Why Santa Fe?

Santa Fe is a popular destination for international visitors for many reasons. Due to its small size, government officials and heads of businesses and foundations are readily accessible and have been generous in providing information about their responsibilities. The cultural diversity of Santa Fe is unique, with a wide range of ethnic, religious and artistic participation. Visitors have access to leaders in federal, state, municipal and tribal governments, as well as foundations, artistic groups and charitable organizations. In addition, CIR’s members, many of whom have traveled extensively or lived abroad in Peace Corp assignments, private industry or embassy work, are active in promoting cultural exchanges.

Since its founding in 1965, the Santa Fe Council on International Relations has hosted over 750 groups of visitors participating in the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and other programs for international visitors.  Whether the theme of a visit is agriculture, the arts, the economy, the environment, government and politics, historic preservation, human rights, journalism, law enforcement, Native America, non-governmental organizations, religion or social issues, the resources available in north central New Mexico can meet the interests of the participants and the objectives of the project.

Diverse, Colorful & Historic

Diverse, colorful, historic Santa Fe, “the City Different,” has attracted international visitors for 400 years. It is the oldest capital city in the United States, founded in 1609, and is unique in its blending of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures. With a population of approximately 75,000, Santa Fe nestles at an altitude of 7,000 feet against the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (the southern Rockies), with their recreational opportunities including skiing, hiking and camping and other outdoor activities in the Santa Fe National Forest and the Valles Caldera National Reserve. On average, there are 283 sunny days per year, with pristine air, blue skies and breathtaking sunsets.  With the changing seasons, temperatures vary from highs averaging 91ºF/32 C in July to lows averaging 19ºF/-7 C in January.

Santa Fe combines adobe architecture, old narrow streets and the Plaza, a tree-lined center square surrounded by businesses and historic buildings, as in traditional European and Latin American cities. Nearby historic and archeological sites include the Pecos, Kasha-Katuwe (Tent Rocks) and Bandelier National Monuments and the San Miguel Mission.  The surrounding area has 10 Indian pueblos: Kewa (Santo Domingo), Cochiti, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambe, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan), Picuris and Taos, which are united in their efforts to preserve their cultural heritage.

Government, Culture & Tourism

Government, culture and tourism are the mainstays of the economy. Santa Fe was one of the first cities named to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.  There are 22 performing arts organizations, over 200 art galleries, and 14 museums, along with excellent shopping, nearly 200 restaurants, numerous historical sites and over 50 places of worship.

When the decision is made to send the participants, a local volunteer program officer will work with the national programming agencies to refine the themes and develop a detailed local program, contact the individuals with whom the participants will meet and negotiate schedules for the meetings.