Chosen by George Washington for its tactical location between the South and the North, and for its accessibility to the sea via the Potomac River, the capital of the United States is situated in a district specifically created to avoid the establishment of the capital city in any one state. Washington, DC (District of Columbia) with its low-profile skyline, is a city of green parks and open spaces, grand buildings, historic landmarks, marbled monuments and impressive museums, with character-filled neighbourhoods that support a thriving cultural scene with scores of top-notch restaurants, shops and night time entertainment.
This thriving cosmopolitan city is an international hub of power and diplomacy, commanding the political centre stage for one of the most powerful nations in the world, and representing all the democratic ideals that the country takes pride in. Washington, DC was one of the targets of the terrorist attack on the USA on 11 September 2001, when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, the heart of national and international security. Since then security has remained high around Washington's key monuments and police checks at top city attractions have lent a sober air to this pleasant city.
After politics, tourism is the capital's main industry. The city plays host to millions of people annually who come to explore famous sights such as the domed US Capitol, the stately White House, Lincoln Memorial and the soaring Washington Monument. The most well-known sights are located along the National Mall, a green park stretching from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial on the Potomac River, and include several memorials to great US presidents of the past, as well as the outstanding museums of the Smithsonian Institute. Almost all major attractions are free.
Besides political sights, Washington is also a city of interesting neighbourhoods, each with its own character and culture. The most famous of these is historic Georgetown, with elegant colonial houses, boutiques, fancy restaurants, and a lively nightlife. One of the most colourful neighbourhoods is the bohemian district of Adams-Morgan with an assortment of funky shops and ethnic stores, while the arty suburb of Dupont Circle is an affluent business and residential area, with excellent restaurants, art galleries and shops that makes up the centre of DC's gay community.