Atlanta is the capital 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, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest in the U.S. It is a major component of a growing southeastern megalopolis known as the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County, and a small portion of the city extends eastward into DeKalb County.
Atlanta began as a settlement located at the terminus of a railroad line, and it was incorporated in 1845. Today, the city is a major business city and 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. The World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University rated Atlanta as an “alpha(-) world city”. With a gross domestic product of US$270 billion, Atlanta’s economy ranks 15th among world cities and sixth in the nation. The city is a center for services, finance, information technology, government, and higher education. Metro Atlanta contains the country’s third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and is the world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting, The Home Depot, AT&T Mobility, UPS, and Delta Air Lines. As of 2010, Atlanta is the seventh most visited city in the United States, with over 35 million visitors per year.
The city has long been known as a center of black wealth, political power and culture; a cradle of the Civil Rights Movement and home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, the city’s white population is growing rapidly, while Metro Atlanta has quickly become ethnically diverse with large Hispanic and Asian populations. The arts and entertainment are well represented in Atlanta, and the city is an important base for hip hop, gospel, and neo soul music; in addition, it has become a major center of film and TV production. Atlanta stands out among major U.S. cities for its dense tree coverage. In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, an event that spurred a wave of gentrification that has intensified into the 21st century, revitalizing the city’s center and in-town neighborhoods.