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Ciudad Juárez

Ciudad Juárez (1990 population 789,522) is a city in Chihuahua, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. It is the major port of entry and transportation center of North Central Mexico. It is a growing industrial center, with numerous maquiladoras (assembly plants).

Juárez was founded as El Paso del Norte (the pass of the north) in 1659 by Spanish explorers, seeking a route through the southern Rocky Mountains. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe established the Rio Grande as the border between Mexico and the United States, separating settlements on the north bank of the river from the rest of the town. During the French Intervention in Mexico (1862-1867), El Paso del Norte served as a temporary capital of Benito Juárez's republican forces. In 1888, El Paso del Norte was renamed to honor Juárez.

Juárez again served as a provisional Mexican capital during the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution, when forces loyal to opposition candidate Francisco Madero, led by Pancho Villa, seized the city (Nov. 20, 1910). The scene of intense fighting for a decade, Juárez recovered during the United States Prohibition era (1919-1933) as an entertainment center. Juárez continued to attract American tourists from the southwest during the 1940s and 1950s with its bars, nightclubs, bullfighting, and shopping.

Juárez has grown substantially in recent decades, and now has extensive areas of slum housing. Juárez has gained further notoriety as a major center of narcotics trafficking, and for a large number of unsolved murders of young women since the early 1990s. As a result, Juárez has declined as a center of tourism, and now functions mostly as a industrial and commercial center.

See also: Deaths in Ciudad Juárez.