The District of Columbia, more commonly known as Washington, D.C., is a city of 176 square kilometres located on the east coast of America between Maryland and Virginia and is the capital of the United States. It sits on the north banks of the Potomac River and hosts all the core administrative buildings of the nation, including the White House, Supreme Court and Capitol Building. In addition to its 50,000 inhabitants, the city holds all three branches of the federal government, hundreds of foreign embassies and many culturally significant museums and monuments.
The District of Columbia is full of impressive architecture, some of the most important being the White House, the house of the President, the United States Capitol, the home of Congress and the Lincoln Memorial. The city has natural beauty, including the National Mall, a large park in the city centre that hosts political protesters, and the Tidal Basin, a space full of cherry blossom trees given from Japan. There are many art galleries in Washington, D.C., including some of the most culturally significant in the country, including the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art. Museums like The Phillips Collection and theatres like Ford’s Theatre are both centres of art and focal points of history, just as the National Archives is a place of historical significance, home to the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.
The District of Columbia has the Washington Metro, the Metrobus and the D.C. Circulator, which act as public transport services in the city connecting the centre and its outer suburbs. The main railway station is Union Station, which is the second busiest Amtrak centre and hosts the central bus station. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport serve the District of Columbia area.
Indigenous tribes formerly occupied the land surrounding the Potomac River, before the arrival of European colonialists in the 17th century who decided on the location for a national capital on the banks of the river. Construction of the city began, and Congress held the first session in newly built Washington in 1800, which became the official district of the federal government.