Austin (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) (/ˈɒstɨn/ or /ˈɔːstɨn/) is the capital of Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas and the American Southwest, it is the 11th-largest city in the United States of America and the fourth-largest city in the state of Texas. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006. Austin is also the second largest state capital in the United States. Austin has a population of 865,504 (2014 estimate). The city is the cultural and economic Center of the five-county Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area, which had an April 2014 estimated population of 1,926,998.
Austin, Travis County, and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.
When settlers first arrived from Europe, the area was inhabited by the Tonkawa tribe, and the Comanches and Lipan Apaches were known to travel through the area as well. Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time. In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one Mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions. In the mid-18th century, the San Xavier missions were located along the Colorado River, in what is now western Milam County, to facilitate exploration.
The most southerly of the capitals of the contiguous forty-eight states, Austin is located in Central Texas, along the Balcones Escarpment and Interstate 35, northwest of Houston. It is also 160 miles south of Dallas and 75 miles north of San Antonio. Its elevation varies from 425 feet (130 m) to approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level. As of 2010, the city occupies a total area of 271.8 square miles (704 km sq). Approximately 6.9 square miles (18 km sq) of this area is water.
Arts and culture
"Keep Austin Weird" has been a local motto for years, featured on bumper stickers and t-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin's eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local independent businesses. According to the 2010 book, Weird City, the phrase was begun by a local Austin Community College librarian, Red Wassenich, and his wife, Karen Pavelka, who were concerned about Austin's "rapid descent into commercialism and over-development." The slogan has been interpreted many ways since its inception, but remains an important symbol for many Austinites who wish to voice concerns over rapid growth and irresponsible development. Austin has a long history of vocal citizen resistance to development projects perceived to degrade the environment, or to threaten the natural and cultural landscapes.
According to the Nielsen Company, adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area. Austin residents have the highest internet usage in all of Texas. Austin was selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and No. 3 in 2009, and also the "Greenest City in America" by MSN. According to Travel & Leisure magazine, Austin ranks No. 1 on the list of cities with the best people, referring to the personalities and attributes of the citizens. In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch.