San Antonio, city, seat (1837) of Bexar county, is located in south-central Texas, in the United States. It is situated at the headwaters of the San Antonio River on the Balcones Escarpment, about 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Austin. The second-most-populous city in Texas, it is the focus of a metropolitan area that includes Alamo Heights, Castle Hills, Converse, Kirby, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Schertz, Terrell Hills, Universal City, and Windcrest. Inc. 1809. Area city, 412 square miles (1,067 square km). Pop. (2000) 1,144,646; San Antonio Metro Area, 1,711,703; (2010) 1,327,407; San Antonio Metro Area, 2,142,508. Spanish explorers first visited the site, then a camp of the Payaya Indians, in 1691. San Antonio was founded May 1, 1718, when a Spanish expedition from Mexico established the Mission San Antonio de Valero. The mission, later called the Alamo (Spanish: “Cottonwood”), was one of five founded in the area and was named for St. Anthony of Padua. On May 5 a presidio (military garrison) known as San Antonio de Béxar was established nearby. The site, on the river’s west bank, was a stopping place on the trail through the Texas wilderness between missions on the Rio Grande and those in East Texas. By 1837, when it became a county seat of the Republic of Texas, it had been renamed, San Antonio. To this day, San Antonio’s character remains a colorful blend of Mexican and Texan culture. It is 150 miles (240 km) from the Mexican border at Laredo, on one of the most-traveled routes to Mexico. Much of its population (about three-fifths) is of Hispanic (mainly Mexican) descent, and many are Spanish-speaking or bilingual. It preserves much of its historical atmosphere and embraces its cultural diversity. Remains of 18th-century Spanish structures dot the city, contrasting with modern office buildings.
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