The Baja California reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Baja California

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Baja California (highlighted)

Baja California or Lower California is a peninsula in the west of Mexico. It extends some 1250 km from Tijuana in the north to Cabo San Lucas in the south, separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California (or "Sea of Cortés").

Table of contents
1 The "Island of California"
2 Regions
3 Geographic Features
4 History

The "Island of California"

In the minds of European explorers, California existed as an idea before it was ever discovered. The earliest known mention of the idea of California was in the 1510 romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián by Spanish author García Ordóñez de Montalvo. The book described the Island of California as being west of the Indies, "very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons."

The lure of an earthly paradise, as well as the search for the fabled Strait of Anián, helped motivate Hernán Cortés, following his conquest of Mexico, to send several expeditions in the late 1530s and early 1540s to the west coast of New Spain. The first of several expeditions reached the Gulf of California and Baja California, and proved that the Island of California was in fact a peninsula. Nevertheless, the idea of the island persisted for well over a century and was included on many maps. The Spanish gave the name "California" to the peninsula and to the lands north, including both Baja California and Alta California, the region that became the present-day U.S. state.


The peninsula is divided into two parts:

Geographic Features