Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the state of Tennessee, behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is also the largest city in East Tennessee. As of the 2000 United States Census, Knoxville had a total population of 173,890; the July 2007 estimated population was 183,546 Knoxville is the principal city of the "Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area" with a metro population of 655,400, which is in turn the central component of the "Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area" with 1,029,155 residents.
Of Tennessee's four major cities, Knoxville is second oldest to Nashville which was founded in 1779. After Tennessee's admission into the Union in 1796, Knoxville was the state's first capital, in which capacity it served until 1819, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro, prior to Nashville receiving the designation. The city was named in honor of the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox.