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The history of Tijuana

Origins of the name “Tijuana” have been believed to take its roots from the Yuman Indian language, spoken by Kumeyaay inhabitants, who were a tribe of hunter gatherers. The Yuman word “Tiwan” means “close to the sea” and this is perhaps where the word “Tijuana” derived its name from.

At around 1542, Europeans arrived at the coastline, and Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho, a Portuguese explorer, took a tour of Mexico’s coastline area, later to be mapped by Sebastian Vizcaino, in 1602. More information was documented, leading the area to be called “Valley of Tijuana” in the latter days, and eventually, with the Christian propagation, Father Junipero Serra founded the Alta Californian Mission in San Diego.

Soon after, more people settled in the area as the mission’s era drew to an end. Jose Maria Echendia, governor of the Baja California and Alta California, gave a large land grant to Santiago Arguello in 1829, to be used as a cattle ranch. The ranch was called Tia Juana, and its size measured to 100 square kilometers.

The Mexican – American war came, and Mexico lost all of Alta California. This prompted Baja California to be the international border, and the focus was emphasized on Tijuana, as the city directly below the border. This newfound importance led the city to do away with its cattle and ranch origins, to form more social and commercial structures.

Urban settlement began in 1889, thus beginning the development of the city of Tijuana. The agreement was dated July 11 of that same year, and after a few decades, specifically on 1975, this date was declared the founding date of the city.

Tourism was the first and foremost ideal for commercial and economic success. The city attracted a large number of California residents crossing the border to Mexico to engage in trade and entertainment.

During the year of 1915, the Panama-California exposition brought many visitors to California cities, and Tijuana took this visit as an opportunity to attract more tourists across the border. They set up the Feria Tipica Mexicana. The fair included plenty of regional foods, Mexican handicrafts, curio shops, horse racing, thermal baths and horse racing. This fair then proved its significance when the city became popularized as a tourist destination. This became especially true when the US enacted several prohibition laws, sending hordes of US nationals across the border to Tijuana, and engaging in legal gambling and drinking. This sudden amassing of tourists prompted the city’s tourism board to build opulent casinos, and more nightlife places.

To date, Tijuana is the most crossed-over international border in the world. Tourism is still its main draw, but plenty of companies such as Toyota, Samsung, and Kodak to name a few, have set up shop there, making it a business center as well.

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