Thursday, December 1, 2005

LA Basics

I need to brush up on my LA fundamentals. Friends and relatives ask me basic questions that I can't answer, so here are some interesting factoids.

According to a 2005 survey, there were 3,957,875 people living within LA city limits, and a whopping 17,545,623 living in greater LA (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties), making it the second most populated metropolitan area after New York City. Although incorporated in 1850, LA took off as a city just as cars started being mass-produced. Hence, the sprawling, somewhat decentralized and less dense nature of the city. LA is geographically larger than NYC and Chicago, but is 1/3 and 1/2 as dense in population as NYC and Chicago, respectively. Greater LA is home to 13 area codes and five major airports.

There is no ethnic majority in LA proper. The 2000 census recorded 46.93% white, 11.24% black, 0.80% Native American, 9.99% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.70% other (e.g., Mexican, South African, Hispanic) and 5.18% multiracial. LA has the largest populations of Armenians, Cambodians, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Israelis, Koreans, Salvadorans, Thais, Mexicans and Hungarians outside of their native countries.

The LA flag has three colors, representing olive trees (green), orange groves (gold) and vineyards (red), with the city seal in the center. Antonio Villaraigosa is the current mayor. Elected in a run-off election in May, Villaraigosa is, incredibly, the first Latino mayor of LA since 1872.

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