Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States. With a census-estimated 2016 population of 2.303 million within an area of 667 square miles, 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 30, 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. On August 24, 2017, Houston was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, causing widespread property damage.
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.
On August 24, 2017, the city of Houston and much of southeast Texas were ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Winds reached up to 145 miles per hour, and rainfall exceeded 50 inches in several areas locally, breaking the national record for rainfall. The total estimated damage from the flash floods were initially estimated to exceed $50 billion U.S. dollars, and it is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.