US Federal Territory – Washington, D.C.
The name of the US territory Washington, D.C. is derived from both geography and history. It resides in the full District of Columbia which is more commonly referred to as ‘DC’. Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States, located on the north of the Potomac River – where the waterway meets land. Its neighboring states include Virginia and Maryland – which cover the southern, eastern and western parts of the river.
History of Washington, D.C.
Today, Washington, D.C. is the hub of politics. This stems back to the history of how the city was established. In 1970, Congress set up a 100 square mile territory to create a permanent seat for the federal government. After this, the area was named the ‘District of Columbia’. This area was located on the Eastern Seaboard states near the Atlantic Ocean.
The American Civil War took place from 1861-1865 after which Washington and the District of Columbia became one entity.
Politically speaking, Washington DC is a democratic city. The residents vote to elect their mayor who serves a term of four years after which the elections are held again. Currently, the mayor is Muriel Bowser; he has been serving the city since 2015.
Looking at the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., it encompasses 4000 square miles. This includes a total of 10 counties, 5 of which are in Maryland. They include Montgomery, Prince George, Frederick, Charles and Calvert. The other 5 situated in Virginia are Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Stafford, and Prince William.
Land, Terrain & Geography
- Total Area = 68.3 square miles
- Land = 61.4 square miles
- Water = 6.9 square miles
The geography of When Washington, D.C. was built, this ravine was not developed until the 19th century. In 1890, the government created a bridge over it for easier transport between the two cities, making it an important part of Washington’s geography.
This city shows that it is established on low-lying land – a wide peninsula that is surrounded by the Potomac River. This river holds great importance as it can be used for trading purposes i.e., a commercial seaport. In fact, the word Potomac literally means ‘trading port.’ Washington is built at least a quarter of a mile above sea level to prevent flooding. An interesting historic artifact of this city is a long, narrow ravine that separates Washington, D.C. from its neighboring city Georgetown. The ravine is now commonly known as the ‘Rock Creek Park’.
The climate of Washington, D.C. attracts a lot of tourists as well as local citizens to settle in this city. It is generally pleasant for most part of the year but the summers are rather humid. The city sees an average temperature of 35.6°F in winters and 75.2°F in summers. Light snowfall is expected as temperatures can fall below 32°F during the night in extreme cold, but it does not persist as it melts during the day.
Unfortunately, global warming has caused temperatures to go as high as 102.2°F in the peak summer months. Luckily, since it rains moderately in Washington throughout the year, citizens don’t feel the heat so much as compared to other states. The longer seasons in the city are spring and autumn. Thus, it is the best time to visit the city as you can stay for long and enjoy the pleasant weather.
A 2019 survey by the United States Census Bureau showed that the total population of the city was 705,749. What’s interesting to note is that the city is very ethnically diverse, with 46% of the population being black or African American. Apart from this, the white ethnicity shares the same ratio i.e. 46%. A small percentage of the population (4.5% to be exact) is Asian. Other minor ethnicities in the city include Hispanic and Latino. Foreign born persons in the city only comprise approximately 13.7% of the total population.
If we look at housing, in 2019, the city had a total of 322,793 housing units – meaning an average occupancy of 2-3 persons in one home. This indicates that while occupancy may be low, Washington remains the most densely populated city in the United States. As of 2021, Statista’s data shows that there are 93 residents per square mile in Washington, D.C.
While Washington, D.C. was initially built for political purposes, its history and architecture make it a major attraction for both domestic and international tourists. People from all over the globe come to see historic monuments and buildings like the Capitol, The Supreme House and the White House itself.
Apart from these, non-political buildings offer art and culture to tourists. The Kennedy Center is a name that needs no introduction, being one of the most popular performing arts centers in the entire world. There are various museums as well which showcase the history of the city throughout the centuries. The best part is that the museums are absolutely free to enter.
One interesting stop for tourists is the Lincoln Memorial, which showcases a marble monument created to pay tribute to the 16th President of the United States.
Washington, D.C. is also home to some of the most renowned educational institutions in the country – including Georgetown and Howard University. Students from different states and even neighboring countries come to visit these campuses before starting college. This city also has its share of scenic views and ‘fun places’ to visit. The National Mall is perfect for all your shopping needs while the Tidal Basin has gorgeous, pink cherry blossoms that bloom in the spring. So if you visit around that time, pack a basket of food and have an Instagram worthy picnic.