Austin has the rich diversity of a large city and, despite its nearly one million population, it has the friendly charm of a small town. A temperate climate, 28 miles of urban hike-and-bike trails and more than 11,000 acres of park-land encourage outdoor activities and a relaxed, casual lifestyle. Austin has political and intellectual stature as the seat of Texas government and the home of a world class university and many high-tech firms. The city's advanced technology research and development sector has blossomed into a billion-dollar enterprise. Populated in part by UT Austin alumni who fell in love with the city's unique beauty and character, Austin has one of the most highly educated populations in the nation.
The Colorado River forms Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake as it flows through downtown Austin. Upstream, dams create five large lakes (http://www.lcra.org/water/dams.html) where sailors, water skiers, campers, swimmers, and sunbathers enjoy Austin's temperate climate - the average yearly temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Not far from downtown Austin, the Barton Springs swimming pool is formed by a natural spring gushing 27 million gallons of water a day into a limestone bed. The Texas Hill Country stretches south and west from Austin and is laced with sparkling rivers and breathtaking vistas, providing a welcome respite to urbanites and graduate students.
Austin supports both traditional and avant garde theater, dance and opera, and the Austin Symphony plays a full concert season from September to May. Austin's legendary live music scene is where many popular rock and roll, blues, jazz, and country and western singers got their start.
Fortune magazine has described Austin's business climate as one of the nation's best. Its high tech sector includes more than 400 companies. Many of these companies, such as Dell Computer Corporation, are nationally recognized Austin-based businesses. Two high-tech consortia, MCC and SEMATECH, foster critical links between academia and industry.
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Mountains, deserts, hills, lakes, beaches, vast high plains, and bustling cities comprise the landscape of the nation's second largest state. In Central Texas, Austin sits within a 250-mile radius of the Texas Gulf Coast, the Mexican border and the cities of Dallas, Houston (the fourth largest city in the USA), and San Antonio. One of Texas' most stunning sights is Big Bend National Park in West Texas where 8,000-ft. mountains rise dramatically from the floor of the Chihuahua Desert. UT Austin's McDonald Observatory, with one of the world's largest telescopes, perches on a mountain top in the Davis Mountain range.
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