Washington, D.C. (formally the District of Columbia) is also known as the District, D.C. or just Washington, and it's the capital of the United States. This capital district on the Potomac River was created in 1790 when both Maryland and Virginia donated land for its formation, which included areas of Alexandria and Georgetown. Washington, D.C. is named in honor of George Washington, and it was officially founded in 1791.
Washington, D.C. had a population estimated at 632,300 in 2012, which is believed to have grown modestly in 2013. It's now the 24th most populous city in the United States, but it has the 7th largest metropolitan area with 5.7 million people. During the work week, the population of Washington, D.C. also soars to add one million more as commuters rush in from Virginia and Maryland suburbs.
When the Washington, D.C. area includes Baltimore and its suburbs, the resulting Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area has a population of more than 8.5 million, which is the 4th largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.
Washington DC Population Statistics
Most of the growth in Washington, D.C. between 2000 and 2010 was caused by young people between 20 and 34, whose numbers grew 23%. This has slowed recently, and census figures show that half of the District's population growth from 2000 to 2013 was from so-called millennials.
At the 2010 Census, people under 35 accounted for 60% of Washington, D.C.'s population, which means more babies and strong natural growth in the coming decades. Nearly 17% of the District's population is 18 or younger, which is lower than the United States average of 24%. The District also has the lowest median age (34) when compared to the 50 states.
Washington D.C. has always had a significant African American population since it was founded. Between 1800 and 1940, African Americans accounted for about 30% of the population, which reached a peak in 1970 at 70%. This declined as many moved into the nearby suburbs, which caused gentrification and a 31% increase in the non-Hispanic white population between 2000 and 2010.
A report in 2007 found that 30% of residents in Washington, D.C. are functionally illiterate, which is much higher than the national rate of 1 in 5. The study attributed this partly to immigrants who aren't proficient in English.
Washington DC Population Growth
For six of the last seven decades, Washington, D.C. was shrinking, and lost population since the 1940s with a high in 1950 of 802,178 people, which dropped to just 572,059 in 2000. This shrinking city has been spreading outward with massive urban sprawl, with growth that's been concentrated in the suburbs.
It seems Washington, D.C. has turned this around and is now growing fast, with its 2013 population up more than 10% over 2000, which means its finally growing more quickly than the suburbs. Demographers and a growing preference for the urban lifestyle among its young people means this trend will probably only strengthen.
There are now about 9,000 more people moving into the District than moving out, and its natural growth rate is adding 13,000 more every year.
While it hasn't broken through the rank of the 24th most populous city in the country, the District's growth rate has been faster than most larger cities, including Houston, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Dallas, and it's one of the fastest growing cities on the East Coast. According to the D.C. Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, the District's significant growth over the last few years is expected to end as housing construction and job growth slows, although there will still be growth. According to Gandhi, the growth rate of 1.8% in 2013 will drop to 1.3% in 2013, 1.1% a year later and drop by 0.8% in 2017.
By 2020, this means the District will likely have a population of 700,000.