Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia, also known as Washington, the District, or D.C., is the capital city and federal district of the United States. It is located on the east bank of the Potomac River, which forms its southwestern border with Virginia, and it shares a land border with Maryland on its other sides. The city was named for George Washington, a Founding Father and the first president of the United States, and the federal district is named after Columbia, the female personification of the nation. As the seat of the U.S. federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important world political capital. It is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., with over 20million annual visitors as of 2016.
The U.S. Constitution provides for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; the district is not a part of any U.S. state (nor is it one itself). The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of the capital district located along the Potomac River near the country's East Coast. The City of Washington was founded in 1791, and Congress held its first session there in 1800. In 1801, the territory, formerly part of Maryland and Virginia (including the settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria), officially became recognized as the federal district. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia, including the city of Alexandria; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the district. There have been efforts to make the city into a state since the 1880s, a movement that has gained momentum in recent years, and a statehood bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021.
The city is divided into quadrants centered on the Capitol, and there are as many as 131 neighborhoods. According to the 2020 census, it has a population of 689,545, which makes it the 23rd most populous city in the U.S. as of 2020, the third most populous city in the Mid-Atlantic, and gives it a population larger than that of two U.S. states: Wyoming and Vermont. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than onemillion during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest (including parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia), had a 2020 estimated population of 6.3million residents; and over 54 million people live within 250mi (400km) of the District.
Learn more about Washington, DC