What You Need To Know
San Diego is a major city in California, United States. It is in San Diego County, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles (190 km) south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico. With an estimated population of 1,394,928 as of July 1, 2015, San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest in California. It is part of the San Diego–Tijuanaconurbation, the second-largest transborder agglomeration between the US and a bordering country after Detroit–Windsor, with a population of 4,922,723 people. San Diego is known as “the birthplace of California” and is known for its mild year-round climate deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the United States Navy and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center. Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the entire area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. The Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded in 1769, formed the first European settlement in what is now California. In 1821, San Diego became part of the newly-independent Mexico, which reformed as the First Mexican Republic two years later. In 1850, it became part of the United States following the Mexican–American War and the admission of California to the union. The city is the seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the region as well as the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. San Diego’s main economic engines are military and defense-related activities, tourism, internationalTRADE, and manufacturing. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.
Area: 964.5 km²
Population: Estimate 1,307,402
Defense and military
The largest sectors of San Diego’s economy are defense/military, tourism, international trade, and research/manufacturing, respectively. In 2014, San Diego was designated by a Forbes columnist as the best city in the country to launch a small business or startup company.
San Diego’s commercial port and its location on the United States-Mexico border make international TRADE an important factor in the city’s economy. The city is authorized by the United States government to operate as a Foreign Trade Zone. The city shares a 15-mile (24 km) border with Mexico that includes two border crossings. San Diego hosts the busiest international border crossing in the world, in the San Ysidro neighborhood at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. A second, primarily commercial border crossing operates in the Otay Mesa area; it is the largest commercial crossing on the California-Baja California border and handles the third-highest volume of trucks and dollar value of TRADE among all United States-Mexico land crossings. One of the Port of San Diego’s two cargo facilities is located in Downtown San Diego at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. This terminal has facilities for containers, bulk cargo, and refrigerated and frozen storage, so that it can handle the import and EXPORT OF many commodities. In 2009 the Port of San Diego handled 1,137,054 short tons of total TRADE; foreign trade accounted for 956,637 short tons while domestic trade amounted to 180,417 short tons. Historically tuna fishing and canning was one of San Diego’s major industries, and although the American tuna fishing fleet is no longer based in San Diego, seafood companies Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea are still headquartered there.
With the automobile being the primary means of transportation for over 80 percent of its residents, San Diego is served by a network of freeways and highways. This includes Interstate 5, which runs south to Tijuana and north to Los Angeles; Interstate 8, which runs east to Imperial County and the Arizona Sun Corridor; Interstate 15, which runs northeast through the Inland Empire to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City; and Interstate 805, which splits from I-5 near the Mexican border and rejoins I-5 at Sorrento Valley. San Diego’s roadway system provides an extensive network of routes for travel by bicycle. The dry and mild climate of San Diego makes CYCLING a convenient and pleasant year-round option. At the same time, the city’s hilly, canyon-like terrain and significantly long average trip distances—brought about by strict low-density zoning laws—somewhat restrictCYCLING for utilitarian purposes. Older and denser neighborhoods around the downtown tend to be utility cycling oriented. This is partly because of the grid street patterns now absent in newer developments farther from the urban core, where suburban style arterial roads are much more common. As a result, a vast majority of cycling-related activities are recreational. Testament to San Diego’s cycling efforts, in 2006, San Diego was rated as the best city for cycling for U.S. cities with a population over 1 million.
Tourism is a major industry owing to the city’s climate, its beaches, and numerous tourist attractions such as Balboa Park, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. San Diego’s Spanish and Mexican heritage is reflected in the many historic sites across the city, such as Mission San Diego de Alcala and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Also, the local craft brewing industry attracts an increasing number of visitors for “beer tours” and the annual San Diego Beer Week in November; San Diego has been called “America’s Craft Beer Capital.” San Diego County hosted more than 32 million visitors in 2012; collectively they spent an estimated $8 billion locally. The visitor industry provides employment for more than 160,000 people. San Diego’s cruise ship industry used to be the second-largest in California. Numerous cruise lines operate out of San Diego. However, cruise ship business has been in steady decline since peaking in 2008, when the Port hosted over 250 ship calls and more than 900,000 passengers. By 2011 the number of ship calls had fallen to 103 (estimated). Local sight-seeing cruises are offered in San Diego Bay and Mission Bay. Also available are whale-watching cruises to observe the migration of gray whales, peaking in mid-January. Sport fishing is another popular tourist attraction; San Diego is home to Southern California’s biggest sport fishing fleet.
San Diego is one of the top-ten best climates in the Farmers’ Almanac and is one of the two best summer climates in America as scored by The Weather Channel. Under the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system, the San Diego area has been variously categorized as having either a semi-arid climate (BSh in the original classification and BSkn in modified Köppen classification) or a Mediterranean climate (Csa and Csb). San Diego’s climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters with most of the annual precipitation falling between December and March. The city has a mild climate year-round, with an average of 201 days above 70 °F (21 °C) and low rainfall (9–13 inches [230–330 mm] annually). The climate in San Diego, like most of Southern California, often varies significantly overSHORTgeographical distances resulting in microclimates. In San Diego, this is mostly because of the city’s topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons). Frequently, particularly during the “May gray/June gloom” period, a thick “marine layer” cloud cover keeps the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but yields to bright cloudless sunshine approximately 5–10 miles (8.0–16.1 km) inland. Sometimes the June gloom lasts into July, causing cloudy skies over most of San Diego for the entire day. Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas experience much more significant temperature variations than coastal areas, where the ocean serves as a moderating influence. Thus, for example, downtown San Diego averages January lows of 50 °F (10 °C) and August highs of 78 °F (26 °C). The city of El Cajon, just 10 miles (16 km) inland from downtown San Diego, averages January lows of 42 °F (6 °C) and August highs of 88 °F (31 °C).