Columbia is the state capital and largest city of South Carolina. As of 2010, the census for the population of the city proper is 129,272. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a small portion of the city extends into Lexington County. The city's name is derived from a poetic name for Christopher Columbus.
Located just 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. As such it is centrally located to the rest of the state. Founded in 1786 as the site of South Carolina's new capital city, it was one of the first planned cities in the United States. The area is often cited for its high quality of life offerings, with its many cultural amenities, parks, and recreational features. Columbia is also home to the University of South Carolina.
At the confluence of two major rivers, Columbia is one of the best destinations in the country for kayak and canoe enthusiasts. It is also known for its large number of independent theater groups. Columbia was recently one of 30 communities named "America's Most Livable Communities."