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Atlanta is the capital of and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia, with a 2010 population of 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 5,268,860 people and the ninth largest metropolitan area in the country. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County, and a small portion of the city extends eastward into DeKalb County.
Atlanta was established in 1847 at the intersection of two railroad lines, and the city rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become a national center of commerce. In the decades following the Civil Rights Movement, during which the city earned a reputation as “too busy to hate” for the progressive views of its citizens and leaders, Atlanta attained international prominence. Atlanta is the primary transportation hub of the Southeastern United States via highway, railroad, and air, with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport being the world’s busiest airport since 1998. Atlanta is considered an “alpha(-) world city,” and, with a gross domestic product of US$270 billion, Atlanta’s economy ranks 15th among world cities and sixth in the nation. Although Atlanta’s economy is considered diverse, dominant sectors include logistics, professional and business services, media operations, government administration, and higher education. Geographically, Atlanta is marked by rolling hills and dense tree coverage. Revitalization of Atlanta’s neighborhoods, initially spurred by the 1996 Olympics, has intensified in the 21st century, altering the city’s demographics, politics, and culture.
Atlanta encompasses 132.4 square miles (342.9 km2), of which 131.7 square miles (341.1 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) is water. The city is situated among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and at 1,050 feet (320 m) above mean sea level, Atlanta has the highest elevation out of major cities east of the Mississippi River. Atlanta straddles the Eastern Continental Divide, such that rainwater that falls on the south and east side of the divide flows into the Atlantic Ocean, while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River, which is part of the ACF River Basin. Located at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river’s natural habitat is preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.