Seattle (pronounced /siːætəl/ ( listen) see-at-əl) is the northernmost major city in the contiguous United States, and the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and the state of Washington. It is a major seaport situated on a narrow isthmus between Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 114 miles (183 km) south of the Canada – United States border, and it is named after Chief Sealth "Seattle", of the Duwamish and Suquamish native tribes. Seattle is the center of the Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue metropolitan statistical area--the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and the largest in the northwestern United States. Seattle is the county seat of King County and is the major economic, cultural and educational center in the region. The 2010 census found that Seattle is home to 608,660 residents within a metropolitan area of some 3.4 million inhabitants. The Port of Seattle, which also operates Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, is a major gateway for trade with Asia and cruises to Alaska, and is the 8th largest port in the United States in terms of container capacity.
Seattle is the western terminus of I-90 and is on the I-5 corridor, about 140 miles (230 km) south of Vancouver, British Columbia, and 170 miles (270 km) north of Portland, Oregon. The city of Victoria, British Columbia's capital, is about 110 miles (180 km) to the northwest (about 90 miles (140 km) by passenger ferry) while the eastern Washington hub city of Spokane lies 280 miles (450 km) to the east.
The Seattle area has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years, but European settlement began only in the mid-19th century. The first permanent European-descended settlers were Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, who arrived November 13, 1851. Early settlements in the area were called "New York-Alki" ("Alki" meaning "by and by" in Chinook Jargon) and "Duwamps". In 1853, Doc Maynard suggested that the main settlement be renamed "Seattle", an anglicized rendition of the name of Sealth, the chief of the two local tribes. From 1869 until 1982, Seattle was known as the "Queen City". Seattle's current official nickname is the "Emerald City", the result of a contest held in 1981; the reference is to the lush evergreen forests of the area. Seattle is also referred to informally as the "Gateway to Alaska", "Rain City", and "Jet City", the last from the local influence of Boeing. Seattle residents are known as Seattleites.