Los Angeles (or ; , which is written Los Ángeles, Spanish for The Angels), often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in the U.S. state of California and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City, with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California. The city is the focal point of the larger Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana metropolitan statistical area and Greater Los Angeles Area region, which contain 12,828,837 and nearly 18 million people respectively as of 2010, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world and the second largest in the United States. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated and one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the United States, while the entire Los Angeles area itself has been recognized as the most diverse of the nation's largest cities. The city's inhabitants are referred to as Angelenos.
Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.
Nicknamed the City of Angels, Los Angeles is a leading world center of business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, and education, and has been ranked sixth in the Global Cities Index and 13th in the Global Power City Index. The city is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. The Los Angeles combined statistical area (CSA) has a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $831 billion (as of 2008), making it the third largest in the world, after the Greater Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. As the home base of Hollywood, it leads the world in the creation of television productions, video games, and recorded music; it is also one of the leaders in motion picture production. Additionally, Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984.
The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer, claimed the area of southern California for the Spanish Empire in 1542. Gaspar de Portolà and Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769.
In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra directed the building of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, the first mission in the area. On September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four settlers known as "Los Pobladores" founded the pueblo called "La Reyna de los Angeles", named after an honorific of the Virgin Mary. Two-thirds of the settlers were mestizo or mulatto with African, Amerindian, and European ancestry. The settlement remained a small ranch town for decades, but by 1820 the population had increased to about 650 residents. Today, the pueblo is commemorated in the historic district of Los Angeles Pueblo Plaza and Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles.
New Spain achieved its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, and the pueblo continued as a part of Mexico. During Mexican rule, Governor Pío Pico made Los Angeles Alta California's regional capital. Mexican rule ended during the Mexican–American War: Americans took control from the Californios after a series of battles, culminating with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847.
Railroads arrived with the completion of the Southern Pacific line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892, and by 1923, the discoveries had helped California become the country's largest oil producer, accounting for about one-quarter of the world's petroleum output.
By 1900, the population had grown to more than 102,000, putting pressure on the city's water supply. The completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, under the supervision of William Mulholland, assured the continued growth of the city.
In 1910, not only had the city of Los Angeles annexed Hollywood, but there were already at least 10 movie companies operating in the city. By 1921, more than 80 percent of the world's film industry was concentrated in L.A. The money generated by the industry kept the city insulated from much of the economic pain suffered by the rest of the country during the Great Depression. By 1930, the population surpassed one million. In 1932, the city hosted the Summer Olympics.
Following the end of World War II, Los Angeles grew more rapidly than ever, sprawling into the San Fernando Valley. In 1969, Los Angeles became one of the birthplaces of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to SRI in Menlo Park.
In 1984, the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the second time. Despite being boycotted by 14 Communist countries, the 1984 Olympics became more financially successful than any previous, and the second Olympics to turn a profit until then – the other, according to an analysis of contemporary newspaper reports, being the 1932 Summer Olympics, also held in Los Angeles.
Racial tensions erupted on April 29, 1992, with the acquittal by a Simi Valley jury of the police officers captured on videotape beating Rodney King, culminating in large-scale riots. In 1994, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake shook the city, causing $12.5 billion in damage and 72 deaths. The century ended with the Rampart scandal, one of the most extensive documented cases of police misconduct in American history.
In 2002, voters defeated efforts by the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood to secede from the city.