International AIDS Society

About Washington, D.C.

Founded on July 16, 1790, Washington, D.C. (officially the District of Columbia) is the capital of the United States.

The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. Because of commuters from the surrounding suburbs, the city’s population of 601,723 rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which Washington, D.C. is a part, has a population of nearly 5.6 million, the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

While Washington, D.C. is the home to the U.S. federal government, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and known as an extremely political town, it is also a vibrant city where people live, work and play. The city is known for its monuments and museums, national landmarks, cultural events, musical and theatrical entertainment and sporting events. And with the city only 86 square miles (138 square kilometers), visitors find it easy to get around either by public transportation or walking.

The summer months are an ideal time to visit some of the Smithsonian Institution’s most frequented museums including: the National Museum of Natural History; National Air and Space Museum; National Museum of African Art; National Museum of American History; National Museum of the American Indian; and Sackler and Freer galleries, which both focus on Asian art and culture. Located on or nearby the National Mall, an open-area national park, many of the top museums are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, duck-filled ponds, and walking trails—the perfect scenery for a day of leisure for visitors and residents alike.

The National Mall is also an attractive site for festivals, recreational activities, protests and rallies of all types. One notable rally is the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a political rally for African American civil rights, at which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Washington, D.C. is home to more embassies than any other city in the world, giving it a truly international flavor. Visitors are able to get a taste of many of the represented cultures in the city by attending a wide range of cultural events and activities.

The city boasts a number of historic neighborhoods each with their own unique personalities, stories and backgrounds. Known for its trendy restaurants, designer shops, and lively bars, Georgetown is one of the city’s most historic and visited neighborhoods in the city. But beyond shopping and dining, you will find picturesque gardens, historic house museums, and streets with cobblestone roads. After visiting Georgetown, be sure to experience the renaissance of legendary jazz artist Duke Ellington's neighborhood—U Street/Shaw—the historic heart of DC’s African American community, where name entertainers, black-owned businesses, and grand movie theaters once made U Street the place to be. Today, with a Metrorail station, a resurgence of nightlife, and the renovation of many of its historic buildings, the neighborhood has regained its status as one of the city's liveliest. Another neighborhood, Mount Pleasant, is best known for its authentic Salvadoran pupusas, mariachi bands, and restaurants bringing the taste of Central America to the Nation’s Capital. Named for a Native American settlement, the neighborhood of Anacostia, is home to Cedar Hill, the magnificently preserved home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which stands majestically on a hilltop. Anacostia offers acres of open riverfront, notable Civil War history, and magnificent views. Bring your binoculars and take in the abundant wildlife - you may even see bald eagles!

Washington, D.C. is a place brimming with a unique history and diverse population that have made the city a melting pot of rich culture.

Fore more information on Washington, D.C., visit www.washington.org