Atlanta is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. With a 2020 census population of 498,712,] it is the 37th most populous city in the United States. It serves as the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to more than six million people and the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. Situated among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, it features unique topography that includes rolling hills and the most dense urban tree coverage in the United States.
Atlanta was originally founded as the terminus of a major state-sponsored railroad. With rapid expansion, however, it soon became the convergence point among multiple railroads, spurring its rapid growth. Its name derives from that of the Western and Atlantic Railroad’s local depot, signifying its growing reputation as a transportation hub. Toward the end of the American Civil War, in November 1864, most of the city was burned to the ground in General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea. However, it rose from its ashes and quickly became a national center of commerce and the unofficial capital of the “New South”. During the 1950s and 1960s, it became a major organizing center of the civil rights movement, with Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and many other locals playing major roles in the movement’s leadership. During the modern era, it has attained international prominence as a major air transportation hub, with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport being the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic since 1998.