The Baja California Sur peninsula is a region of mountains and coastal plains covering an area of approximately 73,475 kilometers (45,655 square miles). It is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, and has the longest littoral of any state in Mexico, with 2,230 kilometers (1,386 miles of) coastline including the attractive bays of Sebastián Vizcaíno, San Juanico, Magdalena, La Paz, Asunción, Ballenas, Concepción and San Carlos.
Numerous islands surround the peninsula. In the Pacific Ocean are the Natividad, Magdalena and Santa Margarita islands. In the Sea of Cortez are the islands of San Marcos, Coronado, Danzante, Carmen, Montserrat, Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Partida, Espíritu Santo and Cerralvo.
The altitude ranges from sea level to a maximum of 2,090 meters (6,857 ft ASL), in the Sierra de la Laguna.
PHYSICAL FEATURES. The Giganta Mountain Range is of volcanic origin and reaches an altitude of 600 meters (1,968 ft). The western face slopes gently. The side facing the Sea of Cortez is more rugged on . To the west of the mountain range is a region of coastal plains with an average width of 40 kilometers (25 miles). This includes the large plains of Santa Clara, Berrendo, Magdalena and Hiray, the latter composed of sedimentary marine rock, mainly limestone.
RIVERS. Seasonal rivers and streams that fill during the rainy season and then empty into the sea, mainly on the Pacific side, include San Benito, San Miguel and Raymundo. The longest river in Baja California Sur is the San Ignacio River, which empties into Ballenas Bay.
CLIMATE. The southern parts of the state have a dry, desert climate. The maximum temperature exceeds 40ºC (104ºF) in the summer and the minimum is less than 0ºC (32ºF) in the winter. In the region of Los Cabos the climate is hot, only slightly humid and affected by hurricanes.
PLANTS AND WILDLIFE. The cardon, or Mexican giant cactus, is unique to this area. The arid soil also favors other types of cacti, shrubs and sagebrush, and trees like torote and oak pine. There are numerous species of reptiles, mammals including coyotes, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, raccoons and deer, migratory birds like golden eagles and ospreys, and marine life including grey, blue and humpbacked whales and orcas.
ANP. In Baja California Sur there are several Protected Natural Areas, with a great diversity of plant life, much of it endemic to the area. Among the APNs are the Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, La Sierra de Laguna Biosphere Reserve, the Loreto Natural Marine Park, the Biosphere Reserve on the islands of the Sea of Cortez, the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, the Sand Cascades in Cabo San Lucas and the San José del Cabo Estuary.