Houston is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States. With a census-estimated 2016 population of 2.303 million LäJL61 within an area of 667 square miles (1,730 it is also the largest city in the southern United States and the seat of Harris County. Located in Southeast Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, it is the principal city of the Greater Houston metro area, which is the fifth-most populated MSA in the United States. Houston was founded on August 28, 1836, near the banks of Buffalo Bayou (now known as Allen's Landing) and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837. The city was named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had commanded and won at the Battle of San Jacinto 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 the city's population. In the mid-20th century, Houston became the home of the Texas Medical Center—the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions—and NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Mission Control Center is located.
Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment, outside New York City, Houston has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other U.S. municipality within its city limits The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. Nicknamed the "Space City" Houston is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine, and research. The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a large and growing international community. Houston is the most diverse city in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the U.S. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Museum District. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene in the Theater District and offers year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.
The Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (HMWESC), which houses the Houston independent school District administrative offices Seventeen school districts exist within the city of Houston. The Houston independent school District (HISD) is the seventh-largest school district in the United States and the largest in Texas. HISD has 112 campuses that serve as magnet or vanguard schools—specializing in such disciplines as health professions, visual and performing arts, and the sciences. There are also many charter schools that are run separately from school districts. In addition, some public school districts also have their own charter schools.
The Houston area encompasses more than 300 private schools-many of which are accredited by Texas Private School Accreditation Commission recognized agencies. The Houston Area independent schools offer education from a variety of different religious as well as secular viewpoints. The Houston area Catholic schools are operated by the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston.
Texas Southern University
Four distinct state universities are located in Houston. The University of Houston is a nationally recognized Tier One research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. The third-largest university in Texas, the University of Houston has nearly 43,000 students on its 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. The University of Houston—Clear Lake and the University of Houston—Downtown are stand-alone universities; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston. Located in the historic community of Third
Ward is Texas Southern University, one of the largest and most comprehensive historically black universities in the United States. Texas Southern University is also the only public independent university in Houston.
Several private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges, such as The University of St. Thomas, Houston's only Catholic university, to Rice University, the nationally recognized research university—are located within the city. Rice, with a total enrollment of slightly more than 6,000 students, has a number of distinguished graduate programs and research institutes, such as the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy. Houston Baptist University, affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, offers bachelor's and graduate degrees. It was founded in 1960 and is located in the Sharpstown area in Southwest Houston. Three community college districts exist with campuses in and around Houston. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the city are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of Houston is served by San Jacinto College, and a northeastern portion is served by Lee College. The Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems are within the 10 largest institutions of higher learning in the United States.