San Diego, the seat of San Diego County and second largest city in California, is about 160 km (100 miles) south of Los Angeles and 20 km (12 miles) from the Mexican border. The city has a population of 1,220,666 (1998 est.), and metropolitan San Diego, 2,655,463 (1996 est.). The majority of the population is Anglo, but Chicano, Asian, and African American ethnic groups make up significant minority populations. The economy of the greater San Diego area is based on diversified industries, including shipbuilding and repairing, aerospace equipment, computers and electronic equipment, processed food, clothing, printing and publishing, chemicals, plastics, medical instruments, sporting goods, and communications. About a third of its manufactured products are exported. The deepwater harbor of San Diego Bay is the base for U.S. Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard operations, including Commander Naval Base San Diego. It is also the base for some commercial fishing.

Among the city's educational facilities are the University of San Diego (1949) and San Diego State University (1897) as well as the University of California San Diego (1912) in La Jolla. Several research facilities, including the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1903), are headquartered in and around the city. The city's cultural and recreational facilities and mild, dry climate have fostered a successful tourist industry. Places of interest include the San Diego Zoological Garden (in Balboa Park), Sea World, Mission San Diego de Alcalá (the oldest of California's Spanish missions), and Cabrillo National Monument, the site of Point Loma Lighthouse (1855). A boating center, San Diego was the site of the America's Cup yacht races from 1988 to 1995. The city is home to the Chargers (football) and Padres (baseball) professional sports teams.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542 and named it San Miguel. It was renamed San Diego in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno. On July 16, 1769, Gaspar de Portolá established a base for the exploration of California; on the same day Father Junípero Serra dedicated the first California Franciscan mission there. The town grew slowly under Mexican rule and was captured by U.S. forces in 1885. The present city was laid out in 1867 by Alonzo E. Horton. An 1870 gold strike and the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1885 assured San Diego's growth. In 1915 the city was the site of the Panama-California Exposition.

by Richard F. Logan