Leon | Mexico

León (Spanish pronunciation: [leˈon]) is the most populous city and municipality in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. In the 2015 Intercensal Survey INEGI reported 1,578,626 people living in the municipality of León, making it the fourth most populous municipality in Mexico. The metropolitan area of León recorded a population of 1,630,094 in the 2010 Census, making it the seventh most populous metropolitan area in Mexico. León is part of the macroregion of Bajío within the Central Mexican Plateau.

León has a strong leather industry, offering shoes, boots, belts, jackets, and other leather accessories to both national and international markets. The leather industry earned its inhabitants the nickname of "Green belly" (panzaverdes in Spanish), because of the green tainting in the workers' bodies resulting from treating leather. Its first-class services and hotel industry make it one of the most important centers in Mexico with numerous opportunities for entertainment, gastronomy, leisure activities, arts, and recreation. It is also considered one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Mexico and has a high number of cyclists, in part because of integrating a network of bike lanes into the SIT system. In March 2012 it received an award as "City Water Champion", mainly due to great progress in the areas of sanitation, wastewater reuse, and energy cogeneration from biogas.

Leon generally has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cwa) with summer rainfall (according to Köppen climate classification, Cwa) that closely borders on a semi-arid climate. The average annual temperature is 19.9 °C (67.8 °F), the warmest month is May with a maximum average of 31.7 °C (89.1 °F), and the coolest month is January with a minimum average temperature of 7.7 °C (45.9 °F). Outside the city microclimate island, the ranges tend to be higher, with maximum averages reaching 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than in the city, and minimum averages lowered by 3 °C (5.4 °F) or more. In the villages located in between the northern mountains the climate changes; it is considered highland subtropical oceanic climate (Cwb according to Köppen climate classification), the average annual temperature is around 16 °C (61 °F).

Leon averages 681 mm (26.8 in) of precipitation annually, which mainly occurs during the summer and early autumn (from late May through October) generally with thunderstorms in the evening. There is usually a discrepancy about whether Leon's valley is either subhumid or semi-arid. Depending on the methodology, it can be considered as being either one or the other. With Köppen's methodology, there needs to be more than 678 millimetres (27 in) of annual precipitation for Leon to be considered as humid subtropical; according to several weather stations it may have both (humid subtropical and semiarid) terminologies applied to it. The years considered in the study may also be a determinant factor (more frequently used for international purposes is a 30 years data compilation). Years of average rainfall are rare; the usual pattern is bimodal, with some large string of dry years usually related to La Niña phenomenon (slightly higher than 300 millimetres (12 in)) followed by other years (around 5) related to El Niño that make up the average (with higher than 39 inches/1000 millimetres). Snowfall is extremely rare. The latest snowfall recorded in Leon was in 1997, although there have been other years of registered slushy snow since 1997.

In the León area there are ten distinct archeological zones, dating from the pre-classic Mesoamerican period. Most of these are identified with the Chupícuaro culture. By the Classic period, the area was under Teotihuacan and Toltec influence. In the 13th century, the Chichimecas, mostly of the Guamare and Guachichil subgroups, overran the area, migrating from an area of what is now San Luis Potosí. They remained through the Colonial period.

In 1530 Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán arrived with allied Tarasco Indians to the area, naming it Nuestra Señora. Homesteads were granted by the governor of Nueva Galicia Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to Spaniards Rodrigo de Vázquez and Juan de Jasso. Farming and cattle-raising was introduced here around 1546 by the Spaniards but these settlers were under constant threat by the Chichimecas, who recognized the Spanish as invaders. These settlers requested assistance from the viceregal authorities in Mexico City.

As a response, viceroy Martín Enríquez de Almanza ordered the founding of a city here, with the name of León in 1575. To carry out the order, Juan Bautista de Orozco founded the village of León on 20 January 1576, creating its first town council and laying out its initial streets. In 1580, it attained the rank of "alcadía mayor" meaning it has governing authority of much of the land and smaller towns surrounding it from the Sierra de Comanja to the Lerma River. For example, two other towns founded in the area were San Miguel and Coecillo. In San Miguel, the Spaniards settled the Otomi peoples and in Coecillo were settled the Purépechas, Mexicas and the Chichimecas that did not oppose Spanish rule. As the population of the area grew, a number of municipalities would eventually break off, such as San Francisco del Rincón, Purísima del Rincón (Purísima Concepción), Cd. Manuel Doblado (San Pedro Piedra Gorda), Huanímaro, Abasolo, Cuerámaro and Pénjamo.

This arch (Arco de la Calzada de los Héroes, in Spanish), topped by a bronze lion, began construction in 1896 and has been modified a number of times since then. The first lion was added in 1943 by Francisco Lozornio Castillo made of bricks and mortar. This was replaced by the bronze one in 1958. The idea for a bronze lion was that of famous matador Antonio Velázquez, a native of Leon, whose bravery in the ring earned him the nickname of the "Heart of Leon" ("Corazón de León", in Spanish). Not long before his death in 1959, he complained that the brick lion should be replaced with a better work of art, causing something of a commotion in the Leon community. This caught the attention of sculptor Humberto Peraza Ojeda who made the one that sits atop the arch today.

The city's main professional Association football team is Club León, which is one of the foremost teams in Mexico, seven-time league champion, now playing in the Liga MX. The team's stadium, Estadio León, also bears a Catalan name: Nou Camp. FIFA World Cup games have been played there (1970 and 1986).

A new franchise with the name of Curtidores appeared in the Primera División A in the mid-1990s, but, after being champion in 1999 and earning the right to play in the Primera División, was sold and moved to Puebla to become Puebla, F.C. In 2007 a new franchise named Union de Curtidores began playing at Segunda división. Nowadays, there are several football teams in the city playing in the Tercera División: Atlético ECCA, Juventud Cuerera and Conmudaj, among some others along with the women's league, Super Liga Femenil de Futbol.

In the pre-Hispanic era, the Bajio saw the most human development due to the fertility of the soil and the presence of surface water for agriculture. The oldest group to inhabit the area were the people now known as the Chupícuarios, who dominated the center of the Bajío area and were active between 800 BCE and 300 CE. Their largest city is now the site called Chupícuaro, and their influence was widespread being found in the modern states of Zacatecas, Querétaro, Colima, Nayarit, Hidalgo, State of Mexico, Michoacán and Guerrero. Chupícuaro cities were associated with the Toltec city of Tula and when this city fell, these agricultural cities of Guanajuato also went into decline. This and a prolonged drought cause these cities to be abandoned between the 10th and 11th centuries with only the Guamares left ethnically.

Then Chichimeca and other nomadic groups entered the area. These nomadic indigenous groups are generically referred to as Chichimeca, but in reality they were a variety of ethnicities such as the Guachichiles, Pames and Zacatecos. These groups were warlike, semi nomadic and did not practice significant agriculture, nor did they construct cities. Part of the state was also inhabited by the Otomi but they were mostly displaced or dominated by the Purépecha in the southwest and the Chichimeca in other parts. By the 16th century, most of Mesoamerica was dominated by either the Aztec Empire or Purépecha Empire, but Guanajuato was under the control of neither. It was on the northern border of the Purépecha Empire with southern Guanajuato showing significant cultural influence in the southern valleys, and Aztecs had ventured into the area looking for minerals. However, most of the state was dominated by various Chichimeca tribes as part of what the Spanish would call the "Gran Chichimeca." These Chichimeca were mostly nomadic with some scattered agricultural communities, mostly in the north.

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