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People roamed the land here as far back as 10, 500 BC, but by Coronado’s arrival in the 16th century, Pueblos were the dominant communities found here. Santa Fe was established as the colonial capital in 1610, after which Spanish settlers and farmers fanned out across northern New Mexico, and missionaries began their often violent efforts to convert the area’s Puebloans to Catholicism. Following on from a successful revolt, Native Americans then occupied Santa Fe until 1692, when Diego de Vargas recaptured the city.

In 1851 New Mexico became US territory. Native American wars, settlement by cowboys and miners, and trade along the Santa Fe Trail further transformed the region, and the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s created an economic boom.

Painters and writers set up art colonies in Santa Fe and Taos in the early 20th century. In 1943 a scientific community descended on Los Alamos and developed the atomic bomb. Big issues include water rights (whoever owns the water has the power) and immigration.