Seattle (/siˈætəl/) is a West Coast seaport city and the seat of King County. With an estimated 684,451 residents as of 2015, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top five in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. The Seattle metropolitan area of around 3.7 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States. The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the third largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.
The Seattle area was previously inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Seattle" in 1852, after Chief Si'ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes.
Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. By 1910, Seattle was one of the 25 largest cities in the country. However, the Great Depression severely damaged the city's economy. Growth returned during and after World War II, due partially to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Seattle area developed as a technology center beginning in the 1980s, with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region. In 1994, the Internet retail giant Amazon was founded in Seattle. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000.
Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District, to the Central District. The jazz scene developed the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix and the alternative rock subgenre grunge.