Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, is not the capital of New Mexico, but it is much larger than Santa Fe, which is the capital. It lies just west of the Sandia Mountains, a minor mountain range roughly 10,000 feet high. Albuquerque proper averages around 5000 feet above sea level; the actual figure depends on how close to the Rio Grande you are.

The population of Albuquerque is around 500,000, making it easily the biggest city in the region. That doesn't say much for the region, but I digress. It is home to Sandia National Laboratories, Kirtland Air Force Base, and Intel's big chip-fabrication plant is just a few miles away, across the river in Rio Rancho. The University of New Mexico, the largest in the state, is in Albuquerque. It has well over 30,000 students. Supposedly the anthropology and engineering programs are quite good, and in 2000 it was the fastest-growing academic research institution in the country.

Albuquerque's climate is typical of high desert - Summer is hot (around 100 degees F), Autumn is mild and pleasant (perfect weather for motorcycling), Winter is fairly cold, with a few days of snow, and Spring is unpleasantly windy. There is very little precipitation, most of which seems to fall in late summer during those famous afternoon thunderstorms.

The history of the central New Mexico region is quite long, especially taking into account the native American presence, but somebody else can write about that.