What's New in ACC All About Athens-Clarke County Judicial Branch and Courts Other Links of Note in ACC A Virtual Tour of ACC Landmarks ACCent Newsletter Online ACC Departments Pay Your Bills Online Where/How To... SPLOST Program Info Directory and Contact Information Mayor and Commission Info Return to Home Page
General Information About Athens-Clarke County
What's New in ACC All About Athens-Clarke County Other Links of Note in ACC A Visual Tour of ACC Landmarks ACCent Newsletter Online Where / How Do I . . . ? SPLOST Program Info Directory and Contact Information Mayor and Commission Info Return to Home Page

For quick info about Athens-Clarke County, check out our By the Numbers summary in the Online Documents area under Public Information Office.

Accolades | Geography | Population | Government | Transportation | Education
History | Miscellaneous | More Information


  • #2 in Top 10 College Towns by Livability.com (September 2010)
  • #10 in Top Tri Towns by Triathlete magazine (October 2010 issue)
  • "Georgia: There's Nothing Old School About Athens" in Small Market Meetings (July 2010)
  • America's (9) Best College Towns on MSNBC from IndependentTraveler.com (June 25, 2010)
  • #4 in "6 College Towns That Make Us Say 'Wow'" by University Language Services
  • AmericanStyle readers have ranked Athens the No. 18 Mid-Sized City in the 2010 annual Top 25 Arts Destinations readers' poll. Athens has made the list every year since 2002.
  • College Towns: An Honor Roll on MSN Local Edition
  • Featured as one of the Best Cities for Young Professionals on The Today Show on March 1, 2010 [click on 'Cities that let you have it all' link]
  • One of the Top 11 Southern Retirement Hotspots in Retirement Lifestyles (Jan./Feb./March 2010)
  • America's (13) Best College Towns on MSN Travel (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • One of 15 Great Underpriced College Towns by U.S. News & World Report
  • One of the "Best College Towns in America" by Hotels & Travel Reservations (Aug. 27, 2009)
  • #14 of Medium Sized Smarter Cities in the U.S. by the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • One of the Best American Towns to Visit by Car by Forbes.com (June 19, 2009)
  • Best Retirement Town for the Arts (Music) by TopRetirements.com
  • #5 in 10 Best Cities of 2009 by Kiplinger (May 2009)
  • #4 in Top 20 College Towns for Jobs on Forbes.com (May 2009)
  • #7 in Top 10 Best Small Cities for Jobs on Forbes.com (April 2009)
  • Destination of the Week by Mother Nature Network (April 11, 2009)
  • One of San Antonio Magazine's Five Cities Recommended for Music Lovers (March 2009)
  • One of the Los Angeles Times' "29 Destinations to Visit in 2009" [Worldwide]
  • One of the 2009 Dozen Distinctive Destinations as named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Named one of the 20 Best Boomer Towns to retire or relocate in the United States by Best Boomer Towns.
  • Ranked #51 of 400 in Sporting News' "Best Sports Cities" in Oct. 13, 2008 issue
  • Noted as Southern Living's "favorite mid-sized college cit[y]" in Sept. 2008
  • The Multimodal Transportation Center received a Bronze Award in the Brick Industry Association's 2008 Brick in Architecture award.
  • Named #13 of Best Small Places for Business and Careers by Forbes.com.
  • Ranked #33 of America's 50 Greenest Cities by Popular Science (Feb. 2008)
  • Ranked second safest city in Georgia, with a national ranking of 155 out of 378 by Morgan Quitno, a publisher of annual and monthly state rankings and city rankings publications.
  • One of 10 "Cool Blue Islands in Seas of Red" from the Winter 2007 issue of The Out Traveler
  • #29 community in the United States out of 375 as ranked in Cities Ranked & Rated book (2nd. edition - 2007)
  • One of five "great college towns" in its article “Attractions of a College Town” in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance special Retirement Planning 2007 issue (Fall 2007).
  • A "100 Hot-City Guide" city in Cosmopolitan magazine (July 2007)
  • One of five greatest unsung shopping locales from coast to coast in Lucky Magazine (Aug. 2007).
  • Named as one of the recommendations in 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die by travel writer Patricia Schultz (June 2007).
  • Featured as one of 5 'great college towns' in Kiplinger's Personal Finance "The 40+ Life" segment (May 2007).
  • Named an "Entrepreneur-Friendly" Community by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (April 2007).
  • Named a Tree City USA for the 7th year (2007) by the National Arbor Day Foundation and given the Tree City Growth Award
  • Named 'Best College Town for Retirees' in Kiplinger's Best of Everything 2006
  • Named 'Best Place to Recapture Your Youth' by Fortune in June 2006
  • Ranked #2 "Best Long Weekend Escape" by GO (AirTran InFlight Magazine) in October 2006
  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) named Athens as the #9 "Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small Cities" in the country.
  • Military Officer Magazine lists Athens as the #1 "Best City for Relocating Families"  of small metropolitan areas (50,00 to 250,00 population) in its March 2006 issue.
  • Money Magazine named Athens as one of the "Top Five Best Places to Live" (2005) for retirees.
  • Kiplingers.com named Athens as one of "Seven Cool Cities" (Sept. 2005) for young professionals.
  • ApartmentRatings.com named Athens as the 6th most renter-friendly community in the country.
  • The Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, Primacy Relocation and Sperling's BestPlaces named Athens the top small U.S. metro area in 2005 & 2006's Best Cities for Relocating families.
  • Expansion Management Magazine gave the Athens metropolitan area a five-star ranking for its appeal to high-tech companies.
  • Men's Journal named Athens #30 in the "50 Best Places to Live" in its April 2005 issue as well as placing in the top 50 in the 2003 & 2004 issues
  • Travelocity.com named the Tree That Owns Itself and the Twilight Criterium as two of the top ten Georgia local spots of interest in the 2005 "Local Secrets, Big Finds" International Poll
  • Rolling Stone named Athens #1 of the "Campus Scenes that Rock" in February 2003
  • Southern Business & Development Magazine ranked Athens 11th among all markets regardless of size and 7th among the South’s small markets (250,000 and under) in 2003

Geography: Athens-Clarke County, comprised of 125 square miles, is the smallest in land area of Georgia's 159 counties. City Hall, located in downtown Athens on one of the highest points in Athens, is approximately 761 feet above sea level. It was the twenty-fifth county created in the state and is located approximately 65 miles NE of Atlanta.

Population: According to the 2000 census, Clarke County was the fourteenth most populous county in the state with 101,489. (In 1990, the census showed 87,594 people.) The Athens-Clarke County Planning Department estimates the 2005 population at 108,222.

Government: The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County's Mission Statement: "Athens-Clarke County, an open and responsive government, facilitating a positive environment for individuals to obtain a high quality of life and local organizations to achieve success by providing innovative, high quality services and responsible stewardship of the community's resources, to benefit current and future generations." (Adopted November 4, 1997).

  • Legislative: The government is headed by an elected mayor and 10 elected commissioners from 8 geographical districts and 2 super-districts covering districts 1-4 and 5-8. The Mayor and Commission's regular meeting is the first Tuesday of the month and an agenda setting session is held on the Thursday after the third Tuesday of the month, both at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall. Both meetings are televised locally on ACTV, Cable Channel 7 and available online in streamed live and on-demand formats. The Mayor & Commission holds other meetings as necessary. Read more about the Mayor and Commission.
  • Executive: The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County's day-to-day operations are overseen by a manager appointed by the Mayor and Commission. There are 26 main departments, divisions and offices under the managerial group.
  • Judicial: Athens-Clarke County houses Magistrate, Juvenile, Municipal, Probate, State and Superior Courts. Superior Court covers the Western Judicial Circuit, which also includes Oconee County.

Transportation: The Athens-Ben Epps Airport is used by private planes and commercial air travel to Atlanta, GA. Public transit locally is provided by the Athens Transit System and a downtown bus station is served by Greyhound and Southeastern Stages.

Education: The Clarke County School District is a separate entity with nine elected members on the Board of Education and an appointed superintendent. The School District runs 13 elementary, 4 middle and 3 high schools. Additionally, there are 5 private schools in the area. Athens-Clarke County is the home of the University of Georgia, Athens Area Technical College, and the Navy Supply Corps School, as well as other higher education institution extensions.

History: Read about the history of the City of Athens, Clarke County, Unification and the City of Winterville in our detailed history section. Or check out our timeline of important dates.


  • The Gingko is the official tree of Athens (adopted April 7, 1964)
  • The Iris is the official flower of Athens (adopted April 7, 1964)
  • The Urban Service District (old city boundaries) is designated as a bird sanctuary (adopted April 8, 1977)
  • Cortona, Italy is Athens' official sister city (adopted June 6, 1978)
  • There are 9 locally designated historic districts, 41 locally designated landmarks, 15 nationally designated districts, and 38 nationally registered sites

More specific information