Humanities › Geography 10 Interesting Facts About New Orleans Share Flipboard Email Print Nathan Steele / EyeEm / Getty Images Geography Country Information Basics Physical Geography Political Geography Population Key Figures & Milestones Maps Urban Geography By Amanda Briney Geography Expert M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento Amanda Briney, M.A., is a professional geographer. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from California State University. our editorial process Amanda Briney Updated April 18, 2018 New Orleans 404 is the largest city in the United States state of Louisiana with a 2008 population of 336,644 people. The New Orleans Metropolitan area, which includes the cities of Kenner and Metairie, had a 2009 population of 1,189,981 which made it the 46th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Its population dropped dramatically after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent severe flooding hit the city in 2005.The City of New Orleans is located on the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana. The large Lake Pontchartrain also lies within the city limits. New Orleans is most well known for its distinctive French architecture and French culture. It is famous for its food, music, multicultural events and the Mardi Gras festival held in the city. New Orleans is also known as the "birthplace of jazz." Legendary jazz figure Louis Armstrong was famously born here and honed his skills as a young musician in the city's clubs. The following is a list of 10 important geographic facts about New Orleans. The City of New Orleans was founded under the name La Nouvelle-Orléans on May 7, 1718, by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and the French Mississippi Company. The city was named after Phillipe d'Orléans, who was France's head of state at the time. In 1763, France lost control of the new colony to Spain with the Treaty of Paris. Spain then controlled the region until 1801, at which time, it was passed back to France. In 1803 the region encompassing New Orleans and surrounding areas was sold by Napoleon to the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. The city then began to grow considerably with a variety of different ethnicities.After became a part of the United States, New Orleans also began to play a large role in international relations as it developed into a large port. The port then played a role in the Atlantic slave trade but also the exportation of different commodities and the importing of international goods for the rest of the nation up the Mississippi River.Throughout the rest of the 1800s and into the 20th century, New Orleans continued to grow rapidly as its port and fishing industry remained important for the rest of the country. In the end of the 20th century, growth in New Orleans continued but planners became aware of the city's vulnerability to flooding after erosion of wetlands and marshes.In August 2005, New Orleans was hit by the category five Hurricane Katrina and 80 percent of the city was flooded after a failure of the city's levees. 1,500 people died in Hurricane Katrina and much of the city's population permanently relocated.New Orleans is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain about 105 miles (169 km) north of the Gulf of Mexico. The total area of the city is 350.2 square miles (901 sq km).The climate of New Orleans considered humid subtropical with mild winters and hot, humid summers. The average July high temperature for New Orleans is 91.1°F (32.8°C) while the average January low is 43.4°F (6.3°C).New Orleans is known for its world-famous architecture and areas like the French Quarter and Bourbon Street are popular areas for tourists. The city is one of the top ten most visited cities in the U.S.The economy of New Orleans is based largely on its port but also on oil refining, petrochemical production, fishing and the service sector related to tourism.New Orleans is home to two of the largest private universities in the United States- Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans. Public universities like the University of New Orleans are also within the city.