Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and the second most populous city in the state with an estimated population of 607,413 (2005) residents. The city lies at the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin along the Cumberland River. Founded in 1779 by James Robertson and a band of Wataugans, the city was named after the American Revolutionary War hero, Francis Nash. From its early days as a busy river port to the establishment of the railroad, Nashville quickly became a transportation, industrial, and cultural center of the new territories of the U.S. In 1843, the city was officially designated as the capital of the state of Tennessee.
Today, the city is known as the "home of country music," and with all of the "Big Four" record labels calling Nashville home, a major music recording and production center. As of 2006, Nashville's music industry is estimated to have a total economic impact of $6.4 billion per year and to contribute 19,000 jobs to the Nashville area. However, the largest industry is health care with over 250 companies, including the largest private operator of hospitals in the world: the Hospital Corporation of America. The automotive industry is quickly becoming an important contributor to the economic boom in the greater Middle Tennessee region as well. With companies like Nissan locating its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, and its corporate headquarters to be completed in Franklin (both suburbs of Nashville) the city's economic future bright. Other major industries located in the area include Dollar General Corporation, Caremark Rx, Bridgestone-Firestone, CBRL Group, Delek US Holdings, Inc, Genesco Inc., Vanguard Health Systems, Tractor Supply, Louisiana-Pacific, and Community Health Systems Inc.
Nashville also offers top grade under graduate and graduate education beginning with Vanderbilt University, which has over 11,000 students, making it the largest university in the area. Other colleges and universities include American Baptist College, Aquinas College, Belmont University, Fisk University, Free Will Baptist Bible College, Tennessee State University, Watkins College of Art, and the Nashville School of Law. Much of the city's cultural life is centered around the very large academic community. From the Lower Broadway neighborhood, with its honky-tonk bars and clubs, to the Grand Ole Opry, to old time jazz...there is something in Nashville for every musical taste. Many popular tourist sites involve the city's rich country music heritage. These include the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, and the Belcourt Theater. The city also hosts the annual CMA Music Festival that brings country music stars and thousands of fans to the city each year.
Civil War history is also important to the city's tourism industry and can be experienced at important battlefield sites where the Battle of Nashville, the Battle of Franklin, and the Battle of Stones River were fought. Other popular historical destinations include Fort Nashborough, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Parthenon- a full-scale replica of the original located in Athens, Greece. Visitors and residents alike can also enjoy The Nashville Zoo, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, Vanderbilt University's Fine Art Gallery, and the Sarratt Gallery. Local fairs and festivals include the Tennessee State Fair, the Nashville Film Festival, the African Street Festival, the Tomato Art Festival, and the Fourth of July celebration at Riverfront Park.