Raleigh is the capital city of the state of North Carolina, the seat of Wake County and the second largest city in North Carolina. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's estimated population on July 1, 2008 was 392,552 (a 42% increase from the 2000 Census), making Raleigh the 8th fastest growing city and the 45th largest city in the United States.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the three historically primary cities of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional nickname of "The Triangle" originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located between the cities of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area (CSA) of Raleigh-Durham-Cary in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina. As of July 1, 2008 the estimated population of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA was 1,690,557, while the Raleigh-Cary Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was estimated at 1,088,765, making it the nation's fastest growing metropolitan area.
Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County, with a very small portion extending into Durham County. The towns of Cary, Garner, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell, and Rolesville are some of Raleigh's primary nearby suburbs and satellite towns.
The Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek hosts major international touring acts. The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts complex houses the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, the Fletcher Opera Theater, the Kennedy Theatre, and the Meymandi Concert Hall. During the North Carolina State Fair, Dorton Arena hosts headline acts. In 2008, a new theatre space, the Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School, was opened in the restored auditorium of the historic Murphey School. Theater performances are also offered at the Raleigh Little Theatre, Long View Center, Theatre in the Park, and Stewart Theater at North Carolina State University.
Raleigh is home to several professional arts organizations, including the North Carolina Symphony, the Opera Company of North Carolina, Burning Coal Theatre Company, the North Carolina Theatre, Broadway Series South and the Carolina Ballet. The numerous local colleges and universities significantly add to the options available for viewing live performances.
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