Original inhabitants were the Kumeyaay Indians, who established a village on the banks of the San Diego River called Sinyeweche. The city is named after Milton Santee, second husband of Jennie Blodgett, whose first husband was George A. Cowles, a ranching pioneer in the San Diego area
In 2010, the city was populated by 19,272 households, of which 64 percent had incomes greater than $45,000 annually. In 2009, the median household income was $78,872 per year, according to the San Diego Association of Governments. In 2010, Santee had one of the lowest crime rates among cities in San Diego County. Unlike most of the county's coastal cities, Santee still has sizable portions of vacant land suitable for development. It is a growing suburban community that in recent years has added upscale housing, a major corporate business park and expansive shopping centers, along with a destination recreational complex called Sportsplex USA Santee
Santee, which is 345 feet (105 m) above sea level, shares the northern part of a valley with the city of El Cajon. The city is bisected by the San Diego River, which flows east to west for approximately 4.2 miles (6.8 km) within the city limits. Hills form a natural barrier on its northern and western sides. Prominently overlooking the western side of Santee is Cowles Mountain. This natural landmark, which is the highest point in the city of San Diego, offers sweeping views of the county and is a popular hiking destination
The 2010 United States Census reported that Santee had a population of 53,413. The population density was 3,231.6 people per square mile (1,247.7/km²). The racial makeup of Santee was 44,083 (82.5%) White, 1,057 (2.0%) African American, 409 (0.8%) Native American, 2,044 (3.8%) Asian (1.8% Filipino, 0.4% Chinese, 0.5% Vietnamese, 0.3% Japanese, 0.2% Korean, 0.2% Indian, 0.5% Other), 253 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 2,677 (5.0%) from other races, and 2,890 (5.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8,699 persons (16.3%).
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