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Mexicali
Ciudad de Mexicali
City of Mexicali
Coat of arms of Mexicali
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The City that Captured the Sun
Country  Mexico
State Template:Country data Baja California Baja California
Municipality Mexicali
Founded March 14, 1903
Area
 • City 113.7 km2 (43.9 sq mi)
Elevation 8 m (27 ft)
Population (2015)
 • City 689,775
 • Density 81.94/km2 (212.2/sq mi)
 • Urban 996,826
 • Metro 1,102,342
Demonym(s) Mexicalense, cachanilla
Time zone PST (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
Postal code 21000-21399 (urban area)
Area code(s) +52 686

Mexicali (English pronunciation: /ˌmɛksɪˈkæli/; Spanish: [mexiˈkali] ( listen)) is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California and seat of the Municipality of Mexicali. The City of Mexicali has a population of 689,775, according to the 2010 census, while the population of the entire metropolitan area reaches 996,826; making the city and metropolitan area the second most populous in Baja California.

The city maintains a highly educated and skilled population, as it has modernized and become an important population center in the desert region.

Mexicali's economy has been historically based on agricultural products, and to this day it remains a large sector of the economy. As time has progressed, however, its economy has gradually gone from being agricultural to include industry, mainly maquiladoras. Companies such as Honeywell, GKN Aerospace, Kellogg's, Gulfstream, UTC Aerospace Systems, SunPower, Rockwell Collins, LG Electronics, National Oilwell Varco, Mitsubishi, Autolite, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Robert Bosch, and Goodrich Corporation have built maquiladora plants in the city.

Mexicali became the national center for the aerospace industry in Mexico when Rockwell Collins (former Hughes Tool Company) established an operation there in 1966. Rockwell Collins is the oldest company under the maquiladora program nationwide.

Founded on March 14, 1903, Mexicali is situated on the Mexico–United States border adjacent to its sister city Calexico, California, with which it forms a dual-state, international population center, Calexico–Mexicali.

History

Early history

The Spaniards arrived to the area after crossing the Sonoran Desert's "Camino del Diablo" or Devil's Road. This led to the evangelization of the area by Catholic missionaries and also to the reduction of native populations in the region. Nowadays, indigenous Cocopah people still inhabit a small government-protected corner of the Colorado River delta near the junction of the Hardy and the Colorado. The Cocopah mostly work on agricultural ejidos or fishing.

The early European presence in this area was limited to Anza's and subsequent Spanish expeditions across the Colorado Desert and subsequent travelers on the Sonora Road opened by them. Also the presence of the Jesuits who attempted to establish a mission in what is now Fort Yuma. They left after a revolt by the Yuma in 1781. After this, the Spanish had little to do with the northeastern corner of the Baja California Peninsula, perceiving it as an untamable, flood-prone desert delta. Later in the 1820s, the Mexican authorities reopened the Sonoran Road and restored peaceful relations with the Yuma People.

The Sonoran Road provided a route for American fur trappers, and later American troops of Kearny and Cooke passing through the area during the Mexican–American War. The annexation of most of Alta California soon was followed by the California Gold Rush that saw a flood of gold seekers from Mexico on the Sonora Road, especially from Sonora, and from the United States via the Southern Emigrant Trail. Herds of cattle and sheep were driven into California across this desert trail also.

This route became a U. S. Mail and stagecoach route in 1857 when the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and in 1858 Butterfield Overland Mail route passed along the Alamo and New Rivers and established stations there including its New River Station in the vicinity of a Laguna along the New River in what is now Colonia Hidalgo, Mexicali in 1858. This mail route remained in use until 1877 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came to Yuma making it obsolete.

Late 19th century

In the mid-19th century, a geologist working for the Southern Pacific Railroad came to the delta area, discovering what the native Yumans had known for centuries: that the thick river sediment deposits made the area prime farming land. These sediments extended far to the west of the river itself, accumulating in a shallow basin below the Sierra de Cucapá. However, from this time period until the 1880s, the area was almost completely unpopulated, mostly due to its harsh climate. In 1888, the federal government granted a large part of northern Baja state, including Mexicali, to Guillermo Andrade, with the purpose of colonizing the area on the recently created border with the United States. However, around 1900, the only area with any real population, aside from the Cocopah, were concentrated in Los Algodones, to the east of Mexicali.

20th century

In 1900, the U.S.-based California Development Company received permission from the government of Díaz to cut a canal through the delta's Arroyo Alamo, to link the dry basin with the Colorado River. To attract farmers to the area, the developers named it the "Imperial Valley". In 1903, the first 500 farmers arrived; by late 1904, 405 km² (100,000 acres) of valley were irrigated, with 10,000 people settled on the land harvesting cotton, fruits, and vegetables. The concentration of small housing units that straddled the border was called Calexico on the U.S. side and Mexicali on the Mexican side. Led by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, one company controlled 800,000 hectares of land in northern Baja California by 1905, and began to build the irrigation system for the Valley. However, instead of using Mexican labor to dig the ditches, Chandler brought in thousands of Chinese laborers. Mexicali became culturally Chinese influenced.

The Mexican side was named Mexicali (a portmanteau composed of "Mexico" and "California") by Coronel Agustín Sanguinéz. Initially the area belonged to the municipality of Ensenada. The town of Mexicali was officially created on 14 March 1903 when Manuel Vizcarra was named as the town's first authority and Assistant Judge (juez auxiliar). On January 29, 1911, Mexicali was briefly "liberated" by the Liberal Party of Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. Mayor Baltazar Aviléz declared the municipality of Mexicali on November 4, 1914 and called for elections to creation of the first ayuntamiento or Municipality, which was then headed by Francisco L. Montejano.

CdrlSraGdpeMexicali
Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Downtown Mexicali
Calexico&MexicaliFromTheISS
Mexicali, seen from the International Space Station, is situated south of the Mexico–US border

In the 20th century, the Colorado Riverland Company, a U.S. based company, was dedicated to renting Mexican land to farmers; however, these farmers were almost always foreigners, such as Chinese, East Indians and Japanese. The Mexicans were employed only as seasonal laborers. This situation led to the agrarian conflict known as the "Asalto a las Tierras" (Assault on the Lands) in 1937. in which Mexican land was taken by Mexicans.

Agricultural production continued to increase during the 20th century. Cotton became the most important crop and it help develop the textile industry. In the early 1950s, the Mexicali Valley became the biggest cotton-producing zone in the country and in the 1960s, production reached more than half a million parcels a year. Currently, the Valley still is one of Mexico's most productive agricultural regions, mostly producing wheat, cotton and vegetables. The city of Mexicali is one of Mexico's most important exporter of asparagus, broccoli, carrots, green onions, lettuce, peas, peppers, radishes and tomatoes to the world.

The government of the municipality was reorganized when the Baja California territory became the 29th state in 1953.

21st century

Today Mexicali is an important center for maquiladora (assembly plant) production in the automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, metallurgical, and health items as well as manufacturing and exporting products to various countries.

The 2010 Baja California earthquake occurred on Easter Sunday about 60 km south-southeast of Mexicali. This very large magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred at 15:40:40 local time (UTC−8) according to the U.S. Geological Survey. With a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong), it was felt in northern Baja California near the United States–Mexico border, and was also felt in western cities such as Tijuana, San Diego, Los Angeles and parts of Arizona.

Geography

The Mexicali Valley is one of the largest and most fertile valleys in Mexico. Over fifty different crops are grown in the valley, which is similar in production to the Imperial Valley. National and international industries have invested in Mexicali and surrounding cities to take advantage of its tax-free status given to industry. The Mexicali Valley is a primary source of water for the region, which is the largest irrigation district in Mexico.

Ecology

Despite its arid desert location, Mexicali is watered through a system of aquifers in the valley. Under a 1944 Water Treaty, the city is "...guaranteed [an] annual quantity of 1,500,000 acre feet (1.9 km3) [of water] to be delivered..." from the Colorado River. However, a proposed concrete lining in the United States on the All-American Canal would cut off billions of leaked gallons of water, which is used to irrigate onions, alfalfa, asparagus, squash and other crops in Mexicali.

The nearby Cerro Prieto volcano is adjacent to the Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station. which creates high volumes of pollutants, among them, mercury. As of 2014, the government are creating a zone of exclusion, due to the alarming amount of pollutants and contamination that has permeated throughout miles around the geothermal plant of Cerro Prieto.

Climate

Weather chart for Mexicali
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
13
 
20
5
 
 
9.1
 
23
7
 
 
7.9
 
26
10
 
 
1.3
 
30
13
 
 
0.8
 
35
17
 
 
0.3
 
40
21
 
 
1.5
 
42
26
 
 
8.1
 
42
26
 
 
9.1
 
38
22
 
 
8.9
 
32
16
 
 
4.6
 
25
10
 
 
11
 
20
6
temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

Because of its low annual precipitation, Mexicali has an arid climate (BWh). Under the criteria for the Köppen climate classification, Mexicali maintains desert weather temperatures every year. In December 12, 1932, the city experienced snowfall. Rainfall usually occurs in the winter months of December, January and February. Although Summer is extremely dry in Mexicali, one of every two days there is an end moisture content. In 2008, during the months of July and August there were several heavy thunderstorms that let down large amounts of rain and hail. Summer rainfall in the city is infrequent. During winter time, Mexicali is affected by the snow storms that pass by the town of La Rumorosa located in the Sierra de Juárez, about 45 minutes west of the city, causing a decrement in temperature that lasts from two days to one week.

The summer temperatures in Mexicali are significantly higher than Tijuana, the other major city in Baja California. This is caused by the temperatures in Tijuana being moderated by the ocean, but nearby inland areas such as Mexicali being significantly hotter. However, the hot desert climate seen in Mexicali is actually not unusual for similar parallels, seen in Baghdad, Iraq for example.

Climate data for Mexicali (1951-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.0
(93.2)
34.0
(93.2)
39.5
(103.1)
41.0
(105.8)
47.0
(116.6)
49.1
(120.4)
52.0
(125.6)
49.4
(120.9)
47.1
(116.8)
47.4
(117.3)
39.8
(103.6)
31.3
(88.3)
52.0
(125.6)
Average high °C (°F) 20.5
(68.9)
23.0
(73.4)
26.0
(78.8)
29.7
(85.5)
35.0
(95)
40.0
(104)
42.3
(108.1)
41.5
(106.7)
38.7
(101.7)
32.5
(90.5)
25.3
(77.5)
20.4
(68.7)
31.2
(88.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.1
(55.6)
15.3
(59.5)
18.0
(64.4)
21.3
(70.3)
25.8
(78.4)
30.5
(86.9)
33.9
(93)
33.5
(92.3)
30.4
(86.7)
24.3
(75.7)
17.5
(63.5)
13.1
(55.6)
23.1
(73.6)
Average low °C (°F) 5.8
(42.4)
7.6
(45.7)
10.0
(50)
12.8
(55)
16.7
(62.1)
20.9
(69.6)
25.6
(78.1)
25.5
(77.9)
22.1
(71.8)
16.1
(61)
9.8
(49.6)
5.7
(42.3)
14.9
(58.8)
Record low °C (°F) −7.0
(19)
-3.5
(25.7)
-0.9
(30.4)
0.0
(32)
6.0
(42.8)
9.1
(48.4)
13.5
(56.3)
14.5
(58.1)
8.0
(46.4)
0.3
(32.5)
-1.5
(29.3)
-8.0
(17.6)
-8.0
(17.6)
Rainfall mm (inches) 10.6
(0.417)
7.2
(0.283)
5.8
(0.228)
1.6
(0.063)
0.5
(0.02)
0.2
(0.008)
3.8
(0.15)
10.1
(0.398)
7.5
(0.295)
8.4
(0.331)
4.9
(0.193)
10.3
(0.406)
70.9
(2.791)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.7 2.2 2.1 0.7 0.3 0.1 1.0 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.2 2.2 16.0
Source: Servicio Meteorológico Nacional

Cityscape

MexicaliMetroNight
Mexicali–Calexico metropolitan area

City districts

The municipality of Mexicali is divided into the city main and 14 Administrative Districts, which are mainly located in the outskirts of the city and the largest populations in the Mexicali Valley. These Distrital offices offer municipal services such as Urban Planning, Vital Statistics, Street-Vending Inspection, Compliance, Public Works and Community Development and are, each, supervised by a Municipal Delegate.

Civic Center - In this sub-area are located the main federal, state and municipal buildings. Not far from the Civic Center is the New River, where there are other prominent buildings and premises like the CEART (State Center for the Arts) and the Mexicali Zoo.

La Chinesca

AmistadPagodaMexicali
Monument to the Chinese Community in Friendship Square

The city claimed to have the largest per capita concentration of residents of Chinese origin in Mexico, around 5,000 until 2012 when the Tijuana La Mesa District surpassed that number at 15,000 Chinese immigrants. The Chinese immigrants came to the area as laborers for the Colorado River Land Company, an American enterprise which designed and built an extensive irrigation system in the Valley of Mexicali. Some immigrants came from the United States, often fleeing anti-Chinese policies there, while others sailed directly from China. Thousands of Chinese were lured to the area by the promise of high wages, but that never materialized.

Since 2000, new migrants from China to Mexicali come from many of the same areas as before 1960, with perhaps 90% from Guangdong or Hong Kong.

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1910 462 —    
1921 6,782 +1368.0%
1930 14,842 +118.8%
1940 18,775 +26.5%
1950 64,609 +244.1%
1960 174,540 +170.1%
1970 263,498 +51.0%
1980 341,559 +29.6%
1990 438,377 +28.3%
1995 505,016 +15.2%
2000 549,873 +8.9%
2005 653,046 +18.8%
2010 689,775 +5.6%
INEGI: Archivo Histórico de localidades

As of 2010, the city of Mexicali had a population of 689,775.

The city itself had a 2005 census population of 653,046, whereas the municipality's population was 895,962. It is the 13th largest municipality in Mexico as of the Census 2005 with population estimates exceeding one million alone. The population is constantly growing due to the number of maquiladoras in the area, lack of urban planning, and migrational aspects, like seasonal labor and the constant in-and-out flow of immigrants to the U.S. or into Mexico.

Culture

CasaCulturalMexicali
Mexicali's "House of Culture" decorated for Day of the Dead

The residents of Mexicali (Mexicalenses) call themselves "Cachanillas" (due to a local plant, the cachanilla, used by the Cucapah tribe to build shacks) and are from culturally diverse backgrounds, and it is among the most ethnically diverse cities in Mexico, with people from various Native American, European, African, East Asian, and Middle Eastern origins.

There is a very popular song called "Puro Cachanilla" also known as "El Cachanilla" that identifies people from Mexicali.

In 2004, there were 11 theaters in the city:

  1. Teatro del Estado.
  2. Teatro de Casa de Cultura de Mexicali. Idem.
  3. Teatro del CREA
  4. Teatro Universitario de Mexicali, it is mainly used for UABC ceremonies and occasionally for plays.
  5. Teatro al Aire Libre de Rectoría which hasn´t been used in the last 30 years.
  6. Teatro del Seguro Social that was inaugurated in the 1970s.
  7. Teatro al aire libre del Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior CETYS unveiled on September 2006.
  8. Teatro del Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior CETYS.
  9. IMAX Theatre at the Sol del Niño Museum
  10. Centro Estatal de las Artes with multiple theater and convention center

Mexicali also has the Baja Prog festival, a series of progressive rock concerts that take place during four consecutive days in springtime. It is hosted by CAST, a progressive rock band from Mexicali.

View

The Salton Trough region from orbit
The region from orbit.

Images for kids


Mexicali Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.