Durango ( duˈɾaŋɡo (help·info)), officially Free and Sovereign State of Durango (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango) ( Tepehuan: Korian) (Nahuatl: Tepēhuahcān), is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja California Sur. The city of Victoria de Durango is the state's capital, named after the first president of Mexico, Guadalupe Victoria.
Durango is the fourth largest state in Mexico. The state is bordered to the north by Chihuahua, to the north-east by Coahuila, to the south-east by Zacatecas, to the south-west by Nayarit, and to the west by Sinaloa.
With an average elevation of almost 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), most of the state is heavily mountainous and a good part forested; the Sierra Madre Occidental occupies two thirds of the state, mostly in the western and central part of the state. In the western parts of the Sierra Madre, the geography is characterized by deep ravines and rivers that mostly flow westward. The highest point in the state is Cerro Gordo at 3,340 m (10,960 ft) above sea level. This mountain range contains a good supply of minerals, including the silver that encouraged Spanish occupation of the territory after it was discovered. These mines extend north into Chihuahua and south into the state of Zacatecas. Vast desert basins in the Laguna District are irrigated by the Nazas River.
In summer, the average maximum range from 35.0 °C (95.0 °F) in the eastern parts of the state to a low of 20.0 °C (68.0 °F) in the western parts. In winter, the max ranges from 15.0 °C (59.0 °F) to a low of 0 °C (32.0 °F) in the winter. Except for the mountainous areas and small lowland areas in the west such the Quebradas area, the state is fairly dry because the Sierra Madre blocks most of the humid air coming in from the Pacific coast. The climate in the mountains tends to be cool with snowfalls common in winter and have heavier precipitation in the summer than the rest of the state. However, the snow that falls does not linger for long and melts. The average temperature reaches a maximum of 16.0 °C (60.8 °F) in June in the Sierra Madre. Precipitation is highly seasonal with 70-80% of the precipitation falling from June to September. East of the Sierra Madre, the climate is drier and warmer and precipitation is just enough to support agriculture. Most of the precipitation in the state fall during the summer months, owing to the development of the monsoon in southern Mexico that moves northward to reach the northern states and parts of USA by July. Drought like conditions and extreme changes in temperatures are common in the central parts. Owing to the contrast in climatic conditions, between January and April, the state has strong winds that run from the southeast. The average precipitation in the state varies from a low of 273 millimetres (11 in) in Ciudad Lerdo in the far-eastern part of the state to 890 millimetres (35 in) in El Salto in the west.
Major crops grown in the area include cotton, wheat, corn, alfalfa, beans, sorghum, and other vegetables.
Durango is famous for its scorpions. The scorpion is a common symbol representing the state. Mexicans generally refer to the people of Durango as Alacrán de Durango (Scorpions from Durango). The demonym for the natives of Durango is Duranguense(s).
The major occupations in Durango are farming, logging, mining, and ranching.
Durango is known nationally and even internationally for two reasons: one being that it is "the land of the scorpions" due to the many species of scorpions in the state, especially in the colonial areas, and second as "the land of cinema." Durango has among its credits over 120 film productions, both domestic and foreign, and as a result, during the decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, had earned that title. Durango has established itself as one of the favorite places of film producers and directors due to its picturesque views and scenic beauty.
Film had arrived in a train heading to Durango in 1889; when the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, film producer Raoul Walshrecorded the battles of General Francisco Villa. These scenes were included in the film The Life of General Villa produced by D. W. Griffith, and directed by Christy Cabanne in 1914. Hollywood had discovered Durango in the mid-century.
In 1954, the film industry officially entered the state; American film art director Jack Smith had flown over Durango and was instantly seduced by the landscape. Subsequently, the first movie filmed in Durango was White Feather, directed by Robert D. Webb. Durango also had close ties with John Wayne. The close friendship between Durango and John Wayne, an American actor and icon of Western movies, started in 1965, and resulted in the making of the films The Sons of Katie Elder, The War Wagon, and Chisum, among many others. Such was the amount of time that Wayne spent filming in Durango, that he acquired a ranch in the state.
Basque conquerors who founded Durango and began the conquest of the northern territory brought their recipes and the first herds. Among the dishes from Durango, is "caldillo", particularly noted for its antiquity. Along with beef it can be prepared with chile verde (green chile), chile Colorado (red chile), or chile pasado (dehydrated green chiles). The broth is the first culinary preparation in the long history of culture in Durango, and demonstrates the influence of cultures that have been in the genesis of Durango. Its origin goes back to the days of Basque Captain Francisco de Ibarra; one of the first conceptions appears in an old manuscript that belonged to wealthy miner and landowner, Joseph del Campo Soberón and Larrea Soberon, the Count of Súchil Valley.
Durango is also known for its marmalades and preserves made from quince, figs, and peaches, as well as the native pitahaya. Gallina Borracha or 'drunken chicken' is a dish unique to Durango, made mostly of Spanish ingredients, such as raisins, sherry and almonds. Traditional drinks include Licor de Membrillo, a liquor made from quince. Durango is also known for its cheese, in particular queso chihuahua, also called 'queso menonita', a type of cheese made by the state's numerous Mennonite residents as well as the traditional ""Queso Ranchero"" usually made in the high Sierra's (mountains) of Durango which tourists as well as natives like to enjoy. Another plate unique to Durango (usually more to North Western Durango) is ""Venorio"" made with pork ribs cut into pieces, nopales (cactus) and a special chile sauce made with different ground seeds of pumpkin as well as chile seeds, and has a distinctive orange look to the sauce. Carne seca (beef jerky) is also another traditional food that can be used to make ""machaca con huevo" (jerkey with eggs) and caldillo con papas (jerkey with potato soup). The people from Durango also enjoy traditional Mexican dishes, such as tamales, tacos, cabrito, and enchiladas as well as quesadillas made with the two cheese mentioned above.
Durango consists of geographical diversity which allows sports enthusiasts to participate in extreme sports such as kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, free climbing and more; Durango is also home to a quantity of gorges, and voluminous waterfalls that measure 80 feet (24 m) one of which is Salto del Agua LLovida. The state also has numerous lakes that measure over 800 meters in diameter such as Lago de Puentecillas (Puentecillas Lake).