South Carolina's historical charm and southern hospitality are unparalleled, and the state is fortunate to have an abundance of natural beauty. As a southern city, Columbia benefits from mild winters and warm, sunny summers. Columbia's economy benefits from a varied commercial-industrial base. With its central location, business-friendly environment, and variety of cultural and recreational opportunities, the Columbia area is an attractive place to live and work.
Founded March 26, 1786 as the center of government, education, and commerce in the Palmetto State, Columbia was the first American city named for Christopher Columbus, and the first-planned capital. It's no accident that Columbia has three beautiful rivers running through it. In the late 1700s river travel was a primary transportation mode, so the capital city was laid out just up from where the Broad and Saluda Rivers converge to form the Congaree River in the geographic center of the state. These rivers are popular for recreation, and careful development along
Interstates 20, 26, and 77 all intersect in Columbia. Because of its central location, the Columbia Metro area, known as the Columbia Riverbanks Region, is within a three-hour drive from anywhere in South Carolina and only an hour from the North Carolina and Georgia borders. In addition to the attractions and recreation in the Riverbanks Region, the capital city is close enough for day trips to the mountains of the upstate, beaches on the Atlantic Coast and the many historic sites in the Lowcountry. For travel by air, the Columbia Metropolitan Airport is served by 4 major airlines.
Columbia is the state's education and cultural center. Colleges and universities in the area include the University of South Carolina, chartered in 1801, Allen University, Benedict College, Columbia College, Columbia International University, and Midlands Technical College.
Columbia has a love of the arts as seen in its theatres, galleries, dance companies, and orchestra. Museums include the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina State Museum, Edventure Children's Museum and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. The Koger Center for the Arts and the Colonial Center provide entertainment venues for theatre, music, and dance including local, regional, and national acts. Columbia is home to several theatres including the professional Trustus Theatre, Town Theatre - the country's oldest community theatre in continuous use, Workshop Theatre, Longstreet Theatre at USC, South Carolina Shakespeare Company and the Columbia Marionette Theatre.