Baton Rouge (/ˌbætən ˈruːʒ/ BAT-ən ROOZH; from French bâton rouge [bɑtɔ̃ ʁuʒ] (listen), meaning 'red stick') is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana and its second-largest city. Located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, it is the parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish.
As its capital city, Baton Rouge is the political hub of Louisiana. It is the second-largest city in the state, with an estimated population of 227,715 in 2016. The metropolitan area surrounding the city, known as Greater Baton Rouge, is also the second-largest in Louisiana, with a population of 830,480 people as of 2015. The urban area has around 594,309 inhabitants.
Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, research, motion picture, and growing technology center of the American South. It is the location of Louisiana State University, the LSU System's flagship university and the largest institution of higher education in the state. It is also the location of Southern University, the flagship institution of the Southern University System, the only historically black college system in the nation. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the 10th-largest in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped, and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.
The Baton Rouge area owes its historical importance to its strategic site upon the Istrouma Bluff, the first natural bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta. This allowed development of a business quarter safe from seasonal flooding. In addition, the city built a levee system stretching from the bluff southward to protect the riverfront and low-lying agricultural areas. The city is a culturally rich center, with settlement by immigrants from numerous European nations and African peoples brought to North America as slaves or indentured servants. It was ruled by seven different governments: French, British, and Spanish in the colonial era, West Floridian, United States territory and state, Confederate, and United States again.
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