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Washington DC - Overview

Washington DC (formal name: District of Columbia, popular names: Washington, the District or DC) is the seat of the US government and capital of the United State of America.

When using referring to Washington DC as a state, be mindful that the appropriate term to use is "District of Columbia" as opposed to "Washington State". The State of Washington is a separate entity located on the Pacific east coast of the US. The District of Columbia refers to the district that is located on the east coast of the US, between the states of Maryland and Virginia. Technically, DC is not a state.

For statistical purposes, the Washington or DC metropolitan area is defined as the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, and extends to counties in both Virginia and Maryland. Usually, DC residents will say that they are from 'Washington DC' or from 'DC' when conversing with people who live outside the DC area. When conversing among DC residents, however, it is common to be specific – for example, 'I work in the District' or 'I live in Arlington'. The DC city area itself is small, amounting to some 68.3 square miles (177 square kilometers) only.

The population of Washington Metropolitan area is about 5.3 million (as of 2006), which is about 2.1% of US total population (299.4 million). The D.C. resident population is 581,530, but the daytime / workweek population swells to almost 1 million. The top counties in terms of number of residents are Fairfax County, Virginia (just over 1 million residents), Montgomery County, Maryland (around 932,000 residents) and Prince George's County, Maryland (around 841,000 residents). DC is the 4th most populous county for the Washington metropolitan region. For more information on DC's demographics, refer to the US Census Bureau.

The District of Columbia Mayor office website offers a one-stop place for online forms and government services for new residents, such as converting your driver's license, applying for parking permits, schedules for trash pick-up. The Mayor Office also administers many of the day-to-day operations of the city, and its 24-hour daily-operated Mayor Office Call Center number is 311.

DC is a cosmopolitan city, with a diverse demographic population of 55% Black/African-American (compared to the national 12%) and 8% Hispanic/Latino (compared to the national 14%). About 12% of DC residents (74,000) are foreign-born. The DC region is home to many international organizations, such as 400 international associations, 700 multinational companies and more than 150 embassies and international cultural centers. It is also the headquarters of the World Bank and the IMF. The city is home to many working expatriates and their families from all over the world, although there are fewer expatriates in DC as compared to other US cities such as New York city.

DC is a city of contrasts – it is quintessentially American in some areas – DC residents get to occasionally rub shoulders with visiting dignitaries and influential US personalities. The city is notably inclusive and tolerant of the many different cultures and nationalities that live and work in this city. Yet the city has interesting contrasts: DC pays the highest federal taxes per capita, but the district has no voting representation in Congress.

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