Washington DC Facts

Facts and figures about Washington, DC

Capitol Building and Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C, USA at sunrise
Doug Armand / Getty Images

Washington DC, also referred to as the District of Columbia, Washington, the District, or DC, is unique among American cities because it was established by the Constitution of the United States to serve as the nation’s capital. Washington, DC is not only the home to our federal government, but it is also a cosmopolitan city with a variety of opportunities that attract residents and visitors from around the world. Following are basic facts about Washington, DC including information about geography, demographics, local government and more.

Basic Facts

Founded: 1790
Named: Washington, DC (District of Columbia) after George Washington and Christopher Columbus.
Designed: by Pierre Charles L’Enfant
Federal District: Washington DC is not a state. It is a federal district created specifically to be the seat of government.


Area: 68.25 square miles
Elevation: 23 feet
Major Rivers: Potomac, Anacostia
Bordering States: Maryland and Virginia
Parkland: Approximately 19.4 percent of the city. Major parks include Rock Creek Park, C & O Canal National Historical Park, National Mall and Anacostia Park. Read more about DC parks
Avg. Daily Temp.: January 34.6° F; July 80.0° F
Time: Eastern Standard Time
See a map

Washington, DC Demographics

City Population: 601,723 (estimated 2010) Metro Area: Approximately 5.3 million
Racial Breakdown: (2010) White 38.5%, Black 50.7%, American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3%, Asian 3.5%, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. 1%, Hispanic or Latino 9.1%
Median Family Income: (within city limits) 58,906 (2009)
Foreign Born Persons: 12.5% (2005-2009)
Persons with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: (age 25+) 47.1% (2005-2009)
Read more about DC area demographics


Public Schools: 167 ​
Charter Schools: 60
Private Schools: 83
Colleges & Universities: 9


Protestant: 610

Roman Catholic: 132

Jewish: 9


Major Industries: Tourism generates more than $5.5 billion in visitor spending.
Other Important Industries: Trade associations, law, higher education, medicine/medical research, government-related research, publishing and international finance.
Major Corporations: Marriott International, AMTRAK, AOL Time Warner, Gannett News, Exxon Mobil, Sprint Nextel and the International Monetary Fund.

Local Government

  • Although DC residents pay taxes to the federal government, they do not have a voting representative in Congress.
  • DC is divided into 8 Wards, geographical regions that are used to elect members of the DC City Council.
  • Government Officials: Mayor, DC Council (13 elected members), Congressional Delegation (delegate to the House of Representatives, two senators, and one representative), State Board of Education and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
  • For more information about the local government, read DC Government 101

    Washington DC Symbols

    Bird: Wood Thrush

    Flower: American Beauty Rose
    Song: The Star-Spangled Banner
    Tree: Scarlet Oak
    Motto: Justitia Omnibus (Justice to all)

    See also, Washington, DC Frequently Asked Questions