Introduction to El Centro, California

El Centro, California, in Imperial county, is 54 miles W of Yuma, Arizona (center to center) and 92 miles E of San Diego, California. It's the largest city in the Imperial Valley and is situated below sea level. El Centro is the region's commercial center and includes farms and food processing facilities. The region is a primary winter vegetables production area. The city has an arid climate and receives less than three inches of yearly rain. El Centro has sunshine for most days of the year and the summers feature some very hot weather.

The majority of the population is Hispanic. The old downtown includes structures featuring the Mexican-Spanish "arcade" architecture. It's a desert community flanked by thousands of acres of agricultural fields. The close by Navy base serves as a home to the Blue Angels air show team during the winter.

El Centro History

The initial settlers worked for the railroad and lived in tent cities. Beginning in 1910 permanent housing was built near the railroad tracks. The region became a prominent agricultural area after water was transported from the Colorado River by way of canals. The irrigation of the desert valley was a major factor for the growth of the community. The city experienced a powerful earthquake in 1940.

El Centro Attractions

  • Imperial County Midwinter Fair.
  • Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo.
  • Southwest Performing Arts Theater.
  • Mardi Gras Light Parade.
  • Mostly Theatre Company.
  • Imperial Valley Symphony.

El Centro Activities

The Herbert Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area is popular for off-road recreation and it's used for camping and picnics. Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area offers a picturesque landscape and is one of the biggest dune systems in the nation. Some of the sand dunes are over 300 feet high. The Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area has a desert terrain for off-road action. The landscape has numerous dunes as well as a sand bowl and a camp area.

Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is a vast acreage which includes a salt marsh and a portion of the Salton Sea. The refuge also features a pasture area and provides opportunities to view wildlife. The Salton Sea is regarded as one of the largest inland seas in the world. It's used for boating and water skiing. The area includes several golf courses.

El Centro Transportation

Air travel is offered at the Imperial County Airport.

El Centro Higher Education

Residents have opportunities for higher education at Imperial Valley College.


Total Population 43,570
Male Share of the Population 49.2%
Female Share of the Population 50.8%
Senior Citizens 11.4%
Employed Population 16+ 15,368
Age of the Population 31


% of people married 44.1%
Average household size 3

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 18.8%
Median Earnings25+ $27,946
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $14,272
Median Earnings With High School Degree $26,134


Median Family Income $45,743
% Above Poverty Level 74.8%
% Below Poverty Level 25.2%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 19 minutes
% Working from Home 3.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 2.2%
% Using Public Transportation 1.3%


People Living Alone 21.4%
Median Gross Rent $744
Median House Value $154,500


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 87.3%
US/American 0%
English 1.5%
Irish 1.7%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

El Centro Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 54 miles W of Yuma, Arizona (center to center)
Nearest Large City 92 miles E of San Diego, California
County Imperial
Standard Zip Codes 92243
P.O. Box Zip Codes 92244
Phone Area Codes 760
Time Zone Pacific (-8 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 32.791
Longitude -115.562

El Centro Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 1.8 miles
Jan Temp 41 to 70 F
Apr Temp 54 to 86 F
Jul Temp 76 to 107 F
Oct Temp 59 to 91 F
Annual Precip 2.9 inches
Distance 4 miles
Jan Temp 41 to 69 F
Apr Temp 54 to 85 F
Jul Temp 75 to 105 F
Oct Temp 60 to 89 F
Annual Precip 3 inches
Distance 55.4 miles
Jan Temp 41 to 68 F
Apr Temp 52 to 86 F
Jul Temp 76 to 106 F
Oct Temp 58 to 90 F
Annual Precip 3.8 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Brawley 25,656 $42,795
Calexico 39,601 $39,953
Calipatria 7,557 $30,648
Holtville 6,172 $28,850
Imperial 16,215 $80,350
Westmorland 1,750 $33,179

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

El Centro Public Libraries

El Centro Public Library
El Centro, California
(760) 337-4565
Imperial County Library
"940 MAIN ST, STE 204 B"
El Centro, California
(760) 482-4791

library logo

More Information for Librarians

El Centro Hospitals

(Government - Local)
(760) 339-7100
Emergency Service: Yes

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El Centro High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

A Title I School.
Serves 2,118 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 25

Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 1,652 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 23.1

A Non-traditional School
Serves 410 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 20

A Special Education School
Serves 229 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 8.1

1302 SOUTH 3RD ST.
A Non-traditional School
Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 177 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 17.7

El Centro Colleges

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