Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States. The county seat of Milwaukee County, it is on Lake Michigan's western shore. Ranked by estimated 2014 population, Milwaukee was the 31st largest city in the United States. The city's estimated population in 2017 was 595,351. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. It is also part of the larger Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha combined statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,026,243 in the 2010 census. Milwaukee is the second-most densely populated metropolitan area in the Midwest, surpassed only by Chicago.
The first Europeans to pass through the area were French Catholic Jesuit missionaries, who were ministering to Native Americans, and fur traders. In 1818, the French Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau settled in the area, and in 1846, Juneau's town combined with two neighboring towns to incorporate as the city of Milwaukee. Large numbers of German immigrants arrived during the late 1840s, after the German revolutions, with Poles and other eastern European immigrants arriving in the following decades.