General Information

Capital: Washington, DC (District of Columbia)

Language: English

National Anthem: "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Flag: Stars and Stripes, consisting of 13 horizontal stripes (seven red and six white) and a blue field at the upper-left corner containing 50 white, five-pointed stars

Monetary Unit: US dollar

Branches of Government:

  • Executive: President and Vice President, elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term; limited to two terms. There are also federal departments and agencies. Fifteen departments, each headed by a Secretary, except the Department of Justice, which is headed by the Attorney General.
  • Legislative: Senate of 100 members, two from each state; and House of Representatives of 435 members, divided among states proportionally by population.
  • Judicial: Supreme Court of nine members appointed for life by the president, with Senate confirmation; and system of federal courts.

Political landscape:

  • Elections: The presidential election is held every four years. Members of the Senate are elected for six-year terms and members of the House of Representatives for two-year terms.
  • Political Parties: Republican and Democratic are the two major national parties.
  • Administrative Divisions: Fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.


History of Washington, DC:

For more than a century now, Washington, DC has been the center of Western political power, and from here come decisions that impact the lives of billions of people.

Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington in the District of Columbia (DC) was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital.

Washington, DC has an estimated population of approximately 650,000, but commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek.

The centers of all three branches of the US federal government – Congress, President, and Supreme Court – are located in Washington, DC, as are the embassies of 176 foreign governments, and the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations.

The US Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District. Washington has a locally elected mayor and a 13-member city council, but Congress maintains supreme ultimate authority over the city and may overturn local laws.