The Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea, as seen from the Space shuttle
. North is to the upper right. The US-Mexican border can be seen as a straight line near the bottom of the image.
The Imperial Valley is a region of southeastern Southern California (USA) and northern Baja California (Mexico).
It covers Imperial County, California, the Coachella Valley, the city of Mexicali in Baja California, and environs. (In Mexico this area of the Baja California peninsula is referred to as the Valle de Mexicali.) The Imperial Valley lies, in part, between the Colorado River and the Salton Sea, the state of California's largest lake. Major population centers are El Centro and Brawley in California, and the twin border towns of Calexico and Mexicali.
Spanish explorer Melchior Díaz was one of the first Europeans to visit the area in 1540, and probably sent at least scouting parties into the valley proper.
Although this region is a desert with high temperatures and low rainfall of three inches (75 mm) per year, the economy is heavily based on agriculture due to irrigation, primarily from the All-American Canal. A vast sytem of canals, dams, and pipelines carry the water all over the valley, a system which forms the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. The number of canal and pipeline branches number roughly over a hundred. Imported water and a long growing season allow two crop cycles each year, and the Imperial Valley is a major source of winter fruits and vegetables, cotton, and grain.
A secondary industry of the Imperial Valley region is tourism. Many visitors come to the area to visit the Salton Sea (California's largest inland lake, which serves as a dumpout point for the overflow of the IID canal system and ditch drainage) and the Glamis Sand Dunes. Another unique feature of the Imperial Valley is the New River, which flows from south to north, from Mexico to the Salton Sea. This attribute of the river is rare: the only major river that flows south to north is Nile river in Africa.
Imperial Valley is crossed by Interstate 8, and California State Highways 7, 78, 86, 98, 111, and 115.
- Maps and aerial photos
- Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=33.1&longitude=-115.5&zoom=5)
- Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=33.1&lon=-115.5&s=500&size=m&layer=DRG250)
- Aerial photograph from Terraserver (http://terraservice.net/map.aspx?t=1&s=16&lon=-115.5&lat=33.1&w=750&h=500)