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Baton Rouge (/btn ru/ BAT-n ROOZH; from French Bton-Rouge'red stick') is a city in and the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Located the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, it is the parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana's most populous parishthe equivalent of counties in other U.S. states. Since 2020, it has been the 99th-most-populous city in the United States and the second-largest city in Louisiana, after New Orleans; Baton Rouge is the 18th-most-populous state capital. According to the 2020 United States census, the city-proper had a population of 227,470; its consolidated population was 456,781 in 2020. The city is the center of the Greater Baton Rouge areaLouisiana's second-largest metropolitan areawith a population of 870,569 as of 2020, up from 802,484 in 2010.
The Baton Rouge area owes its historical importance to its strategic site upon the Istrouma Bluff, the first natural bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. This allowed development of a business quarter safe from seasonal flooding. In addition, it built a levee system stretching from the bluff southward to protect the riverfront and low-lying agricultural areas.
It is a culturally rich center, with settlement by immigrants from numerous European nations and African peoples brought to North America as slaves or indentured servants. It was ruled by seven different governments: French, British, and Spanish in the colonial era; the Republic of West Florida; as a United States territory and state; Confederate, and United States again since the end of the American Civil War. Through the various occupying national governments of Baton Rouge, the city and its metropolitan area have developed as a multicultural region practicing many religious traditions from Catholicism to Protestantism, and Louisiana and Haitian Vodou; the area has also become home to a sizeable lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and elected the first open LGBT politician for the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
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