Albuquerque is relatively isolated, and it's a four-hour drive to the nearest city of similar size. The city proper has a population estimated at 558,000, with a metropolitan population of 903,000. The MSA includes Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Placitas, Los Lunas, Belen, Bosque Farms and Corrales. This makes it the 59th largest metropolitan area in the country. The Albuquerque - Santa Fe - Las Vegas combined statistical area has a population estimated at 1.17 million.
Albuquerque Population Growth
According to the 2000 census, 35.5% of the state's population is bilingual, with most speaking Spanish and English. In part due to its diversity, the city was named as the most creative medium-sized city in the country.
New Mexico as a whole has lagged in population growth, gaining just 1,700 people (0.09%) in the entire state from July 2012 to July 2013. This puts the state close to the very bottom for the country, and behind neighboring states like Arizona, Colorado and Utah which have gained about 1.4%. Since 2010, New Mexico has grown less than 1%.
Albuquerque's metropolitan population is currently growing at a rate of 1-2% per year. From 2000 to 2010, the metro area rose 21.6%. Growth for the entire state is expected to remain concentrated in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost. For much of its early history, it was a farming community and military outpost, and the sheep-herding center of the region. After 1821, Mexico also had an army garrison in the city.
After the American occupation of the state, Albuquerque had a federal garrison and quartermaster depot from 1846 to 1867. During the Civil War, it was occupied briefly by Confederate troops. The Battle of Albuquerque in 1862, Confederate forces made a stand against a detachment of Union soldiers.
By 1900, the city had a population of 8,000 with modern amenities. Around this time, New Mexico became a haven for many tuberculosis patients who came for the dry climate and treatments. Two of the largest hospitals in the American Southwest, Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, began around this time.
By 1926, travelers on the new Route 66 began to make their way into Albuquerque, which gave rise to many restaurants, shops, and motels. Over the next decade, establishments like Sandia National Laboratories and Sandia Base gave Albuquerque a central role in the Atomic Age, and its population began to soar. By 1960, the population reached 201,000 and then hit 518,000 in 2007. At this point, Albuquerque was one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
Today, Albuquerque struggles with flat population growth, 20% of its population living below the poverty line, a gun-death rate that is 40% higher than the national average and a crime rate 53% higher than the U.S. average.