Los Angeles is the largest city in California and the second largest city in the USA. It is located on the southern coast of California about 75 miles north of the Mexican border and 400 miles south of San Francisco. The original name of the city was The Village of Our Lady the Queen of Angels, but the name was shortened for obvious reasons.
Los Angeles is situated on an irregularly shaped coastal plain about 30 to 60 miles across. It is bounded on the west by nearly 60 miles of Pacific Coast beaches and ocean cliffs. The San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains form a 2500 meter high wall to the east. The Santa Monica Mountains define its northern limit and the Santa Anna Mountains define the southern.
Los Angeles has four major airports Los Angeles International, Burbank Glendale Airport, John Wayne Airport and Ontario International Airport. In addition, the Orange County Airport is less than one hour from the city and San Diego Airport is within a two hour drive.
Los Angeles natives inhabit the entire plain and all the local hills plus the sides of the mountain ranges and into all of the connecting valleys. The city now covers over 1000 square miles in dozens of interconnected communities. High rise buildings only exist in a few isolated clusters. From nearly every vantage point, you can gaze across miles of low rooftops with palm trees towering above.
Along the Pacific shore, Malibu, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Palos Verde are high class residential beach communities.
Hollywood is the historic home of the old movie studios and Beverly Hills is still the home of the movie stars. Here you can drive along the western terminus of historic route 66 on Santa Monica Boulevard. You can stroll along famous Hollywood Boulevard and the Sunset Strip. In nearby Burbank, you can visit many modern movie and television studios. In Anaheim, you can see the original Disney Land and Knotts Berry Farm.
Downtown is certainly a commercial district, but it is no more the urban centre of the city than many other neighbourhoods. Near the downtown area are ethnic neighbourhoods with large Asian populations called, Korea Town, China Town and Japan Town.
Unlike most cities, Los Angeles does not have a distinct urban centre. It is a collection of individual communities tied together by a complex network of roads and freeways. Each community offers a uniquely different character. Together, they make up this huge metropolitan complex called Los Angeles.