About District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., short for the District of Columbia (locals know the city as "the District," "DC," or, historically, the "Federal City") is the capital city and administrative district of the United States of America.
The District of Columbia, founded on July 16, 1790, is a federal district as specified by the United States Constitution with limited and sometimes contentious local rule. The District is ruled "in all cases whatsoever" by the U.S. Congress, while nevertheless going unrepresented in that body. The land forming the original District came from the states of Virginia and Maryland. However, the area south of the Potomac River (39 mi² or about 100 km²) was returned, or "retro ceded," to Virginia in 1847 and now is incorporated into Arlington County and the City of Alexandria.
The centers of all three branches of the U.S. federal government are in Washington, D.C., as well as the headquarters of most federal agencies. Washington also serves as the headquarters for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States, among other international (and national) institutions. All of this has made Washington the frequent focal point of massive political demonstrations and protests, particularly on the National Mall. Washington is also the site of numerous national landmarks, museums, and sports teams, and is a popular destination for tourists.
The population of the District of Columbia, as of 2003 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, is 563,384. The Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area includes the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, with a population surpassing 4.7 million. If Washington, D.C. were considered a state, it would rank last in area behind Rhode Island, 50th in population ahead of Wyoming, and 36th in Gross State Product, ahead of 15 states.