Raleigh is the capital and the second largest city in the state of North Carolina as well as the seat of Wake County. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's 2011 estimated population was 416,468, over an area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2), making Raleigh currently the 42nd most populous city in the United States. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in present-day Dare County, North Carolina.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the three primary cities of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional nickname of "The Triangle" originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, primarily located in Durham County, roughly midway between the cities of Raleigh and Chapel Hill, and three major research universities of North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area (CSA) of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina. As of 2012 Census Estimate the population of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill CSA was 1,998,808. The Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as of 2012 Census Estimate was 1,188,564.