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The Milky Way is a typical disk galaxy, but the one for which we can obtain the most detailed information with which to confront theories of galaxy formation and evolution. Research into the structure, kinematics and chemical abundances of the stellar components of our Galaxy has been revolutionised in the last decade by the advent of automated plate scanning machines and multi-object spectroscopy. The next decade promises to be more exciting, with new all-sky data from digitized photographic surveys, complemented by deeper, multi-color surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey of the Northern Galactic Cap.
I will review the present understanding of the Galaxy, highlighting unsolved problems which motivate the ongoing and forthcoming surveys.
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