Guadalajara is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, and the seat of the municipality of Guadalajara. The city is located in the central region of Jalisco in the western-pacific area of Mexico. With a population of 1,564,514 it is Mexico’s second most populous municipality. The Guadalajara Metropolitan Area includes seven adjacent municipalities with a reported population of 4,328,584 in 2009, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Mexico, behind Mexico City. The municipality is the second most densely populated one in Mexico; the first being Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl in State of Mexico.
Guadalajara is the 10th largest city in Latin America in terms of population, urban area and gross domestic product. The city is named after the Spanish city of Guadalajara, which came from the Andalusian Arabic name wād(i) l-ḥijāra (واد الحجارة or وادي الحجارة), the literal translation of the Iberian Arriaca, meaning “river/valley of stones”.
The city’s economy is based on industry, especially information technology, with a large number of international firms having manufacturing facilities in the Guadalajara Metro Area. Other, more traditional industries, such as shoes, textiles and food processing are also important contributing factors. Guadalajara is a cultural center of Mexico, considered by most to be the home of mariachi music and host to a number of large-scale cultural events such as the International Film Festival of Guadalajara and the Guadalajara International Book Fair and a number of globally renowned cultural events which draw international crowds. It is also home to the Guadalajara association football club, one of the most popular soccer teams in Mexico. This city was named the American Capital of Culture for 2005. Guadalajara also hosted the 2011 Pan American Games.
Guadalajara is the cultural center of western Mexico and the second most important cultural center in the country. It is nicknamed the “Pearl of the West.” While it is a modern city, it has kept many of the rural traditions of Jalisco, such as mariachi and a strong sense of Catholicism. Cultural tourism is one of the most important economic activities, especially in the historic center. Guadalajara is a center of learning with six universities, two culinary institutes and a thriving art scene. Guadalajara has twenty two museums, which include the Regional Museum of Jalisco, the Wax Museum, the Trompo Mágico children’s museum and the Museum of Anthropology. The Hospicio Cabañas in the historic center is a World Heritage Site. For these attributes and others, the city was named an American Capital of Culture in 2005.
This city has been the cradle and dwelling of distinguished poets, writers, painters, actors, film directors and representatives of the arts, etc., such as: José Clemente Orozco, Dr. Atl, Roberto Montenegro, Alejandro Zohn, Luis Barragán, Carlos Orozco Romero, Federico Fabregat, Raul Anguiano, Juan Soriano, Javier Campos Cabello, Martha Pacheco, Alejandro Colunga, José Fors, Juan Kraeppellin, Davis Birks, Carlos Vargas Pons, Jis, Trino, Erandini, Enrique Oroz, Rubén Méndez, Mauricio Toussaint, Scott Neri, Paula Santiago, Edgar Cobian, L.Felipe Manzano, and (the artist formerly known as Mevna); The freeplay guitarist and music composer for the movies El Mariachi and The Legend of Zorro, Paco Renteria; important exponents of Literature such as: Juan Rulfo, Francisco Rojas, Agustín Yáñez, Elías Nandino, Idella Purnell, Jorge Souza, among others; classic repertoire composers like Gonzalo Curiel, José Pablo Moncayo, Antonio Navarro, Ricardo Zohn, Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez and Gabriel Pareyon; film directors like Felipe Cazals, Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, Erik Stahl, Guillermo del Toro and actors like Katy Jurado, Enrique Alvarez Felix, and Gael García Bernal.
The events of this festival take place in a number of venues all over the metropolitan area and includes a parade with floats. In August 2009, 542 mariachi musicians played together for a little over ten minutes to break the world’s record for largest mariachi group. The musicians played various songs ending with two classic Mexican songs “Cielito Lindo” and “Guadalajara.” The feat was performed during the XVI Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi y la Charreria. The prior record was 520 musicians in 2007 in San Antonio, Texas. In the historic center of the city is the Plaza de los Mariachis, named such as many groups play here. The plaza is being renovated for the 2011 Pan American Games in anticipation of the crowds that will visit the city. Over 750 mariachi musicians play traditional melodies on the plaza, and along with the restaurants and other businesses, the plaza supports more than 830 families. A recent innovation has been the fusion of mariachi melodies and instruments with rock and roll performed by rock musicians in the Guadalajara area. An album collecting a number of these melodies was produced called “Mariachi Rock-O.” There are plans to take these bands on tour in Mexico, the United States and Europe.
In addition to mariachi, the city is home to a renowned symphony orchestra. The Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco (Jalisco Philarmonic Orchestra) was founded by José Rolón in 1915. It held concerts from that time until 1924, when state funding was lost. However, the musicians kept playing to keep the orchestra alive. This eventually caught the attention of authorities and funding was restated in 1939. Private funding started in the 1940s and in 1950, an organization called Conciertos Guadalajara A. C. was formed to continue fundraising for the orchestra. In 1971, the orchestra became affiliated with the Department of Fine Arts of the State of Jalisco. The current name was adopted in 1988, as it became the orchestra for the state, not just the city of Guadalajara although it remains based here. International soloists such as Paul Badura-Skoda, Claudio Arrau, Jörg Demus, Henryck Szeryng, Nicanor Zabaleta, Plácido Domingo, Kurt Rydl and Alfred Brendel have performed with the organization. Today the orchestra is under the direction of Héctor Guzmán.
The city is also host to several dance and ballet companies such as the Chamber Ballet of Jalisco, the Folkloric Ballet of the University of Guadalajara, and University of Guadalajara Contemporary Ballet.
Guadalajara is also known for several large cultural festivals. The International Film Festival of Guadalajara is a yearly event which happens in March. It mostly focuses on Mexican and Latin American films; however films from all over the world are shown. The event is sponsored by the Universidad de Guadalajara, CONACULTA, the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematographía as well as the governments of the cities of Guadalajara and Zapopan. The 2009 festival had over 200 films shown in more than 16 theatres and open-air forums, such as the inflatable screens set up in places such as Chapultepec, La Rambla Cataluña and La Minerva. In that year, the event gave out awards totaling 500,000 USD. The event attracts names such as Mexican actor Guillermo del Toro, Greek director Constantin Costa-Gavras, Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and U.S. actor Edward James Olmos.
The Guadalajara International Book Fair is the largest Spanish language book fair in the world held each year over nine days at the Expo Guadalajara. Over 300 publishing firms from 35 different countries regularly attend, demonstrating the most recent productions in books, videos and new communications technologies. The event awards prizes such as the Premio FIL for literature, the Premio de Literatura Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, also for literature, and the Reconocimento al Mérito Editorial for publishing houses. There is an extensive exposition of books and other materials in Spanish, Portuguese and English, covering academia, culture, the arts and more for sale. More than 350,000 people attend from Mexico and abroad. In 2009, Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk, German children’s author Cornelia Funke and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa participated along with about 500 other authors present. Activities include book presentations, academic talks, forums, and events for children.
The Festival Cultural de Mayo (May Cultural Festival) began in 1988. In 2009, the event celebrated the 400th anniversary of relations between Mexico and Japan, with many performances and exhibitions relation to Japanese culture. The 2009 festival featured 358 artists in 118 activities. Each year a different country is “invited”. Past guests have been Germany (2008), Mexico (2007), Spain (2006) and Austria (2005). France is the 2013 guest.
Despite the Guadalajara area historically being an ethnically Caxcan region, the Nahua peoples form the majority of Guadalajara’s indigenous population. There are several thousand indigenous language speakers in Guadalajara although the majority of the indigenous population is integrated within the general population and can speak Spanish.