Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1781;
Incorporated: 1850
Location: Pacific Coast of southern California, United States, North America
Time Zone: 4 AM Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Flag: Adopted in 1931, flag features the city seal centered on three panels (left to right): green symbolizing olive trees, yellow symbolizing orange groves, and red symbolizing grape vineyards.
Ethnic Composition: White, 75.7%; Black, 14%; Asian/Pacific Islander, 9.8% (1990)
Elevation: Sea level to 1,548 m (5,080 ft) above sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 34°05'N, 118°24'W
Climate: Mild temperatures year round, many sunny afternoons
Annual Mean Temperature: 18.7°C (65.3°F); January 12.6°C (54.5°F); July 20.3°C (68.5°F)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall): 37.6 cm (14.8 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 213 (downtown), 323, 310, 562, 626
Postal Codes: 90001–68; 90070–99; 90101

2. Getting There

Los Angeles is located in southern California, on the Pacific Coast, with the Santa Monica Mountains to the north and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east.


Los Angeles is known for its crowded, labyrinthine freeway system, which offers access to the city through multiple north-south and east-west routes. The major north-south highways are I-5 (the Golden State and Santa Ana freeways), I-15 (which extends from the Canadian border to San Diego), US Highway 101 (the Ventura and Hollywood freeways), extending south along the Pacific coast from Washington State, and State Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), stretching along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond. East-west freeways include I-8, which runs between California and Arizona, I-10 (the San Bernardino and Santa Monica freeways), which traverses the country between Santa Monica and Jacksonville, Florida, and I-40, stretching from California to Tennessee.

Bus and Railroad Service

Amtrak provides service from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The Sunset Limited travels cross-country between Los Angeles and New Orleans; the Coast Starlight, as its name suggests, follows a coastal route from southern California to Seattle; the San Diegan runs from Los Angeles to San Diego.


Los Angeles International Airport, known locally as LAX, is located on the west side of the city. With flights to over 60 major cities, it is the world's third-busiest airport when it comes to passenger service.


Due in large part to trade with the countries of the Pacific Rim, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Port System is the country's top-ranked shipping port in terms of both volume and value of goods handled. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a top shipping facility for air cargo. As the point of termination for several major rail lines, Los Angeles is also a busy rail freight center, and the city is also served by all major interstate trucking companies.

Los Angeles Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 3,449,000
Area: 1,215 sq km (469.3 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 75.7% white; 14% black; 9.8% Asian/Pacific Islander
Nicknames: Tinseltown (Hollywood)

Metropolitan Area

Population: 13,129,000
Description: Los Angeles-Long Beach PMSA
Area: 10,515 sq km (4,060 sq mi)
World population rank1: 8
Percentage of national population2: 4.7%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.1%
Ethnic composition: 75.2% white; 11.2% black; and 12.9% Asian/Pacific Islander


  1. The Los Angeles metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Due to the sprawling layout of Greater Los Angeles, the city is widely known for its extensive freeway system and dependence on automobiles, rather than for its use of public transportation. However, the California Metropolitan Transit Agency (called the MTA) does run local and express buses, including a shuttle service from downtown called the Downtown Area Short Hop (DASH). L.A.'s MetroRail, largely used by com muters from the more distant suburbs, operates three color-coded rail lines, including a subway system that was launched in 1993.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Los Angeles Cairo Rome Beijing
(United States) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 13,129,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1781 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $99 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $44 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $2 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $145 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 5 13 20 11
Largest newspaper Los Angeles Times Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 1,067,540 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1881 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.


Several companies offer bus tours of Los Angeles that include attractions such as the city's film studios, Sunset Strip, Hollywood, and homes of movie stars; a helicopter tour is also available. Special "theme" tours include a 3 A. M. insomniac's tour that takes in the Los Angeles Times building and the produce markets and Grave Line Tours, which takes visitors to sites associated with the deaths (by foul play and otherwise) of famous Hollywood stars. There are also separate tours of individual attractions, including movie and television studios and the Los Angeles Times.

7. Government

The Los Angeles municipal government is headed by a mayor and a 15-member council, both elected to four-year terms. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, which is under the jurisdiction of a board of supervisors consisting of five members. A number of its districts, however, are self-governing.

8. Public Safety

In 1995, violent crimes reported to police (per 100,000 population) totaled over 2,000 and included 25 murders, 840 robberies, and 1,123 aggravated assaults. Property crimes totaled 5,645 and included 1,192 burglaries, 3,120 cases of larceny/theft, and 1,333 motor vehicle thefts.

19. Tourism

The California climate and the glamour associated with the motion-picture and television industries, as well as Disneyland, make Los Angeles one of the nation's top tourist destinations. In 1995 approximately more than three million foreign travelers visited the city, ranking it second nationally in this category.

22. For Further Study


CityView Los Angeles. [Online] Available http://www.cityview.com/losangeles (accessed October 14, 1999).

LA Directory. [Online] Available http://www.ladir.com/ (accessed October 14, 1999).

Los Angeles City Net. [Online] Available http://www.city.net/countries/united_states/california/los_angeles (accessed October 14, 1999).

LosAngeles.TheLinks.com. [Online] Available http://www.losangeles.thelinks.com/. (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-2121

Los Angeles Planning Dept.
221 N. Figueroa St., Rm. 1600
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 580-1168

Mayor's Office
200 N Main St., Rm. 800
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-2489

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
633 W. 5th St., Suite 6000
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 624-7300


Los Angeles Business Journal
5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 170
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Los Angeles Magazine
11100 Santa Monica Blvd., 7th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Los Angeles Times Times Mirror Square Los Angeles, CA 90053


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Anderson, Donald A. Los Angeles: Realm of Possibility: A Contemporary Portrait. Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1991.

Brook, Stephen. L.A. Days, L.A. Nights. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Cannon, Lou. Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. New York: New York Times Books, 1997.

Cini, Zelda, Bob Crane, Peter Brown. Hollywood, Land & Legend. Westport, CN: Arlington House, 1980.

Davis, Mike. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998.

Kaplan, Sam Hall. L. A. Lost & Found: An Architectural History of Los Angeles. New York: Crown, 1987.

Loh, Sandra Tsing. Depth Takes a Holiday: Essays from Lesser Los Angeles. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.

Martinez, Rubin. The Other Side: Notes from the new L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.

Miller, John. Los Angeles Stories: Great Writers on the City. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991.

Rieff, David. Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Sonenshein, Raphael. Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Thompson, Frank T. Los Angeles Uncovered. Plano, TX: Seaside Press, 1996.

Thorpe, Edward. Chandlertown: The Los Angeles of Philip Marlowe. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983.


Los Angeles, Hollywood & Southern California. [videorecording] Finley-Holiday Film Corporation. Whittier, CA: Finley-Holiday Film Corp., 1993. 1 videocassette (40 min.)