McAllen is the twenty-first most populous city in Texas and the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas. It is located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and is part of the Southern United States. It is on the Rio Grande, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa, and is about 70 miles (110 km) west of South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico.
From its settlement in 1904, the area around McAllen was largely rural and agricultural in character, but the latter half of the 20th century saw steady growth, which accelerated during the 1980s, leading to an economic and population boom in the 1990s and 2000s. Today the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. The introduction of the maquiladora economy and the North American Free Trade Association led to a boom in international trade, cross-border commerce with Mexico, and health care.
The Rio Grande Valley began its rapid development with the introduction of irrigation in 1898 and the construction of the railroad in 1904. oday, the area is being transformed into a major international trade area by developing first-rate commercial, retail, office, industrial, medical, retirement and educational facilities. As recently as 1990, McAllen’s unemployment rate was at 22.6 percent. By the end of 2005, that figure dropped to 7.7 percent. However, in 2011, census.gov listed the McAllen metro area the poorest in the nation.