Approaching Downtown Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. The 2011 United States Census Estimates put the city at 130,591. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The city is the center of a metropolitan statistical area of 777,116, the largest within the state. The name Columbia was a poetic term for the Americas derived from Christopher Columbus.
Located 13 miles (21 km) northwest of South Carolina's geographic center, Columbia is the primary city of the Midlands region of South Carolina, which comprises several counties in the central portion of the state. The city lies at the confluence of two rivers, the Saluda and the Broad, which merge at Columbia to form the Congaree River, which is popular with paddlers and kayakers in the area. The state's flagship and largest university, the University of South Carolina, is located in Columbia. Historically, 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.