Tijuana is the largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California. Tijuana is also the most northerly city in Latin America. It is known as the corner of Mexico and consequently of Latin America. The city stands on the U.S.-Mexico border, adjacent to San Diego County, California, United States; to the south, it is bordered by the municipalities of Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada; to the east, by the municipality of Tecate; and to the west, by the Pacific Ocean. The municipality of Tijuana has an extension of 1,727 square kilometers and includes part of the Coronado Islands located off the coast of the municipality in the Pacific Ocean.
Historians have investigated the origins of the name of the city of Tijuana. One legend says that it was the name of a ranch in the area, property of "Tía Juana" – Aunt Jane. In actuality, it is recognized that name comes from the Yuman Indian language from the early inhabitants. In other documents there are mentions of "La Tia Juana", "Tiguana", "Tiuana", "Teguana", "Tiwana", "Tijuan", "Ticuan", "Tijuana". Based on the Yuman language, historians have come to recognize Tijuana originating from "Tiwan", meaning close to the sea. These studies notwithstanding, many Americans still mistakenly believe the city to be called "Tiajuana".
The city is nicknamed "TJ", especially among English speakers, but also by the Spanish speaking residents, who pronounce it as ti yei. The latter also refer to the city as Tijuas.
Tijuana's city motto is Aquí empieza la patria. The Mexican government actually translates it as "Gateway to Mexico", but the literal translation is "The homeland starts here". It is also sometimes known as the "Most visited city in the world", owing to its proximity to the world's busiest border crossing.
Tijuana's most important entertainment center is the Hipódromo de Agua Caliente. It is comprised of a horse and dog race track, and a small zoo.
Parque Morelos has a small zoo and big open spaces perfect for recreational activities and weekend barbeque; El Parque de la Amistad has a small pond, and a running and dirt-bike track. Parque Teniente Guerrero is a small park located downtown with a public library and weekend entertainment by clowns.
The most popular tourist attraction is Avenida Revolución. Many foreigners travel there to drink, buy prescription drugs, bootleg brand-name clothing and accessories, and Mexican curiosities.
Avenida Revolución is also famous for its red-light district which boasts a large number of street prostitutes as well as a great selection of strip clubs. The strip clubs are typically full-contact, in which the dancers will allow patrons to fondle their parts. The dancers also solicit their services which typically tend to be more pricey than those of the street prostitutes.
The city also hosts the Tijuana Potros, a baseball team that plays in the Mexican Summer League in the northernmost stadium in Mexico. Also have a soccer team Named Club Tijuana playing in a small stadium on the Zona Rio. It has professional and university theater, the opera, many movie theaters, two bullrings, as well as diverse festivals along the year.
The area in which the city of Tijuana is situated in a region once inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians, a tribe of Yuman-speaking hunter-gatherers. Europeans first arrived in 1542, when the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo toured the coastline of the area, which was later mapped in 1602 by Sebastián Viscaíno. In 1769, Father Juan Crespí documented more detailed information about the area that would one day be called the Valley of Tijuana and Father Junípero Serra founded the first mission of Alta California in San Diego.
More settlement of the area took place near the end of the mission era when José María Echendía, governor of the Baja California and Alta California, awarded a large land grant to Santiago Argüello in 1829. This large cattle ranch, Rancho Tía Juana ("Aunt Jane Ranch"), covered 100 square kilometres.
In 1848, as a result of the Mexican-American war with the United States, Mexico lost all of Alta California. Tijuana acquired a new and distinct character and purpose on the international border. The city began to shed its cattle ranching origins and began to play in a new role, forming a socio-economic structure for the city.
The year 1889 marked the beginning of the urban settlement, when descendants of Santiago Argüello and Agustín Olvera entered an agreement to begin development of the city of Tijuana. The agreement was dated July 11 of that year. Decades later, during the second Symposium of History held in 1975, this date was recognized as the date the city was founded.
Tijuana saw its future in tourism from its inception. From the end of the 19th century to the first decades of the 20th, the city attracted large numbers of Californians crossing over the border, coming to Mexico for trade and entertainment.
During the Mexican Revolution, Tijuana was also a small stage for revolutionaries loyal to Ricardo Flores Magón, who took over the city in 1911. Shortly, thereafter, federal troops arrived and routed the rebels. Being so close to the action, San Diegans could watch the battle from the safety of the international border.
In 1916, the Feria San Diego, California Panamá brought a great number of visitors to the neighboring American city to the north. Tijuana took the opportunity to attract these tourists to the other side of the border with Feria Típica Mexicana. The fair included curio shops, regional foods, thermal baths, horse racing and boxing matches. With this event, the city became universally known as a tourist destination.
The 1920s changed Tijuana forever when the enactment of prohibition in the U.S. sent droves of Americans across the border to partake in legal drinking and gambling. Large and impressive casinos opened, like Agua Caliente in Tijuana. The Caesar Salad was invented there during this period.
The international events of the following years had profound repercussions on the city. Tourism increased significantly as innumerable Americans came to Tijuana to enjoy the nightlife. In addition, the large number of Mexican citizens from all over the country began to relocate to Tijuana, tripling the population. Between 1940 and 1950 the city grew from 21,971 to 65,364 inhabitants.
In the 1950s, when nightlife and tourism began to decline, the city started to restruct its tourist industry, by promoting a more family oriented scene. Tijuana began to develop a greater variety of attractions and activities to offer its visitors.
In 1994 PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana. The shooter was caught and imprisoned, but doubts remain about who his paymaster might have been. Every year, the city's inhabitants commerate the anniversary of his assasination with a memorial.
Today, the Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing is the most crossed international land border in the world. Although tourism constitutes a large part of this movement, Tijuana and its surrounding area has become a major player in NAFTA with new maquiladoras and industrial plants.
The famous battle between the Tijuana Cartel and the rival Chihuahua-based Juárez Cartel was portrayed in the 2000 Hollywood movie Traffic.
Tijuana's International Airport (General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport) is known for the tight approaches airplanes have to carry out, flying just over a fence before landing.
On July 11, 2005 Tijuana celebrated 116 years of its foundation.