The city is served by Laredo International Airport.
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The town of Laredo was founded in 1755 while the area was part of a region called Nuevo Santander in the Spanish colony of New Spain. In 1840 Laredo was the capital of the independent Republic of Rio Grande, set up in rebellion to the dictatorship of Santa Anna and brought back into Mexico by military force. In 1846 during the Mexican-American War the town was occupied by the Texas Rangers. After the war the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded the land to the United States. A referendum was taken in the town, which voted overwhelmingly to be part of Mexico rather than the United States. However, the U.S. Military refused the petition, and the bulk of the population moved over the river into Mexican territory to found the new town of Nuevo Laredo. In 1849 the military set up Fort McIntosh (originally Camp Crawford) by the town. Laredo was rechartered as a city in 1852. The city is a major port of trade between the United States and Mexico.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 206.0 km² (79.6 mi²). 203.2 km² (78.5 mi²) of it is land and 2.8 km² (1.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.37% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 176,576 people, 46,852 households, and 39,964 families residing in the city. The population density is 868.9/km² (2,250.5/mi²). There are 50,319 housing units at an average density of 247.6/km² (641.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 82.27% White, 0.37% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 13.94% from other races, and 2.49% from two or more races. 94.13% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 46,852 households out of which 52.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.0% are married couples living together, 18.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 14.7% are non-families. 12.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 5.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.70 and the average family size is 4.05.
In the city the population is spread out with 35.5% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 15.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 27 years. For every 100 females there are 92.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $29,108, and the median income for a family is $30,449. Males have a median income of $24,070 versus $19,202 for females. The per capita income for the city is $11,084. 29.6% of the population and 25.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 37.7% are under the age of 18 and 26.1% are 65 or older.