Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley, fertile region in the Colorado Desert, SE Calif., extending S into NW Mexico. Once part of the Gulf of California, most of the region is below sea level its lowest point is −232 ft (−71 m) at the southern shore of the Salton Sea. Receiving only c.3 in. (7.6 cm) of rain annually, the valley experiences extremely high temperatures (115°C/46°C) and has a great daily temperature range. Having one of the longest growing seasons in the United States (more than 300 days), the valley can, with irrigation, support two crops a year it was first irrigated in 1901. Several disastrous floods on the Colorado River in 1905–6 inundated the area not until 1936, with the completion of Hoover Dam, was the valley safe from floods. Approximately 1 million acres (404,700 hectares) have been irrigated, chiefly by the All-American Canal. The valley is an important source of winter fruits and vegetables for the northern areas of the United States cotton, dates, grains, and dairy products are also important. Brawley, Calexico, and El Centro, Calif., are the main U.S. cities in the valley Mexicali, Mexico, also in the valley, is the center of Mexico's important cotton-growing district.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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