Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2012, the estimated population of Charlotte according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 775,202, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area ranks 23rd largest in the US and had a 2012 population of 2,296,569. The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a sixteen-county market region or combined statistical area with a 2011 U.S. Census population estimate of 2,442,564. Residents of Charlotte are referred to as "Charlotteans". Charlotte is considered a "Gamma+ World city".
The city is a major U.S. financial center, the second largest financial center by assets following New York City. Bank of America and the East Coast operations of Wells Fargo are headquartered in the city. Charlotte is also home of the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League, the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association, the Charlotte Hounds of Major League Lacrosse, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Carowinds amusement park, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Nicknamed the Queen City, Charlotte and its resident county are named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had become queen consort of Great Britain the year before the city's founding. A second nickname derives from the American Revolutionary War, when British commander General Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out by hostile residents, prompting him to write that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion", leading to the nickname The Hornet's Nest.
Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate. Charlotte is located several miles east of the Catawba River and southeast of Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake are two smaller man-made lakes located near the city.
Charlotte has 199 neighborhoods radiating in all directions from Uptown. Biddleville, the primary historic center of Charlotte's African-American community, is west of Uptown, starting at the Johnson C. Smith University campus and extending to the airport. East of The Plaza and north of Central Avenue, Plaza-Midwood is known for its international population, including East Europeans, Greeks, Middle-Easterners, and Hispanics. North Tryon and the Sugar Creek area include several Asian-American communities. NoDa (North Davidson), north of Uptown, is an emerging center for arts and entertainment. Myers Park, Dilworth, and Eastover are home to some of Charlotte's oldest and largest houses, on tree-lined boulevards, with Freedom Park, arguably the city's favorite, nearby.
In 2012, the urban section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway was completed. Inspired in part by the San Antonio River Walk, and integral to Charlotte's extensive urban park system, it is "a huge milestone" according to Gwen Cook, greenway planner for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.
Park Road and the SouthPark area have an extensive array of shopping and dining offerings, with SouthPark essentially serving as a second urban core. Blossoming neighborhoods like Sedgefield, Dilworth and South End are great examples of that. A prominent feature of the SouthPark neighborhood is the 120‑acre Park Road Park. Far South Boulevard is home to a large Hispanic community. Many students, researchers, and affiliated professionals live near UNC Charlotte in the northeast area known as University City.
The large area known as Southeast Charlotte is home to many golf communities, luxury developments, mega-churches, the Jewish community center, and private schools. As undeveloped land within Mecklenburg has become scarce, many of these communities have expanded into Weddington and Waxhaw in Union County. Ballantyne, far south Charlotte, and nearly every area on the I‑485 perimeter, have seen extensive growth over the past 10 years. Since the 1980s in particular, Uptown Charlotte has undergone massive construction of buildings housing Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Hearst Corporation, Duke Energy, several hotels, and multiple condominium developments.