Located in Central Texas and the American Southwest, Austin is the proud capital of the Lone Star State. It is the 11th largest city in the nation and the fourth largest city within Texas, as well as being the cultural and economic center of the five-county Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, which has a population of just over 1.8 million people. This entire metropolitan area had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $86 billion in 2010 and is one of the most rapidly growing areas in the entire country. Austin’s economy is centered around the technology, defense, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries and has one of the fastest growing youth populations of anywhere in the United States. This is in large part due to the thousands of graduates from the engineering and computer science departments at the University of Texas at Austin. The region’s rapid growth led Forbes to rank the Austin metropolitan area as number one among all big cities for jobs in 2012. The metro Austin area also has much lower housing costs than other technology-centers such as the San Francisco Bay Area, but much higher housing costs than parts of rural Texas. The boom in housing also contributes to a growing market for commercial real estate in Austin.The city is also located at the center of four major ecological zones, and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis with a highly variable climate.
Austin was born in 1839, when Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the sovereign Republic of Texas, founded the city at Waterloo. Settlement in the area began to expand quickly, and by 1860 most of the surrounding counties had been developed. After the mid 19th century, Austin became a major center of commerce with the ability to transport cotton and cattle by railroad. Today, Austin has become a major center for the production of semiconductors and software. The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation’s premier universities and has contributed greatly towards the nation’s supply of intelligent, young individuals. The skyline has drastically changed over the years and the Downtown has been helped by a popular nightlife and cultural scene.