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Atlanta metropolitan area

Most populous metro area in the US state of Georgia

Top 10 Atlanta metropolitan area related articles

Metropolitan Atlanta

Metro Atlanta
Metropolitan Atlanta
Map of Metro Atlanta
Metropolitan Atlanta
Metropolitan Atlanta (the United States)
Metropolitan Atlanta
Metropolitan Atlanta (Metro Atlanta)
Coordinates: 33°48′N 84°24′W / 33.8°N 84.4°W / 33.8; -84.4Coordinates: 33°48′N 84°24′W / 33.8°N 84.4°W / 33.8; -84.4
Country  United States
State Georgia
Largest city Atlanta
 • Metro
8,376 sq mi (21,694 km2)
 • CSA10,494.03 sq mi (27,179.4 km2)
606–3,288 ft (185–1,002 m)
 (2019 Estimates)[1]
 • Density624/sq mi (243/km2)
 • Urban
4,515,419 (9th)
 • MSA
6,020,364 (9th)
 • CSA
6,853,352 (11th)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
300xx to 303xx
Area code(s)404/678/470 inside the perimeter 770/678/470 outside the perimeter

Metro Atlanta, designated by the United States Office of Management and Budget as the Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area, is the most populous metro area in the US state of Georgia and the ninth-largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States. Its economic, cultural and demographic center is Atlanta, and has an estimated 2019 population of 6,020,364 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The metro area forms the core of a broader trading area, the Atlanta–Athens-Clarke–Sandy Springs Combined Statistical Area. The Combined Statistical Area spans up to 39 counties in north Georgia and has an estimated 2017 population of 6,555,956.[2] Atlanta is considered a "beta(+) world city."[3] It is the third largest metropolitan region in the Census Bureau's Southeast region behind Greater Washington and Greater Miami.

Atlanta metropolitan area Intro articles: 1


Location in Georgia (MSA counties in Red).

By U.S. Census Bureau standards, the population of the Atlanta region spreads across a metropolitan area of 8,376 square miles (21,694 km2) – a land area comparable to that of Massachusetts.[4] Because Georgia contains more counties than any other state except Texas (explained in part by the now-defunct county-unit system of weighing votes in primary elections),[5] area residents live under a heavily decentralized collection of governments. As of the 2000 census, fewer than one in ten residents of the metropolitan area lived inside Atlanta city limits.[6]

A 2006 survey by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce counted 140 cities and towns in the 28‑county Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in mid-2005.[4] Nine cities – Johns Creek (2006), Milton (2006), Chattahoochee Hills (2007), Dunwoody (2008), Peachtree Corners (2012), Brookhaven (2012), Tucker (2016), Stonecrest (2016) and South Fulton (2017) – have incorporated since then, following the lead of Sandy Springs in 2005.[7][8][9]

The Atlanta metropolitan area was first defined in 1950 as Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton counties. Walton, Newton, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Henry, Cherokee, Rockdale, and Butts, counties were added after the 1970 census, with Barrow and Coweta counties joining in 1980 and Bartow, Carroll, Paulding, Pickens and Spalding counties in 1990.

Atlanta's larger combined statistical area (CSA) adds the Gainesville and Athens metropolitan areas plus LaGrange, Thomaston, Jefferson, Calhoun, and Cedartown micropolitan areas, for a total 2012 population of 6,162,195. The CSA also abuts the Macon and Columbus MSAs. The region is one of the metropolises of the Southeastern United States, and is part of the emerging megalopolis known as Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion along the I-85 Corridor.

In 2019, the name of the MSA was changed from Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Roswell to Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta.[10]

Atlanta metropolitan area Definitions articles: 44

Metropolitan statistical area

The counties listed below are included in the Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.[11] However, some entities define a much smaller metropolitan area by including only the counties which have the densest suburban development. Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton were the five original counties when the Atlanta metropolitan area was first defined in 1950, and continue to be the core of the metro area. These five counties along with five more (Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale) are members of the Atlanta Regional Commission, a weak metropolitan government organization which also is a regional planning agency. The ten ARC counties, bolded, and five more (Bartow, Coweta, Hall, Forsyth, Paulding), with an asterisk (*), form part of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, created in 2001.

Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area

County Seat 2019 Estimate 2010 Census Change Area Density
Fulton * Atlanta 1,063,937 920,581 +15.57% 534 sq mi (1,380 km2) 1,992/sq mi (769/km2)
Gwinnett * Lawrenceville 936,250 805,321 +16.26% 437 sq mi (1,130 km2) 2,142/sq mi (827/km2)
Cobb * Marietta 760,141 688,078 +10.47% 345 sq mi (890 km2) 2,203/sq mi (851/km2)
DeKalb * Decatur 759,297 691,893 +9.74% 271 sq mi (700 km2) 2,802/sq mi (1,082/km2)
Clayton * Jonesboro 292,256 259,424 +12.66% 144 sq mi (370 km2) 2,030/sq mi (784/km2)
Cherokee * Canton 258,773 214,346 +20.73% 434 sq mi (1,120 km2) 596/sq mi (230/km2)
Forsyth * Cumming 244,252 175,511 +39.17% 224 sq mi (580 km2) 1,090/sq mi (421/km2)
Henry * McDonough 234,561 203,922 +15.02% 327 sq mi (850 km2) 717/sq mi (277/km2)
Paulding * Dallas 164,044 142,324 +15.26% 314 sq mi (810 km2) 522/sq mi (202/km2)
Coweta * Newnan 145,864 127,317 +14.57% 446 sq mi (1,160 km2) 327/sq mi (126/km2)
Douglas * Douglasville 145,331 132,403 +9.76% 201 sq mi (520 km2) 723/sq mi (279/km2)
Carroll Carrollton 118,121 110,527 +6.87% 504 sq mi (1,310 km2) 234/sq mi (90/km2)
Fayette * Fayetteville 113,459 106,567 +6.47% 199 sq mi (520 km2) 570/sq mi (220/km2)
Newton Covington 109,541 99,958 +9.59% 279 sq mi (720 km2) 393/sq mi (152/km2)
Bartow * Cartersville 106,408 100,157 +6.24% 470 sq mi (1,200 km2) 226/sq mi (87/km2)
Walton Monroe 93,503 83,768 +11.62% 330 sq mi (850 km2) 283/sq mi (109/km2)
Rockdale * Conyers 90,312 85,215 +5.98% 132 sq mi (340 km2) 684/sq mi (264/km2)
Barrow Winder 80,809 69,367 +16.49% 163 sq mi (420 km2) 496/sq mi (191/km2)
Spalding Griffin 66,100 64,073 +3.16% 200 sq mi (520 km2) 331/sq mi (128/km2)
Pickens Jasper 31,980 29,431 +8.66% 233 sq mi (600 km2) 137/sq mi (53/km2)
Haralson Buchanan 29,533 28,780 +2.62% 283 sq mi (730 km2) 104/sq mi (40/km2)
Dawson Dawsonville 25,083 22,330 +12.33% 214 sq mi (550 km2) 117/sq mi (45/km2)
Butts Jackson 24,193 23,655 +2.27% 188 sq mi (490 km2) 129/sq mi (50/km2)
Meriwether Greenville 21,068 21,992 −4.20% 505 sq mi (1,310 km2) 42/sq mi (16/km2)
Lamar Barnesville 19,000 18,317 +3.73% 186 sq mi (480 km2) 102/sq mi (39/km2)
Morgan Madison 18,893 21,218 −10.96% 361 sq mi (930 km2) 52/sq mi (20/km2)
Pike Zebulon 18,634 17,869 +4.28% 219 sq mi (570 km2) 85/sq mi (33/km2)
Jasper Monticello 14,140 13,900 +1.73% 373 sq mi (970 km2) 38/sq mi (15/km2)
Heard Franklin 11,879 11,834 +0.38% 301 sq mi (780 km2) 39/sq mi (15/km2)
Total 6,020,364 5,286,728 +13.88% 8,376 sq mi (21,690 km2) 719/sq mi (278/km2)

The 12 counties listed above with under 85,000 residents are usually not included in any other metropolitan definition except the OMB/Census Bureau's MSA and CSA.

Hall County forms the Gainesville MSA, but with astronomical growth to over 200,000 residents, is now also part of the Atlanta CSA.

The official tourism website of the State of Georgia features a "Metro Atlanta" tourism region that includes only nine counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, and Henry.

Atlanta metropolitan area Metropolitan statistical area articles: 50

Combined statistical area

Atlanta GA-AL Combined Statistical Area

Statistical Area 2019 Estimate 2010 Census Change Area Density
Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 6,020,364 5,286,728 +13.88% 8,376 sq mi (21,690 km2) 719/sq mi (278/km2)
Athens–Clarke County, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 213,750 192,541 +11.02% 1,035 sq mi (2,680 km2) 207/sq mi (80/km2)
Gainesville, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 204,441 179,684 +13.78% 429 sq mi (1,110 km2) 477/sq mi (184/km2)
LaGrange, GA-AL Micropolitan Statistical Area 103,176 101,259 +1.89% 446 sq mi (1,160 km2) 231/sq mi (89/km2)
Rome, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 98,498 96,317 +2.26% 518 sq mi (1,340 km2) 190/sq mi (73/km2)
Jefferson, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area 72,997 60,485 +20.69% 343 sq mi (890 km2) 213/sq mi (82/km2)
Cornelia, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area 45,328 43,041 +5.31% 279 sq mi (720 km2) 162/sq mi (63/km2)
Cedartown, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area 42,613 41,475 +2.74% 312 sq mi (810 km2) 137/sq mi (53/km2)
Thomaston, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area 26,320 27,153 −3.07% 328 sq mi (850 km2) 80/sq mi (31/km2)
Toccoa, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area 25,925 26,175 −0.96% 184 sq mi (480 km2) 141/sq mi (54/km2)
Total 6,750,236 6,020,643 +12.12% 12,250 sq mi (31,700 km2) 551/sq mi (213/km2)


The skylines of Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead (all within the city of Atlanta), and Perimeter Center viewed from the southwest near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Atlanta suburbs and surrounding cities map. Note that the newly incorporated cities of Brookhaven, Peachtree Corners, Tucker, Stonecrest and South Fulton are not yet shown as incorporated (gray) on the map.

Edge cities

More than one half of metro Atlanta's population is in unincorporated areas or areas considered a census-designated-place (CDP) by the census bureau. One notable example is East Cobb, an unincorporated area (though not a CDP) adjacent to Marietta and Roswell in Cobb County. With an estimated population of approximately 208,000 as of 2019, it would be the second largest city in the metro besides Atlanta if incorporated.[12]

Metro Atlanta includes the following incorporated and unincorporated suburbs (both inside and outside Atlanta), exurbs, and surrounding cities, sorted by population according to 2010 census data (or later data if the city was incorporated after 2010 and census data is unavailable):[13]

Cities and suburbs

Principal city

Places with 75,000 to 99,999 inhabitants

Places with 50,000 to 74,999 inhabitants

Places with 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants

Places with 24,999 or fewer inhabitants

Atlanta metropolitan area Combined statistical area articles: 66


The topography and geography of Atlanta

Topography and geology

The area sprawls across the low foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the north and the Piedmont to the south. The northern and some western suburbs tend to be higher and significantly more hilly than the southern and eastern suburbs. The average elevation is around 1,000 feet (300 m).

The highest point in the immediate area is Kennesaw Mountain at 1,808 ft (551 m), followed by Stone Mountain at 1,686 ft (514 m), Sweat Mountain at 1,640 ft (500 m), and Little Kennesaw Mountain at 1,600 ft (488 m). Others include Blackjack Mountain, Lost Mountain, Brushy Mountain, Pine Mountain, and Mount Wilkinson (Vinings Mountain). Many of these play prominently in the various battles of the Atlanta Campaign during the American Civil War. If the further-north counties are included, Bear Mountain is highest, followed by Pine Log Mountain, Sawnee Mountain, and Hanging Mountain, followed by the others listed above. Stone, Sweat, Bear, and Sawnee are all home to some of the area's broadcast stations.

The area's subsoil is a dense clay soil, colored rusty by the iron oxide present in it. It becomes very muddy and sticky when wet, and hard when dry, and stains light-colored carpets and clothing easily. It also tends to have a low pH, further aggravating gardeners. The fineness of it also means it is easily deposited into streams during heavy rains, creating silt problems where it is exposed due to construction. This transported red soil can be seen downstream on the riverbanks of south Georgia (where the native clay is white), and down to the Florida panhandle (where the native sand is also white). Topsoil is present only in natural forest areas, created by the decomposition of leaf litter.

Earthquakes and fault lines

An extinct fault line called the Brevard Fault runs roughly parallel to the Chattahoochee River, but as its last movements were apparently prehistoric, it is considered extinct and not a threat to the region. Still, minor earthquakes do rattle the area (and all of Georgia) occasionally. One notable one was in April 2003 (magnitude 4.6) coming from the northwest, its epicenter just across the state line in northeastern Alabama. While many people slept through the 5A.M. quake, it caused a minor panic in others completely unaware of what was happening. Similar earthquakes occur in this region called the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone, often felt much more widely across the stronger crust of eastern North America as compared to the west. Thus, the 1886 Charleston, South Carolina earthquake was also felt in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. It caused damage as far as central Alabama and West Virginia. Two small earthquakes were also felt on the southeast side near Eatonton in early April 2009. The New Madrid Seismic Zone (near the Missouri-Tennessee borders) and the seismic zone producing the 1886 magnitude 7.3 earthquake are still capable of producing moderate or major earthquakes, which the entire Atlanta area will feel moderately or even strongly.


The Atlanta metro area has a humid subtropical climate with four seasons, although summer is the longest. January daily lows average from 32–35 °F (0–2 °C) north to south, and highs range from 48–54 °F (9–12 °C), but often reach well above or below this average. There is an average annual snowfall of about 2.5 inches (6.4 cm), falling mostly from December through March, though there was snow north of the city on April 3, 1987. Snow flurries are actually common during the winter months when there is an especially deep trough in the jet stream. These events usually do not amount to more than a slight dusting and therefore go unrecognized in most weather summaries. Summers, by contrast, are long and consistently hot and humid, with July mornings averaging 71 °F (22 °C) and afternoons averaging 89 °F (32 °C), slight breezes, and typically a 20–40% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. During the summer afternoon thunderstorms, temperatures may suddenly drop to 70–77 degrees with locally heavy rainfall. Average annual rainfall is about 50.2 inches (1,280 mm), with late winter and early spring (as well as July) being the wettest and fall (especially October) being the driest.

From 1878 to 2011, the highest recorded temperatures at Atlanta were 105 °F (40.6 °C) on three days in the extraordinarily hot July 1980, followed by 104 °F (40 °C) that month and in August 2007, the hottest month ever for the area. This was broken on the last day of June 2012, when the temperature reached 106 °F (41.1 °C), during a massive heat wave that hit most of the country, with another 105 the next day tying the July record. The lowest recorded temperatures were −6 °F (−21 °C) and −8 °F (−22 °C) on January 20 and 21 of 1985, and −9 °F (−23 °C) on February 13, 1899, during severe cold snaps that went so far south they devastated the entire citrus industry in central Florida.

Hurricane Opal brought sustained tropical storm conditions to the area one night in early October 1995, uprooting hundreds of trees and causing widespread power outages, after soaking the area with rain for two days prior. Since 1950 some metro counties have been hit more than 20 times by tornadoes, with Cobb (26) and Fulton (22) being two of the highest in the state. The Dunwoody tornado in early April 1998 was the worst tornado to have struck the area. A tornado struck downtown Atlanta in March 2008, causing a half-billion dollars in damage, one of the most expensive storms ever recorded anywhere.

The area experiences a winter storm with significant snowfall about once each year, however this can be extremely irregular with several consecutive years receiving no measurable snow. A blizzard (see: 1993 Storm of the Century) caught much of the Southeast off-guard in 1993, dumping 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) at the Atlanta airport on March 13, and much more than that in the suburbs to the north and west, as well as in the mountains. The only other recorded winter storm of comparable severity was the Great Blizzard of 1899. The heaviest snow, however, was in January 1940, when 8.3 inches (21.1 cm) buried the city during its coldest month on record. The second-heaviest was in 1983, when a very late storm dumped 7.9 inches (20.1 cm) on March 24. Ice storms have also occurred in the area. The well-remembered 1973 ice storm was brutal as was the storm in 1982.

The Southeastern U.S. drought of 2006–2008 began with dry weather in 2006, and left area lakes very low. The drought finally began to abate significantly after the 2009 Atlanta floods, when some areas got up to 20 inches (500 mm) of rain in a week, with half of that falling in just 24 hours near the end of the period. The USGS calculated it to be a greater-than-500-year flood.


The area's prolific rains are drained by many different streams and creeks. The main basin is that of the Chattahoochee River, running northeast to southwest. The further northwestern suburbs drain into the Etowah River via the Little River and Lake Allatoona. The southern suburbs are drained by the Flint River, and the east-southeastern ones by the Oconee River and Yellow River.

By 2005 the metro area was using 360 million US gallons (1,400,000 m3) of water per day (about 80 US gallons (300 L) per person per day) from these rivers. This usage was reduced by more than 10% during the drought, but soared back up after watering restrictions were eased (and before the flooding ensued). The need for water is seen as a barrier to further growth in the area, but permanent measures for non-emergency water conservation have never been put in place. The state legislature has refused to pass a requirement for low-flow toilets to be installed in homes that are sold, bowing to pressure from the real estate sales industry.

Disputes over water are becoming increasingly common, with both Alabama and Florida filing lawsuits and threatening injunctions to prevent Georgia from taking too much water, mostly for metro Atlanta. South Carolina also threatened when a pipeline east to the Savannah River was mentioned even informally. The state has now been ordered by a judge to reduce withdrawals from the Chattahoochee south of Lanier to 1970s levels within three years (2012), something that would create an immediate emergency water shortage if it were actually enforced.


The native forest canopy is mainly oak, redbud, hickory, poplar, tuliptree, pine, and sweetgum, with chestnut having been common decades before in what is now considered oak-hickory forest. Traveling from the south, the metro area is generally the first area in which autumn leaf color can be seen, due to the different trees growing at the higher elevation and latitude. Underneath, the flowering dogwood is very common, the black cherry are quite prolific, with mulberry popping up sometimes as well. Sourwood is also in its native range, and is easily identified by the fact that it turns fiery red in early October, much brighter and weeks earlier than most other trees (which usually peak in early November).

Shrubby plants include blackberry, horsechestnut, sumac, and sometimes hawthorn. Virginia creeper, poison ivy, and briar are common vines. The Confederate yellow daisy is a wildflower native only to the area around Stone Mountain.

Common garden plants include dogwood, azalea, hydrangea, flowering cherry, maples, pin oak, red-tip photinia, holly, juniper, white pine, magnolia, Bradford pear, forsythia, liriope (mondograss), and English ivy. Lawns can be either cool-season grasses like fescue and rye, or warm-season like zoysia and bermudagrass which turn brown in late fall. A few homeowners associations actually prohibit green grass in the winter.

Native to the nearby mountains, maples are now one of the most common landscape trees for new homes and parking lots, giving their color in the fall instead of spring. When planted close to buildings (which provide shelter and radiate heat), they can retain some of their color into December, especially if November has been warm.

Common lawn weeds are mock strawberry, violet, wild onion, and of course the ubiquitous dandelion, crabgrass, and plantain.

By far the most notorious introduced species is kudzu, a highly invasive species from Japan which climbs and smothers trees and shrubs. New effective herbicides as well as increased development of formerly rural areas has greatly reduced kudzu in the metro area (although still quite common elsewhere in Georgia). Wisteria planted decades ago by farmers in then-rural areas has become wild and is common in undeveloped forests. Some vines exceed 50 years of age and cover dozens of acres of forest, creating a dense, purple explosion each spring.

Japanese honeysuckle is extremely common, its fragrance an early summer delight. A common ornamental shrub, the Chinese privet, has escaped to become the state's most invasive non-native plant species.


Among mammals, the eastern gray squirrel is by far the most ubiquitous, stealing birdseed from the bird feeders which many locals maintain. Chipmunks and small brown rabbits are common, but it is relatively rare to hear of them doing any damage. Opossum, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and armadillos are frequently seen. Garden and meadow snakes are common; six venomous pit viper snakes (Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Timber rattlesnake, Pygmy rattlesnake, Coral snake, Water Moccasin and Copperhead) are indigenous, but reports of bites are rare. Many types of frogs, including tree frogs and bullfrogs, are easily heard in early summer, as are cicadas in July and August. Black bears occasionally wander down from the mountains, and white-tailed deer are abundant; overpopulated in some areas. Homeowners in the outer suburbs are prone to landscaping damage due to scavenging deer.

The most common birds are the Brown Thrasher (the GA state bird), American crow, European (or common) starling, American robin, mourning dove, house sparrow, northern cardinal, purple finch, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, bluejay, white-breasted nuthatch, eastern bluebird, mockingbird, brown-headed nuthatch, and the Carolina wren. Birds of prey thrive in the area, with three varieties of hawks common near open fields in even the most populated areas. Falcons roost on skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta and can be regularly seen feasting on pigeons. The American kestrel is sometimes seen. Late in the year, three species of owls can be heard nightly in wooded areas. Various woodpeckers can be seen in forested lots, including the red-bellied woodpecker, northern flicker (also known as the "red-shafted flicker"), and the downy woodpecker. The red-headed woodpecker is common in open fields and on golf courses. The American goldfinch is present mostly in winter, and the ruby-throated hummingbird only in summer.

Atlanta metropolitan area Geography articles: 192