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San Juan de los Lagos is a city and its surrounding municipality of the same name located in the northeastern part of the state of Jaliscomarker in Mexicomarker. The city serves as the municipal seat of the municipality. At the time of the census of 2005 the city had a population of 43,003 inhabitants, while the municipality had a population of 57,104. The municipality has an area of 874.47 km² (337.63 sq mi).

Overview

receives 4 million pilgrims per year who come to visit the downtown cathedral of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos and stay an average of 1.1 days. This keeps the 83 hotels with 760 rooms full to capacity on week-ends and national holidays, leaving many pilgrims to sleep on hostels, sidewalks, and town squares.

The 4 million pilgrims arrive to San Juan de los Lagos in a series of pedestrian, cyclist or horseback processions which take days, weeks or months to arrive to the second most visited cathedral in the nation. The city streets are also lined with pilgrims who cover a long distance on their knees with the help of relatives who extend cushions in their path up to the altar of the cathedral.

Most of the population of San Juan de los Lagos is associated in one form or another with the cathedral. The streets come alive every night when food vendors line the streets. Most week-ends the town squares are filled with live music and fire work displays, making San Juan de los Lagos also a popular destination from nearby towns and ranches.

Ancestry

Traditionally, the region of San Juan de los Lagos is known for its inhabitants of French and Spanish ancestry with strong family and Roman Catholic values. Most young men work in the tourism industry or leave town to work in the United States, which leaves an unbalanced young male-to-female ratio.

The ongoing increase in religious pilgrimages and the local's entrepreneurial spirit has had a visible impact on the local architecture. Old majestic homes from the turn of the 20th century along the streets of the downtown area are cleared to make way for bland, unremarkable hotels or worst, for unpaved parking lots. These provide an easy means of generating cash with low capital from the developers in the case of parking lots. Like many cities with high growth rate in Mexico, urban development has grown beyond anyones ability to adequately plan for infrastructure requirements, particularly water in this part of the country.

San Juan is beginning to experience a more visible level of violence. While there is no reliable source of statistics, locals have witnessed and experienced a level of violence not common in their daily routine. Some of this has been attributed to the growing visibility of drug use amongst the younger generation. While drug trafficking to the US was a rumored activity amongst some San Juan family members, addiction to these drugs is surfacing as real issue for the community. San Juan is no longer a transit point but an end destination for these drugs.

Also worth noting is the growing number of distinguished expatriates who emigrated to the US. These now reside particularly in California and the Chicago metropolitan area. San Juan De Los Lagos is also known for its cajeta (viscous caramel also known as dulce de leche in the rest of Latin America), candies, embroidery, and other milk by-products.

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