Chula Vista is the second largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area, the seventh largest city in Southern California, the fourteenth largest city in the state of California, and the 77th-largest city in the United States. The city is at the center of one of the richest economic and culturally diverse zones in the United States. Chula Vista is so named because of its scenic location between the San Diego Bay and coastal mountain foothills.
Tourism serves as an economic engine for Chula Vista. The city has numerous dining, shopping, and cinema experiences. As with many California cities, Chula Vista features many golf courses. The Nature Center is home to interactive exhibits describing geologic and historic aspects of the Sweetwater Marsh and San Diego Bay. The Center has exhibits on sharks, rays, waterbirds, birds of prey, insects, and flora. Otay Valley Regional Park is located partially within Chula Vista, where it covers the area of a natural river valley.
The Sweetwater Union High School District, headquartered in Chula Vista, serves as the primary secondary school district. Chula Vista is home to one of the four private colleges in San Diego County and is host to Southwestern College; a community college founded in 1961, that serves approximately 19,000 students annually.