The city was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1719–1772). Augusta-Richmond County had a 2016 estimated population of 197,082, making it the 120th largest city in the United States, not counting the unconsolidated cities of Blythe and Hephzibah. The process of consolidation between Augusta and Richmond County began with a 1995 vote by residents of the two jurisdictions, which passed, and was completed on July 1, 1996. Augusta is the principal city of the Augusta–Richmond County Metropolitan Statistical Area, which as of 2017 had an estimated population of 600,151, making it the second-largest metro area in the state after Atlanta. It is the 93rd largest MSA in the United States.
Internationally, Augusta is best known for hosting The Masters golf tournament each spring. The Masters brings over 200,000 visitors from across the world to the Augusta National Golf Club. Membership at Augusta National is widely considered to be the most exclusive in the sport of golf across the world. Augusta is approximately two hours east of downtown Atlanta by car utilizing I-20.
Augusta is also home to the major army base at Fort Gordon. In 2016, it was announced that the new National Cyber Security Headquarters would be based in Augusta, bringing as many as 10,000 cyber security specialists to the Fort Gordon area.
The area along the river was long inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples, who relied on the river for fish, water and transportation. The site of Augusta was used by Native Americans as a place to cross the Savannah River, because of its location on the fall line.
In 1735, two years after James Oglethorpe founded Savannah, he sent a detachment of troops to explore the upper Savannah River. He gave them an order to build a fort at the head of the navigable part of the river. The expedition was led by Noble Jones, who created a settlement as a first line of defense for coastal areas against potential Spanish or French invasion from the interior. Oglethorpe named the town in honor of Princess Augusta, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales. (She was the mother of British monarch King George III). Oglethorpe visited Augusta in September 1739, while returning to Savannah from a perilous visit to Coweta Town, where he had met with a convention of 7,000 Native American warriors and concluded peaceful relations with them in what is now the northern and western part of Georgia. Augusta was the second state capital of Georgia from 1785 until 1795 (alternating for a period with Savannah, the first).