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Sacramento is the capital of the State of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. Located in California's expansive Central Valley, it is the seventh most populous city in California.[1] As of 2006, Sacramento had a population of 457,514.  The city is the core cultural and economic center of its four-county metropolitan area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties). With a population of 2,042,283, the Sacramento metropolitan area is the largest in the Central Valley, and is the fourth-largest in California, behind the Los Angeles-Orange County area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego area. Greater Sacramento has been cited as one of the five "most livable" regions in America, and the city was cited by Time magazine as America's most integrated.

Sacramento became a city due to the efforts of John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant, and John Bidwell. There were settlers in the area before this time. The Dutch came in the 1820s. Sacramento grew faster due to the protection of Sutter's Fort, which was established by Sutter in 1839. During the California Gold Rush, Sacramento was a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and a terminus for wagon trains, stagecoaches, riverboats, the telegraph, the Pony Express, and the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Typical of California informality, Sacramento is referred to by many nicknames. The most common names are Capital City, River City (after the Sacramento River and American River), The Big Tomato, and the City of Trees (due to Arbor Day recognition as a Tree City USA for 29 years). The nicknames most used by those living in Sacramento are Sac, Sactown, Macramento, or Sacto. The area where Sacramento was originally developed is still in existence as a tourist venue, and is simply named Old Sacramento.

California State University, Sacramento, also known as Sac State, is the major local university. It is one of the twenty-three campuses of the California State University system.

The pioneer John Sutter arrived from Liestal, Switzerland in the Sacramento area with other settlers in August 1839 and established the trading colony and stockade Sutter's Fort (as New Helvetia or "New Switzerland") in 1840. Sutter's Fort was constructed using labor from local Native American tribes. Sutter received 2,000 fruit trees in 1847, which started the agriculture industry in the Sacramento Valley. In 1848, when gold was discovered by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma (located some 50 miles northeast of the fort), a large number of gold-seekers came to the area, increasing the population. John Sutter, Jr. then planned the City of Sacramento, in association with Sam Brannan against the wishes of his father, naming the city after the Sacramento River for commercial reasons. He hired topographical engineer William H. Warner to draft the official layout of the city, which included 26 lettered and 31 numbered streets (today's grid from C to Broadway and from Front to Alhambra). However, a bitterness grew between the elder Sutter and his son as Sacramento became an overnight commercial success (Sutter's Fort, Mill and the town of Sutterville, all founded by John Sutter, Sr., would eventually fail).

The part of Sacramento originally laid out by William Warner is situated just east and south of where the American River meets the Sacramento River (though over time it has grown to extend significantly north, south, and east of there). A number of directly adjacent towns, cities or unincorporated county suburbs, such as Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, West Sacramento, Orangevale, and North Highlands extend the greater Sacramento area.

The citizens of Sacramento adopted a city charter in 1849, which was recognized by the state legislature in 1850. Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, incorporated on February 27, 1850. During the early 1850s the Sacramento valley was devastated by floods, fires and cholera epidemics. Despite this, because of its position just downstream from the Mother Lode in the Sierra Nevada, the newly founded city grew, quickly reaching a population of 10,000.
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