Sunset in downtown New Orleans. New Orleans "The Big Easy" "NOLA" is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area, (New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner) has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population of 1,360,436 as of 2000. The city/parish alone has a population of 343,829 as of 2010.
The city is named after Philippe d' Orléans, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France, and is well known for its distinct French Creole architecture, as well as its cross cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the "most unique" city in America.
New Orleans is located in southeastern Louisiana, straddling the Mississippi River. The boundaries of the city and Orleans Parish (French: paroisse d'Orléans) are coterminous. The city and parish are bounded by the parishes of St. Tammany to the north, St. Bernard to the east, Plaquemines to the south and Jefferson to the south and west. Lake Pontchartrain, part of which is included in the city limits, lies to the north and Lake Borgne lies to the east.
La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. It was named for Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans, who was Regent of France at the time. His title came from the French city of Orléans. The French colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire in the Treaty of Paris (1763). During the American Revolutionary War, New Orleans was an important port to smuggle aid to the rebels, transporting military equipment and supplies up the Mississippi River. Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez launched the southern campaign against the British from the city in 1779.[ New Orleans remained under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted to French control. Nearly all of the surviving 18th century architecture of the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) dates from this Spanish period. (The most notable exception being the Old Ursuline Convent.) Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Thereafter, the city grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, Irish, Germans and Africans. Major commodity crops of sugar and cotton were cultivated with slave labor on large plantations outside the city.