It is the second most populous city in Mexico, with an estimated population of 1,640,000 people in 2004. The Guadalajara metropolitan area also includes the municipalities of Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Tlajomulco, and Ixtlahuacan. The estimated population of the metropolitan area was 3.7 million in 2000.
Guadalajara is known as La Perla del Occidente (Spanish for "Pearl of the West"), la Perla Tapatía ("tapatío" is an informal adjective of origin for people and things from Guadalajara) and, Ciudad de las Rosas. The city is also the birthplace of Mariachi music and Charreadas.
The name of the city originates from the Arabic Wad-al-hidjara, meaning "River Running Between Rocks". The city refers to itself as the Silicon Valley of Mexico. Such Silicon Valley companies as General Electric, IBM, Hitachi, and Hewlett Packard have facilities in the city or its suburbs.
Guadalajara is served by Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport.
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American Capital of Culture
Guadalajara is also famous for the great disaster of April 22, 1992, which took place in the downtown district of Analco. Numerous gas explosions in the sewer system during four hours destroyed kilometers of the streets, being the Gante street the one most damaged.
The first cause of the disaster was pipeline plated with zinc that was occluding in a humid environment with a steel gasoline pipeline. Both of them corroded, and gasoline leaked through the holes, right into the main sewer.
The second cause of the disaster was a U-shaped siphon in the sewer needed to duck under a recently built underground railway. The design allowed fluids to pass through, but also blocked the fumes. There should have been a siphon for the fumes passing over the underground railway.
Inhabitants were complaining for several days about a heavy gasoline smell, but despite the measurements and the imminent threat of explosion, the authorities refused to evacuate.
Officially 206 people were killed, nearly 500 injured and 15,000 were left homeless. The affected area can even be recognized by the more modern architecture, in sheer contrast with the surrounding area, with much older buildings.
Guadalajara is a site of major seismological activity with a high-scale earthquake occurring about every 80 years.