Mexicali (also known informally as Chicali) is a city in Baja California, Mexico. It is the capital of the state of Baja California, and is located immediately across the border from Calexico in California. While cool throughout the rest of the year, visitors can expect a very hot climate during the summer months with average high temperatures ranging from 101 ºF to 108ºF (38° to 42°C). Mexicali has a population of around 1 million people according to the last census, although it is believed that the number is now closer to 1.5 million. The city has grown from a small border town to a modern city with a sizable middle class and an even bigger upper class. The standard of living is the highest in Mexico. It is recognized in Mexico for its sizable investment in education and low unemployment. It is a progressive city with main industry that has gone from agricultural to industrial. Its proximity to the United States has made it a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers. Recent violence has curtailed that traffic, however.
Mexicali has 14 boroughs, which are comprised of 1 city municipal seat and 13 other boroughs which are in the valley area. The city seat can be further divided by colonias and fraccionamientos.
Economically, a growing middle class disposable income has fueled Mexicali’s transformation into a modern city with a vibrant culture, a characteristic that has attracted many national and international businesses which had largely ignored the city before and had turned to Tijuana. Aside from the middle class, in Mexicali you can expect to find areas filled with very rich people. Mexicali is considered among the most prosperous cities in Mexico, although US tourists can observe the level of poverty in rural villages surrounding the modern, upper-middle class enclave of Mexicali proper. The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 that eliminated most trade restrictions between the two nations offers Mexicali an economic boom in the next decade. Mexicali is a transit point for illegal immigration into the United States, as well as a common destination for any illegal Mexican immigrants deported from the West Coast of the United States. As such, some areas are swollen with poor people with no roots in the city, who inhabit shantytowns, mainly in the outskirts of the city. Apart from these poor migrants, Mexicali is one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico. Some areas of the city reflect the significant number of wealthy people who inhabit the city, in areas such as San Pedro, Villafontana, and Col Nueva.
Mexicali’s growing reputation as a cosmopolitan city is justified. Not only is the city home to many people who have migrated from within the same country, as well as some native Mexican Indians, but it boasts an important amount of Asian residents (especially Chinese), as well as Americans, Europeans, and South Americans. Informally, Mexicali natives are known as Cachanillas (similar demonyms include “Chilango” for those from Mexico City).
Mexicali is known mainly as a business and industry town, but has an excellent reputation for hospitality and tourism in the country.
Mexicali is known as “the city that captured the sun”. Its residents frequently joke regarding its extreme heat during the summer, reaching record desert temperatures. Mexicali’s primary newspapers are La Voz de la Frontera and La Cronica de Baja California. It is served by three television stations (Televisa [with 4 analog and 2 digital signals], TV Azteca [2 analog and 2 digital signals] and Canal Once) along with the television stations in the United States in the Imperial County market (NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, CW, MNTV, Univision, Telemundo, and Telefutura).
While the Mexican peso (M$) is the legal currency, US dollars are widely accepted. Mexicali observes daylight savings time (DST) and is in the Pacific Time Zone the same way as the USA.