The Nashville metro, with a population of more than 1.6 million, is comprised of 13 counties: Davidson, Smith, Macon, Williamson, Cheatham, Sumner, Dickson, Robertson, Cannon, Rutherford, Hickman, Trousdale, and Wilson. Nashville, the capital city, is also the largest in the metro with 616,700 residents, followed by Murfreesboro.
For many, country music and Nashville are synonymous. The metro is home to the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Channel and Music Row. Music and entertainment helped to establish a large tourism industry. Facilities such as the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Nashville Convention Center, and the new 1.2 million square foot Music City Center are drivers in expanding the hospitality and tourism segment.
Although entertainment and tourism are vital to the local economy, the economic base is much more diverse. This is due, in part, to the area having one of the nation’s lowest overall tax burdens and the availability of incentives to attract relocating and expanding businesses. Other major industries in the metro include: healthcare, higher education, finance and insurance, automobile production, printing and publishing, and technology manufacturing. Three Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the region – HCA Holdings, Dollar General, and Community Health Systems.
Institutions of higher learning located in the metro include Middle Tennessee State University, Lipscomb University, Belmont University, Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University. Education, healthcare and government employment help to diversify Nashville's employment base.
The Nashville metro is located in the north central portion of the state in what is known as the Central Basin of Tennessee. The Central Basin is underlain primarily by limestone from the Ordovician Period. The Cumberland River, which snakes through the region, adds to the local economic base and enhances Nashville's quality of life.