Washington, D.C., was established to serve as the capital of the United States in the late 1700s. Since then, the city has blossomed into a major metropolitan area. The city is surrounded by the states of Maryland and Virginia and borders the Potomac River. Beyond serving as the major seat of government for the country, Washington is home to a number of notable companies and is a popular place for tourists from the United States and around the world. The city's cultural life is strong, and art and cultural festivals are almost always on the calendar.