Miami ( or ) is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County. The 42nd largest city proper in the United States, with a population of 408,568, it is the principal, central, and most populous city of the Miami metropolitan area, and the most populous metropolis in the Southeastern United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami's metro area is the seventh most populous and fourth-largest urban area in the United States, with a population of around 5.5 million.
Miami is a major center and a leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade. In 2010, Miami was classified as an Alpha- World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. In 2010, Miami ranked seventh in the United States in terms of finance, commerce, culture, entertainment, fashion, education, and other sectors. It ranked thirty-third among global cities. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Miami "America's Cleanest City", for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs. According to a 2009 UBS study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States, and the world's fifth-richest city in terms of purchasing power. Miami is nicknamed the "Capital of Latin America", is the second-largest U.S. city (after El Paso, Texas) with a Spanish-speaking majority, and the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality.
Downtown Miami and South Florida are home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and is home to many large companies both nationally and internationally. The Civic Center is a major center for hospitals, research institutes, medical centers, and biotechnology industries. For more than two decades, the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World," has been the number one cruise passenger port in the world, accommodating some of the world's largest cruise ships and operations, and is currently the busiest in both passenger traffic and cruise lines.
The Miami area was first inhabited for more than one thousand years by the Tequestas, but was later claimed for Spain in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. In 1836, Fort Dallas was built, and the Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.
Miami holds the distinction of being "the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle", who was a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native. The Miami area was better known as "Biscayne Bay Country" in the early years of its growth. Some published reports described the area as a promising wilderness. The area was also characterized as "one of the finest building sites in Florida." The Great Freeze of 1894–95 hastened Miami's growth, as the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to the region, for which she became known as "the mother of Miami." Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300. It was named for the nearby Miami River, itself named for the Mayaimi Indians who previously lived around Lake Okeechobee.
Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure but weakened after the collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression in the 1930s. When World War II began, Miami, well-situated due to its location on the southern coast of Florida, played an important role in the battle against German submarines. The war helped to expand Miami's population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city. After Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959, many Cubans sought refuge in Miami, further increasing the population. In the 1980s and 1990s, various crises struck South Florida, among them the Arthur McDuffie beating and the subsequent riot, drug wars, Hurricane Andrew, and the Elián González uproar. Nevertheless, in the latter half of the 20th century, Miami became a major international, financial, and cultural center.
Miami and its metropolitan area grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million residents in just 110 years (1896–2006). The city's nickname, The Magic City, comes from this rapid growth. Winter visitors remarked that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.