San Antonio is home to 3.1 million people, with 2.14 in the greater metro area. It is the seventh largest city in the U.S., and second largest in Texas after Houston. Unlike most large cities, there is still open space beyond the metro limits and surburban areas do not restrict expansion.
Located 305 km/190 mi west of Houston, it is a city of 10 Districts, with a Mayor and a City Manager. The seat of Bexar County (pronounced 'bear'), San Antonio is at the base of Hill Country, an area northeast of the city that is characterized by rolling hills and embraced as a bit of an oasis in a state famous for its flat cattle land.
Recent years have seen rapid development of the Northside district, with new schools opening annually. San Antonio's schools in general are highly rated and offer diverse magnet programs. There is even a high school aerospace program to foster the future of the military bases.
San Antonio was named for St. Anthony de Padua, by Spanish missionaries and explorers that discovered the Indian village there in 1691. Missions were built, the first of which was the Alamo in 1718; these missions would later serve as military posts. The city's first growth in the 1730s is credited to a group of people from Spain's Canary Islands who raised cattle and established a government.
That first mission, the Alamo, would become famous for its part in the Texas Revolution. A stand-off in 1836 by Texans who were vastly outnumbered but fiercely fighting for independence from Mexico has come to symbolize an indominable courage and independent spirit.
The history of San Antonio as a military location has continued for almost three centuries. Fort Sam Houston was the site of the first military aircraft flight in 1910. That army base and the city's various Air Force and other bases have been notable presence in the city.
San Antonio today
Now San Antonio celebrates the 175th anniversary of the Alamo in 2011. And the U.S. military initiatve called Base Reconstruction and Closure Round (BRAC) has meant much change and growth for San Antonio. But it is not its only area of growth. Bioscience, health care, manufacturing, tourism, IT/cybersecurity, as well as aerospace are all strong and growing industries in the city. Its location makes it key for trade among the NAFTA countries, and it has recovered very well from the global recession.
Though it has much going for it with a low cost of living and strong economy, the city also has a crime rate that is higher than average. Still, with 300 days of sunshine per year on average and its rating as the Best City to Find a Job (newgeography.com 2010), it is no wonder that people of all types are relocating here.