Houston is the largest city in the state of Texas and has the fourth-largest population among cities in the United States. As of July 1, 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Houston population at 2,144,491, in an area covering more than 600 square miles (1,600 km²). Houston is the county seat of Harris County and part of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with a population of more than 5.5 million.
Houston was founded on August 30, 1836 by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The city was incorporated on June 5, 1837 and named after then-President of the Republic of Texas, former General Sam Houston, who had commanded at the Battle of San Jacinto which took place 25 miles (40 km) east of where the city was established. The burgeoning port and railroad industry, combined with oil discovery in 1901, has induced continual surges in Houston's population. In the 20th century, Houston became the home of the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions, and NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in the energy, aeronautics, and technology industries; only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters. The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. Houston is also home to Rice University, one of the United States' leading teaching and research universities, and the University of Houston, Texas' third-largest public research university, with more than 36,000 students from 130 countries.
Houston is a multicultural city, with a large and growing international community. The Museum District is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, attracting more than 7 million visitors a year. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene and is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.