Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States of America. Washington is described as the political Capital of the World, owing to its status as the seat of the United States federal government and numerous international institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs. The gross state product of the District in 2010 was $103.3 billion, which would rank it No. 34 compared to the 50 states. The gross product of the Washington Metropolitan Area was $435 billion in 2014, making it the sixth-largest metropolitan economy in the United States. Between 2009 and 2016, GDP per capita in Washington, D.C has consistently ranked on the very top among U.S. states.
The architecture of Washington varies greatly. Six of the top 10 buildings in the American Institute of Architects’ 2007 ranking of “America’s Favorite Architecture” are in the District of Columbia: the White House, the Washington National Cathedral, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the United States Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The National Mall is a large, open park in downtown Washington between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol. Given its prominence, the mall is often the location of political protests, concerts, festivals, and presidential inaugurations.
Washington, D.C., is a national center for the arts. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and the Washington Ballet. The Kennedy Center Honors are awarded each year to those in the performing arts who have contributed greatly to the cultural life of the United States. The Smithsonian Institution is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation’s official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The National Gallery of Art is on the National Mall near the Capitol and features works of American and European art. The U Street Corridor in Northwest D.C., known as “Washington’s Black Broadway”, is home to institutions like the Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, and the Lincoln Theatre, which hosted music legends such as Washington-native Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. The District is an important center for indie culture and music in the United States.