Athens, officially Athens–Clarke County, is a consolidated city–county and college town in the U.S. state of Georgia. Athens lies about 70 mi (113 km) northeast of downtown Atlanta. The University of Georgia, the state's flagship public university and a Tier I research institution, is in the city and contributed to its initial growth. In 1991, after a vote the preceding year, the original City of Athens abandoned its charter to form a unified government with Clarke County, referred to jointly as Athens–Clarke County. As of 2017[update], the U.S. Census Bureau's estimated population of the consolidated city-county (all of Clarke County except Winterville and a portion of Bogart) was 125,691; the entire county including Winterville and Bogart had a population of 127,064. Athens is the sixth-largest city in Georgia, and the principal city of the Athens metropolitan area, which had a 2017 estimated population of 209,271, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is a component of the larger Atlanta–Athens–Clarke County–Sandy Springs Combined Statistical Area, a trading area. The city is dominated by a pervasive student culture and music scene centered on downtown Athens, next to the University of Georgia's North Campus. Major music acts associated with Athens include numerous alternative rock bands such as R.E.M., the B-52's, Widespread Panic, and Neutral Milk Hotel. The city is also known as a recording site for such groups as the Atlanta-based Indigo Girls.
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