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Baja California

History

Before Europeans arrived, an est­imated 48, 000 mobile hunter-gatherers were living­ in today’s Baja; their mysterious murals grace caves and canyon walls. European settlement failed to reach Baja until the Jesuit missions of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the missions soon collapsed as European-introduced diseases ravaged the indigenous people. Ranchers, miners and fishermen were the next inheritors. During the US prohibition era of the 1920s, Baja became a popular south-of-the-border destination for gamblers, drinkers and other ‘sinners, ’ and the border towns remain popular for those same reasons. Baja continues to grow in economic power, population and popularity, with problematic ecological and environmental consequences.