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Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina as well as the seat of Wake County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s 2012 estimated population was 423,179, making Raleigh currently the 42nd most populous city in the United States. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is part of the Research Triangle area, together with Durham (home of Duke University) and Chapel Hill (home of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The “Triangle” nickname originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located in Durham County partway between the three cities and their universities. The Research Triangle region encompasses had an estimated population of 1,998,808 in 2012.
Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County, with a very small portion extending into Durham County. The towns of Cary, Morrisville, Garner, Clayton, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, and Rolesville are some of Raleigh’s primary nearby suburbs and satellite towns.
Raleigh is an early example in the United States of a planned city, chosen as the site of the state capital in 1788 and incorporated in 1792 as such. The city was originally laid out in a grid pattern with the North Carolina State Capitol in Union Square at the center.
The twentieth century saw the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1959, and with the jobs it created the region and city saw a large influx of population, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the United States by the early 21st century.
Raleigh is home to numerous cultural, educational, and historic sites. The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh features three theater venues and serves as the home for the North Carolina Symphony. Walnut Creek Amphitheatre is a large music amphitheater located in Southeast Raleigh. Museums in Raleigh include the North Carolina Museum of Art in West Raleigh, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences located next to each other near the State Capitol in Downtown Raleigh.
In 1976, the Raleigh City and Wake County schools merged to become the Wake County Public School System, now the largest school system in the state and 19th largest in the country.