El Paso, Texas, the seat of El Paso County. It is on the Rio Grande in the extreme western part of the state, at the Mexico and New Mexico borders. El Paso covers an area of about 240 square miles (620 km2). Elevations vary from roughly 3,700 feet (1,130 m) on the Rio Grande to 6,200 feet (1,890 m) in the Franklin Mountains. Summers are long and hot; winters are short and mild. Dry, sunny weather prevails most of the year. Across the Rio Grande, opposite El Paso, is Juárez (Ciudad Juárez), one of Mexico's largest cities. El Paso and Juárez are linked culturally and economically in many ways.
El Paso is the trade center for a region of cattle ranches and irrigated cotton and vegetable farms. Manufacturing, banking, and copper smelting are significant. Goods made in the city include processed foods, clothing, electrical and electronic equipment, and petroleum products. Fort Bliss, a large army post, provides work for many residents. El Paso is also a transportation center.
The University of Texas at El Paso is the city's chief educational institution. Near the Rio Grande is Chamizal National Memorial, which commemorates the peaceful settlement in 1963 of a century-long boundary dispute with Mexico. El Paso has a symphony orchestra and a number of museums, including art, history, and military museums. The Sun Bowl collegiate football game is held here each year.
El Paso was originally in Mexico and part of an area called El Paso del Norte, referring to a ford (crossing) on the Rio Grande. Several Spanish missions were established in the latter half of the 17th century. The mission at Ysleta, built in 1681 and now within El Paso, became the nucleus of Texas' earliest town—Ysleta. Another settlement, one not connected with the mission, began in 1827.
In 1848, after the Mexican War, the El Paso del Norte area was split in two by making the Rio Grande the international boundary. The city of El Paso was incorporated in 1873. The coming of railways, beginning in 1881, stimulated growth. Greater growth occurred after the mid-20th century, both in El Paso and in Juárez.