Officially Victoria de Durango and also known as Ciudad de Durango, is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Durango. It stands at an altitude of 1,880 metres (6,168 feet)
The city was founded on July 8, 1563 by Spanish Basque explorer Francisco de Ibarra. During the Spanish colonial era the city was the capital of the Nueva Vizcaya province of New Spain, which consisted mostly of the present day states of Durango and Chihuahua.
As of 2010, the city had a total population of 518,709, up from 463,830 as of 2005. It serves as municipal seat of Durango Municipality which had a population of 582,267 in 2010. The municipality has a relatively large land area of 10,041 square kilometres (3,877 square miles) and includes such outlying communities as El Nayar and Cinco de Mayo.
The city of Durango was built on a wide valley in which a primitive Spanish village named Nombre de Dios was founded. By the 16th century, the first conquerors who crossed through its territory were Cristobal de Oñate, José Angulo and Gines Vazquez del Mercado, the latter attracted by the illusion of the existence of a large supply of silver; he had ultimately discovered a special deposit of iron, which now bears his name. In 1562 Don Francisco de Ibarra, the son of one of the celebrated founders of Zacatecas, explored the region and founded the Villa de Guadiana, near the old settlement of Nombre de Dios which soon became known as the Nueva Vizcaya in memory of the western Basque area he was originating from, then called Biscay. Due to untamed territory and also to prevent a reduction in population, Ibarra bought a mine that offered the Indigenous peoples and the Spanish explorers work, with the sole condition that they in turn would settle in the new-founded city.
Durango is known nationally and even internationally for two reasons: one being that it is "the land of the scorpions" due to the many species of scorpions in the state, especially in the colonial areas, and second as "the land of cinema." Durango has among its credits over 120 film productions, both domestic and foreign, and as a result, during the decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, had earned that title. Durango has established itself as one of the favorite places of film producers and directors due to its picturesque views and scenic beauty.
Durango consists of geographical diversity which allows sports enthusiasts to participate in extreme sports such as kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, free climbing and more; Durango is also home to a quantity of gorges, and voluminous waterfalls that measure 80 feet (24 m) one of which is Salto del Agua LLovida. The state also has numerous lakes that measure over 800 meters in diameter such as Lago de Puentecillas (Puentecillas Lake).
According to the 2005 census, there were 526,629 people in the city and the surrounding communities of the municipality; INEGI projects a population of 631,712 by the 2010 census. The ethnic composition of the city is 51% European, 45% mestizo, 4% Arabs & East Asians, and less than 1% Indigenous. Two-thirds of the city's residents live in single-family homes and 25% in apartment buildings; 9% live in sub-standard housing. Measured in terms of income, the city's poverty rate was 10.9% in 2003 and, including the municipality, 20.6%. Other studies estimate that 200,000 in the metropolitan Durango area live in poverty.
The majority of Duranguenses, like many Northern Mexicans, have European origins, with most of them being criollos, meaning that they are descendants of the colonial-era Spaniard settlers with African and Indigenous contributions to the people as well. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were small immigration waves to Northern and Central Mexico from Europe and the Middle East, many of which reached Durango.