Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 72,596 at the 2008 U.S. census estimate. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills", "The Hill City" and sometimes described as "A City Unto Itself" mostly in reference to the city's historical avoidance of State and Federal entanglements. The 2,122 square mile Metropolitan Statistical Area of Lynchburg is near the geographic center of Virginia and encompasses Amherst County, Appomattox County, Bedford County, Campbell County, City of Bedford, and the City of Lynchburg. It is the fifth largest MSA in Virginia with a population of 245,809. Other nearby cities include Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Danville. Lynchburg's sister cities are Rueil-Malmaison, France and Glauchau, Germany. Lynchburg is the home of Central Virginia Community College, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Randolph College, and Virginia University of Lynchburg. The Lynchburg MSA also includes Sweet Briar College. The City of Lynchburg has a relatively good number of highly credited Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. The elementary schools include Heritage, W. M Bass, Linkhorne, Sandusky, Dearington, Paul Munro, Sheffield, T.C. Miller, R.S. Payne, and Perrymont. Lynchburg's middle schools include P.L. Dunbar, Sandusky, and Linkhorne. Lastly, Lynchburg has two very competitive high schools, Heritage High (HHS) and E.C. Glass (ECG). Lynchburg is the regional center for commerce and retail. Industries within the Lynchburg MSA include nuclear technology, pharmaceuticals and material handling. A diversity of small businesses with the region has helped maintain a stable economy and minimized the downturns of the national economy. Reaching as high as 1st place (tied) in 2007, Lynchburg has been within the Top 10 Digital Cities survey for its population since the survey's inception in 2004.