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Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. Only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are bigger.


It has a population of  more than 2 million with a median age of 31 years. More than 4.8 million live in the Greater Houston metropolitan area.


Established in 1836, it was named after Sam Houston, General of the Texas army that won independence from Mexico and  who became President of the Republic of Texas.


It is recognised as the world's energy capital. Oil was discovered  east of the city in 1901 and the oil boom peaked in the late 1970s when new residents moved into the city at the rate of 1000 a week.  The local economy suffered when oil prices slumped in the 1980s  and a concerted effort was made to diversify. While energy remains a major player, other sectors such as technology and healthcare make  major contributions to the Houston economy.


Of  America's major cities it has the second lowest cost of living and Houstonians eat out more often than the residents of any other city.  It has more than 11,000 restaurants.


The Houston Ship Channel was opened in 1914 linking the city with the Gulf of Mexico and the Port of Houston is now the eighth largest port in the world and handles more foreign tonnage than any other port in the U.S.


Around 45 million passengers a year pass through the city's two main airports - George Bush International and William P.Hobby.


The Texas Medical Centre is the largest in the world with more than 52,000 employees and 4.8 million patients a year.  


The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre, 20 miles south-east of downtown Houston, is the headquarters  and mission control for America's manned space programme.


Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world's largest attracting 1.8 million visitors in February/March.


In addition to the link with Grampian Region, Houston has sister city relationships with Baku, Azerbaijan (established 1976); Chiba, Japan (1973); Guayaquil, Ecuador (1987);  Huelva, Spain (1969); Istanbul, Turkey (1986); Leipzig, Germany (1993); Nice, France (1973); Perth, Australia (1983); Shenzhen, China (1986); Stavanger, Norway (1980); Taipei, Taiwan (1963); Tampico, Mexico (2003); Tyumen, Russia (1995); Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2001) and Luanda, Angola (2003).  

Cypress trees in Hermann Park, Houston. The trees were presented by the Grampian-Houston Association to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sister City relationship


(Photo courtesy of Jack Hume)

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