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Madison, WI (Population: 221,551)

Madison, the second largest city in the state with an estimated population of 221,551 residents, is the capital of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. Known for its politically progressive residents, it is the home of Bob La Follette's magazine, The Progressive. Founded in 1909, it is still published in the city today. Madison is also known for its many demonstrations and great political influence in the state, with a majority of citizens belonging to the Democratic Party. In 1996, Money magazine, named Madison as the best place to live in the U.S.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison calls the area home, as do Herzing College, Madison Media Institute and Edgewood College. In 2003, Forbes Magazine identified the area as having the highest per capita number of Ph.D's and the third highest college graduates among ranked cities in the United States. Students in the area number roughly 50,000, which also contribute greatly to the progressive movements and support of music, art, history and a wide variety of cultural activities and knowledge in the area.

Madison's economy and low unemployment rates are fueled by the Wisconsin state government and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who are the top two major employers. Some of the business focus is shifting to a more service, financial, insurance and high technology based presence with the North American division of Spectrum Brands, Alliant Energy, American Family Insurance, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group, TomoTherapy, Sonic Foundry, Raven Software, Human Head Studios, Renaissance Learning, Flame Front Software, Epic Systems Corporation, and Berbee Information Networks calling Madison home. The medical and research sectors are also being supported by The University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center, Meriter Hospital and the VA Medical Center.

Music festivals and other events abound in the summer months with Rhythm and Booms, a massive fireworks celebration (coordinated to music), along with the Waterfront Festival, the Willy St. Fair, Atwood Summerfest, Madison Area Music Awards Show, The Orton Park Festival, Greekfest, the WORT Block Party, Folkball, Reverence, and the Madison Blues Festival. Madison's history and world culture is alive in places like the UW-Madison's Chazen Museum of Art, the Wisconsin Historical Museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Madison Children's Museum, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Madison is also the home of many independent art studios and galleries. Citizens and visitors alike also support the many performing arts organizations and events to include the Madison Opera, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Repertory Theatre, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, The Comedy Club, The Public Drunkards and the Young Shakespeare Players. Other attractions in the area are The Veteran's Memorial Coliseum and Exhibition Hall, Henry Vilas Zoo, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, UW-Madison Geology Museum and the Kohl Center.