Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the seat and largest city of Sacramento County. Located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in Northern California’s Sacramento Valley, Sacramento’s estimated 2019 population of 513,625 makes it the sixth-largest city in California and the ninth-largest capital in the United States. Sacramento is the seat of the California Legislature and the Governor of California, making it the state’s political center and a hub for lobbying and think tanks. Sacramento is also the cultural and economic core of the Sacramento metropolitan area, which at the 2010 census had a population of 2,414,783, making it the fifth-largest in California.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area was inhabited by the Nisenan, Maidu, and other indigenous peoples of California. Spanish cavalryman Gabriel Moraga surveyed and named the Rio del Santísimo Sacramento (Sacramento River) in 1808, after the Blessed Sacrament, referring to the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. In 1839, Juan Bautista Alvarado, Mexican governor of Alta California, granted the responsibility of colonizing the Sacramento Valley to Swiss-born Mexican citizen John Augustus Sutter, who subsequently established Sutter’s Fort and the settlement at the Rancho Nueva Helvetia. Following the American Conquest of California and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the waterfront developed by Sutter began to be developed, and incorporated in 1850 as the City of Sacramento. As a result of the California Gold Rush, Sacramento became a major commercial center and distribution point for Northern California, serving as the terminus for the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad.