Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 116,250 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010), making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. It is the largest city in central Illinois. Just over 208,000 residents live in the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Sangamon County and adjacent Menard County. Present-day Springfield was first settled by European Americans in the late 1810s, around the time Illinois became a state. The most famous past resident is Abraham Lincoln, who lived in Springfield from 1837 until 1861, when he went to the White House as President. Major tourist attractions include a multitude of historic sites connected with Lincoln. In 1908 a large race riot erupted in the city, which resulted in the lynching of two African-American men and deaths of four whites killed by defenders of black areas; it led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The city lies on a mostly flat plain which encompasses much of the surrounding countryside. Hilly terrain lies near the Sangamon River. Lake Springfield, a large artificial lake owned by City Water, Light & Power company called CWLP, supplies the city with recreation and drinking water. Weather is fairly typical for middle latitude locations, with hot summers and cold winters. Spring and summer weather is like that of most midwestern cities; severe thunderstorms are common. Tornadoes hit Springfield in 1957 and 2006.