Valencia County was established by Mexico in 1844 and was confirmed as part of the New Mexico Territory in 1852.
The county, which was formerly much larger in area, lost almost 81% of its territory on June 19, 1981, upon the creation of Cibola County, which occupies the western most portion of Valencia County’s former area. Although Los Lunas is the county seat, Belen is the largest town. The population in the county is approximately 75,626 covering a total area of 1,068 square miles. It is the second smallest county in New Mexico by area.
The county claims a few national protected areas with part of the Cibola National Forest, the El Comino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, and the Manzano Wilderness. Between mountains and mesas are the southward flowing Rio Puerco and the Rio Grande. Pueblo Indians settled in the Rio Grande valley about 1500 and created productive farmland with irrigation. The Isleta Pueblo Indian Reservation is in the northern part of the county. Though agriculture (cattle, milk) persists there, construction, healthcare, the Santa Fe railroad yards of Belen, and government employment are among the leading elements in the economy.
Valencia County has the longest record for predicting presidential election winners in the entire country, voting for the winning candidate in every election since 1952.
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