Olympia is the capital of the State of Washington and the county seat of Thurston County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1859. The population was 46,478 at the 2010 census. The city borders Lacey, to the east, and Tumwater to the south. Olympia is a major cultural center of the Puget Sound region.
The first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1792 when Peter Puget and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition charted the site. In 1846, Edmund Sylvester and Levi Smith jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown Olympia. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington Territory and Olympia became the home of the customs house. Its population being steadily expanded from Oregon Trail immigrants, in 1853 the town settled on the name Olympia, at the suggestion of local resident Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, due to its view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest. The area began to be served by a small fleet of steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.
A 1949 earthquake damaged many historic buildings beyond repair, and they were demolished. Parts of the city also suffered damage from earthquake tremors in 1965 and the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
In 1967, the state legislature approved the creation of The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Since 1984, Olympia has also been home to the South Puget Sound Community College. Olympia has become a hub for artists and musicians, and has been named one of the best college towns in the nation for its vibrant downtown and access to outdoor activities.