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Located in Southern California, Los Angeles is the largest city in the state and has the second largest population of any U.S. city. L.A. proper has a population of 3.87 million but what is often referred to as Los Angeles is actually an aggregation of suburbs, independent communities, and beach towns which cover 469 square miles and have a total population of 17.55 million. Los Angeles is California's largest economic center, a major importer and exporter of international goods, and home to many motion picture, television, and radio studios.

Los Angeles Skyline at Night
Los Angeles Skyline at Night

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, and was a diverse cultural melting pot with Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, and Spaniards living side by side. Originally named El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de Porciuncula, which means "The City of Our Blessed Lady, Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula", it was necessarily abbreviated to Los Angeles, which means "City of Angels", or L.A. for short. It was ceded to the nation and incorporated in 1850. The railroad reached southern California in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and coal mining and the discovery of oil in 1892 contributed to a large boom in population. In the early twentieth century the very young motion picture industry relocated here from New York, as the dry, sunny climate of Los Angeles was optimal for film making. Over time, this burgeoning industry grew into the multi-billion dollar mecca known as Hollywood. In addition to being an international hub for the film industry, Los Angeles is also home to many museums and cultural events and is a hotbed for live musical performances.

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The huge metropolitan area of Los Angeles extends west from the Pacific beaches at Santa Monica north into the San Fernando Valley, east toward San Bernardino, and south to the busy port of Long Beach. The city is made up of many socioeconomically diverse neighborhood cores including ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little Tokyo, as well as the upscale Venice Beach, Malibu, and Santa Monica. Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, and Pacific Palisades offer glimpses of multi-million dollar mansions and Long Beach lies to the south of the city proper and is a major international seaport. The L.A. metropolitan area is home to residents who have immigrated from all over the world and there are more than 200 different languages spoken here.

Los Angeles is a city of contrasts. Residents and visitors can take in beautiful beaches as well as entertainment and amenities that are second to none, but must contest with smog, congestion, urban sprawl, and traffic jams that are legendary. The cost of living is very high compared to the national average, but the region enjoys good healthcare, higher education, and transportation, as well as abundant cultural opportunities and some of the best weather in the world.

Downtown Los Angeles Street Map

downtown Los Angeles street map

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The center of Los Angeles, California is located at about 34.05 degrees North (latitude) and 118.25 degrees West (longitude). The city occupies approximately 469.1 square miles in land area; according to the 2010 census, Los Angeles' population was 3,792,621.

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In-depth Los Angeles information and news can be found on these regional Los Angeles Libraries and Los Angeles Newspapers pages, respectively.  Visitors to Los Angeles will find this Los Angeles Tourism and Conventions website useful.
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Map of Los Angeles, California