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The South Bay is a region of the southwest peninsula of Los Angeles County, California. The name stems from its geographic features stretching along the southern shores of Santa Monica Bay (covering the coastal regions on Los Angeles County south of LAX) which forms its western border.
The picture at right uses the broadest definition of the region, including all communities south of Interstate 105 and west of Long Beach (with the exception of Compton, which is generally considered South LA). The South Bay includes: the Beach Cities (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach), the Palos Verdes Peninsula, neighborhoods of the City of Los Angeles (Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, San Pedro and Wilmington), El Segundo, inland cities of the South Bay (Hawthorne, Inglewood, Gardena, Carson, Lawndale, Torrance, and Lomita) and unincorporated areas of L.A. County.  The region is bordered on the north by the Westside, on the northeast by South Los Angeles, on the east by the Gateway Cities, and on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.
The Harbor (I-110), San Diego (I-405), Gardena (SR 91), and Century (I-105) Freeways provide the region with its principal transportation links. The Los Angeles MTA's Blue Line (opened in 1990) is a light rail line running between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach. It is the first of the MTA's modern rail lines since the 1961 demise of the Pacific Electric Railway's Red Car system. The Green Line (opened in 1995, together with the Glenn Anderson Freeway), a light rail line, also serves the South Bay. It runs between Redondo Beach and Norwalk in the median of the Century Freeway (Interstate 105), providing indirect access to Los Angeles International Airport via a shuttle bus. Several ports and harbors in the South Bay provide access to Santa Catalina Island, a popular resort. In addition, Los Angeles International Airport borders El Segundo to the north in the neighborhood of Westchester, Los Angeles.
Note that in San Diego, "South Bay" refers to the South Bay of the San Diego Area. This area includes cities such as Chula Vista and National City. In Northern California, "South Bay" refers to the South Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The South Bay is one of the most culturally, economically, and ethnically diverse areas in the United States, with a largely even distribution of the population across African, Asian/Pacific Islander, European, and Latino ancestry. However, the racial and economic makeup varies widely across the region. El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance have a mixture of middle-to-upper class residents, of which are mostly White American and Asian American. The Palos Verdes Peninsula and Manhattan Beach are two of the wealthiest communities in the United States, with some of the most expensive real estate in the United States. The city of Carson has a sizable population of middle-class African Americans. Hawthorne, Inglewood, Gardena and Lawndale are diverse communities with pluralities of blacks and Latinos. Gardena is home to one of America's oldest Japanese communities. In addition, San Pedro has a large community of Italian and Croatian immigrants.
The Port of Los Angeles, sprawling across the shorelines of San Pedro and Wilmington, is the busiest in the United States. When combined with the Port of Long Beach, it is the fifth-busiest in the world. Traditionally, most of the populations of Wilmington and San Pedro have worked for the port in some capacity. It is increasingly the primary driver of the Southern California economy: industrial growth in the Inland Empire is almost entirely attributable to increased port traffic since the 1980s. Unfortunately, the massive increase in cargo volume has created significant air pollution (especially of particulate matter resulting from the combustion of low-grade marine diesel fuel) in neighboring communities.
The South Bay is the traditional home of Southern California's aerospace industry. While considerably shrunken from its Cold War peak, it still represents a major economic force, employing thousands in high-skill, high-wage engineering positions and generating enormous amounts of tax revenue. Northrop Grumman has a major facility in El Segundo where the F/A-18 Hornet fuselage is manufactured, as well as the headquarters of the Space Technology division in Redondo Beach and a facility at the Hawthorne Municipal Airport. Alcoa Fastening Systems, a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc. which produces aerospace fasteners, has their corporate headquarters located in Torrance with manufacturing facilities in both Torrance and Carson. Boeing and Lockheed Martin also maintain extensive production facilities throughout the South Bay, and Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business unit is based in El Segundo. The Los Angeles Air Force Base, in El Segundo, is the locus of much of this aerospace research activity, as it is the primary development facility for military satellites and other space programs. DirecTV, a former subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft, is also headquartered in El Segundo for this reason.
Petroleum refining is another important component of the South Bay's economy. Major South Bay refiners include BP (ARCO facility in Carson), Chevron (El Segundo), Phillips 66 (Wilmington), ExxonMobil (Torrance), Tesoro (Wilmington), and Valero (Wilmington). These refiners supply the lion's share of petroleum products for Southern California, as well as for Nevada and Arizona. As the Los Angeles region's oil fields are mostly exhausted, most of the crude oil that feeds the refineries is brought in from terminals at the port.
Local politicians and activists have long denounced the refineries for the amount of air pollution they generate, but in recent years these protests have been muted as the Port of Los Angeles has become the region's dominant polluter. The controversial practice of residue flaring returned to the forefront during the September 12, 2005 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power outage; facing dangerous pressure buildups, refinery operators in Wilmington were forced to flare, resulting in dangerously bad air quality throughout the southeastern South Bay. The incident has renewed calls for restrictions on flaring in non-emergency situations.
Japanese automobile manufacturers Toyota and Honda maintain their North American headquarters in the South Bay, in the city of Torrance. (Nissan was also headquartered in the South Bay until late 2005. The company then relocated to Tennessee, citing the high cost of running a business in California.) While these locations are largely the legacy of the region's historical importance as a Japanese-American population center, it has proven fortuitous for two reasons: first, it enables closer oversight of vehicle import operations at the nearby ports; and second, it gives them proximity to the automobile customization culture that is prominent in nearby South Los Angeles.
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In 1990 there were 13,591 Korean ethnic people in the South Bay, double the amount from 1980. As of 1992 there were about 2,000 Korean businesses in the South Bay area. As of 1992 about 60% of the Korean population lived in Gardena and Torrance, and about 6,000 Korean residents lived in Torrance. Gardena served as the center of Korean-American business. In addition, some wealthier Koreans began settling in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. From the 1980 U.S. Census to the 1990 U.S. Census, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes were three of the five South Bay cities with the highest percentage increases of ethnic Koreans.
In addition to the Los Angeles Times, the South Bay cities are served by their own daily paper, the Daily Breeze, the weeklies The Beach Reporter and "The Easy Reader", and a bi-monthly community paper Carson/South Bay Community News.
The South Bay has a rich history in music, and has produced a number of significant rock bands, like Hawthorne natives The Beach Boys in the early 1960s, and continuing particularly in punk music. Notable South Bay-based artists include:
Rancho Dominguez, et al. / Birthplace of the South Bay