Pronunciation: sahn-loo-ees poh-toh-SEE.
Origin of state name: The Spaniards originally named the region Valle de San Luis, a name that was soon shortened to San Luis. After discovering large amounts of gold and silver, the Spaniards added the word Potosí (hill), which was a name they were applying to rich mining regions.
Capital: San Luis Potosí.
Entered country: 1824.
Coat of Arms: The coat of arms features San Luis Rey, the patron saint of the state, standing on top of San Pedro Hill, which has cave-like openings representing the mines of the state. Blue and yellow are used to represent night and day. Two silver and two gold bars represent the mining activities of the state.
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).
San Luis Potosí covers an area of 62,849 square kilometers (24,266 square miles), which is slightly larger than the US state of West Virginia. It is surrounded by nine Mexican states, thereby being the state with the most states bordering on it. To the north are the states of Coahuila and Nuevo León; on the northeast, Tamaulipas; on the east, Veracruz; on the south, Hidalgo, Querétaro, and Guanajuato; on the southwest, Jalisco; and on the west, Zacatecas. San Luis Potosí is divided into fifty-eight municipalities. The capital city is also called San Luis Potosí.
The Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range runs along the eastern portion of San Luis Potosí.
The longest river system is the Santa María, which joins the Moctezuma River to form the Pánuco River. There are spectacular waterfalls at Tamul and Micos.
In regions of higher altitude, the climate is dry and desert-like. In the central region
Some of the most common plants in the state are Chinese palm and yucca trees, organ cactus, nopal (prickly pear), and various ferns and mosses. Sapodilla, papaya, and banana trees are also found. Large mammals include wildcats and deer. Small mammals include prairie dogs, hares, tlacuaches (Mexican opossums), and tepezcuintles (small dogs). Rattlesnakes and armadillos can also be found. Hawks and eagles are common birds.
In 2003, San Luis Potosí received federal monies to assist the state in efforts to develop systems for tracking industrial pollutants. Protected areas in the state include El Potosí National Park and Gogorrón National Park.
San Luis Potosí had a total population of 2,299,360 in 2000; of the total, 1,120,837 were men and 1,178,523 were women. The population density was 38 people per square kilometer (98 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, San Luis Potosí, had a population of 669,353.
Almost all citizens speak Spanish as their first language. About 11.7% of the population speaks indigenous (native) lan-guages.
According to the 2000 census, 80% of the population, or 1.8 million people, were Roman Catholic; 4 %, or 93,257 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 14,365 Jehovah's Witnesses and over 45,000 people who reported no religion.
The state has about 8,293 kilometers (5,151 miles) of roads and 1,280 kilometers (795 miles) of railroads. There are two airports in the state, mostly for domestic flights.
Around 10,000 B.C. hunter and gatherer groups first visited the San Luis Potosí region. There are some archeological ruins that date back to 1200 B.C. in the region. Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors (those who sought to conqueror Mexico for Spain), Chichimeco and Huasteco groups inhabited the area. In October 1522, Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) initiated the conquest of the region. In 1524, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán took possession of the territory as the crown-appointed governor. Another Spaniard, Beltrán de Guzmán, kidnapped thousands of native Indians. He sold them as slaves in other parts of Mexico. Around 1539, Franciscan priests Antonio de Roa and Juan Sevilla initiated a campaign to convert the Indians in the region to Roman Catholicism. The discovery of mineral deposits in San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas in 1546 attracted new settlers. The Chichimec Indians revolted against increased colonial presence and launched a military offensive known as the Chichimec War toward the end of the 1500s.
Franciscan priest Diego de la Magdalena established a hospice for Indians in what later became the town of San Luis Potosí. In 1583, Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indigenous) military leader Miguel Caldera sought to bring an end to the Chichimec War. Viceroy Luis de Velasco (1511–1564) sent four hundred indigenous families who had converted to Catholicism to live among the Chichimec starting in 1591. In 1592, the discovery of new mineral deposits created a gold rush. The town of San Luis Potosí was formally founded in late 1592. Toward the turn of the century, new cattle ranches and agricultural fields emerged to service the growing mining industry. The Chichimec War ended in the 17th century. The indigenous populations were overpowered by the Spanish population's growth and the power of the colonizers. San Luis Potosí consolidated as a major mining center in Mexico during the 17th and 18th century.
The independence movement reached San Luis Potosí in 1810. Despite a number of bloody uprisings, the royalist forces (loyal to Spain) successfully maintained control of the region until 1821, when end to Spanish rule in the entire country came with a formal declaration of independence. San Luis Potosí became a federal state in 1824. Its new constitution was written in 1826.
A period of instability characterized much of Mexico between 1830 and 1870. After this period, forces loyal to President Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915) controlled San Luis Potosí. Economic development and improvements in infrastructure characterized much of the period. But indigenous insurrections continued. Different groups and different movements revolted demanding land distribution and improvements in the living conditions of peasants. A precursor of the Mexican Revolution was the first Liberal Congress organized in San Luis Potosí in 1901.
Revolutionary leader Francisco Indalécio Madero (1873–1913) was arrested in July 1910 and sent to San Luis Potosí. He successfully escaped. He then issued the Plan of San Luis on October 5th, which encouraged Mexicans to take up arms against the government and marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). Near the end of the revolution in 1917, the Cristero War, where Catholic loyalists revolted against the secular nature of the new government, made it more diﬃcult for revolutionary violence to be subdued.
During the period of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) rule, which lasted from 1934 to 2003 (when Marcelo Santos of the National Action Party was elected governor), San Luis Potosí emerged as one of the most troubled states in the union. A revolt against the land distribution programs championed by President Lázaro Cárdenas (1895–1970) in 1939 was violently repressed. The civic movement led by rightwing physician Salvador Nava generated political instability. This popular and relentless democratic leader challenged the domination of the PRI.
The state governor is democratically elected for a nonrenewable six-year term. The state legislature is comprised of twenty-seven deputies elected for nonrenewable three-year terms. Fifteen deputies are elected in single member districts and twelve are elected by proportional representation. Because of strong competition from the National Action Party (PAN) since the mid 1960s, militant legislative power have been exercised as PAN leaders have employed check-and-balance provisions against the governor.
The fifty-eight municipalities that comprise San Luis Potosí 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 dominated state politics since the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1917, a charismatic conservative leader, Salvador Nava, became mayor of San Luis Potosí in 1959. In 1991, Nava ran for governor and lost to the PRI amid accusations of massive fraud. Finally, the PRI control came to an end in 2003, when PAN's Marcelo Santos was elected governor.
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is the state's highest court. Its thirteen members are appointed by the legislature from a three-person list presented to them by the governor. Only qualified attorneys can be nominated. After their six-year terms expire, justices can be re-elected. Because of a strong self-governing legislature, an independent judiciary enforces formal separation of powers between the various branches of the government. In addition, an electoral tribunal court and lower courts are also components of the state's judicial system.
Manufacturing is the largest economic activity in San Luis Potosí, accounting for about 26% of the economy. General service-based companies accounts for 18% of the economy, followed by trade activities at 17%, finance and insurance at 15%, agriculture and livestock at 9%, transportation and communications at 9%, construction at 5%, and mining at 1%.
Most of the industrial activities take place in or around the capital city. The primary industries are food processing, automobile manufacturing, mining, and textiles. Some large foreign companies have facilities in San Luis Potosí, including Bendix (auto parts), Sandoz (pharmaceuticals), Union Carbide (chemicals), and Bimbo (food products).
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Mexican workers saw their wages increase 17%, from $2.09 in 1999 to $2.46 in 2000. (The average US worker earned $19.86 in 2000.) Mexican law has established six paid vacation days per year for all workers.
Most farms are found in the Huasteca region of the state, which is a fertile lowland area in the east. Fruit crops such as
The state has rich mineral resources, particularly silver, gold, and fluorite.
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).
The state of San Luis Potosí has 20 general hospitals, 532 outpatient centers, and 46 surgical centers.
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 San Luis Potosí is in good repair. More than 26% is in need of significant upgrading. Many homes do not have running water or access to electric-ity.
The system of public education was first started by President Benito Juárez (1806–1872) in 1867. Public education in Mexico is free for students from ages six to sixteen. According to the 2000 census, there were approximately 562,000 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. Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí (Independent University of San Luis Potosí) is located in the capital.
The capital city is home to three local dance companies: the Ballet Provincial de San Luis Potosí, the Grupo de Danza Folklórica, and the Danza Contemporánea. Musical groups include La Banda de Música del Gobierno de San Luis Potosí and the San Luis Potosí Symphony Orchestra. San Luis Potosí also has nine theaters, including open air theaters. Most cities and towns have cultural centers.
There are 103 branches of the public library. San Luis Potosí has eighteen museums including a bullfighting museum, the Museum of the Mask, a cultural arts museum, and a museum dedicated to comic book heroes (both Mexican and American).
The capital city, San Luis Potosí, has two daily newspapers: El Sol de San Luis Potosí and Pulso.
In the capital, San Luis Potosí, tourists often visit the Church of Nuestra Senora del Carmen because of its tiled domes and famous altars. The national fair of San Luis Potosí is celebrated in August. Santa María del Río has an ancient aqueduct that forms a waterfall. There is a spa with thermal baths nearby. The area around Santa María del Río is a popular resort area.
The capital, San Luis Potosí, hosts a basketball team, Santos, and a soccer team, the Real San Luís. Soccer is played in the 24,000-seat Alfonso Lastras stadium.
C. Marcelo de los Santos Fraga was elected governor in 2003.
DeAngelis, Gina. Mexico. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books, 2003.
Supples, Kevin. Mexico. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.
Mexico for Kids. Online http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html (accessed on June 15, 2004).