Laredo is the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, on the north bank of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo), across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. According to the 2006 census estimate, the city population was 231,470. Laredo is part of the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan Area with a total population of 589,309.
Laredo has the distinction of having seven flags flown over the city. Having been founded in 1755, Laredo grew from a villa to the Capital of the defunct Republic of the Rio Grande to the largest inland port on the United States-Mexican Border. Today, it has four international bridges and one railway bridge. Laredo's weather is semi-arid during the summer and mild during the winter.
Laredo International Airport is within the Laredo city limits, while the Quetzalcoatl International Airport is nearby in Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. The city has four semi-professional teams; Bucks, Broncos, Heat, and Lobos. Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College call Laredo home. The biggest festival, Washington's Birthday Celebration is during February all month long, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists.
The Laredo Independent School District (LISD) serves the areas in central Laredo. The LISD high schools are Cigarroa High School, Martin High School, Nixon High School and the Laredo Early College High School. LISD is also served by three school|magent schools: Dr. Dennis D. Cantu Health Science Magnet School, LISD Magnet for Engineering and Technology Education, and Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts.
The United Independent School District serves the areas in other parts of Laredo and northern Webb County. The UISD high schools are John B. Alexander High School, Lyndon B. Johnson High School, United High School, United South High School. UISD also has three magnet schools: John B. Alexander Health Science Magnet, United Engineering Magnet, and the United South Business Magnet.
The city is also served by eight private schools:
The Laredo Community College is a two campus college. LCC is a 2 year college that offers Associates Degrees. The main campus is located in southwest Laredo near the Rio Grande. The college's second campus is located in deep south Laredo along United States Route 83.
The Texas A&M International University is a 4/6 year university that offers Bachelors and Master's Degrees. On April 22 2004, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in Austin provided its approval for Texas A&M International University to grant its first Ph.D. in International Business Administration . On May 12 2007, Christine Bernadas made history as the university's first Ph.D. graduate in International Business . TAMIU’s College of Business Administration has been named an outstanding business school in The Princeton Review’s “Best 282 Business Schools,” 2007 Edition, and ranked third in the nation for the category: “Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students.” The university's campus is located in Northeast Laredo along Texas State Highway Loop 20.
The University of Texas Health Science Center campus is located in East Laredo near United States Route 59 and the Laredo Medical Center. The campus is an extension university from UTHSC in San Antonio, Texas. The university offers Doctoral Degrees in the medical and dental fields.
More than 47% of United States international trade headed for Mexico and more than 36% of Mexican international trade crosses through the Laredo port of entry. This is the reason that Laredo's economy rotates around commercial and industrial warehousing, import, and export. The city of Laredo has an airport called Laredo International Airport which has one-way flights to Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas. The airport also handles merchandise to export to the neighboring country. The Laredo port of entry has five international bridges crossing the Rio Grande into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
Retail sales also helps the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo economy, it attracts shoppers from Northern Mexico and South Texas. There are 2 indoor shopping malls located in the area and dozens of plazas. The Streets of Laredo Urban Mall is an association created by businesses located in Iturbide Street in the San Agustin historical district to beautify and renovate the area. By 2009 Laredo will have an additional 2 malls which are currently under construction:
The Washington's Birthday Celebration (WBCA)  is an almost month long held event that celebrates George Washington's Birthday. It was founded in 1898 by the Improved Order of the Red Men, local chapter Yaqui Tribe #59. It is the largest celebration of its kind in the United States with approximately 400,000 attendees annually. The first celebration was a phenomenal success and its success and popularity grew rapidly and in 1923 it received its state charter. In 1924, the Celebration featured its first Colonial Pageant, which featured thirteen young girls from Laredo, representing the thirteen original colonies. The celebration includes parades, a carnival, an air show, fireworks, live concerts and a city-wide prom during which many of Laredo's elite dress very nicely. One of its main events, the Jalapeño Festival, has recently been named one of the United States' top 10 eating festivals due to its Jalapeño Eating Contest. The WBCA has become a Laredo institution, with its history closely tied to the history of the community.
Jamboozie is held in late January in downtown Laredo as part of the Washington Birthday Celebrations. As somewhat of an imitation of New Orlean's Mardi Gras, the Jamboozie is known to be a colorful event, with many people dressed in beads and masks and sometimes flamboyant outfits. Besides many concession stands and up to four stages that feature local and regional bands (mostly alternative rock, classic rock and Spanish music), there are also several bars along the proximity that are open.
Republic of the Rio Grande Capitol Building Museum is located in the downtown historical district next to the historical La Posada Hotel. It was once the Republic of the Rio Grande Capitol building now showcases memorabilia from the short lived Republic of the Rio Grande. It displays pictures, books, and furniture from the 19th century Laredo area. It offers guided tours for school age children and adults year-round. Because of this Republic, Laredo had flown seven flags instead of the traditional Six Flags over Texas.
The Laredo Center for the Arts is located in historic downtown Laredo. The building houses three galleries: the Goodman Gallery, the Laredo Art League Gallery and the Lilia G. Martinez Gallery. The Center for the Arts, located in the former City Hall offices known as the Mercado, displays regional artwork and provides community events for children and adults. Across the street, the former Plaza Theater is currently under consideration for renovation for a future performing arts theater. Located in east Laredo in an area what is known as the "base" or airport grounds, the Laredo Little Theater provides Laredoans with live stage performances. The theater also hosts comedians.
Imaginarium of South Texas (formerly Laredo Children's Museum), located in Mall del Norte, provides a hands-on experience with science, technology, and art for Laredo's youth. A second museum is planned on the Texas A&M International University campus.