Far more than just the county seat of Miami-Dade County in southeastern Florida, the City of Miami is the heart of Greater Miami, with Miami Beach across Biscayne Bay to the east and residential cities like Coral Gables and South Miami to the south. With a population of around 5.5 million, the Miami metro area is the seventh most populous and the fifth-largest urban area in the United States. Most of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Across the bay are several natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach. A warm ocean current just off the coast allows the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.
Miami is a major center of finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade. In 2008, Forbes magazine called Miami "America's Cleanest City" for its good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs. Nicknamed the "Capital of Latin America", Miami is the second-largest U.S. city with a Spanish-speaking majority (after El Paso, TX), and the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality. Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States. The Port of Miami is the number one cruise passenger port in the world.
Miami holds the distinction of being the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle, who is sometimes referred to as the "mother of Miami". Tuttle, a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland, Ohio native, convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to the region at the end of the 1900s. Growing steadily through the 1920s, Miami's population got its biggest boost after 1959 when Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba and emigrants sought refuge. In the latter half of the 20th century, Miami grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly 5.5 million residents in just 110 years. After 2001, Miami saw a large building boom the biggest since the 1920s and the addition of over 50 skyscrapers over 400 feet tall. Miami's skyline is considered the third most impressive in the U.S. after New York City and Chicago.
Miami boasts a remarkable number of entertainment venues, theaters, museums, performing arts centers and parks. The newest addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts center in the United States after the Lincoln Center in New York City, and home of the Florida Grand Opera. Miami is also a major fashion center, home to some of the world's top modeling agencies and the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami held in the Wynwood Art District. The city offers numerous public schools including Design and Architecture Senior High, one of the top magnet schools in the nation'as well as several highly-regarded private schools and universities.
Miami's tropical weather allows for year-round outdoor activities, many of which are centered around its marinas, rivers, bays, canals, and the Atlantic Ocean boating, sailing and fishing are all popular pastimes. Biscayne Bay has several coral reefs which make for great snorkeling and scuba diving. There are over 80 parks and gardens in the city. The largest and most popular are Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park, located in the heart of Downtown. Greater Miami borders two national parks, Biscayne National Park in Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park. At 1,509,000 acres, the latter is the country's largest subtropical wilderness.
Public transportation in Miami is operated by Miami-Dade Transit and SFRTA, and includes commuter rail (Tri-Rail), heavy-rail rapid transit (Metrorail), an elevated people-mover (Metromover), and buses (Metrobus).