Missoula (population 66,788) is a city in the western part of Montana. It is the 2nd largest city within the state and serves as the county seat of Missoula County. Missoula City is known as the "Hub of Five Valleys" because of its location at the junction of five mountain ranges. The larger Missoula Metropolitan Area has a population of roughly 109,299.
Missoula was founded in 1860 along the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers. It was initially called Hellgate Trading Post when it was part of Washington Territory. The settlement moved upstream to be nearer a convenient water supply that would allow the establishment of a lumber and flour mill. It was then called Missoula Mills, and eventually just Missoula. The settlement supplied settlers traveling west along the Mullan Road and the occupants of Fort Missoula. The Fort was built in 1877 to provide security for settlers. In 1883 the Northern Pacific Railway arrived in the area, boosting the lumber trade and sparking the population growth. During the year 1893 the Montana Legislature chose the City of Missoula as the site for the new first university of Montana. In 1908 the U.S. Forest Service built its head office in Missoula.
For over 100 years, lumber and higher education will underpin the local economy. Other than those industries, the City of Missoula is a regional trade center serving a trading area consisting of about 180,000 individuals. The bigger trading area encompasses the western third of Montana including 301,000 inhabitants. Key sectors of the economy of Missoula are health care, education, financial services, transportation, retail shopping, government/social services, arts, culture and events.
Missoula's largest employer is the University, whilst the St. Patrick Hospital and the Community Medical Center rank second and third respectively. Health care is the fastest growing trade. Just more than 50 percent of all employment within Missoula comes from the service and retail businesses. Missoula produces a great deal of product for export, within the construction, engineering, transportation, forestry and beverage businesses. Tourism is a really significant sector with roughly 4 million tourists arriving from out of state on a yearly basis.