Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 116,278. It is the county seat of Richland County.
The estimated population for the then two-county metropolitan area was 516,251 in 1999. In June 2003 the United States Census Bureau added four more counties to Greater Columbia's standard metropolitan statistical area. Using July 2002 estimates for all six counties (Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Fairfield, Calhoun, and Saluda) leads to a metro area population of 664,229.
Columbia is home to the main campus of the University of South Carolina. Fort Jackson is the largest United States Army Initial Entry (basic) training base and is located east of the city.
Columbia is also home to the Columbia Inferno of the ECHL. In 2005, the former Capital City Bombers will relocate to Greenville, South Carolina.
Columbia recently gained a world-class sporting and event arena, the Colonial Center. This is part of a revitalization campaign which has also brought the city a new, modern convention center located near the arena, a planned Omni Hotel , and a Ruth's Chris steakhouse.
Columbia's daily newspaper is The State. The city and its surroundings are served by Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
On February 17, 1865 during the American Civil War, much of Columbia was destroyed by burning while being occupied by Union troops under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Against popular belief, Sherman did not order the burning of Columbia nor did his troops start the massive fire. The actual cause was retreating Confederate troops under Wade Hampton, who were ordered to burn several bales of cotton being held in the city. The burning of these key war materials was done under a standing Confederate policy to keep particular goods out of the hands of invading Union troops. While Federal troops tried to extinguish the cotton fires, as shown by eyewitness accounts from the time, cotton is notorious for being difficult to completely extinguish and based on burn patterns in the city, the burning of Columbia was most likely caused by the reigniting of the cotton bales. Examples of other cities that had fires originally caused by retreating Confederate troops in this similar manner, but latter blamed as being caused by Federal troops, was the burning of Richmond, Virginia in April of 1865. While not actually “burning Columbia to the ground”, Sherman did order the plunder and destruction of several key buildings of the Confederacy in Columbia, one of these being the Confederate Printing Plant on Gervais Street.
Columbia is located at 34°1'1" North, 81°0'38" West (34.017105, -81.010759). Autumn, winter and spring are mild, with occasional winter nights below freezing but rarely extended cold. The city is at its most beautiful in the spring when masses of azaleas and other spring flowers bloom. Summers can be very hot, and the city, like other cities of the southeast, is prone to atmospheric inversions, which trap ozone and other pollutants over the area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 330.8 km² (127.7 mi²). 324.3 km² (125.2 mi²) of it is land and 6.4 km² (2.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.95% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 116,278 people in the city proper, organized into 42,245 households, and 22,136 families. The population density is 358.5/km² (928.6/mi²). There are 46,142 housing units at an average density of 142.3/km² (368.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 49.22% White, 45.98% Black or African American, 1.73% Asian, 0.25% Native American, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 1.36% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. 3.03% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 42,245 households out of which 25.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.5% are married couples living together, 17.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% are non-families. 37.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.21 and the average family size is 2.97.
In the city the population is spread out with 20.1% under the age of 18, 22.9% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 16.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 29 years. For every 100 females there are 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $31,141, and the median income for a family is $39,589. Males have a median income of $30,925 versus $24,679 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,853. 22.1% of the population and 17.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.7% of those under the age of 18 and 16.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.