Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. Austin has a population of 964,254.
The state’s fourth largest city, Austin originated as the riverside village of Waterloo, in a buffalo-hunting region occupied by Tonkawa and Comanche peoples. In 1839 it was selected by scouts as the site for the permanent capital of the Republic of Texas and renamed to honour Stephen F. Austin, father of the republic. By 1840 Austin was incorporated, with 856 residents. When Mexican invasion threatened Texas in 1842, the government moved to Houston, but the town’s citizens, determined to keep Austin the capital, staged the so-called Archive War, forcibly retaining government records. The government returned to Austin in 1845, the year in which Texas was admitted to the United States.
Business, research and development, and manufacturing concerns involving computers, computer equipment, semiconductors, telecommunications, software, and biotechnology are among the city’s major employers. Government, education, and health care services are also primary economic factors. Railroads play an important role in trade, with most international cargo traveling to international ports by rail. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened in 1999 on the site of a former U.S. Air Force base.
Austin is known for its vibrant music scene. Formerly a centre of country and blues music, it now celebrates a variety of genres including rock, folk, jazz, and Latino music. More than 100 live music venues are centred primarily around the Warehouse District and Sixth Street, and a long-running public television series, Austin City Limits, showcases musical talent. Dozens of local recording studios and record labels make significant economic contributions. The South by Southwest Conference, devoted to music, film, and interactive media, is held each year in March. The city is also a favourite moviemaking location, and it is home to many artists associated with music and film.
The Hill Country west of Austin, dotted with charming small towns that were originally settled by mostly central European immigrants in the 19th century, is a recreational region with the chain of Highland Lakes (including Town Lake and Lake Austin, which wind through the city) impounded by dams along the Colorado River. Unusual rock outcrops, caverns, and springs are found in the area.
An off-shoot of Austin’s leadership in the semiconductor and software industries is the wireless segment. With a developed infrastructure of telecommunication, transportation, electric, and water capacities, Austin is a leading site for wireless technologies. Named one of the hottest wireless cities by Newsweek magazine in June 2004, Austin offers more free wireless spots—including its city parks—per capita than any other city in the nation.
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