Springfield is the capital of the U.S. state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 116,482 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006). Over 205,000 residents live in the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Sangamon County and adjacent Menard County. The land on which Springfield is located today was first settled in the late 1810s, around the time Illinois became a state. One of the city's most important and prominent past residents is Abraham Lincoln, who moved from Indiana to the area in 1831 and lived in Springfield itself from 1837 until 1861. In 1908 a large race riot erupted in the city which culminated with the lynching of two African American residents and led to the founding of the NAACP.
Springfield is known for its food and as a home to such performing arts as ballet, jazz and a carillon festival, which happens annually. Common tourist attractions include a multitude of historic sites affiliated with Lincoln, state government sites and various food-related attractions such as the Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop.
The city lies on a mostly flat plain which encompasses much of the surrounding countryside. A large man-made lake, owned by a local public utility company, supplies the city with recreation and drinking water. Weather is fairly typical for middle latitude location, hot summers and cold winters. Spring and summer weather is like that of most midwestern cities-severe thunderstorms are common. Violent storms such as tornadoes are rare. On March 12, 2006 two tornadoes touched down in the city. This had been the first time in nearly 50 years that a tornado hit Springfield proper.
The city is governed by a mayor-council form of government, under a strong mayor variation. The city proper is also the "Capital Township" governmental entity. In addition, the government of the state of Illinois is also based in Springfield. State government entities located in the city include the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor of Illinois. There are eight public and private high schools in the city. Public schools in Springfield are operated by District No. 186. The economy of Springfield is marked by government jobs, which account for a large percentage of the work force in the city. Unemployment in Springfield rose from September 2006 to February 2007, from 3.8% to 5.1%.