Countries capitals and their history! This is one part of social science I enjoyed as a kid! Stuff like Sri Lanka being renamed because the old name ‘Ceylon’ was so catchy and fancy always made me wonder. Among the most fascinating countries, one is the United States of America (USA). It is a powerful country, politically, democratically, economically, technically, etc. The capital of USA is Washington DC. I always wondered what is this DC?
DC stands for District of Columbia. The capital is on the Potomac River along the country’s East Coast and as per the US Constitution, it is under the sole governance of the Congress. That is why it does not belong to any state as such. The city comprises of already-existing towns of Georgetown and Alexandria and also some land borrowed from the states of Maryland and Virginia. It was founded to serve as a new national capital in the year 1791 and is named after the then President, George Washington.
As per the Census conducted in the year, 2013, the population count came to around 6,46,449 which made it the 24th most crowded and populous place in America. However during the workweek, there are workers and commuters coming into this district from Maryland Virginia suburbs. This floating mass of population takes the count to more than one million.
The Constitutional branches of the federal government like the President, Congress and the Supreme Court, are all located in Washington DC. Further this place also houses the headquarters of many profit and non-profit organisations, national and international organizations and professional associations belonging to different sectors and fields. It also has 176 foreign embassies in addition to museums and many national monuments.
Washington has a humid subtropical climate and experiences four different seasons namely spring, fall, winter and summer. Although the winter is chilly and cool with an average snowfall of 39 cm, spring and fall continue to be warm. Summer months are mostly hot and humid with the average temperature hovering somewhere around 26 o C. Thunderstorms are frequent due to the combination of heat and humidity. Sometimes they progress into tornadoes and wreak havoc with life and property. Blizzards too is a natural phenomenon affecting this region once every three-four years on an average. Also Hurricanes occur in the start of fall and late summer months.
Things to do while in DC include visiting the many national monuments and other places of historical significance which include White House, The National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and National World War II Memorial. The latter memorial was erected in honour of the 16 million people who served in the US armed forces. 4 lakh Americans laid down their lives in the war. The Memorial is a tribute to the spirit, courage and determination of the American people.
There is also the Vietnam War memorial which honours the people who served in the armed forces of USA and fought in the Vietnam war. During the memoral day celebration the monuments are decorated with flowers in the color of the American flag, war vetrens come to the memorial and bask in the glory of their valour.
DC also plays host to a number of museums. To name a few, they are the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African Art, the National Museum of American History; the National Museum of the American Indian, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The art galleries include the Smithsonian American Art Museum ( Night at the museum 2 movie ), the National Portrait Gallery and Renwick Gallery. They also have the National zoo, which is a hit with the children. You will also find many libraries and the Library of Congress with a collection of over 147 million books, journals, magazines, manuscripts and other materials is the largest library complex in the world. If you like exploring on foot, then you could also opt for the rent-a-bicycle system which is offered by many local shops. There are also bike tours where all the tourists have their own bicycles and are led by the tour guide, also perched on a bike himself. Or you may rent one to see the grandeur of the States.
The huge monuments and the old time architecture puts a different view on the glammed up view of the States. The Serenity of the city shadowed by trees and the rich cherry blossoms seasons gives a sense of peace and quiet the cities like New York and Vegas lack. The place which runs the mighty nation is an ode to its grand history.
Tourism is the second largest industry of Washington and there are people visiting from all the different nooks and corners of the world. In 2012 alone an approximately 19 million visitors contributed $4.8 billion to the economy of the region. As this place has embassies of different nations situated here and also offices of many international organizations like World Bank and IMF, we have diplomats visiting DC too, and embassies account for almost 10,000 of the number of people employed.
For the history aficionados and the architect enthusiasts this is highly recommended place. If you have a day to spare, take a tour down the history lane. Memorial day is recommended day for this is when you can catch the parade while munching down a delicious hotdog.