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The Economic Evolution of the Imperial (U.S.A.) and Mexicali (Mexico) Valleys

Raul Fernandez


This investigation focuses on the historical development of two contiguous agricultural regions: the Imperial Valley in California (U.S.A.) and the Mexicali Valley in Baja California-Norte (Mexico) . Economic development in this area in the twentieth century indicates that interdependence between the economies of the United States and Mexico is not a recent phenomenon. Contemporary growth of the region has been largely integrated and simultaneous, although the U.S.-Mexico border zone as a whole has experienced uneven economic development over both space and time. The Imperial-Mexicali area in particular manifested rapid agricultural growth in the pre-World War II years. This change predated by decades the growth of industry in urban centers along the border which captured the attention of scholars in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although the area interests border scholars, geographers and others, no one has sufficiently studied it. In what follows I use an interdisciplinary approach - borrowing from regional geography, cultural anthropology, agricultural economics and political science - to point out the specificity of the area as a subregion of the border zone. As the integration of the economies of North America proceeds apace, it is important to evaluate the long-term "silent" integration of the Imperial-Mexicali area from the turn of the century onward.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229