About León

This city’s full name is “León de los Aldama” and is located in the Center of Mexico, in the State of Guanajuato between the regions of Guanajuato’s Bajio and the Altos of Jalisco. It is the capital of the municipality of the same name and is known in Mexico as “Footwear Capital of the World” for its great production of leather goods and footwear. It is currently considered one of the regions with greatest development rate, where its people’s drive, creativity and work disposition are an essential part of its spirit. Historians indicate this area was originally populated in the XIII century when the Chichimeca (from San Luis Potosi) confronted the Purepecha for the control of this valley. Years later, the Spaniards arrived and Nuño de Guzman was the first to step on this municipality’s land on the 2nd of February 1530, calling it “Nuestra Señora”. By the mid XVI century, the Governor of Galicia, Vazquez de Coronado, granted various plots of land to his fellow countrymen Rodrigo de Vazquez and Juan de Jasso, thus beginning the agricultural and livestock colonization. Such colonization was more than an invasion of Chichimeca land, who in defense of their rights started a war against the Spanish invaders. The Spaniards feared the confrontation and requested from the Viceroyalty the foundation of a larger town for better protection. Consequently, on the 20th of January 1576, Don Juan Bautista de Orozco founded Villa de León in the Valley de Nuestra Señora, tracing it and establishing its City Council, thus completing the order given by Viceroy Martin Enriquez de Almanza. The name of León was given in honor of the Viceroy’s place of birth. After its foundation, the Spaniards decided to group the rebellious Indians in two nearby communities, Otomi in San Miguel, Purepecha, Mexica and peaceful Chichimeca at Coecillo. Those communities continued growing through the years and became recognized as towns. In the following years, Leon continued with great development and a growing population, originating in 1580 the category of Mayoralty, assigning a vast territory to its jurisdiction. Leon’s panorama kept improving through the years. However, some difficult episodes had to be faced by the villa’s dwellers during the colonial era, such as the plague of 1643, the terrible droughts of 1712 and 1714 and starvation periods (1714, 1786), and periodic floods, in 1787 the old Mayoralty of Leon became a sub-delegation dependant of Guanajuato. After the colonial era came Mexico’s independence and on the 4th of October 1810, Captain José Rafael de Iriarte arrived to Leon by mandate of Priest Hidalgo for promoting this region’s insurrection. As a reprisal, on December of that same year Felix Calleja arrived with his troops for calming the independence’s followers. Even though Mexico’s Independence was achieved that same year, struggles between independents and realists continued, until in 1817 “Fuerte del Sombrero” fell in the hands of realists. Once the Republic was established, in 1827 Leon became one of the four departments of the newly appointed State of Guanajuato and 3 years later, on July 2nd, León received the title of city by decree of the State Congress, naming it León de los Aldamas in honor of insurgents Ignacio and Juan Aldama. During the XIX century, this city consolidated its growth and development, of which we can highlight the following events: establishment of public lighting (1835), declaration of Virgen de la Luz as patron of León (1846), the towns of San Miguel and Coecillo were shown for the first time on a map as neighborhoods of León (1850), León becomes communicated with the capital by telegraph (1853), the appearance of Leon’s first newspaper (1855), among others. Today, the municipality’s territory includes little more than 1,880 squared kilometers (equivalent to 4% of the State’s surface) and has a population over 1,278,000 inhabitants (II Conteo de Población y Vivienda 2005), which places it as the municipality with greatest population in the State, concentrating a little more than 25% of the total population. From the municipality’s total population, it is known that 49% are men and 51% are women. Finally, regarding the main economic activities in the region we can highlight that its agriculture is mostly composed of potato, quince and alfalfa, livestock farming activity is of relative importance with mainly bovine and goats; there are currently 84 hotels with approximately 4,800 rooms in tourism infrastructure and historically the main industrial activity has been leather and footwear, although the diversification of this branch has recently increased.

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