Silicon Valley is a Northern California region that is a global hub for high technology and innovation. It is roughly equivalent to the geographical Santa Clara Valley and is located in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Other major Silicon Valley cities include Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Cupertino. San Jose is the largest city in Silicon Valley, the third-largest in California, and the tenth-largest in the United States. According to the Brookings Institution, the San Jose Metropolitan Area has the world’s third-highest GDP per capita (after Zurich, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway). and has the highest percentage of homes worth $1 million or more in the United States as of June 2021.
Many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of more than 30 Fortune 1000 companies, as well as thousands of startup companies, are headquartered in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley also accounts for one-third of all venture capital investment in the United States, helping it to establish itself as a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation. Silicon Valley was the birthplace of the silicon-based integrated circuit, the microprocessor, and the microcomputer, among other technologies. In 2013, the region employed approximately a quarter-million information technology workers.
As more high-tech companies grew in San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley, and then north to the Bay Area’s two other major cities, San Francisco and Oakland, the term “Silicon Valley” came to have two meanings: a narrower geographic definition referring to Santa Clara County and southeastern San Mateo County, and a metonymic definition referring to high-tech businesses throughout the Bay Area.
Silicon Valley is a colloquial term for the American high-technology economic sector. The name also became a global synonym for cutting-edge high-tech research and enterprise, inspiring similarly named locations as well as research parks and technology centers with comparable structures all over the world. Many Silicon Valley tech company headquarters have become tourist hotspots.