San Diego is the ninth largest city in the United States and is the second largest city in the state of California. It is situated on the west coast of the country along the Pacific Ocean. This coastal city covers an area of three hundred and seventy square miles and has a population of one million and two hundred thousand people.
The area on which San Diego stands has had human habitation for over ten thousand years and was home to a Native American tribe called the Kumeyaay. The first European visitor to this area was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who sailed under the Spanish Flag. In the early sixteenth century Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the bay in the name of the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the coast and survey the harbor. Upon arriving, he renamed the city San Diego after the collequial name of Spanish Saint Didacus.
Late in the eighteenth century, Gaspar de Portola erected Fort Presidio. Also during this time Fanciscan friars established Mission San Diego de Alcala. In 1850, California was admitted as a state of the United States of America. That same year San Diego was incorporated as a city. Today, the city of San Diego has a prosperous economy that is based mainly on defense, manufacturing and tourism. Defense accounts for the biggest portion of the economic pie, mainly because of the port which host several shipbuilding and submarine yards. It is also due to the fact that the largest naval fleet in the world is stationed here. San Diego is also home to major defense contractors which include Science Applications International Corporation and General Atomics.
Some very large corporations have their headquarters based in San Diego. These include American Technology Corporation, Envision Solar, Sempra Energy, Sony Electronics Inc., First Community Bancorp, Jack in the Box, Harcourt Trade Publishers, Cricket Communications and Mail Boxes Etc. Tourism in the city is due to its beautiful beaches and attractions.
A main attraction in the city is Balboa Park. This park was founded in 1868 and was named after Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa. This park is considered to be one of the oldest areas in the country for public recreation. It contains beautiful, lush vegetation and open areas, but is also home to several attractions. Some of these include the San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, the Natural History Museum and the Timken Museum of Art.
One of the most popular attractions in the city is the San Diego Zoo. This is one of the biggest zoos in the world and features eight thousand animals taken from over eight hundred species. Transportation through the zoo is available by various methods. These include bus tours and a gondola lift named the Skyfari. The zoo’s exhibits are habitat driven with many different types of animals sharing the same enviroment, as they would do naturally in the wild. Exhibits include African rain forest and Arctic tundra. The zoo also contains huge aviares that contain many different species of birds. The zoo also features an Arboretum. Another attraction in San Diego is SeaWorld. SeaWorld was opened in 1964 and was the first SeaWorld to open in the United States. It features orcas, dolphins and sea lions, plus many exhibits dedicated to other marine animals. The park has many shows which include the Shamu show and Clyde and Seamore’s Risky Rescue. It also features rides and various other exhibits.
The San Diego Wild Animal Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Southern California and enjoys over two million visitors each year. This park houses a variety of animals in a free range environment. Animals included here come from all parts of the world including North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Australia. Visitors here can expect to see cheetahs, antelopes, lions, giraffes, okapis, elephants, zebras, Przewalski’s horses, rhinos and California condors. The park covers an area of over eighteen hundred acres and it contains over three thousand animals from over four hundred species. The park also has botanical gardens, a hot air balloon ride that gives a fantastic view of the park and the largest veterinary hospital in the world.
A popular museum in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. The USS Midway was an aircraft carrier that actively served in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. Visitors can take a tour of the flight deck, hangar deck, flight control, the ships bridge, and the officer’s and enlisted men’s quarters. Also visitors can check out the restored World War II planes which are located on the flight deck. The San Diego-Coronado Bridge is another site not to be missed while visiting San Diego. As the name implies, this bridge connects San Diego with the city of Coronado. This bridge is over eleven thousand feet long and at its maximum pinnacle reaches a height of over two hundred feet.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is located in downtown San Diego and is dedicated to the display and preservation of modern art. This museum was originally founded in 1941 as The Art Center in La Jolla, as a community arts center. Around 1970, the name of the museum was changed to La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and it was refocused on works of modern art. In 1990, the name was again changed and it became known as The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.