Provo is the third largest city in Utah and one of the oldest cities in the state. It is located 43 miles south of the Salt Lake City metro area and is the county seat for Utah County. The area was inhabited first by the Timpanogos Native American tribe. Father Escalante, a Spanish Franciscan missionary and explorer, is considered to be the first European explorer to visit the area (1776). After Mormon Pioneers settled the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, settlers were sent to the area. In 1849, thirty-three families established Fort Utah, and in 1850, the fort—and the eventual city—were named for Etienne Provost, an early French-Canadian trapper who came to the area in 1825.
The city often ranks near the top of national polls rating desirable places to live, work, and play. For instance, CNN reported in January 2016 that the Provo area grew at the fastest pace of any town in the U.S. during 2015. The Labor Department indicated that Provo's unemployment rate of 2.7% is half of the national average. Provo was awarded the Google Fiber program in 2014 and provides lightning fast Internet to residents and businesses. In 2015, SmartAsset recommended Provo as the #1 best place to get a career. According to MSN and KUTV, Provo was ranked eighth among the top 10 cities in the country for sober living, according to a recent study released in 2022. When categorizing the soberest cities, Provo stands out for having extremely low rates of drug and alcohol use. Provo received a 71.76% overall score for sober cities to live in, according to statistics.
A variety of recreational areas are within easy driving distance, such as world-class ski resorts, scenic canyon lands, beautiful lakes, and towering mountain peaks.
Provo is the birthplace of music (with such groups as Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, Fictionist, and Lindsey Stirling) and business (with such companies as NuSkin, Ancestry.com, and Vivint). Over half of the population of Provo is under 30, according to census data.
Provo was one of the spots for the 2002 Olympics, serving as an ice hockey and practice venue.
It is the home of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University is nearby in Orem. It also has the largest Missionary Training Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the site of the Provo Utah Temple and the Provo City Center Temple, the first city in the world with two temples. It is second only to Salt Lake City for the publications of Latter-day Saint materials.
Forbes ranked Provo as the #4 most educated city in the United States (in connection with nearby Orem). In 2022, MSN ranked Provo as the #2 best-run city in the nation. Provo is also known as a great place to start a business and raise a family; thus, safety is a strong focus for this community.
Provo has a high population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As of October 2008, there are 40 stakes in Provo, including 22 BYU stakes and a Tongan-speaking stake. The Tongan-speaking stake includes units throughout Utah Valley, but the other stakes are close to being entirely in Provo. The city has approximately ten Spanish-speaking Church units in Provo as well as a Korean and a Chinese speaking unit.
Provo has other denominations as well, from St. Mary's Episcopal Church Provo to Living Water Mennonite Church. Nearby Spanish Fork has a Krishna Temple for Utah County's Hindu community.