Located 125 miles east of Los Angeles, Indio sits in the Coachella Valley of Southern California's desert region. In 2000, Indio had a population of only 49,116, but has since experienced rapid growth, like many exurban cities of Southern California. As of January 2006, Indio's official population was 70,542. The majority of Indio's residents are Hispanic or Latino in heritage; the word Indio itself being a Spanish term for Indian.
Indio is responsible for a large portion of the country's date crop, much of the agricultural land lying in the southerly portion of the city. The San Andreas Fault lies about three miles northeast of Indio, and the Mexican border is approximately 80 miles away. Its location makes the city a magnet for immigrant job opportunities in the fields of agriculture, construction, and hospitality.
Several major festivals take place in Indio annually. These include the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival, a celebration of the harvesting of date fruits held each February, and the Indio International Tamale Festival in December. The Guinness Book of World Records calls the Tamale Festival the world's largest cooking and culinary festival. In addition to these historically-held events, Indio has been home to the world renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival since 1999. Rolling Stone magazine has called the site of this festival, the Empire Polo grounds, one of the most beautiful festival sites in the world. Usually referred to as
Coachella, the festival features many genres of music such as alternative rock, hip hop, and electronica. This popular event sells upwards of 50,000 tickets a year, drawing many new faces to this scenic location.