Review of Higher Education in Regional and City Development 2008-10: The State of Sonora in brief


The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population.

Sonora, located in northern Mexico, is the second largest state of the country (179 503 km²), representing 9.2% of the Mexico's total area. Sonora borders with the state of Chihuahua to the east, Sinaloa to the south and Baja California to the northwest; to the north borders with the U.S. state of Arizona and a short border with New Mexico. To its west is the Gulf of California (sometimes named Mar de Cortez). The state of Baja California Sur shares a maritime boundary with Sonora.


Much of Sonora is desert and semi desert, especially in the northwest portion of the state, while the eastern half bordering Chihuahua forms part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. The southern portion of the state is less mountainous and has rich soils, making Sonora one of Mexico’s principal agricultural producers. The entire western side of the Sonora is formed by the coastline of the Gulf of California – also known as the Sea of Cortez – which is considered one of the world’s most diverse ocean ecosystems.


An extensive network of roads, the backbone of which is a four-lane highway that crosses the state from south to north, joins Sonora with the rest of Mexico and with the United States.


In 2005, Sonora had 2 394 861 inhabitants, of whom 50.03% were men and 49.97% were women; this represented 2.3% of Mexico's total population.


Around 80% of the State's population live in 6 cities:

  • Hermosillo (state capital city)
  • Ciudad Obregón
  • Nogales
  • Navojoa
  • San Luis Río Colorado
  • Guaymas



Mexico is a federal republic with a representative and democratic system of government. Power is divided vertically between the federal government, 31 states and one Federal District, and close to 2 500 municipalities.


The governor, who is Head of State and Chief of Government, is elected by popular vote for a six-year term. The concentration of power on the federal executive is relatively strong. The legislative body is divided between the Senate (Cámara de Senadores), in which the states are represented, and the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados). The current governor is M. Guillermo Padres (2009-2015).


Tertiary education governance, co-ordination and regulation take place at the federal and state level depending on the type of HEI; there are federal as well as state institutions. At the federal level, the Ministry of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública - SEP) regulates HE. At the state level, tertiary education co-ordination is the responsibility of the State Ministry of Education and Culture (Secretaría de Educación y Cultura - SEC). The federal level is responsible for ensuring appropriate standards and the resource allocation of public funds for all the public institutions.


Sonora is subdivided into 72 municipalities, each headed by a mayor.



Sonora's Gross State Product accounts for USD 20.4 billion and 2.71% of Mexico’s GDP.


Mexico has 31 states, and the Federal District constitutes about half the area of metropolitan Mexico City. Of the top 12 states by GDP, six are located on the northern border. They account for 63% of the national population and 74% of the GNP.


Main industries in Sonora:

  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Agriculture
  • Fishing
  • Tourism


The state of Sonora is Mexico's first producer of gold, copper, wollastonite and graphite molybdenum, as well as wheat, cotton, watermelon, grapes and asparagus. Sonora is also Mexico's first exporter of pork meat to Asia.



HE and regions start page


Related Documents