El Paso, Tex.
El Paso, the sixth-largest city in Texas and the seat of El Paso County, is located in the far western part of the state on the north bank of the Rio Grande, opposite the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez on the south bank.
On April 30, 1598, Juan de Oñate took formal possession of the area for King Philip II of Spain. Subsequently he crossed the Rio Grande near a site west of present downtown El Paso, which he called “El Paso del Rio del Norte,” meaning the crossing of the river—the first use of the name “El Paso.” In 1659, the mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was founded on a site that is present-day downtown Ciudad Juárez; the mission is still in use today. In 1682, Spanish colonists from Mexico founded the settlement of Ysleta on the site of the present-day city. However, it wasn't until 1827 that the first permanent settlement at El Paso was established by Juan María Ponce de León. The city's real growth started with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1881. El Paso was incorporated as a city in 1873.
In 1888, Mexico changed the name of Paso del Norte to Ciudad Juárez in honor of Benito Juárez. Later, in 1967, the U.S. agreed to cede a long-disputed part of El Paso to Mexico due to changes in the course of the Rio Grande, which forms the international boundary between the two countries. El Paso and its sister city of Ciudad Juárez across the U.S./Mexico border are inexorably joined by culture and economy. El Paso and Juárez make up the largest international metroplex in the world.
El Paso is an important port of entry to the U.S. from Mexico. The high-technology, medical-device manufacturing, plastics, refining, automotive, food processing, and defense-related industries are important to the economy. El Paso's service sector has experienced healthy growth since the 1980s. El Paso is also a major tourist resort.
See also Encyclopedia: El Paso .
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