Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in the U.S. state of Texas. The community of 208.3 square miles (539 km2), with its population of 47,762 people (2012 Census estimate), is the county seat and second-largest municipality of Galveston County. It is located within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area.
Named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez (born in Málaga, Spain), Galveston’s first European settlements on the island were constructed around 1816 by French pirate Louis-Michel Aury to help the fledgling Republic of Mexico fight Spain. The Port of Galveston was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico following its successful independence from Spain. The city served as the main port for the Texas Navy during the Texas Revolution, and later served as the capital of the Republic of Texas.
During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. It was devastated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, whose effects included flooding and a storm surge. The natural disaster on the exposed barrier island is still ranked as the deadliest in United States history, with an estimated toll of 6,000-8,000 people.
Much of Galveston’s modern economy is centered in the tourism, health care, shipping, and financial industries. The 84-acre (340,000 m2) University of Texas Medical Branch campus with an enrollment of more than 2,500 students is a major economic force of the city. Galveston is home to six historic districts containing one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings with over 60 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.