Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. As of 2012, the city had a population of 179,055. residents, making it the state's third largest city. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2012 had a population of 711,338. The KMSA is in turn the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area, which in 2012 had a population of 1,074,010.
First settled in 1786, Knoxville was the first capital of Tennessee. The city struggled with geographic isolation throughout the early 19th century, though the arrival of the railroad in 1855 led to an economic boom. During the Civil War, the city was bitterly divided over the secession issue, and was occupied alternately by both Confederate and Union armies. Following the war, Knoxville grew rapidly as a major wholesaling and manufacturing center. The city's economy stagnated after the 1920s as the manufacturing sector collapsed, the Downtown area declined, and city leaders became entrenched in highly partisan political fights. Hosting the 1982 World's Fair helped reinvigorate the city, and revitalization initiatives by city leaders and private developers have had some success.
Knoxville is the home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, whose sports teams, called the "Volunteers" or "Vols," are extremely popular in the surrounding area. Knoxville is also home to the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as the corporate headquarters of several national and regional companies. Knoxville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for East Tennessee. As one of the largest cities in the Appalachian region, Knoxville has positioned itself in recent years as a repository of Appalachian culture and is one of the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.