Washington metropolitan area
(Washington – Arlington – Alexandria)
—  Metropolitan statistical area  —
Washington, D.C.
Arlington, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Country  United States of America
U.S. state/federal district District of Columbia
West Virginia
Principal cities Washington, Arlington, Alexandria
 • Metro 14,412 km2 (5,564.6 sq mi)
Elevation 0–716 m (0–2,350 ft)
Population (2012)[1]
 • Metropolitan statistical area 5,860,342 (7th)
 • Density 371.8/km2 (962.9/sq mi)
 • Urban 4,586,770 (8th)
 • CSA 9,331,587 (4th)
  MSA & CSA = 2012, Urban & Densities = 2010
Time zone ET (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EST (UTC-4)

The Washington metropolitan area is the metropolitan area centered on Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The area includes all of the federal district and parts of the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia, along with a small portion of West Virginia.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget defines the area as the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV metropolitan statistical area, a metropolitan statistical area used for statistical purposes by the United States Census Bureau and other agencies. The area includes as its principal cities Washington as well as the Virginia county of Arlington and city of Alexandria. The Office of Management and Budget also includes the metropolitan statistical area as part of the larger Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area, which has a population of 9,331,587 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.[2]

The area is also sometimes referred to as the National Capital Region, particularly by federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security.[3] Another term used to describe the region is the DC Area. The area is referred to by a few as the DMV, a shorthand for DC, Maryland, and Virginia.[4] The area in the region that is surrounded by Interstate 495 is also referred to as being "inside the Beltway". The city of Washington, which is at the center of the area, is referred to as "the District" because it is the federal District of Columbia, and is not part of any state. The Virginia portion of the region is known as Northern Virginia.

The Washington metropolitan area is the most educated and, by some measures, the most affluent metropolitan area in the United States.[5] As of the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the population of the Washington metropolitan area was estimated to be 5,860,342, making it the largest metropolitan area in the Census' Southeast region and the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the country.[6]


Satellite photo of the Washington metropolitan area

Map highlighting the counties and developed areas of the region

Map highlighting labor patterns of regional counties

The U.S. Census Bureau divides the Washington statistical metropolitan area into two metropolitan divisions:[7]

  • Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Division, comprising the majority of the metropolitan area
  • Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Metropolitan Division, consisting of Montgomery and Frederick counties

Note that metropolitan area and metropolitan statistical area should not be confused with Metropolitan Division.

Political subdivisions[]

The area includes the following counties, districts, and independent cities:[7]

District of Columbia[]


The following counties are categorized as part of the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV metropolitan statistical area:

Although associated with the Washington metropolitan area, the following counties are categorized as part of the Baltimore–Towson, MD metropolitan statistical area:

Although associated with the Washington metropolitan area, the following county is categorized as part of the California-Lexington Park, MD Metropolitan Area:


Counties and independent cities (independent cities are listed under their surrounding county or parent county):[8]

West Virginia[]

Regional organizations[]

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments[]

Founded in 1957, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) is a regional organization of 21 Washington-area local governments, as well as area members of the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. MWCOG provides a forum for discussion and the development of regional responses to issues regarding the environment, transportation, public safety, homeland security, affordable housing, community planning, and economic development.[10]

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, a component of MWCOG, is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the metropolitan Washington area.[11]

Principal cities[]

View of downtown Washington, with the northern skyline of Arlington in the background. The skyline of Tysons Corner is visible in the horizon.

The metropolitan area includes the following principal cities (most of which are not incorporated as cities; one, Arlington, is actually a county):[12]


Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 68.0% 1,603,902 31.0% 728,916 1.0% 25,288
2004 61.0% 1,258,743 38.0% 785,144 1.4% 19,735
2000 58.5% 1,023,089 37.9% 663,590 3.6% 62,437
1996 57.0% 861,881 37.0% 558,830 6.0% 89,259
1992 53.0% 859,889 34.1% 553.369 12.9% 209,651
1988 50.4% 684,453 48.6% 659,344 1.0% 14,219
1984 51.0% 653,568 48.5% 621,377 0.4% 5,656
1980 44.7% 484,590 44.6% 482,506 11.1% 115,797
1976 54.2% 590,481 44.9% 488,995 1.0% 10,654
1972 44.2% 431,257 54.8% 534,235 1.1% 10,825
1968 49.4% 414,345 39.1% 327,662 11.5% 96,701
1964 69.8% 495,490 30.2% 214,293 0.1% 462
1960 52.5% 204,614 47.3% 184,499 0.1% 593

The southern portion of the Capital Beltway along the Potomac River, featuring portions of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
Old Town Alexandria, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and National Harbor, Maryland are visible.


The relative strength of the major political parties within the region is shown by the presidential election results since 1960, as presented in the table to the right.

Racial composition[]

The area has been a magnet for international immigration since the late 1960s. It is also a magnet for internal migration (persons moving from one region of the U.S. to another).[13] Census estimates show that persons of post-1965 immigrant stock will likely represent 25% of the region's population by 2010, forming a bigger population bloc than native blacks for the first time.[14]

Racial composition of the Washington, D.C. area:

2011 American Community Survey
  • Non-Hispanic White : 48.2%
  • Black or African American : 25.3%
  • Hispanic or Latino : 14.1%
  • Asian : 9.3%
  • Mixed and Other : 3.1%
2010 U.S. Census
  • White : 54.8%
  • Black : 25.8%
  • Asian : 9.3%
  • Hispanic : 13.8% (4.1% Salvadoran, 2.1% Mexican, 0.9% Guatemalan, 0.9% Puerto Rican, 0.8% Peruvian, 0.7% Honduran, 0.7% Bolivian)
  • Mixed and Other : 3.7%
  • White : 67.8%
  • Black : 26.0%
  • Asian : 2.5%
  • Hispanic : 2.8%
  • Mixed and Other : 0.9%

Social indicators[]


The Washington metropolitan area has ranked as the highest-educated metropolitan area in the nation for four decades.[16] As of the 2006–2008 American Community Survey, the three most educated places with 200,000 people or more in Washington–Arlington–Alexandria by bachelor's degree attainment (population 25 and over) are Arlington, Virginia (68.0%), Fairfax County, Virginia (58.8%), and Montgomery County, Maryland (56.4%).[17] Forbes magazine stated in its 2008 "America's Best- And Worst-Educated Cities" report: "The D.C. area is less than half the size of L.A., but both cities have around 100,000 Ph.D.'s."[18]


The Washington, D.C. metro area has held the top spot in the American College of Sports Medicine's annual American Fitness Index ranking of the United States' 50 most populous metropolitan areas for two years running. The report cites, among other things, the high average fitness level and healthy eating habits of residents, the widespread availability of health care and facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and parks, low rates of obesity and tobacco use relative to the national average, and the high median household income as contributors to the city's community health.[19]


The average household income within a 5 mile (8 km) radius of Tysons Corner Center is $174,809.[20]

In recent years the Washington metropolitan area has overtaken the San Francisco Bay Area as the highest-income metropolitan area in the nation.[5] The median household income of the region is US$72,800. The two highest median household income counties in the nation – Loudoun and Fairfax County, Virginia – are components of the MSA (and #3 is Howard County, officially in Baltimore's sphere but strongly connected with Washington's); measured in this way, Alexandria ranks 10th among municipalities in the region – 11th if Howard is included – and 23rd in the entire United States. 12.2% of Northern Virginia's 881,136 households, 8.5% of suburban Maryland's 799,300 households, and 8.2% of Washington's 249,805 households have an annual income in excess of $200,000, compared to 3.7% nationally.[21]


According to a report by the American Human Development Project, women in the Washington metropolitan area are ranked as having the highest income and educational attainment amongst the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the nation, while Asian American women in the region had the highest life expectancy, at 92.3 years.[22]


Rosslyn is home to the tallest high-rises in the region, partly due to the District's height restrictions. As a result many of the region's tallest buildings are outside the city proper.[23][24]

The various agencies of the Federal Government employ over 140,000 professionals in the Washington D.C. area. A sizable number in the Washington D.C. area work for defense and civilian contracting companies that conduct business directly with the Federal Government (many of these firms are referred to as 'Beltway Bandits' under the local vernacular). As a result, the Federal Government provides the underlying basis of the economy in the region. However, the Washington D.C. area is increasingly home to a diverse segment of businesses not directly related to the Federal Government.

The Washington, D.C. area has the largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation in 2006 according to the Greater Washington Initiative at 324,530, ahead of the combined San Francisco Bay Area work force of 214,500, and Chicago metropolitan area at 203,090, citing data from U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Claritas Inc., and other sources.[5]

The Washington, D.C. area was ranked as the second best High-Tech Center in a statistical analysis of the top 100 Metropolitan areas in the United States by American City Business Journals in May 2009, behind the Silicon Valley and ahead of the Boston metropolitan area.[25] Fueling the metropolitan area's ranking was the reported 241,264 tech jobs in the region, a total eclipsed only by New York, Los Angeles, and the combined San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland regions, as well as the highest master's or doctoral degree attainment among the 100 ranked metropolitan areas.[25] A report showed that the Washington–Baltimore area had the second-highest number of tech jobs listed: 8,289, after the New York metro area with 9,195 jobs.[26]

The Washington D.C. area is home to hundreds of major research universities, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. Additionally, Washington, D.C. is a top tourism destination as flocks of Americans and foreigners from around the world visit the museums and monuments of the Capital city year round with the peak season being during the Spring and Summer months of April through August. Moreover, the Washington D.C. area attracts tens of major conferences and conventions each year which also contribute greatly to the region's economy.

Changes in house prices for the D.C. area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of S&P's 10-city composite index of the value of the U.S. residential real estate market.

Primary industries[]

NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda.


Not limited to its proximity to the National Institutes of Health, Maryland's Washington suburbs are a major center for biotechnology. Prominent local biotech companies include MedImmune, The Institute for Genomic Research, Human Genome Sciences, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Defense contracting

Many defense contractors are based in the region to be close to the Pentagon in Arlington. Local defense contractors include Lockheed Martin, the largest, as well as Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, Northrup Grumman,[27] Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), CACI, and Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Largest companies[]

Gannett Company headquarters in Tysons Corner.

The following Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the region:[28]

Company Industry Headquarters Fortune 500 rank
AES Corporation Energy Arlington, Virginia 174
Booz Allen Hamilton Defense McLean, Virginia (Tysons Corner) 443
Capital One Finance McLean, Virginia (Tysons Corner) 124
Computer Sciences Corporation Defense Falls Church, Virginia 185
Danaher Corporation Conglomerate Washington, D.C. 149
Discovery Communications Media Silver Spring, Maryland 460
Fannie Mae Finance Washington, D.C. 13
Freddie Mac Finance McLean, Virginia (Tysons Corner) 32
Gannett Company Media McLean, Virginia (Tysons Corner) 481
General Dynamics Defense Falls Church, Virginia 99
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. Hospitality McLean, Virginia (Tysons Corner) 289
Host Hotels and Resorts Hospitality Bethesda, Maryland 477
Leidos Holdings Inc. Defense Reston, Virginia 442
Lockheed Martin Defense Bethesda, Maryland 59
Marriott International Hospitality Bethesda, Maryland 219
NII Holdings Communication Reston, Virginia 495
Northrop Grumman Defense Falls Church, Virginia 122


NGA headquarters in Fort Belvoir.

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure resulted in a significant shuffling of military, civilian, and defense contractor employees in the Washington D.C. area. The largest individual site impacts of the time are as follows:[29]

  • Fort Belvoir gained 11,858 employees, primarily as a result of the relocation of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency into a massive new headquarters within the fort.
  • Fort Lee gained 7,344 mostly military employees.
  • Fort Meade gained 5,361 employees, primarily as a result of the expansion of the National Security Agency.
  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center lost 5,630 employees as part of its realignment. It was later closed and consolidated into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

BRAC 2005 was the largest infrastructure expansion by the Army Corps of Engineers since World War II, resulting in the Mark Center, tallest building they have ever constructed, as well as National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Campus East, which at 2.4 million square feet is the largest building the Corps have constructed since the Pentagon.[30]


Washington Dulles International Airport

The Metro Center station on the Washington Metro

Major airports[]

  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), located in Dulles, Virginia – the busiest in the region
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), located in Arlington County, Virginia – the closest to Washington
  • Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), located in Linthicum, Maryland – in the Baltimore metropolitan area and the busiest in the Baltimore-Washington area

Rail transit systems[]

  • Washington Metro – DC, MD, VA (rapid transit) (WMATA)
  • MARC Train – DC, MD, WV (commuter rail)
  • Virginia Railway Express – DC, VA (commuter rail)
  • Amtrak – DC, MD, VA, WV (commuter rail, inter-city rail)

Bus transit systems[]

Bicycle sharing systems[]


Sports teams[]

Listing of the professional sports teams in the Washington metropolitan area:

  • National Basketball Association (NBA)
    • Washington Wizards
  • Major League Baseball (MLB)
    • Washington Nationals
  • National Football League (NFL)
    • Washington Redskins
  • National Hockey League (NHL)
    • Washington Capitals
  • Major League Soccer (MLS)
    • D.C. United
  • Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
    • Washington Mystics
  • Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
    • Southern Maryland Blue Crabs


The Washington metropolitan area is home to USA Today, C-SPAN, PBS, and BET. The two main newspapers are The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Local television channels include WRC-TV 4 (NBC), WTTG 5 (FOX), WJLA 7 (ABC), WUSA 9 (CBS), WDCA 20 (MyNetworkTV), WETA-TV 26 (PBS), WDCW 50 (CW), and WPXW 66 (Ion). NewsChannel 8 is a 24/7 local news provider available only to cable subscribers. Radio stations serving the area include: WETA-FM, WIHT, WMAL-AM, and WTOP.

Area codes[]

  • 202 – Washington, D.C.
  • 571/703 – Northern Virginia including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church as well as Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties (571 created 1 March 2000; 703 in October 1947).
  • 240/301 – northern and western Maryland
  • 540 – Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania
  • 304 – West Virginia

Sister cities[]

City Country Year
Washington, D.C.
Bangkok Thailand Thailand 1962, renewed 2002
Dakar Senegal Senegal 1980, renewed 2006
Beijing People's Republic of China China 1984, renewed 2004
Brussels Belgium Belgium 1985, renewed 2012
Athens Greece Greece 2000
Paris[Note 1] France France 2000, renewed 2005
Pretoria South Africa South Africa 2002, renewed 2008
Seoul South Korea South Korea 2006
Accra Ghana Ghana 2006
Sunderland United Kingdom United Kingdom 2006
Alexandria, Virginia
Gyumri Armenia Armenia
Helsingborg Sweden Sweden
Dundee[Note 2] United Kingdom United Kingdom
Caen France France
Arlington County, Virginia
Aachen Germany Germany
Reims France France
San Miguel El Salvador El Salvador
Coyoacán Mexico Mexico
Ivano-Frankivsk[Note 3] Ukraine Ukraine
Herndon, Virginia
Runnymede[Note 4] United Kingdom United Kingdom
Fairfax County, Virginia
Harbin[Note 5] People's Republic of China China 2009
Songpa-gu[Note 6] South Korea South Korea 2009
Falls Church, Virginia
Kokolopori Democratic Republic of the Congo Congo
District Heights, Maryland
Mbuji-Mayi Democratic Republic of the Congo Congo
Frederick, Maryland
Aquiraz Brazil Brazil
Moerzheim GermanyGermany
Schifferstadt Germany Germany
La Plata, Maryland
Jogeva County Estonia Estonia
Walldorf Germany Germany
Rockville, Maryland
Pinneberg Germany Germany
  1. ^ Paris is a "Partner City" due to the one Sister City policy of that commune.[1]
  2. ^ "Historic Alexandria | City of Alexandria, VA". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  3. ^ Exploration phase
  4. ^ Town twin [2]
  5. ^ Rejected by Washington due to not being a national capital.[3]
  6. ^ "Sisterhood Partnerships". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 

See also[]

  • List of people from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area
  • List of U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in Virginia
  • Potomac primary
  • Northeast megalopolis


  1. ^ (Table of United States Metropolitan Statistical Areas)
  2. ^ State Totals: Vintage 2012 - U.S Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  3. ^ "National Capital Region – Office of National Capital Region Coordination". Department of Homeland Security. December 21, 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  4. ^ "After initial obscurity, 'The DMV' nickname for Washington area picks up speed". Washington Post. July 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Washington area richest, most educated in US: report". 2006-06-08. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  6. ^ Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009
  7. ^ a b "Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas". Office of Management and Budget. February 20, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  8. ^ The cities bordering more than one county (Alexandria, Falls Church and Fredericksburg) are listed under the county they were part of before incorporation as a city.
  9. ^ "Glossary of Housing Words and Terms". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  10. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  11. ^ "– Transportation – TPB". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  12. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 13-01: Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas". U.S. Office of Management and Budget. February 28, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Metro Magnets for Minorities and Whites: Melting Pots, the New Sunbelt, and the Heartland" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  14. ^ Population Estimates
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^ de Vise, Daniel (2010-07-15). "Washington region ranks as the best-educated in the country". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  17. ^ "2006–2008 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  18. ^ Zumbrun, Joshua (2008-11-24). "America's Best- And Worst-Educated Cities". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  19. ^ "Washington, DC (Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV MSA) 2010 AFI Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  20. ^ "Macerich Tysons Corner Center Market Profile". 
  21. ^ "ACS 2005–2007". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  22. ^ "Women'S Well-Being" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  23. ^ Downey, Kirstin (2007-05-06). "High-Rises Approved That Would Dwarf D.C". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  24. ^ "List of tallest buildings in DC, MD, VA, WV". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  25. ^ a b "The top 100 tech centers". Bizjournals. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  26. ^ Nathan Eddy (2012-03-13). "Tech Jobs Flourish in Silicon Valley, but Other Regions Offer Opportunities: Dice Report". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  27. ^ Censer, Marjorie (July 30, 2010). "Defense firm Northrop Grumman's second-quarter profit rose nearly 81 percent". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ CNN. 
  29. ^ Appendix C BRAC 2005 Closure and Realignment Impacts by State
  30. ^ BRAC 2005: on time, on budget in Northeast

External links[]

Template:Northeast Megalopolis

Coordinates: 38°53′12.33″N 77°2′29.85″W / 38.8867583, -77.041625

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