San Antonio /ˌsænænˈtoʊni.oʊ/ (Spanish for “Saint Anthony”) is the seventh most populous city in the United States of America and the second most populous city in the state of Texas, with a population of 1.3 million. It was the fastest growing of the top 10 largest cities in the United States from 2000-2010, and the second from 1990-2000. The city is located in the American Southwest, the south–central part of Texas, and the southwestern corner of an urban region known as the Texas Triangle.
San Antonio serves as the seat of Bexar County. The city has characteristics of other western urban centers in which there are sparsely populated areas and a low density rate outside of the city limits. San Antonio is the center of the San Antonio–New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area. Commonly referred to as Greater San Antonio, the metropolitan area has a population of over 2.23 million based on the 2012 U.S. Census estimate, making it the 24th-largest metropolitan area in the United States and third-largest in the state of Texas. Growth along the Interstate 35 and Interstate 10 corridors to the north, west and east make it likely that the metropolitan area will continue to expand.
San Antonio was named for Saint Anthony of Padua, whose feast day is on June 13, when a Spanish expedition stopped in the area in 1691. Famous for Spanish missions, the Alamo, the River Walk, the Tower of the Americas, the Alamo Bowl, Marriage Island and host to SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks, the city is visited by approximately 26 million tourists per year according to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is home to the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, one of the largest in the country.
San Antonio has a strong military presence—it is home to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base (which constitute Joint Base San Antonio), Lackland AFB/Kelly Field Annex and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley outside the city. Kelly Air Force Base operated out of San Antonio until 2001, when the airfield was transferred over to Lackland AFB and the remaining portions of the base became Port San Antonio, an industrial/business park. San Antonio is home to five Fortune 500 companies and the South Texas Medical Center, the only medical research and care provider in the South Texas region.
San Antonio is located near 29.5°N 98.5°W. It is about 75 miles to the southwest of its neighboring city, Austin, the state capital. The city is also about 190 miles west of Houston and about 250 miles south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2000 the city had a total area of 412.07 square miles (1,067.3 km2)—407.56 square miles (1,055.6 km2) (98.9%) of land and 4.51 square miles (11.7 km2) (1.1%) of water. The city sits on the Balcones Escarpment. The altitude of San Antonio is 772 feet (235 m) above sea level.
The primary source of drinking water for the city is the Edwards Aquifer. Impounded in 1962 and 1969, respectively, Victor Braunig Lake and Calaveras Lake were among the first reservoirs in the country built to use recycled treated wastewater for power plant cooling, reducing the amount of groundwater needed for electrical generation.
San Antonio has a transitional humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) and a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSh). The weather is hot in the summer, comfortably warm or mild winters subject to descending northern cold fronts in the winter with cool to cold nights, and warm and rainy in the spring and fall.
San Antonio receives about a dozen subfreezing nights each year, typically seeing some sort of wintry precipitation every winter (i.e. sleet/freezing rain), but accumulation and snow itself are not very common. Winters may pass without any freezing precipitation at all. According to the National Weather Service, there have been 31 instances of snowfall (a trace or more) in the city in the past 122 years, for an average of about once every four years. Snow was most recently seen on February 4, 2011 when a half an inch of snow coated the city. In 1985, the city received a record snowfall of 16 inches (41 cm).
San Antonio and New Braunfels, forty miles to the northeast, are some of the most flood-prone regions in North America. The October 1998 Central Texas floods were one of the costliest floods in United States history, resulting in $750 million in damage and 32 deaths. In 2002, from June 30 to July 7, 35 inches of rain fell in the San Antonio area, resulting in widespread flooding and 12 fatalities.
Instances of tornadoes within the city limits have been reported as recently as October 2011, although they seldom occur. An F2 tornado will land within 50 miles of the city on average once every five years. San Antonio has experienced two F4 tornadoes, one in 1953 and another in 1973. The 1953 tornado resulted in two deaths and 15 injuries.
In San Antonio, July and August tie for the average warmest months, with an average high of 95 °F (35 °C), however with the heat index June often feels hotter than the July and August; the hottest year, in accordance to the heat index, was 2009, as it felt 123 °F (51 °C) on some days. The highest temperature ever to be recorded was 111 °F (44 °C) on September 5, 2000. The average coolest month is January. The lowest recorded temperature ever was 0 °F (−18 °C) on January 31, 1949. May, June, and October have quite a bit of precipitation. Since recording began in 1871, the average annual precipitation has been 29.03 inches (737 mm), with a maximum of 52.28 inches (1,328 mm) and a minimum of 10.11 inches (256.8 mm) in one year.
San Antonio has a diversified economy with an approximately $82 billion metropolitan GDP, ranking 4th among Texas metropolitan areas and 38th in the United States. San Antonio’s economy is focused primarily within military, health care, government civil service, financial services, oil and gas and tourism sectors. Within the past twenty years, San Antonio has become a significant location for American-based call centers and has added a significant manufacturing sector centered around automobiles.
San Antonio is a popular tourist destination.
The River Walk meanders through the Downtown area. It was one of the first restorations of an urban river. Lined with numerous shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as the Arneson River Theater, this attraction is transformed into an impressive festival of lights during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and is suffused with the local sounds of folklorico and flamenco music during the summer, particularly during celebrations such as the Fiesta Noche del Rio. Also based along the River Walk is the newly restored Aztec On The River, the only surviving exotic-themed movie palace in Texas.
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