Houston ( ( listen) HEW-st?n) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated 2017 population of 2.312 million within a land area of 599.59 square miles (1,552.9 km2). It is the largest city in the Southern United States, and the seat of Harris County. Located in Southeast Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, it is the principal city of the Greater Houston metro area, which is the fifth-most populated MSA in the United States.
Houston was founded on August 30, 1836, near the banks of Buffalo Bayou (now known as Allen's Landing) and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837. The city was named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had commanded and won at the Battle of San Jacinto 25 miles (40 km) east of where the city was established. The burgeoning port and railroad industry, combined with oil discovery in 1901 and Houston's replacement of Galveston as Texas's primary port following a devastating hurricane, has induced continual surges in the city's population. In the mid-20th century, Houston became the home of the Texas Medical Center—the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions—and NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Mission Control Center is located.
Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment, Houston has the second most Fortune 500 headquarters of any U.S. municipality within its city limits (after New York City). The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. Nicknamed the "Space City", Houston is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine, and research. The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a large and growing international community. Houston is the most diverse metropolitan area in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the U.S. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Museum District. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene in the Theater District and offers year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.
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