Los Angeles City, also known simply as L.A. or informally as the City of Angels, is the second-largest city in the United States in terms of population. It was incorporated as a city in California on April 4, 1850 and is the county seat and the largest city in Los Angeles County. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 3.69 million, though a July 1, 2004 estimate placed the city's population at 3.85 million, out of 10 million residents in the county.
Los Angeles serves as the core and most important city of the sprawling Southern California urban area which counts nearly 18 million residents. The city is also large by geographic standards since it sprawls over more than 465 square miles (1,200 square kilometers), making it larger than either New York City or Chicago in
Los Angeles is one of the cultural, economic, scientific and entertainment centers of the country. The city is also one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world, as well as a vanguard of creativity, since it is home to individuals from virtually every nation on Earth. People have always been attracted to the city for its balmy weather, vibrant lifestyle, unique, high-velocity energy, Pacific Rim gateway status, and the opportunity to realize the "American Dream." In addition, Los Angeles hosted two Olympic Games (in 1932 and 1984) and is home to world-renowned scientific and cultural institutions.
Los Angeles spreads over a broad coastal plain between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, enclosing within its boundaries independent municipalities such as Beverly Hills and Culver City. The Santa Monica Mountains bisect the city, separating Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Pacific Palisades from the southern boundary of the San Fernando Valley. Coastal mountain ranges to the north and east act as buffers against extreme summer heat and winter cold, and even in the hottest months humidity tends to be low and the nights cool. Brushfires occur sporadically, and earthquakes are relatively frequent but are not often of major intensity.
Los Angeles county was once the nation's wealthiest agricultural county. Several thousand acres of farmland were sacrificed to freeways and housing between 1950 and 1965 to accommodate the area's dramatic population growth. Major industries now include tourism; banking; insurance; health-care services; the manufacture of aerospace equipment, pharmaceutical supplies, glass, rubber, and cement; petroleum exploitation and refining; food processing; and electronics. In addition, Los Angeles is the nation's motion-picture capital and plays an important role in the radio, television, and recording industries.
The economy of Los Angeles is driven by international trade, entertainment (television, motion pictures, and recorded music), aerospace, agriculture, petroleum, and tourism.
Los Angeles is also the largest manufacturing center in the United States. The contiguous ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together compose the most significant port in North America and one of the most important ports in the world. They are vital to trade within the Pacific Rim.
Los Angeles is the world center for the entertainment industry, including adult entertainment. Other significant industries include media production, finance, aerospace, telecommunications, law, tourism, health and medicine, and transportation.
In Los Angeles Major institutions of higher education include the University of Southern California(USC; 1880), Occidental College (1887), and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA; 1919). The California Institute of Technology (1891) is in nearby Pasadena.
Los Angeles, unlike other large American cities, does not have an efficient public transportation system (a modest subway line opened in 1993), and the vast majority of its residents operate private automobiles over the extensive network of freeways that dominate the city.
Los Angeles (in and around San Pedro) has one of the most active international ports in the country. Airports include a municipal airport and the private Hughes airport, two airports serving the San Fernando Valley, and the Los Angeles International Airport in southwestern Los Angeles. Area city, 466 square miles (1,207 square km); metropolitan area (PMSA), 4,070 square miles (10,541 square km).