Albuquerque, the largest city in the state, lies in north central New Mexico. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County, with a population of 550,000. The Rio Grande River runs through the city, and the Sandia Mountains borders it on the east. The city was named after a city in Spain with the same name. The name Albuquerque comes from the Latin alba quercus, meaning "white oak," for the white color of the cork oak trees in the original city.
Albuquerque has a sunny and dry climate, without extreme temperatures in summer and winter. The average high in July is 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The average January low is 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The city gets about 15 inches of rain per year. Average snowfall is 27 inches.
Pueblo Indians lived in the valleys of the Rio Grande as much as 2,000 B.C. They practiced many arts and crafts that are still used by their descendents. In the 1500s, European explorers came to the area. By the 1700s, the King of Spain had granted colonists the right to settle the area. These settlers built the first churches and a town square surrounded by adobe buildings. For a time, New Mexico was a part of Mexico, but it became part of the United States by 1846. Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885, and then as a city in 1889. In 1912, New Mexico was admitted as the 47th state. The famous Route 66 was built in the city in 1926. Albuquerque became a center for technology with the founding of Kirtland Air Force Base in 1940 and Sandia National Labs in 1949. Albuquerque continued to grow and modernize throughout the 20th century.
Albuquerque retains its character of a mixed society with many ethnic and racial groups. Whites compose 44.5 percent of the population, and Hispanics are 44.3 percent. American Indians or Alaska Natives compose 5.3 percent. African-Americans are 2.7 percent and Asian-Americans are 1.7 percent of the population. The city also has a good mix of age groups, with 25.5 percent in the 25 to 40 age group, 25.5 percent in the 45 to 64 age groups. Those under 18 make up 25. 1 percent of the population, people aged 18 to 24 are 9.8 percent. Those over the age of 65 make up 11.9 percent of the population. The median household income is $47,000.
Albuquerque has a diverse economic base that includes tourism, agriculture, trade, services, manufacturing, and research and development. Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories are the largest employers.