Columbia is the capital and second largest city of the U.S. state of South Carolina, with a population estimate of 134,309 as of 2016. The city serves as the county seat of Richland County, and a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. It is the center of the Columbia metropolitan statistical area, which had a population of 767,598 as of the 2010 United States Census, growing to 817,488 by July 1, 2016, according to 2015 U.S. Census estimates. The name Columbia is a poetic term used for the United States, originating from the name of Christopher Columbus.
The city is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) northwest of the geographic center of South Carolina, and is the primary city of the Midlands region of the state. It lies at the confluence of the Saluda River and the Broad River, which merge at Columbia to form the Congaree River. Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, the state's flagship university and the largest in the state, and is also the site of Fort Jackson, the largest United States Army installation for Basic Combat Training. Columbia is also located 20 miles west of the site of McEntire Joint National Guard Base, which is operated by the U.S. Air Force and is used as a training base for the 169th Fighter Wing of The South Carolina Air National Guard. Columbia is also the location of the South Carolina State House, which is the center of government for the state. In 1860, the city was the location of the South Carolina Secession Convention, which marked the departure of the first state from the Union in the events leading up to the Civil War.
One of Columbia's more prominent geographical features is its fall line, the boundary between the upland Piedmont region and the Atlantic Coastal Plain, across which rivers drop as falls or rapids. Columbia grew up at the fall line of the Congaree River, which is formed by the convergence of the Broad River and the Saluda River. The Congaree was the farthest inland point of river navigation. The energy of falling water also powered Columbia's early mills. The city has capitalized on this location which includes three rivers by christening itself "The Columbia Riverbanks Region". Columbia is located roughly halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains and sits at an elevation of around 292 ft (89 m).
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