La Paz (Spanish pronunciation: [la ˈpas], The Peace) is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial center. The city had a 2010 census population of 215,178 persons, but its metropolitan population is somewhat larger because of surrounding towns like El Centenario, El Zacatal and San Pedro. Its surrounding municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size, reported a population of 251,871 persons living on a land area of 20,275 km2 (7,828 sq mi).
La Paz was first inhabited by Neolithic hunter-gatherers at least 10,000 years ago who left traces of their existence in the form of rock paintings near the city and throughout the Baja peninsula. On May 3, 1535, Hernán Cortés arrived in the bay by La Paz and named it Santa Cruz; he attempted to start a colony but abandoned his efforts after several years due to logistical problems. In 1596 Sebastián Vizcaíno arrived, giving the area its modern name, La Paz. From January 10, 1854 to May 8, 1854 it 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. La Paz is featured in the John Steinbeck novel The Pearl (1947) and mentioned extensively in his travelogue The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). The city is also the setting of the children's novel The Black Pearl (1967) by Scott O'Dell, chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1968.
La Paz has an arid climate. The climate of La Paz is typically dry, warm and sunny with a year around average of between 23C-25C(75F-77F). Summer months (July-September) are often in the 30C’s(90F's) and can be humid. The winter months (December-February) are the coldest with temperatures dropping below 15C(60F), but mostly in the low 20’sC(68-75F). Breezes from Bahía de La Paz keep the temperature mild. The bay also acts as a barrier against seasonal storms in the Sea of Cortez. Rainfall is minimal, although infrequent downpours can bring heavy rains. La Paz averages over 300 days of sunshine annually. 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.
The population of La Paz has grown greatly from the 2000 census and now stands at 215,178 people. This growth is largely because the city enjoys one of the highest standards of living and quality of life in Mexico, with average wages in the range of $27 USD per day, whereas minimum wages in the country overall stand at closer to $4.25 USD per day. Many of the poorer southern Mexican States' workers often have to work for half of that. For this reason many migrate to La Paz, and other areas in Baja California Sur, to enjoy a better life without leaving the country and still be able to remit portions of their incomes to their families in their home states. Eco-tourism is by far the most important source of tourism income in La Paz as people come to enjoy its marine wonders, as well as its diverse and often unique terrestrial species endemic to the region. 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 south-eastern portion of the Bay of La Paz and are considered the crown jewels of the islands of the Gulf (also referred to as the Sea of Cortez/Mar de Cortes), the primary tourist destination of the area. Its diving, snorkeling, and kayaking are considered second to none. La Paz is also favored by water enthusiasts for its marinas, boatyards, marine supply stores and cruiser club activities. The surrounding waters are full of adventure for experienced captains. Novice captains enjoy its nearby island coves for day or overnight trips along with a wealth of experienced sailors and boaters willing to share their expertise. Industries include silver mining, agriculture, fishing and pearls. Tourism is also an important source of employment for this coastal community. Along with the area's marinas, new developments are emerging because of the proximity to the USA (2 hour flight from Los Angeles), the mild weather, the services the city offers, and the peaceful atmosphere of this small city.