Raleigh (/ˈrɑːli/; RAH-lee) is the capital of the state of North Carolina as well as the seat of Wake County. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's 2012 estimated population was 423,179, over an area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2), making Raleigh currently the 42nd most populous city in the United States. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in present-day Dare County, North Carolina.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the three primary cities of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional nickname of "The Triangle" originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, primarily located in Durham County, roughly midway between the cities of Raleigh and Chapel Hill, and three major research universities of North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area (CSA) of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina. As of 2012 Census Estimate the population of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill CSA was 1,998,808. The Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as of 2012 Census Estimate was 1,188,564.
Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County, with a very small portion extending into Durham County. The towns of Cary, Morrisville, Garner, Clayton, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, and Rolesville are some of Raleigh's primary nearby suburbs and satellite towns.
Raleigh is an early example in the United States of a planned city, chosen as the site of the state capital in 1788 and incorporated in 1792 as such. The city was originally laid out in a grid pattern with the North Carolina State Capitol in Union Square at the center. In the United States Civil War the city was spared from any significant battle, only falling in the closing days of the war, though it did not escape the economic hardships that plagued the rest of the American South during the Reconstruction Era. The twentieth century saw the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1959, and with the jobs it created the region and city saw a large influx of population, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the United States by the early 21st century.
Raleigh is home to numerous cultural, educational, and historic sites. The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh features three theater venues and serves as the home for the North Carolina Symphony. Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion is a large music amphitheater located in Southeast Raleigh. Museums in Raleigh include the North Carolina Museum of Art in West Raleigh, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences located next to each other near the State Capitol in Downtown Raleigh. Several major universities and colleges call Raleigh home, including North Carolina State University, one of the largest public schools in the state, and Shaw University, the first historically black university in the American South and site of the foundation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an important civil rights organization of the 1960s. One U.S. president, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh.