Washington, DC, the capital city of the United States of America, is neither a state nor in a state. It is the political centre of the United States and was named after George Washington, the first U.S. President. The second part of the name, 'D.C' stands for 'District of Columbia', a specially designed area, which is not a state, rather a territory, made up of a small portion from Virginia in the south of the Potomac River and a piece from Maryland in the north of the same river. In 1847, Virginia's piece was returned to it, which is now known as the Arlington County and part of the city of Alexandria. Since 1847, Washington DC is completely located only on the north side of the Potomac River.
Before Washington, DC became the capital of the United States in 1800, the Congress met in a number of different locations, including Baltimore, Trenton and New York City. After lots of debate, deliberation and discussion for years together, to select a site for the permanent seat of the government, the Congress finally passed the Residence Act in July 1790. It declared that the capital would be situated somewhere along the Potomac River and it granted President George Washington the sole power to select the final site. In January 1791, George Washington announced that the site of the federal district would be along the Potomac and the Anacostia Rivers. He also picked out the location and laid out a perfect diamond shaped area for the proposed city, spanning parts of Maryland and Virginia.
To be distinct and distinguished from all the other states of the country, Washington, DC was officially founded in 1790, after Maryland and Virginia ceded land to this new 'district'.
In honour of George Washington, the first President of the United States, the commissioners named the federal city after him in September 1791 and dubbed the district in which it was located the 'Territory of Columbia'. The name 'Columbia' owes its origin from the name of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus - the name, which was spontaneously used during the days of the American Revolution, as an emotional expression of patriotic feelings for the United States. The name 'Territory of Columbia' was, however, officially renamed much later in 1871, as 'District of Columbia'.
In 1847, after the voters of Alexandria elected to leave DC, the portion of the city that had originally belonged to Virginia, was returned to the state, resulting the shrinking the size of DC by a third and giving its strange shape.