The Central Mexican Plateau, also known as the Mexican Altiplano (Spanish: Altiplanicie Mexicana), is a large arid-to-semiarid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico. Averaging 1,825 m (5,988 ft) above sea level, it extends from the United States border in the north to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the south, and is bounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental to the west and east, respectively.
A low east-west mountain range in the state of Zacatecas divides the plateau into northern and southern sections. These two sections, called the Northern Plateau (Mesa del Norte) and Central Plateau (Mesa Central), are now generally regarded by geographers as sections of one plateau.
The Mexican Plateau is mostly covered by deserts and xeric shrublands, with pine-oak forests covering the surrounding mountain ranges and forming sky islands on some of the interior ranges. The Mexican Altiplano is one of six distinct physiographic sections of the Basin and Range Province, which in turn is part of the Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division.
While the plateau stretches from north to south, the southern east-west arc of the Central Mexican Plateau from Jalisco to Veracruz states historically as well as today has served as the population nexus of the Mexican nation, it is home to its biggest metro areas of Guadalajara, Leon, Querétaro, Morelia, Mexico City, Toluca, Cuernavaca, and Puebla.
Geographic map of the highest Mountain Ranges of Mexico.
|• Total||601,882 km2 (232,388 sq mi)|
|• Density||120/km2 (320/sq mi)|
The Mesa del Norte or northern plateau averages 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in elevation above mean sea level and extends south from the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) through the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí. Various narrow, isolated ridges cross the Mesa del Norte and numerous depressions also dot the region, the largest of which is the Bolsón de Mapimí. The Río Bravo del Norte and its tributary, the Río Conchos, drain portions of the northern plateau, and the Río Pánuco and its tributaries drain the southeastern corner. Both drain to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the northern plateau comprises internal drainage basins that do not drain to the sea. The Chihuahuan Desert extends across the northern portion of the northern plateau, while the Meseta Central matorral covers the central portion, and the Central Mexican matorral extends from the southern portion of the northern plateau across the southern plateau.
The Mesa Central or southern plateau is higher than its northern counterpart, averaging 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in elevation. The southern plateau contains numerous valleys originally formed by ancient lakes. It extends across the states of Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Michoacán. Several of Mexico's most prominent cities, including Guadalajara, are located in the valleys of the southern plateau. Much of the southern plateau is drained by the Río Grande de Santiago and its tributaries, including the Río Lerma, which drain west into the Pacific Ocean. Tributaries of the Río Pánuco drain the eastern portion of the southern plateau. The Central Mexican matorral covers much of the southern plateau, with the subtropical Bajío dry forests occupying the lower portions of the Lerma–Río Grande de Santiago basin. Higher altitudes are covered by Mixed Forests, then Temperate Coniferous Forests, up to the snow line in the top of the volcanoes that surround the southern and western edges.
Almolya del Río is a town and municipality located in the State of Mexico 26 km from the state capital of Toluca. It is located 2,600 meters above sea level. The name Almoloya comes from the Nahuatl phrase almoloyán which means place where water flows out. "del Rio" means "of the river" in Spanish and refers to the Lerma River, which originates here.Black-throated magpie-jay
The black-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta colliei) is a strikingly long-tailed magpie-jay of northwestern Mexico.Bolsón de Mapimí
The Bolsón de Mapimí is an endorheic or internal drainage basin in which no rivers or streams drain to the sea but rather toward the center of the basin often terminating in swamps and ephemeral lakes. It is located in the center-north of the Mexican Plateau. The Basin is shared by the states of Durango, Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Zacatecas. It takes its name from Mapimí, a town in Durango.
The largest city in the basin is Torreón. Parts of the basin host much industrial and agricultural activity. However, most of the region is sparsely populated.Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert (Spanish: Desierto de Chihuahua) is a desert and ecoregion designation covering parts of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It occupies much of West Texas, parts of the middle and lower Rio Grande Valley and the lower Pecos Valley in New Mexico, and a portion of southeastern Arizona, as well as the central and northern portions of the Mexican Plateau. It is bordered on the west by the extensive Sierra Madre Occidental range, along with northwestern lowlands of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. On the Mexican side, it covers a large portion of the state of Chihuahua, along with portions of Coahuila, north-eastern Durango, the extreme northern part of Zacatecas, and small western portions of Nuevo León. With an area of about 362,000 km2 (139,769 sq mi), it is the third largest desert of the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in North America, after the Great Basin Desert.Coahuila
Coahuila (Spanish pronunciation: [koaˈwila] (listen)), formally Coahuila de Zaragoza (American Spanish: [koaˈwila ðe saɾaˈɣosa] (listen)), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Coahuila de Zaragoza (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza), is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.
Coahuila borders the Mexican states of Nuevo León to the east, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí to the south, and Durango and Chihuahua to the west. To the north, Coahuila accounts for a 512 kilometres (318 mi) stretch of the Mexico–United States border, adjacent to the U.S. state of Texas along the course of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte). With an area of 151,563 square kilometres (58,519 sq mi), it is the nation's third-largest state. It comprises 38 municipalities (municipios). In 2010, Coahuila's population is 2,748,391 inhabitants.
The five largest cities in Coahuila are the state capital city of Saltillo; the second largest is Torreón (largest metropolitan area in Coahuila and 9th largest in Mexico), third largest is Monclova (a former state capital), fourth largest is Ciudad Acuña, and fifth largest is Piedras Negras.Fouquieria splendens
Fouquieria splendens (commonly known as ocotillo American Spanish: [okoˈtiʝo], but also referred to as coachwhip, candlewood, slimwood, desert coral, Jacob's staff, Jacob cactus, and vine cactus) is a plant indigenous to the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert in the Southwestern United States (southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), and northern Mexico (as far south as Hidalgo and Guerrero).Ocotillo is not a true cactus. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall, the plant quickly becomes lush with small (2–4 cm), ovate leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months.
Individual stems may reach a diameter of 5 cm at the base, and the plant may grow to a height of 10 m (33 ft). The plant branches very heavily at its base, but above that, the branches are pole-like and rarely divide further, and specimens in cultivation may not exhibit any secondary branches. The leaf stalks harden into blunt spines, and new leaves sprout from the base of the spine.
The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer, and occasionally fall. Flowers are clustered indeterminately at the tips of each mature stem. Individual flowers are mildly zygomorphic and are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.Goldman's woodrat
Goldman's woodrat (Neotoma goldmani) is a rodent species in the family Cricetidae.
It is found only in Mexico throughout the Mexican Plateau, stretching from Southeast Chihuahua to South San Luis Potosi and North Queretaro. The plateau is an average 5,988 ft. above sea level and covers a land area of 232,388 sq. miles.
N. goldmani is restricted to rocky and desert habitats and shelters itself in crevices. It exhibits a karyotype that qualifies it as a more primitive species than the N. mexicana.
It is currently under no immediate threat, but has experienced a decrease in population due to habitat changes occurring throughout the Mexican Plateau area, a very highly populated area, which includes the states of Chihuahua, San Luis Potosi, Jalisco, and Mexico.Juniperus saltillensis
Juniperus saltillensis is a species of conifer in the Cupressaceae family.
The shrub or bushy tree is endemic to northern Mexico, in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Zacatecas.
It is sometimes an understorey shrub in Pinyon-juniper woodland, or open Madrean pine-oak woodlands or oak woodlands forests. It is found at elevations of 1,800–2,900 metres (5,900–9,500 ft)Lerma River
The Lerma River (Spanish: Río Lerma) is Mexico's second longest river. It is a 750 km-long (470 mi) river in west-central Mexico that begins in Mexican Plateau at an altitude over 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) above sea level, and ends where it empties into Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest lake, near Guadalajara, Jalisco. Lake Chapala is the starting point of Río Grande de Santiago, which some treat as a continuation of the Lerma River. In combination, the two are often called the Lerma Santiago River (Spanish: Río Lerma Santiago). The Lerma River is notorious for its pollution, but the water quality has demonstrated considerable improvement in recent years due mostly to government environmental programs and through massive upgrading projects of sanitation works.Madrean Region
The Madrean Region (named after the Sierra Madre Occidental) is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in North America, as delineated by Armen Takhtajan and Robert F. Thorne. It occupies arid or semiarid areas in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the Rocky Mountain Region and North American Atlantic Region of the Holarctic Kingdom in the north and in the east, Caribbean Region of the Neotropical Kingdom in the south.
The Madrean Region is characterized by a very distinct flora with at least three endemic families (Fouquieriaceae, Simmondsiaceae, and Setchellanthaceae). Crossosomataceae, Garryaceae, Lennoaceae, Limnanthaceae and Stegnospermataceae have their principal development here; for Onagraceae, Polemoniaceae and Hydrophyllaceae it is the major center of diversity. More than 250 genera and probably more than half of the species of the region are endemic to it according to Takhtajan.Mexican Federal Highway 30
Federal Highway 30 (Spanish: Carretera Federal 30, Fed. 30) is a free part of the federal highways corridors (Spanish: los corredores carreteros federales). The highway starts in Torreón at Fed. 40 in the southwest and winds across the central Mexican Plateau, following a roughly northeasterly direction. The highway eventually ends to the northeast in Monclova, Coahuila at Fed. 57. The total length of Fed. 30 is 351.0 km (218.1 mi).
The main Fed. 30 trunk runs from Torreón to Monclova at a length of 332.3 km (206.5 mi). At San Pedro de las Colonias, an additional 18.7 km (11.6 mi) spur reconnects Fed. 30 with Fed. 40 in La Cuchilla, Coahuila.Mexican Federal Highway 49
Federal Highway 49 ( La Carretera Federal 49 ) (Fed. 49) is a free (libre) part of the federal highways corridors () of Mexico. The highway runs northwest-southeast in the western regions of the Mexican Plateau.
Fed. 49 has two separate improved segments: The first segment runs from Ciudad Jiménez, Chihuahua to just northwest of Fresnillo, Zacatecas. The highway is co-signed with Fed. 40 for 104.6 km (65 mi) from Gómez Palacio to Cuencamé.The second segment runs from Las Arcinas, Zacatecas to San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí.Mexican Federal Highway 54
Federal Highway 54 (Carretera Federal 54) Fed. 54 is a free (libre) part of the federal highways corridors (los corredores carreteros federales) and connects Ciudad Mier, Tamaulipas, to Colima City.The highway joins Fed. 15 and Fed. 80 in the southwest part of Guadalajara. For 148 km (92 mi), the Fed. 54 designation is substituted by Fed. 54D from Acatlán de Juárez, Jalisco to Ciudad Guzmán, a toll road.Across the southern Mexican Plateau, Fed. 54 connects Zacatecas in the southwest to Monterrey in the northeast at Fed. 57.North American Monsoon
The North American monsoon, variously known as the Southwest monsoon, the Mexican monsoon, the New Mexican monsoon, or the Arizona monsoon, is a pattern of pronounced increase in thunderstorms and rainfall over large areas of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, typically occurring between July and mid September. During the monsoon, thunderstorms are fueled by daytime heating and build up during the late afternoon-early evening. Typically, these storms dissipate by late night, and the next day starts out fair, with the cycle repeating daily. The monsoon typically loses its energy by mid-September when drier and cooler conditions are reestablished over the region. Geographically, the North American monsoon precipitation region is centered over the Sierra Madre Occidental in the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua.Nuevo León
Nuevo León (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈnweβo leˈon] (listen)), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Nuevo León (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Nuevo León), is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 51 municipalities and its capital city is Monterrey.
It is located in Northeastern Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Tamaulipas to the north and east, San Luis Potosí to the south, and Coahuila to the west. To the north, Nuevo León has a 15 kilometer (9 mi) stretch of the U.S.–Mexico border adjacent to the U.S. state of Texas.
The state was named after the New Kingdom of León, an administrative territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which was itself named after the historic Spanish Kingdom of León.
Besides its capital, other important cities are Guadalupe, Santa Catarina, San Nicolás de los Garza, and San Pedro Garza García, all of which are part of the Monterrey Metropolitan area.Otomi
The Otomi (; Spanish: Otomí [otoˈmi]) are an indigenous people of Mexico inhabiting the central Mexican Plateau (Altiplano) region.Pocketed free-tailed bat
The pocketed free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops femorosaccus) is a species of bat in the family Molossidae found in Mexico and in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States. They resemble the Brazilian free-tailed bat ("Tadarida brasiliensis") but differ morphologically. They are classified within the order Chiroptera. They are recognized as "un-threatened" by the IUCN and as "apparently secure" by Natureserve categories.Rio Conchos
The Río Conchos (Conchos River) is a large river in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It joins the Río Bravo del Norte (known in the United States as the Rio Grande) at the town of Ojinaga, Chihuahua.
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