Omaha is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 10 miles (15 km) north of the mouth of the Platte River.Omaha is the anchor of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area, which includes Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the Missouri River from Omaha.

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Berkshire Hathaway is headed by local investor Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, according to a decade's worth of Forbes Magazine rankings, some of which have ranked him as high as No. Omaha is also the home to five Fortune 1000 headquarters: Green Plains Renewable Energy, TD Ameritrade, Valmont Industries, Werner Enterprises, and West Corporation.

Also headquartered in Omaha are First National Bank of Omaha, the largest privately held bank in the United States; three of the nation's largest 10 architecture/engineering firms: DLR Group, HDR, Inc., and Leo A Daly; the Gallup Organization, of Gallup Poll fame; and its riverfront Gallup University.

Enron began in Omaha as Northern Natural Gas in 1930, before taking over a smaller Houston company in 1985 to form Inter North, which Kenneth Lay moved permanently to Houston, in 1987.

Including its suburbs, Omaha formed the 60th-largest metropolitan area in the United States in 2013, with an estimated population of 895,151 residing in eight counties. There are nearly 1.3 million residents within the Greater Omaha area, comprising a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Downtown Omaha, the city's center.

The Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont, Nebraska-IA Combined Statistical Area is 931,667, according to the U. Omaha's pioneer period began in 1854, when the city was founded by speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The city was founded along the Missouri River, and a crossing called Lone Tree Ferry earned the city its nickname, the "Gateway to the West".

Omaha introduced this new West to the world in 1898, when it played host to the World's Fair, dubbed the Trans-Mississippi Exposition.

During the 19th century, Omaha's central location in the United States spurred the city to become an important national transportation hub.

Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the transportation and jobbing sectors were important in the city, along with its railroads and breweries.