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What You Need To Know

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as “Washington”, “the District”, or simply “D.C.”, is the capital of the United States of America and the seat of its three branches of government, as well as the federal district of the U.S. The city has an unparalleled collection of free, public museums and many of the nation’s most treasured monuments and memorials. The vistas on the National Mall between the Capitol, Washington Monument, White House, and Lincoln Memorial are famous throughout the world as icons of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation.

D.C. shed its former reputation as a boring and dangerous city and it now has shopping, dining, and nightlife befitting a world-class metropolis. Travellers will find the city to be exciting, cosmopolitan, and international.
Area: 68.34 mi²

Currency

The United States dollar sign: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$ and referred to as the dollar, U.S. dollar, or American dollar is the official currency of the United States and its insular territories. It is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes.

Climate

Washington is in the northern part of the humid subtropical climate zone However, under the Trewartha climate classification, the city has a temperate maritime climate. Winters are usually chilly with light snow, and summers are hot and humid. The District is in plant hardiness zone 8a near downtown, and zone 7b elsewhere in the city, indicating a humid subtropical climate.
Spring and fall are mild to warm, while winter is chilly with annual snowfall averaging 15.5 inches (39 cm). Winter temperatures average around 38 °F (3.3 °C) from mid-December to mid-February. Summers are hot and humid with a July daily average of 79.8 °F (26.6 °C) and average daily relative humidity around 66{bdde1c218ae3c83c47c4300a3f9139d55bf4a7d7fe20f984e89a99de65a02f2c}, which can cause moderate personal discomfort. The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area.

Language

English is an official language of Washington DC,  other languages Spanish, French and Native American languages .

Safety

The number of reported incidents of certain types of crime, but not all types of crime, within a certain proximity to any street address can be tracked on the DC Crime Map. Muggings are a problem in the nightlife-centered neighborhoods of Shaw, Adams Morgan, and Near Northeast and the area around the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station. Be extra vigilant with your mobile phones; they are a very popular snatch-and-grab item around the Metro stations and on the trains.
The number of annual homicides has declined from 479 in 1991, when Washington was known as the “murder capital”, to 105 in 2014. As a visitor, you are extremely unlikely to be victim of a homicide; the vast majority of homicide victims in the U.S. are acquainted with their murderer long before the crime. The majority of homicides occur in the less-traveled parts of the city, especially near public housing projects.

Health

Washington, D.C. is a national center for patient care and medical research. There is currently a total of 16 medical centers and hospitals located within the District of Columbia. There are also numerous medical research centers in the Washington area, most notably the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Economy

Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs. The gross state product of the District in 2010 was $103.3 billion, which would rank it No. 34 compared to the 50 states. The gross product of the Washington Metropolitan Area was $425 billion in 2010, making it the fourth-largest metropolitan economy in the United States. As of June 2011, the Washington Metropolitan Area had an unemployment rate of 6.2{bdde1c218ae3c83c47c4300a3f9139d55bf4a7d7fe20f984e89a99de65a02f2c}; the second-lowest rate among the 49 largest metro areas in the nation. The District of Columbia itself had an unemployment rate of 9.8{bdde1c218ae3c83c47c4300a3f9139d55bf4a7d7fe20f984e89a99de65a02f2c} during the same time period.

Getting Around

It is usually easier to use public transportation as opposed to driving in traffic and paying expensive parking rates. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates the city’s public transportation system. Information about all modes of local public transportation is available on the tourist-friendly website goDCgo.
The Metrorail is D.C.’s intra-city train system. It is composed of six color-coded rail lines that run primarily underground within the District and above ground in the nearby suburbs. It’s clean, safe, user-friendly, and sports a surprisingly elegant and pleasing brutalist aesthetic. However, Metrorail attracts very large crowds during rush hours and major public events.
Metrorail fares depend on the distance traveled and whether the trip starts during a peak or off-peak time period.
D.C.’s bus system is visitor-friendly and reaches destinations that are hard to reach by Metrorail.
The tourist-friendly D.C. Circulator buses operate between main attractions and the city’s most popular neighborhoods for visitors. All D.C. Circulator routes run every ten minutes and cost $1 per ride, payable either in cash or by using a SmarTrip debit card.
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are extremely popular in D.C. A trip to most areas within the city will cost around $10, which can be cheaper than public transport if there are more than 2 people in your party.
There are approximately 6,500 licensed taxicabs in D.C. Unlike rideshare services, taxis are able to be hailed from the street. Roof lights on all D.C. cabs have LED text that explicitly state whether or not the cab is available for hire.

Dos

  • Learn how to ride the Metro.
  • Make reservations months ahead of time for certain landmarks.
  • Fly in to Reagan National Airport.
  • Know the difference between Washington and Washington DC.
  • Pay attention to African American History.

Don’ts

  • Don’t visit during summer or winter, opt for fall or spring.
  • Don’t try to see the entire city in one day.
  • Don’t neglect the intellectual side of the city.