Los Angeles (LA) is the largest city in California. Located on a broad basin in Southern California, it is surrounded by vast mountain ranges, deep valleys, forests, desert, and the Pacific Ocean.
The metropolitan area is the second largest in the United States in terms of population, home to nearly 18 million people who hail from all parts of the globe and speak over a hundred different languages. The metropolitan area is centered in Los Angeles County, but stretches into Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.
Los Angeles is an important center of culture, business, media, and international trade, but is most famous for being the center of the world's entertainment industry, which forms the base of its global status.
Los Angeles is a very diverse city with nearly half of its population being born outside the United States. It has the third largest Mexican population in the world behind Mexico City and Guadalajara, and is home to many other large immigrant populations such as Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Iranians, Armenians, Thais, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Indians, Koreans, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Israelis, and Samoans. Spread throughout the city are many ethnic enclaves such as Koreatown, Chinatown, Filipinotown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Thai Town, Little Persia, and Little India. For the most part it's also a fairly gay-friendly city, especially the Westside, Hollywood, and West Hollywood where even the police cars bear rainbows.
Los Angeles' massive sprawl and dysfunctional public transportation makes getting around rather painful, especially during weekends when service can be more erratic. The only rational way of getting around much of the city is to rent a car, in which case you'll get a crash course in the complex freeway system and, if you're "lucky," a taste of the notorious traffic jams. The underdeveloped rail system will only get you so far (although it does, fortunately, provide service to most of the main tourist areas). On the other hand Los Angeles' bus system is enormous and you should be able get wherever you need to by bus, provided you aren't terribly pressed for time.