Greater Los Angeles is the second largest urban region in the United States, and its varied geography includes coastlines, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and desert. The region is comprised of five counties, including the well-known counties of Los Angeles and Orange. With a population of approximately 10 million, the County of Los Angeles is the most populous county in Greater Los Angeles and in the U.S. There are 88 separate municipalities in the county; the City of Los Angeles is the largest with a population of approximately four million people. Other nearby cities are Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and Malibu.
Los Angeles County is also the most diverse county in Greater Los Angeles and one of the most diverse counties in the country. Nearly half of the residents are Latinos, 34% of the county’s population is foreign-born, and at least 224 different languages are spoken.
The City of Los Angeles is the largest city in L.A. County with a population of approximately four million people. Originally founded by Spanish settlers in 1781, Los Angeles became part of the U.S. in 1846 when it was taken by U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War. The town grew and prospered in the wake of the 1849 Northern California Gold Rush when large numbers of settlers arrived from the east.
Hollywood, which is part of the City of Los Angeles, became internationally famous in the early 20th century with the advent of motion pictures. The enormous amount of film production, combined with major radio and television companies, made L.A. the entertainment capital of the world. Live theater also thrives in L.A. The county is home to hundreds of museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Center, the Museum of Latin American Art, the California Science Center and Griffith Observatory, the Grammy Museum, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the LA Opera, enjoy exceptional international reputations in the music world.
For Greater Los Angeles in general, mild winters with temperatures in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (approximately 18 degrees Celsius), contrast with warm, dry summers. Coastal areas are more temperate, while the inland, desert, and mountain areas have warmer summer and colder winter temperatures. Greater Los Angeles is a global center of science & technology, education, media, fashion, tourism, sports, and transportation. The combined Ports of L.A. and Long Beach are the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The thriving area called Silicon Beach is home to more than 500 tech companies, including Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. Higher education is also a strength of the region with numerous well-known universities such as the University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology, and University of California Irvine. Specialized institutions include California Institute for the Arts and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.