Washington D.C.

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Washington D.C.

Washington DC is the national capital of the USA, lying in the District of Columbia Federal territory.

Washington DC
Washington D.C.

Washington DC now covers 179 km2 (69 sq miles) astride the Potomac river between Maryland and Virginia, about 200 km (125 miles) from the Atlantic coast. The territory was ceded by Maryland and Virginia in 1788-9, and the new capital, the world's first purpose-built seat of government, was laid out on the east side of the river by the French engineer Major Pierre L'Enfant.

Congress (the Federal legislature) moved there from Philadelphia in 1800. The city, which incorporates the once-separate GEORGETOWN and now spreads beyond its original boundaries into the adjoining states, has a spacious centre, with the Congress buildings on Capitol Hill at one end of The Mall, and the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial at the other. The Mall is flanked by public buildings, including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and government offices. To the north lies the White House, official residence of the president. Not far away, in contrast, are some crowded slums. On the west bank of the Potomac stands the Pentagon, the USA's military headquarters.

The civil service is Washington's main employer, but there are also many business, financial and foreign institutions, including embassies. There are more than 700 parks, a cathedral, five universities and many cultural establishments including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and two international airports. The city is a popular tourist attraction, with some 16 million visitors a year.

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