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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.
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, warm to cool 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 dollar 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.
Located about 10 miles northwest of Downtown is the South Texas Medical Center, which is a conglomerate of various hospitals, clinics, and research (see Southwest Research Institute) and higher educational institutions. The city is also home to one of the largest military concentrations in the United States. The defense industry in San Antonio employs over 89,000 and provides a $5.25 billion impact to the city’s economy.
Twenty million tourists visit the city and its attractions every year, contributing substantially to the city’s economy, primarily due to The Alamo and Riverwalk. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center alone hosts more than 300 events each year with over 750,000 convention delegates from around the world. Tourism employs 94,000 citizens and makes an economic impact of over $10.7 billion in the local economy as revealed in the Economic Impact Study conducted every two years by the San Antonio Tourism Council and the research team of Dr. Richard Butler and Dr. Mary Stefl of Trinity University. Tourism also brings new annual revenues to the City of San Antonio and other governmental entities with the hotel & motel tax, sales taxes and other revenues from hospitality agreements and contracts. This number exceeded over $160 million in the 2004 study.
San Antonio is home to five Fortune 500 companies: Valero Energy Corp, Tesoro Corp, USAA, Clear Channel Communications and NuStar Energy. H-E-B, the 19th largest private company in the United States is also headquartered in San Antonio. Other companies headquartered in San Antonio are: Kinetic Concepts, Frost Bank, Harte-Hanks, Eye Care Centers of America, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Enterprises, Whataburger, Rackspace, NewTek, and Carenet Healthcare Services.
Other large companies that operate regional headquarters in the city include: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Kohl’s, Allstate, Chase Bank, Philips, Wells Fargo, Toyota, Medtronic, Sysco, Caterpillar Inc., AT&T, West Corporation, Citigroup, Boeing, QVC, and Lockheed Martin.
San Antonio has lost several major company headquarters, the largest being the 2008 move of AT&T Inc. to Dallas “to better serve customers and expand business in the future”. In 1997 Titan Holdings and USLD Communications had sold their operations to larger companies. After a Los Angeles buyout specialist purchased Builders Square, the company’s operations were moved out of San Antonio.