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La Paz, Baja California Sur

Coordinates: 24°08′32″N 110°18′39″W / 24.14222°N 110.31083°W / 24.14222; -110.31083
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La Paz
Top: La Paz coastline; middle: Old City Hall (left) and Balandra Beach (right); bottom: Perla de la Paz monument (left) and Our Lady of Peace Cathedral (right).
Coat of arms of La Paz
La Paz is located in Baja California Sur
La Paz
La Paz
Location of La Paz in Baja California Sur
La Paz is located in Mexico
La Paz
La Paz
Location of La Paz in Mexico
Coordinates: 24°08′32″N 110°18′39″W / 24.14222°N 110.31083°W / 24.14222; -110.31083
StateBaja California Sur
MunicipalityLa Paz
Founded3 May 1535[2]
named La Paz1596
 • Municipal presidentMilena Paola Quiroga Romero (MORENA)
27 m (89 ft)
 • Total250,141[1]
 Data source: INEGI
Time zoneUTC−07:00 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−06:00 (MDT)
Source: Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México

La Paz (pronounced [la ˈpas] , English: Peace) is the capital city and the largest city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The city had a 2020 census population of 250,141 inhabitants,[1] making it the most populous city in the state. It is in La Paz Municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size and reported a population of 292,241 inhabitants on a land area of 20,275 km2 (7,828 sq mi).[3]

La Paz is served by the Manuel Márquez de León International Airport with flights to Mexico's three largest cities, cities across Northwest Mexico, and seasonal service to American Airlines hubs Dallas and Phoenix. Two ferry services operate from the port of Pichilingue outside the city, connecting the Baja California peninsula to the mainland at Mazatlán and Topolobampo, near Los Mochis.



Spanish discovery

La Paz as an ancient Spanish-built port in 1632
Old City Hall, currently still in use for various Government purposes
Beach docks in 1889
Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, built in 1865

The first European known to have landed in Baja California was Fortún Ximénez.[4] In 1533, shortly after the conquest of Tenochtitlan, Hernán Cortés sent two ships, Concepción, under the command of captain and commander of the expedition, Diego de Becerra [es], and San Lázaro under Capt. Hernando de Grijalva, to explore the South Seas of the Pacific Ocean. The ships set out 30 November 1533, to travel north along the coast of New Spain from present-day Manzanillo, Colima, in search of two ships that had been lost without a trace on a similar voyage the previous year. By 20 December the ships had separated; San Lázaro, which had gone ahead, waited three days for Concepción and after no sighting of its companion vessel, Capt. Grijalva dedicated himself to exploring the region and discovered the Revillagigedo Islands. On board the Concepción, Ximénez, the navigator and second in command, led a revolt in which Capt. Becerra was killed in his sleep by Ximénez. Also the crewmen loyal to the murdered captain were attacked and later rebel sailors abandoned both the wounded navigators and the Franciscan friars accompanying the expedition on the coast of present-day Michoacán.

Ximénez sailed to the northwest following the coast and at some point turned west and reached a bay that is now the port of the city of La Paz. Ximénez thought that he had found an island, and never knew that it was a large peninsula. There he met natives who wore few clothes and spoke an unknown language; their culture was very different from that of the inhabitants of the Mexican highlands. The crews of his ships saw the “scantily-clad” women and raped them. The Spaniards soon became aware of the large pearls that the natives extracted from the pearl oysters abounding in the bay, and proceeded to plunder the people and rape the women.[2]

The abuse of the Indian women by the crew and their looting caused a violent confrontation with the natives that ended in the deaths of Ximénez and some of his companions;[2] the survivors withdrew, and sailed erratically for several days until they reached the shores of the present-day Jalisco, where they encountered a subaltern of Nuño de Guzmán, who requisitioned the ship and took them prisoner.

Hernán Cortés arrival in California


Having sponsored two exploratory voyages in the South Seas just with some giant pearls samples, Cortés decided to lead a third exploration himself. Annoyed that his enemy, Nuño de Guzmán, had requisitioned one of his ships during the first expedition, Cortés decided to confront Guzmán on his own ground and from there set up the third expedition; consequently he prepared a large force of infantry and cavalry to march on the province of New Galicia (Nueva Galicia), of which Guzmán was governor.

The viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, warned Cortés on 4 September 1534, "not to confront he who had requisitioned his ships", a warning which Hernán Cortés ignored, claiming that he had been designated to conquer and discover new territories, and that he had spent more than 100 thousand gold ducats of his own fortune. The feared confrontation between the armies of Cortés and Nuño de Guzmán did not occur.

In Chametla, (Sinaloa), after crossing the present-day states of Jalisco and Nayarit, territory then known as part of New Galicia, Cortés and his entourage embarked the ships Santa Águeda and San Lázaro with 113 crewmen and 40 cavalrymen with their horses and gear, leaving 60 riders on land, as reported to the Real Audiencia and Governor Nuño de Guzmán. Cortés then sailed northwest, and on 3 May 1535 arrived at the bay he named Bahia de la Santa Cruz (Bay of Santa Cruz), currently the port of La Paz,[2] where he confirmed the death of his subordinate, Fortún Ximénez, at the hands of the natives. Once Cortés had taken possession of the bay, he decided to establish a colony and summoned the soldiers and arms he had left in Sinaloa. The transport ships were lost in a storm, however, and only one ship, carrying a load of fifty bushels of corn, returned. This was insufficient to feed the population, so Cortés left to personally secure food, but was unable to procure enough, so he decided to return to New Spain with the intention of supplying the new colony from there.

Francisco de Ulloa was in command of the town of La Paz, but complaints by relatives of those who had stayed on the peninsula caused the viceroy to order the population to abandon the colony and return to New Spain. Following the failure of Cortés' third expedition to establish a colony in the newly discovered lands that belonged to him by royal decree, an enemy of Cortés, whom a writer of the time cites as Alarcón, applied the name "California," drawn from a contemporary novel, to the abandoned territory, perhaps in order to insult Cortés.[5][6] The Baja California peninsula, the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), and the states of California, Baja California and Baja California Sur, bear the name today.

From 10 January 1854, to 8 May 1854, La Paz served as the capital of William Walker's Republic of Sonora. The project collapsed due to lack of US support and pressure from the Mexican government to retake the region.


Typical La Paz monolith

La Paz is located on the Baja California peninsula on the Bay of La Paz, 210 kilometres (130 mi) south of Ciudad Constitución, municipality of Comondú, and 202 kilometres (126 mi) north of Cabo San Lucas, municipality of Los Cabos. It is located 81 kilometres (50 mi) north of the town of Todos Santos. Its geographical coordinates are 24°08′32″ N and parallel 110°18′39″W, it has an altitude of 0 to 27 meters above the sea level. It is one of the three state capitals of Mexico that are on the coast of the sea.


The Bay of La Paz, as seen from the International Space Station. El Mogote peninsula is visible to the center left.

La Paz has a subtropical desert climate (BWh). The climate of La Paz is relatively consistent with generally little rainfall, with a year around average temperature of between 17 and 30 °C (63 and 86 °F). Summer months (July–September) typically see highs between 34 and 36 °C (93 and 97 °F) and dew points of 21–23 °C (70–73 °F).[7] The winter months (December–February) are the coldest with temperatures dropping below 15 °C (59 °F) at night, but cold mostly are from 20 to 25 °C (68 to 77 °F). Breezes from Bahía de La Paz moderate the temperature. The bay also acts as a barrier against seasonal storms in the Gulf of California.

Rainfall is minimal at most times of year, although erratic downpours can bring heavy rains. Rain tends to be concentrated in a short, slightly rainier season that peaks in August and September, following the pattern of the North American Monsoon. The driest season, where it is common to have no rain, occurs March through June. La Paz averages over 300 days of sunshine annually and an average of 3148 sunshine hours.

During the summer the cooling Coromuel winds, a weather phenomenon unique to the La Paz area, blow during the night from the Pacific over the Peninsula and into the Bay of La Paz.

As with most of the Gulf of California, the temperature of the water changes substantially over the course of the year, with temperatures around 68 °F (20 °C) during winter and around 85 °F (29 °C) during summer.[8][9][10][11]

Cardons (P. pringlei) in La Paz outskirts
Climate data for La Paz (1951–2010, extremes 1940–2017)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.2
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 23.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.2
Record low °C (°F) 2.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 14.2
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 1.8 1.1 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.2 2.1 4.1 4.1 1.5 0.8 1.8 18.2
Average relative humidity (%) 67.2 64.1 60.6 57.4 60.0 63.2 66.4 66.9 72.6 71.2 70.4 70.5 65.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 220.7 230.9 274.0 292.9 323.2 308.2 290.1 252.0 244.9 255.8 225.1 194.9 3,112.6
Source: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional,[12][13] World Meteorological Organization (relative humidity and sun 1981–2010)[14]
Average Sea Temperature
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
68 °F
20 °C
66 °F
19 °C
68 °F
20 °C
72 °F
22 °C
75 °F
24 °C
79 °F
26 °C
82 °F
28 °C
84 °F
29 °C
86 °F
30 °C
84 °F
29 °C
79 °F
26 °C
72 °F
22 °C


Whale shark snorkeling at La Paz Bay

The population of La Paz has grown greatly since the 2000s.

Eco-tourism is by far the most important source of tourism income in La Paz. Tourists also visit the city's balnearios. There are some 900 islands and inlets in the Gulf of California with 244 now under UNESCO protection as World Heritage Bio-Reserves and the Isla Espíritu Santo group, which borders the northeast portion of the Bay of La Paz, the primary tourist destination of the area.

Industries include silver mining, agriculture, fishing and pearls. Tourism is also an important source of employment for this coastal community.

Now defunct Aero California airline, had its headquarters in La Paz.[15]


Manuel Márquez de León International Airport

La Paz is served by Manuel Márquez de León International Airport with flights to Mexico's 3 largest cities and the main cities of northwest Mexico on Aeroméxico Connect, Volaris, VivaAerobus, Calafia and TAR airlines; and American Airlines seasonal service to its hubs in Dallas and Phoenix. Two ferry services operate from the port of Pichilingue outside the city, connecting the Baja California peninsula to the mainland at Mazatlán and Topolobampo, near Los Mochis.



Running along the coast in front of La Paz is 5 km (3.1 mi) long Malecon Road. The main purpose of this road is to allow easy movement across the city. However, it quickly became the focal point of tourist related activities with a large number of bars, restaurants and shops opening along its length. Since 2004 extensive development has taken place which included a large sidewalk which offers safety for large numbers of people to walk along the coastal front of La Paz.

In September 2011, a bicycle lane was added to Malecon Road, providing cyclists protection from cars and pedestrians.

La Paz is served mainly by two highways; Mexican Federal Highway 1 that links the south of the state from Cabo San Lucas to the north of the peninsula to Tijuana, and Mexican Federal Highway 19, that connects La Paz with the population of the south pacific towns such as Todos Santos and El Pescadero. It is also served by two secondary roads, the Los Planes highway (286) that connects La Paz with towns such as La Ventana, Ensenada de los Muertos and Los Planes. The other is the Pichilingue highway which links La Paz with its maritime port.


Machaca, a local dish served for breakfast

Local specialties are characterized by seafood dishes, especially of lobster, sole, clams and shrimp. Oregano is frequently used as a spice, and damiana, an ingredient in a traditional liqueur, is widely regarded as an aphrodisiac and brewed as a tea.

Regional cuisine also includes traditional dishes such as machaca, made from beef that has been well-cooked, shredded, and then cooked in its own juices, fresh cheeses and the typical flour tortillas. Abundantly available clams are prepared in various ways such as pickling, breading and frying, or stuffing. Shrimp are plentiful also, and eaten grilled, fried, or baked as in the regional specialty, filete imperial de camarones. Other popular seafood dishes include callo garra de león, made with scallops, fish tatemado, and ceviche.

Regional sweets are represented by fruits such as guava, mango and pitaya, green papaya and fig in syrup, as well as dehydrated regional fruits such as white fig and mango. Cheese empanadas (empanadas de queso) and empanadas made with sweet beans are also popular.


Aerial view towards south La Paz

The city had a 2020 census population of 250,141 inhabitants,[1] making it the most populous city in the state. Its metropolitan population is somewhat larger because of surrounding towns, such as El Centenario (pop. 6,068), Chametla (pop. 1,731 as of 2010) and San Pedro. Its surrounding municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size, reported a population of 290,286 inhabitants.

Historical population
1960 24,253—    
1970 —    
1980 —    
1990 136,759—    
1995 154,314+12.8%
2000 162,954+5.6%
2005 189,178+16.1%
2010 215,178+13.7%
2015 244,219+13.5%



La Paz is the state capital and center of commerce, as well as the home of the three leading marine biology institutes in Latin America (UABCS, CIBNOR & CICIMAR), largely because it sits on the Gulf of California, which is home to exceptional marine biodiversity. It also supports several other university-level institutes of learning, such as the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur.

La Paz is the headquarters of several higher education centers, the main ones being:

  • Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur (UABCS)
  • Universidad Tecnológica de La Paz (UTLP)
  • Instituto Tecnológico de La Paz (ITLP)
  • Universidad Mundial (UM)
  • Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR)
  • Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR)
  • Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) Campus La Paz
  • Benemérita Escuela Normal Urbana Prof. Domingo Carballo Félix (BENU)
  • Escuela Normal Superior del Estado de Baja California Sur (ENSBCS)
  • Universidad Internacional de La Paz (UNIPAZ)
  • Universidad de Tijuana Campus La Paz (CUT)
  • Tecnológico de Baja California
  • Universidad Católica Campus La Paz
  • Universidad del Desarrollo Profesional (UNIDEP) Plantel La Paz
  • Universidad Intercontinental
  • Instituto Mar de Cortés
  • Instituto Cultural Tecnológico Cuincacalli (ICTEC)
  • Centro de Capacitación para el Trabajo Industrial (CECATI 39)
  • Escuela Superior de Cultura Física para Baja California Sur (ESCUFI)



La Paz has several medical centers; the Secretariat of Health operates the Juan María de Salvatierra general hospital, which has medical specialists and an exclusive area for pediatric oncology, as well as a unit that provides medical care under the national health insurance program, as well as a hemodialysis unit, a blood bank, a mental health division, health centers and other units. The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) provides a family clinic and an ambulatory medical unit in which ambulatory surgeries are performed. There is also a new ISSSTE hospital, the Naval Sanatorium, and the Secretariat of National Defense hospital, which offers external consultation services, hospitalization and medical specialists.

Reflecting high national rates, there are similarly high local rates of diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, and renal insufficiency, as well as of automobile accidents resulting in injury, despite public health dissemination programs and driver education programs.

According to the Baja California Sur State Development Plan 2005-2011, during 2006 there were 24 deaths due to cervical cancer in the state. The health sector seeks to reduce cervical cancer mortality by providing timely treatment to women aged 25 to 64 years, and improving the efficiency of diagnostic laboratories and the monitoring of patients.

As of 1 March 2021, the municipality reported 11,558 recoveries, 577 active cases, and 436 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico.[18]


John Steinbeck visited La Paz in 1940. He describes the town in his 1947 novel The Pearl and mentions it extensively in his 1951 travelogue The Log from the Sea of Cortez.[19]

The city is also the setting of the 1967 Scott O'Dell children's novel The Black Pearl, chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1968;[20] La Paz is the home of the main character.

Sister cities


See also



  1. ^ a b c "INEGI. Censo de Población y Vivienda 2020. Tabulados del Cuestionario Básico – Baja California Sur" [INEGI. 2020 Population and Housing Census. Basic Questionnaire Tabulations – Baja California Sur] (Excel) (in Spanish). INEGI. 2020. pp. 1–4. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Historia". State of Baja California Sur. Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  3. ^ (in Spanish) Los Municipios con Mayor y Menor Extensión Territorial Archived 3 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Instituto Nacional Para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal, SEGOB (Mexico.) Accessed 15 February 2008.
  4. ^ "Baja California Sur". History Channel. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  5. ^ Descubrimientos y Exploraciones en las Costas de California 1532–1650 ("Discoveries and Explorations on the Coasts of California 1532–1650", Madrid, 1947; 2ª edición 1982, pp. 113–141): relevant passage quoted and cited at Etimología de California on etimologias.dechile.net. Retrieved 1 April 2006.
  6. ^ Primeras Exploraciones Archived 15 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine ("First explorations") on Portal Ciudadano de Baja California, on the official site of the Baja California state government. Retrieved 1 April 2006.
  7. ^ "La Paz, Baja California Sur Travel Weather Averages". Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  8. ^ "The Gulf of California - A Physical, Geological and Biological Study" By Rebekah K. Nix
  9. ^ "Submarinismo en Riviera Maya Cozumel, Buceo en cuevas, Buceo con tiburones toro y ballena, Buceo en cenotes". Archived from the original on 21 December 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  10. ^ Aragón-Noriega, E. Alberto (August 2007). "Coupling the reproductive period of blue shrimp Litopenaeus stylirostris Stimpson, 1874 (Decapoda: Penaeidae) and sea surface temperature in the Gulf of California" (PDF). Revista de Biología Marina y Oceanografía. 42 (2): 167–175 – via Universidad de Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile.
  11. ^ Ltd, Copyright Global Sea Temperatures - A-Connect. "La Paz Sea Temperature January Average, Mexico - Sea Temperatures". World Sea Temperatures. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Estado de Baja California Sur-Estacion: La Paz (DGE)". Normales Climatologicas 1951–2010 (in Spanish). Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Extreme Temperatures and Precipitation for La Paz (DGE)" (in Spanish). Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  14. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1981–2010". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 15 October 2021. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 27 March 2007. p. 46.
  16. ^ "MEXICO: Baja California Sur". Citypopulation.de. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Página no encontrada". Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Coronavirus – Baja California Sur Situation Report – Información de Coronavirus". coronavirus.bcs.gob.mx (in Spanish). Gobierno de Baja California Sur. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  19. ^ Steinbeck, John (2000). The Log from the Sea of Cortez. London: Penguin. pp. 84–105. ISBN 978-0-14-118607-8.
  20. ^ Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present Archived 18 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine, ALSC, American Library Association. Accessed on line 15-II-2008.

Further reading