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Washington, D.C.

Introduction

Washington, D.C., capital of the United States, coextensive (since 1878, when Georgetown became a part of Washington) with the District of Columbia (2000 pop. 572,059), on the Potomac River; inc. 1802. The city is the center of a metropolitan area (1990 pop. 3,923,574) extending into Maryland and Virginia. With the city of Baltimore to its north in Maryland, it forms a consolidated metropolitan area of some 6.7 million people. Washington is the legislative, administrative, and judicial center of the United States but has little industry; its business is government, and hundreds of thousands are so employed in the metropolitan area. The city is also a major tourist attraction and a cultural center.

Washington has long been a gateway for African Americans emigrating from the South, and since the 1960s has had a (now diminishing) black majority. Many citizens live in poverty, and social problems have been exacerbated by the transient nature of the governmental workforce and the District's lack of political power.

Transportation facilities include a subway system that connects the city with many suburbs. The main rail and air hubs are Union Station and Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports (both in Virginia). Nearby military installations include Fort McNair, Fort Myer, Andrews Air Force Base, and Bolling Air Force Base.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography


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