Albuquerque, New Mexico, the state's largest city and the seat of Bernalillo County. It is on the Rio Grande, about 55 miles (90 km) southwest of Santa Fe, the state capital. Albuquerque lies just west of the Sandia Mountains and is about 5,000 feet (1,520 m) above sea level.
Albuquerque is New Mexico's leading commercial, industrial, financial, and transportation center. Among its industries are the manufacturing of electronic equipment, foods, and machinery. Since World War II Albuquerque has become a center of nuclear and space research and development. Sandia National Laboratories is here. The federal government is one of the city's largest employers. Tourism is also a leading source of income. Albuquerque is served by a railway, two Interstate highways, and an international airport.
The University of New Mexico, built in the Pueblo style of architecture, and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute are here. Old Town, Albuquerque's original townsite, is a tourist attraction with its Spanish-style buildings. Each year the city is host to the New Mexico State Fair and an international hot-air balloon festival. A 2.7-mile (4.3-km) aerial tramway in the Sandia Mountains was opened in 1966.
Sandia Base (a federal nuclear energy installation) and Kirtland Air Force Base are on the city's outskirts. Cibola National Forest and a number of Pueblo Indian villages are nearby.
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 and named after the Duke of Alburquerque, a Spanish viceroy in Mexico City. (The first “r” was later dropped.) The settlement was a trading center on the Chihuahua Trail from Mexico City. With the coming of the railway in 1880 a new town, also called Albuquerque, sprang up nearby. It was incorporated in 1890. In 1950 the older town was annexed to the newer.