The city is home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a large national research lab. Immediately beyond the lab is the beginning of the Hanford nuclear site, where the ongoing remediation is the single largest construction project in the country.
July 1, 2017, estimates from the Census Bureau put the city's population at 57,303. Along with the nearby cities of Pasco and Kennewick, Richland is one of the Tri-Cities, and is home to the Hanford nuclear site. For centuries, the village of Chemna stood at the mouth of the current Yakima River. Today that village site is called Columbia Point. From this village, the Wanapum, Yakama and Walla Walla Indians harvested the salmon runs entering the Yakima River. Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the mouth of the Yakima River on October 17, 1805. In 1904–1905, W. R. Amon and his son Howard purchased 2,300 acres (9 km2) and proposed a town site on the north bank of the Yakima River. Postal authorities approved the designation of this town site as Richland in 1905, naming it for Nelson Rich, a state legislator and land developer.