Atlanta (/ætˈlæntə/ at-LAN-tə) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. With a population of 498,715 living within the city limits, it is the 38th most populous city in the United States according to the 2020 U.S. census However, it serves as the cultural and economic heart of the much larger Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 6,089,815 people, making it the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. Situated among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at an elevation of just over 1,000 ft above sea level, it features unique topography that includes rolling hills, lush greenery, and the most dense urban tree coverage of any major city in the United States.
Atlanta was originally founded as the terminus of a major state-sponsored railroad, but it soon became the convergence point among several railroads, spurring its rapid growth. One of those railroads included the Western and Atlantic Railroad, from which the name “Atlanta” is derived, signifying the city’s growing reputation as a major hub of transportation. During the American Civil War, it served a strategically important role for the Confederacy until it was captured in 1864. The city was almost entirely burnt to the ground during General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea. However, the city rebounded dramatically in the post-war period and quickly became a national industrial center and the unofficial capital of the “New South”. During the 1950s and 1960s, it became a major organizing center of the American Civil Rights Movement, with Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and many other locals becoming prominent figures in the movement’s leadership. In the modern era, Atlanta has stayed true to its reputation as a major center of transportation, with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport becoming the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic in 1998 (a position it has held every year since, with the exception of 2020 as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic)