Los Angeles, California, the largest city in the state and, since 1982, the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It is the seat of Los Angeles County. The city lies on the Pacific coast in southern California, roughly 350 miles (560 km) southeast of San Francisco and 100 miles (160 km) northwest of San Diego.

Los Angeles has experienced extremely rapid population growth since the early 1900's. Even greater growth has occurred, especially since World War II, in the area surrounding the city. Today the metropolitan area, stretching some 60 miles (100 km) inland, consists of scores of cities and suburbs linked together by a massive system of high-speed expressways called freeways. This amalgamation of communities spreads over political boundaries and creates an urban region that extends far beyond Los Angeles County into neighboring Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

Although frequently criticized for its vast sprawl, traffic congestion, smog, and so-called tinsel and glitter, Los Angeles is an impressive and dynamic city. Among its many assets are a warm, sunny climate, nearby beaches and mountains, and cultural and educational institutions that rank among the best in the nation. Los Angeles is also a leading center of industry, commerce, transportation, and entertainment.

Los Angeles and the adjoining city of Long Beach form the core of the Los Angeles-Long Beach Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Within the area, which encompasses all of Los Angeles County, are roughly 9,520,000 inhabitants—almost 3,700,000 within Los Angeles and some 5,820,000 in the rest of the county.