Laredo is the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. According to the 2010 census, the city population was 236,091 making it the tenth most populous city in the state of Texas and 3rd most populated on the United States-Mexican border, after San Diego and El Paso. Its metropolitan area is the 178th-largest United States metropolitan area and covers all of Webb county, with a population of 250,304. Laredo is part of the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan Area with an estimate population of 636,516.
Laredo's economy is based on international trade with Mexico. Most major transportation companies have a facility in Laredo. The city's location on the southern end of I-35 close to the manufacturers in northern Mexico promotes its vital role in trade between the two nations. Laredo International Airport is within the Laredo city limits, while the Quetzalcoatl International Airport is nearby in Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side.
Laredo has the distinction of flying seven flags (the Flag of the Republic of the Rio Grande in addition to the Six Flags of Texas). Founded in 1755, Laredo grew from a villa to the capital of the brief Republic of the Rio Grande to the largest inland port on the United States-Mexican Border. Today, it has four international bridges and one railway bridge.
Laredo has a professional soccer team, the Heat; baseball team, the Laredo Lemurs; and a women's full contact football team, the Laredo Roses. Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College are located in Laredo.
The biggest festival, Washington's Birthday Celebration is held all month long during February, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists. The Jalapeño Festival, Border Beer Fest, Stockmen's Ball, Princess Pocahontas Pageant, Mr. South Texas Luncheon, an air show, and two major parades are all held in conjunction with the Washington's birthday events.
Villa de San Agustin de Laredo was founded in 1755 by Don Tomás Sánchez while the area was part of the Nuevo Santander region in the Spanish colony of New Spain. Villa de San Agustin de Laredo got its name from Laredo, Cantabria, Spain and in honor of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In 1840, Laredo was the capital of the independent Republic of the Rio Grande, set up in opposition to Antonio López de Santa Anna and brought back into Mexico by military force. In 1846, during the Mexican-American War the town was occupied by the Texas Rangers. After the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded the land to the United States. A referendum was taken in the town, which voted to petition the American military government in charge of the area to return the town to Mexico. This petition was rejected, and the bulk of the population moved over the river into Mexican territory to found Nuevo Laredo. In 1849, the military set up Fort McIntosh (originally Camp Crawford). Laredo was rechartered as a city in 1852.
The origin of name of the original Spanish town of Laredo is unclear. Some scholars say the name stems from Glaretum which means "sandy, rocky place". Others state that Laredo stems from a Basque word meaning "beautiful pastures". Laredo might also stem from the latin Larida which means gull.