Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2000 census, the city population was 147,306, and its metropolitan area had a population of 732,117. It is the economic and educational hub of Central New York, a region with over a million inhabitants. Syracuse is also well-provided with convention sites, with a downtown convention complex and, directly west of the city, the Empire Expo Center, which hosts the annual Great New York State Fair. Syracuse was named after the original Syracuse, (Siracusa in Italian) a city on the eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily. The city has functioned as a major crossroads over the last two centuries, first between the Erie Canal and its branch canals, then of the railway network. Today, Syracuse is located at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 90, and its airport is the largest in the region. Syracuse is home to Syracuse University, a major research university, as well as several smaller colleges and professional schools.