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 Atlanta is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state ofGeorgia as well as the core city of the ninth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. It is the county seat of Fulton County, although a small portion of the city extends into DeKalb County. As of July 2006, the city of Atlanta had a population of 486,411 and a metropolitan population of 5,138,223.  
Atlanta has in recent years undergone a transition from a city of regional commerce to a city of international influence.  Between 2000 and 2006, the metropolitan area grew by 20.5%, making it the fastest growing metropolitan area in the nation.   Atlanta is sometimes considered a poster child for cities worldwide experiencing rapid growth and urban sprawl, though the city has recently been commended by bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency for its eco-friendly policies.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 343.0 km² (132 sq mi). 341.2 km² (132 sq mi) of it is land and 1.8 km² (1 sq mi) of it is water. The total area is 0.51% water. At about 1,050 feet (320 m) above mean sea level (the airport is 1,010 feet (308 m)), Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. Atlanta has the highest average elevation of any major city east of Denver.

The Eastern Continental Divide line enters Atlanta from the south, proceeding to downtown. From downtown, the divide line runs eastward along DeKalb Avenue and the CSX rail lines through Decatur.
Rainwater that falls on the south and east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide runs into the Gulf of Mexico.  The latter is via the Chattahoochee River, part of the ACF River Basin, and from which Atlanta and many of its neighbors draw most of their water. Being at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river's natural habitat is still preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Downstream however, excessive water use during droughts and pollution during floods has been a source of contention and legal battles with neighboring states Alabama and Florida.


Atlanta has a humid subtropical climate, (Cfa) according to the Köppen classification, with hot, humid summers and mild to chilly winters by the standards of the United States. July highs average 88 °F (31 °C) or above, and low average 67 °F (19 °C).  Infrequently, temperatures can even exceed 100 °F (38 °C). The highest temperature recorded in the city is 105 °F (41 °C), reached in July, 1980.  January is the coldest month, with an average high of 50 °F (10 °C), and low of 29 °F (-2 °C). Warm fronts can bring springlike temperatures in the 60s and 70s in winter, and Arctic air masses can drop temperatures into the teens as well. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -9 °F (-23 °C) in February 1899. A close second was -8 °F (-22 °C), reached in January 1985.

Like the rest of the southeastern U.S., Atlanta receives abundant rainfall, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. Average annual rainfall is 50.2 inches (1,275 mm).  An average year sees frost on 36 days; snowfall averages about 2 inches (5 cm) annually. The heaviest single storm brought 10 inches (25 cm) on January 23, 1940.  Frequent ice storms can cause more problems than snow; the most severe such storm may have occurred on January 7, 1973.

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