Mexico / Baja California  / Breakpoints / Tijuana
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tijuana

Situated immediately on the Mexican-US border, Tijuana is often called the most-visited border town in the world.

The town of almost two million inhabitants is the northernmost metropolis in the Mexican state of Baja California Norte. The center of San Diego in California is only some 14 miles (23 km) from Tijuana.

Was the place of what today is Tijuana a vast ranch in 1830, with the strange name “Rancho de Tía Juana (Aunt Jane‘s Ranch)”? Or had, about 1860, a group of Mixtec immigrants lived in the hill region above the Bay of San Diego and named it “Tiguan (near the water)”? Although the exact answer is likely to remain unknown, one thing is sure: The history of Tijuana has always been closely linked to US politics. An increasing number of people had settled in the border region at the end of the 19th century so that the town was founded in 1889. In 1917, Tijuana became a district capital, whereas San Diego witnessed the prohibition of cabarets, dance halls and nightclubs. And when the federal prohibition of alcohol was promulgated in 1920 and put another damper on San Diego, this was the big opportunity for its Mexican counterpart, where one of the most beautiful casinos of the time was at once opened to allure the state-disciplined Americans over the border. Everywhere in Tijuana, bars, dance halls and places of entertainment of any kind sprang up like mushrooms and boomed immediately. Hundreds of Americans went south regularly for a pleasure-trip and spent the weekend gambling, dancing and having fun.

Who visits Tijuana today, comes to a soaring metropolis, which is particularly well-known for its shopping facilities and large-scale investment projects in the textile, electronics and food industries. The huge factories (maquiladores) of the multinationals take advantage of the low-cost, high-quality Mexican workforce. Tijuana has thus come to be considered, for instance, the world capital of TV set manufacture.

For the transient, visiting the Avenida Revolución is a good idea. A shopping paradise par excellence. Twelve blocks of handicraft and designer items from all over the world – silver jewelry, perfumes, leather articles, ceramics, spices and chilies, Mexican kitchen utensils, carpets, glass, chess games of onyx, at least 100 different kinds of tequila, and much more …

Tijuana often is only the starting point or the last stop of a trip through Baja California. If you take your time, there is a lot more you can discover. For example, the amusement park “Mundo Divertido” or the IMAX cinema of the Cultural Center of Tijuana with programs on the history and development of Mexico. Who likes betting, can do so in the sport arenas of the town for, e.g. Jay Alai (the fastest ball game in the world), greyhound racing or the controversial bullfights. Whatever you do in Tijuana, you should certainly not miss the excellent cuisine of the town; whether you prefer fresh fish, a juicy steak or traditional Mexican specialties – no culinary desire remains open in Tijuana.