San Diego, United States of America

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Located in southern California near to the Mexican border, San Diego lies on the western coast of the United States along the Pacific Ocean. The seat of San Diego county, the city is an important port as well as a military and naval centre. The second largest city in California, San Diego’s warm climate has helped it become a tourist centre as well as a popular retirement destination.


The area occupied by modern-day San Diego was first sighted by Europeans in 1542 and was originally named San Miguel. It was renamed San Diego de Alcalá de Henares in 1602. California’s first military post and mission settlement were built in the area in 1769. Mexico assumed control of the area in 1834 and built a small town. The United States gained control in 1846 and in 1867 a new city called San Diego was designed by Alonzo E. Horton 3 miles south of the original military post.

Thanks to its agreeable climate and the building of the Sante Fe Railroad in 1884, San Diego grew rapidly from the 1880s onwards. Before World War II the major industry was aircraft construction. During the war San Diego’s natural deepwater harbour was used by the US Navy as its Pacific Command Center and it has retained its military importance ever since.

Modern City

The major industries are shipbuilding, electronic equipment and aerospace activities. San Diego Bay is the base for a large fishing fleet as well as an important port for the distribution of cotton. San Diego hosts the headquarters of the 11th US Naval District and also houses Army and Marine installations. San Diego county is an important area for fruit and vegetables and the city is the biggest outlet in southern California for farm produce.

The city’s transport links to Arizona, New Mexico and the rest of southern California make it an important communications centre. Lindbergh Field Airport is located 2 miles from San Diego and the city centre has an Amtrak train depot and a Greyhound bus terminal. There is an integrated bus system while a tram system known as the San Diego Trolley is also in operation.

Universities include San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and the University of California at San Diego. The city also houses the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Places of Interest

Balboa Park is the centrepiece of the city’s cultural life and contains 12 museums including the Timkin Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum and the Spanish Village Art Center. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo, which is home to many rare animals including Chinese pandas, is also located in Balboa Park.

Old Town San Diego has a historical park while the site of Presidio Hill, where the original Spanish military post and mission were located, now houses the Junípero Serra Museum. There are extensive sandy beaches, with Mission Beach and Pacific Beach among the most popular. Near Mission Bay is Sea World, the city’s most popular tourist attraction, with its killer whales, dolphins and other marine life.

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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