico. It covers an area of 11,769 square kilometers (4,544 square miles), which is about half the size of the US state of New Hampshire. Querétaro is bordered on the north by the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí; on the east by the Mexican states of México and Michoacán; and on the west by the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Querétaro has eighteen municipalities. The capital is Santiago de Querétaro.
The landscape is marked by the central highland plateau and two large mountain ranges (sierras). The Sierra Gorda in the north is part of the Sierra Madre Oriental; it is made up of high peaks, small valleys, and deep canyons. In the south, there are mountains of volcanic origin including the Sierra Queretana.
In addition to plateau, the central highland plateau region has high mountainous regions such as the Pinal de Zamorano, which lies between Querétaro and Guanajuato.
The Pánuco River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The Lerma River becomes the Santiago River, and flows into the Pacific Ocean.
The climate in the south is usually cool and humid, with abundant rain in the summer, hail, and frequent frosts. In the central part of the state, the climate is dry or semi-dry, with very little rainfall. The northern region is sometimes referred to as the Querétaro desert zone because it is so dry. In the capital city of Santiago de Querétaro, the average year-round temperature is 18°c (64°f). The temperature rarely goes below 10°c (50°f). Average rainfall is about 60 centimeters (24 inches) per year.
Thorny, sturdy plants grow in the dry regions of the state. These include ocotillo (a woody, thorny shrub) and nopal cactus (prickly pear). Pine and oak forests cover some of the highland region. White-tailed deer are common. Smaller mammals include raccoons, weasels, squirrels, skunks, and tlacuaches (Mexican opossum). Hawks, woodpeckers, sparrows, and doves are common birds.
The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve covers about 383,000 hectares (946,400 acres) in Querétaro. The reserve is home to several endangered and threatened species, including black bears, jaguars, the green toucan, and the Humboldt butterfly. Other national parks in the state include Cerro de las Campanas and El Cimatario.
Querétaro had a total population of 1,404,306 in 2000; of the total, 680,966 were men and 723,340 were women. The population density was 120 people per square kilometer (310 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, Santiago de Querétaro, had a population of 639,839. Almost all citizens speak Spanish as their first language. A small number, about 2.1% of the population, speaks indigenous (native) languages.
According to the 2000 census, 83% of the population, or 1.2 million people, were Roman Catholic; about 2%, or 23,461 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 7,764 Jehovah's Witnesses and over 20,000 people who reported no religion.
Querétaro Airport provides international flights to and from the state. The state has about 7,822 kilometers (4,858 miles) of roads and 879 kilometers (546 miles) of railroads.
The first human settlements date back to around 400 A.D. The Teotihuacán culture populated the area for several centuries. Later inhabited by the Otomi civilizations, the Mexicas conquered the region a couple of centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors (explorers and soldiers who sought to claim Mexico for Spain). The Otomi people became allies of the Spanish conquerors and joined forces to defeat the Mexicas in the Querétaro region. Cristóbal de Olid was the first Spaniard to visit the region in 1522.
Between 1522 and 1526, two Otomi leaders had converted to Roman Catholicism.
National heroes Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753–1811) and Mariano Matamoros (1770–1814) were priests in the region when they initiated the independence movement against Spanish rule in 1810. With the defeat of the independence forces two years later, the region was brought back into royalist rule, although some pro-independence militias remained active throughout the 1810s. With the formal declaration of independence in 1821, Querétaro was made a province. It achieved the status of federal state in 1824. The first state constitution dates back to 1825.
During the federalist-centralist and liberal-conservative conflicts of most of the 19th century, Querétaro experienced political and social instability. Different leaders revolted against state and national authorities, with varying levels of success. For a short period of time (from 1863 to 1867), Querétaro and much of Mexico was under French occupation and the rule of Emperor Maximilian (1832–1867). When Maximilian was forced to abandon Mexico City in 1867, he sought refuge in Querétaro. He was later defeated and arrested there. Monarchical rule was abolished. Emperor Maximilian was tried and sentenced to death. He was executed in Querétaro on June 19, 1867.
When the liberals, under the leadership of Benito Juárez (1806–1872), regained control of the country, Querétaro was occupied by liberal loyal troops. During the Porfiriato period (the years that Porfírio Díaz [1830–1872] was in power [1877–1880 and 1884–1911]), Querétaro experienced economic and infrastructural development. Some Protestant churches, most notably the Methodist Church, also established a presence in the region during Porfirio Díaz's rule.
A strike by the railroad workers was violently repressed by the government in 1909. This growing tension between workers and the government partially led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Different factions fought for control of Querétaro during the first years of the revolution, which lasted from 1910 to 1917. When the Mexican Constitution was promulgated in 1917, Querétaro was under the rule of the revolutionary victors.
The Cristero War was a conflict between those loyal to the Roman Catholic Church leadership and the revolutionary government. It affected Querétaro to a small degree. Its violence mostly ended with the end of the revolution in 1917. During the post-revolutionary decades, Querétaro evolved as an industrial center. It benefited from its proximity to the capital city of Mexico. Querétaro's economy was largely industrial. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was powerful in rural Mexico, but it was not as effective in Querétaro. The National Action Party (PAN) emerged as a viable political alternative in Querétaro in 1997. Three years later, in 2000, the PAN candidate defeated the PRI candidate in the national presidential election for the first time.
The state governor is elected for a nonrenewable six-year term. The state legislature is a unicameral (single chamber) assembly comprised of twenty-five members. Fifteen members are elected in single member districts and ten are elected by proportional representation. Legislators serve for three-year terms and immediate re-election is not allowed. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) does not hold the governorship, but it maintains a strong presence in the legislature. Because no one party controls the executive and legislative branches of government, constitutional provisions for separation of power are put to work.
The eighteen municipalities that comprise Querétaro hold democratic elections for municipal presidents and council members every three years. Immediate re-election is not allowed. Although some decentralization initiatives are producing positive results, the state still has a long way to go to achieve successful decentralization.
The three main political parties in all of Mexico are the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the National Action Party (PAN), and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although the PRI tightly dominated state politics throughout
The Superior Tribunal of Justice is the highest court in the state. Its ten members are elected by the legislature from a three-person list presented to it by the governor. After their three-year terms expire, they can be re-appointed. Only qualified attorneys can be appointed to the highest court. In addition, an electoral tribunal court and lower courts also comprise the state's judicial system.
Manufacturing accounts for the largest percentage of the economy at about 32%. Trade activities account for about 19% of the economy, followed by service-based companies at 18%, transportation and communications at 11%, finance and insurance at 11%, agriculture and livestock at 4%, construction at 4%, and mining at 1%.
Food processing industries in the state include such well-known companies as Carnation and Purina. The textile industry includes the manufacturing of fabrics from wool, cotton, and henequen (a type of tropical plant). Most manufacturing companies are in or around the capital city. The auto parts company Tremac is one of the biggest employers in Santiago de Querétaro. Handicrafts such as furniture, baskets, pottery, and jewelry are important industries on a smaller scale.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Mexican workers saw their wages increase 17%, from $2.09 per hour in 1999 to $2.46 per hour in 2000. (The average US worker earned $19.86 per hour in 2000.) After one year, workers are entitled by law to six days paid vacation.
Agriculture is one of the main economic activities. Primary crops include beans, cabbage, alfalfa, onions, lettuce, and sorghum. Livestock breeding, especially of dairy cows, is important in the pasturelands. The state of Querétaro is one of the leading milk producers in the country.
Mineral resources include silver, iron, copper, and mercury. The state is also well-known for its opals. The chief mining districts are in Cadereyta and Toliman.
Almost all of the energy in Mexico is provided by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). In February 2002, the CFE introduced new electric rates. For households that use less than 140 kilowatt hours per month, there was no rate increase. (This is about 75% of all households in Mexico, according to CFE). Querétaro's electricity consumption in the 1990s was low compared to the rest of Mexico. After the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—a trade agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada—electricity consumption grew because of the manufacturing facilities that were built in the state.
There are 8 general hospitals, 293 outpatient centers, and 27 surgical centers in the state of Querétaro.
Most of the Mexican population is covered under a government health plan. The IMSS (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social) covers the general population. The ISSSTE (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de Trabajadores del Estado) covers state workers.
More than one-half of the housing available in the state of Querétaro is in good repair. About 15% is in need of significant upgrading. These homes may not have running water or access to electricity.
The system of public education was first started by President Benito Juárez in 1867. Public education in Mexico is free for students from ages six to sixteen. According to the 2000 census, there were approximately 239,000 school-age students in the state. Many students elect to go to private schools. The thirty-one states of Mexico all have at least one state university. The Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro (Independent University of Querétaro) is located in the capital.
Querétaro has nine local cultural centers and thirteen theaters, including those located at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. Querétaro also hosts many musical, art, and dance presentations. The Escuela de Danza Nijinsky is a school of ballet.
The state of Querétaro has fifty-four libraries. There are eighteen museums including a museum of art and a museum of mathematics.
The daily newspaper El Diario de Querétaro is published in the capital. El Sol de San Juan del Río is published in the city of San Juan del Río.
San Miguel de Allende attracts many foreign tourists. The city is home to many artists and writers. The San Miguel music festival in December is famous. There is also a festival on September 29 each year to honor San Miguel Arcángel, the city's patron saint. There are many churches and many religious festivals held year-round. San Miguel is also known for its excellent restaurants. Two points of interest in this colonial city are La Parroquia (a pink Gothic-style church) and El Chorro, a natural spring where women of the town still do laundry. The capital city, Santiago de Querétaro, has an archeological zone known as El Cerrito; ruins from pre-Hispanic civilizations dating from the first century may be viewed there. The city also has an aqueduct that was built in 1743.
The city of Santiago de Querétaro has a basketball team, Las Cometas, and a soccer team, which plays in the 50,000-seat La Corregidora stadium. There is a 12,000-seat bullfighting ring in the Plaza Santa María.
Francisco Garrido Patrón became governor in 2003.
Supples, Kevin. Mexico. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.
Mexico for Kids. http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html (accessed on June 15, 2004).