Virginia

Virginia

Overview
The Commonwealth of Virginia (commonly known as Virginia ()), is a U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 on the Atlantic Coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 of the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most...

 and the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna.
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Timeline

1584   Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a patent to colonize Virginia.

1584   Sir Walter Raleigh establishes the first English colony on Roanoke Island, old Virginia (now North Carolina).

1607   English colonists of the Jamestown settlement make landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia.

1609   Official ratification of the Second Charter of Virginia takes place.

1609   Bermuda is first settled by survivors of the English ship Sea Venture ''en route'' to Virginia.

1614   In Virginia, Native American Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe.

1619   38 colonists from Berkeley Parish in England disembark in Virginia and give thanks to God (this is considered by many to be the first Thanksgiving in the Americas).

1677   Treaty of Middle Plantation establishes peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Natives.

1754   French and Indian War: in the first engagement of the war, Virginia militia under 22-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington defeat a French reconnaissance party in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in what is now Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania.

1773   America's first insane asylum opens for 'Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds' in Virginia

 
Encyclopedia
The Commonwealth of Virginia (commonly known as Virginia ()), is a U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 on the Atlantic Coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 of the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most...

 and the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

; Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay...

 is the most populous city and Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's population is over eight million.

The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan
Powhatan
The Powhatan is the name of a Virginia Indian confederation of tribes. It is estimated that there were about 14,000–21,000 of these native Powhatan people in eastern Virginia when the English settled Jamestown in 1607...

. In 1607 the London Company
London Company
The London Company was an English joint stock company established by royal charter by James I of England on April 10, 1606 with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America.The territory granted to the London Company included the coast of North America from the 34th parallel ...

 established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and joined the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, during which Richmond was made the Confederate capital and Virginia's northwestern counties separated
Wheeling Convention
The 1861 Wheeling Convention was a series of two meetings that ultimately repealed the Ordinance of Secession passed by Virginia, thus establishing the Restored government of Virginia, which ultimately authorized the counties that organized the convention to become West Virginia. The convention was...

 to form the state of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

. Although the Commonwealth was under conservative single party rule
Dominant-party system
A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system, is a system where there is "a category of parties/political organizations that have successively won election victories and whose future defeat cannot be envisaged or is unlikely for the foreseeable future." A wide range of parties have been...

 for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.

The Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 is the oldest legislature in the Americas. The state government has been repeatedly ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

; federal agencies in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, including the headquarters of the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 and CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

; and military facilities in Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

, the site of the region's main seaport
Virginia Port Authority
The Virginia Port Authority is an autonomous agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that owns the Port of Virginia...

. Virginia's public schools and many colleges and universities have contributed to growing media and technology sectors. As a result, computer chips
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 have become the state's leading export.

Geography



Virginia has a total area of 42774.2 square miles (110,784.7 km²), including 3180.13 square miles (8,236.5 km²) of water, making it the 35th-largest state by area. Virginia is bordered by Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 to the north and east; by the Atlantic Ocean to the east; by North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 to the south; by Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 to the west; and by West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 to the north and west. Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D.C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. The southern border is defined as the 36° 30′ parallel north, though surveyor error led to deviations of as much as three arcminutes.

Geology and terrain



The Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's Eastern Shore
Eastern Shore of Virginia
The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of two counties on the Atlantic coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Its population was 45,553 as of 2010...

. The bay was formed following a meteoroid impact crater
Chesapeake Bay impact crater
The Chesapeake Bay impact crater was formed by a bolide that impacted the eastern shore of North America about 35 million years ago, in the late Eocene epoch. It is one of the best-preserved "wet-target" or marine impact craters, and the largest known impact crater in the U.S...

 during the Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

. Many of Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

, Rappahannock
Rappahannock River
The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to the Chesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River.An important river in American...

, York
York River (Virginia)
The York River is a navigable estuary, approximately long, in eastern Virginia in the United States. It ranges in width from at its head to near its mouth on the west side of Chesapeake Bay. Its watershed drains an area including portions of 17 counties of the coastal plain of Virginia north...

, and James
James River
The James River may refer to:Rivers in the United States and their namesakes* James River * James River , North Dakota, South Dakota* James River * James River * James River...

, which create three peninsulas in the bay. Geographically and geologically, Virginia is divided into five regions from east to west: Tidewater
Tidewater region of Virginia
The Tidewater region of Virginia is the eastern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia formally known as Hampton Roads. The term tidewater may be correctly applied to all portions of any area, including Virginia, where the water level is affected by the tides...

, Piedmont
Piedmont (United States)
The Piedmont is a plateau region located in the eastern United States between the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the main Appalachian Mountains, stretching from New Jersey in the north to central Alabama in the south. The Piedmont province is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division...

, Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most...

, Ridge and Valley
Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

, and Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

.

The Tidewater is a coastal plain
Coastal plain
A coastal plain is an area of flat, low-lying land adjacent to a seacoast and separated from the interior by other features. One of the world's longest coastal plains is located in eastern South America. The southwestern coastal plain of North America is notable for its species diversity...

 between the Atlantic coast and the fall line
Fall line
A fall line is a geomorphologic unconformity between an upland region of relatively hard crystalline basement rock and a coastal plain of softer sedimentary rock. A fall line is typically prominent when crossed by a river, for there will often be rapids or waterfalls...

. It includes the Eastern Shore and major estuaries
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 of Chesapeake Bay. The Piedmont is a series of sedimentary
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 and igneous rock
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

-based foothills
Foothills
Foothills are geographically defined as gradual increases in elevation at the base of a mountain range. They are a transition zone between plains and low relief hills to the adjacent topographically high mountains.-Examples:...

 east of the mountains which were formed in the Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the Southwest Mountains
Southwest Mountains
The Southwest Mountains of Virginia are a mountain range centered around Charlottesville, parallel to and geologically associated with the Blue Ridge Mountains, which lie about 30 miles to the west...

. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province
Physiographic regions of the world
The physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining the Earth's landforms into distinct regions based upon classic 1916 three-tiered approach defining divisions, provinces, and sections...

 of the chain of Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 with the highest points in the state, the tallest being Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 at 5729 feet (1,746.2 m). The Ridge and Valley region is west of the mountains, and includes the Great Appalachian Valley
Great Appalachian Valley
The Great Valley, also called the Great Appalachian Valley or Great Valley Region, is one of the major landform features of eastern North America. It is a gigantic trough — a chain of valley lowlands — and the central feature of the Appalachian Mountain system...

. The region is carbonate rock
Carbonate rock
Carbonate rocks are a class of sedimentary rocks composed primarily of carbonate minerals. The two major types are limestone, which is composed of calcite or aragonite and dolostone, which is composed of the mineral dolomite .Calcite can be either dissolved by groundwater or precipitated by...

 based, and includes Massanutten Mountain
Massanutten Mountain
Massanutten Mountain is a synclinal ridge in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, located in the U.S. state of Virginia.-Geography:The mountain bisects the Shenandoah Valley just east of Strasburg in Shenandoah County in the north, to its highest peak east of Harrisonburg in Rockingham County in the...

. The Cumberland Plateau and the Cumberland Mountains
Cumberland Mountains
The Cumberland Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains. They are located in southern West Virginia, western Virginia, eastern edges of Kentucky, and eastern middle Tennessee, including the Crab Orchard Mountains...

 are in the south-west corner of Virginia, below the Allegheny Plateau
Allegheny Plateau
The Allegheny Plateau is a large dissected plateau area in western and central New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, northern and western West Virginia, and eastern Ohio...

. In this region rivers flow northwest, with a dendritic drainage system
Drainage system (Geomorphology)
In geomorphology, a drainage system is the pattern formed by the streams, rivers, and lakes in a particular drainage basin. They are governed by the topography of the land, whether a particular region is dominated by hard or soft rocks, and the gradient of the land. Geomorphologists and...

, into the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 basin.
The state's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000 caves, ten of which are open for tourism.
The Virginia seismic zone
Virginia Seismic Zone
The Virginia Seismic Zone in the U.S. state of Virginia covers about 8,000 km2 in the Piedmont province. Earthquakes in the state are irregular and rarely top 4.5 on the Richter magnitude scale.-List of earthquakes:-2003 earthquakes:...

 has not had a history of regular activity. Earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s are rarely above 4.5 on the Richter magnitude scale
Richter magnitude scale
The expression Richter magnitude scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy contained in an earthquake....

 because Virginia is located away from the edges of the North American Plate
North American Plate
The North American Plate is a tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland, Cuba, Bahamas, and parts of Siberia, Japan and Iceland. It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and westward to the Chersky Range in eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic crust...

. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5.9 magnitude, was in 1897 near Blacksburg
Blacksburg, Virginia
Blacksburg is an incorporated town located in Montgomery County, Virginia, United States, with a population of 42,620 at the 2010 census. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford are the three principal jurisdictions of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area which...

. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia on August 23, 2011, near Mineral
Mineral, Virginia
Mineral is a town in Louisa County, Virginia, United States. The population was 424 at the 2000 census.-History:Mineral was originally known as Tolersville, but adopted its current name when it incorporated in 1902 due to the mining industry that supported the community...

. The earthquake was reportedly felt as far away as Toronto, Canada. Coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

 takes place in the three mountainous regions at 40 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins. Other resources such as slate
Slate
Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. The result is a foliated rock in which the foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering...

, kyanite
Kyanite
Kyanite, whose name derives from the Greek word kuanos sometimes referred to as "kyanos", meaning deep blue, is a typically blue silicate mineral, commonly found in aluminium-rich metamorphic pegmatites and/or sedimentary rock. Kyanite in metamorphic rocks generally indicates pressures higher than...

, sand, and gravel are mined, with an annual value over $2 billion .

Climate


The climate of Virginia becomes increasingly warmer and more humid farther south and east. Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 26 °F (-3 °C) in January to average highs of 86 °F (30 °C) in July. The Atlantic ocean has a strong effect on eastern and southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

, coastal weather is subject to hurricanes
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

, most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.

Virginia has an annual average of 35–45 days of thunderstorm activity, particularly in the western part of the state, and an average annual precipitation of 42.7 inches (1,085 mm). Cold air masses arriving over the mountains in winter can lead to significant snowfalls, such as the Blizzard of 1996 and winter storms of 2009–2010. The interaction of these elements with the state's topography creates distinct microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s in the Shenandoah Valley, the mountainous southwest, and the coastal plains. Virginia averages seven tornado
Tornado
A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. They are often referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider...

es annually, most F2 or lower on the Fujita scale
Fujita scale
The Fujita scale , or Fujita-Pearson scale, is a scale for rating tornado intensity, based primarily on the damage tornadoes inflict on human-built structures and vegetation...

.

In recent years, the expansion of the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 into Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

 has introduced an urban heat island
Urban heat island
An urban heat island is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. The phenomenon was first investigated and described by Luke Howard in the 1810s, although he was not the one to name the phenomenon. The temperature difference usually is larger at night...

 primarily caused by increased absorption of solar radiation in more densely populated areas. In the American Lung Association
American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is a voluntary health organization whose mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.-History:...

's 2011 report, 11 counties received failing grades for air quality, with Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 having the worst in the state, due to automobile pollution. Haze in the mountains is caused in part by coal power plants.

Flora and fauna


Forests cover 65% of the state, primarily with deciduous, broad leaf trees. Lower altitudes are more likely to have small but dense stands of moisture-loving hemlocks and mosses in abundance, with hickory and oak in the Blue Ridge. However since the early 1990s, Gypsy moth
Gypsy moth
The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a moth in the family Lymantriidae of Eurasian origin. Originally ranging from Europe to Asia, it was introduced to North America in the late 1860s and has been expanding its range ever since...

 infestations have eroded the dominance of oak forests. In the lowland tidewater yellow pines tend to dominate, with bald cypress wetland forests in the Great Dismal and Nottoway swamps. Other common trees and plants include chestnut, maple, tulip poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera
Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood...

, mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia
Kalmia latifolia, commonly called Mountain-laurel or Spoonwood, is a species of flowering plant in the blueberry family, Ericaceae, that is native to the eastern United States. Its range stretches from southern Maine south to northern Florida, and west to Indiana and Louisiana. Mountain-laurel is...

, milkweed
Asclepias
Asclepias L. , the milkweeds, is a genus of herbaceous perennial, dicotyledonous plants that contains over 140 known species...

, daisies, and many species of ferns. The largest areas of wilderness are along the Atlantic coast and in the western mountains, where the largest populations of trillium wildflowers
Trillium grandiflorum
Trillium grandiflorum, commonly known as white trillium, great white trillium, white wake-robin, or in French as trille blanc, is a perennial monocotyledonous plant in the lily family...

 in North America are found. The Atlantic coast regions are host to flora commonly associated with the South Atlantic pine forests and lower Southeast Coastal Plain maritime flora, the latter found primarily in southeastern Virginia.


Mammals include White-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

, black bear, beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

, bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

, coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

, raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

, skunk
Skunk
Skunks are mammals best known for their ability to secrete a liquid with a strong, foul odor. General appearance varies from species to species, from black-and-white to brown or cream colored. Skunks belong to the family Mephitidae and to the order Carnivora...

, groundhog
Groundhog
The groundhog , also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig, or in some areas as a land-beaver, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but...

, Virginia Opossum
Virginia Opossum
The Virginia opossum , commonly known as the North American opossum or tlacuache in Mexico, is the only marsupial found in North America north of Mexico. A solitary and nocturnal animal about the size of a domestic cat, and thus the largest opossum, it is a successful opportunist...

, gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

, and eastern cottontail rabbit. Birds include cardinals, barred owls, Carolina chickadees, Red-tailed Hawks, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and Wild Turkeys. The Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache"...

 was reintroduced into Shenandoah National Park in the mid-1990s. Walleye, brook trout, Roanoke bass, and blue catfish are among the 210 known species of freshwater fish. Running brooks with rocky bottoms are often inhabited by a plentiful amounts of crayfish and salamanders. The Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 is host to many species, including blue crabs, clams, oysters, and rockfish (also known as striped bass).

Virginia has 30 National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 units, such as Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park is a small National Park Service site in Virginia, United States. Situated on 800 acres along the banks of the Potomac River in northern Fairfax County, the park is a disconnected but integral part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway...

 and the Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately long...

, and one national park, the Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

. Shenandoah was established in 1935 and encompasses the scenic Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors...

. Almost 40% of the park's area (79,579 acres/322 km2) has been designated as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System
National Wilderness Preservation System
The National Wilderness Preservation System of the United States protects federally managed land areas designated for preservation in their natural condition. It was established by the Wilderness Act upon the signature of President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964...

. Additionally, there are 34 Virginia state parks and 17 state forests, run by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Forestry. The Chesapeake Bay, while not a national park, is protected by both state and federal legislation, and the jointly run Chesapeake Bay Program
Chesapeake Bay Program
The Chesapeake Bay Program is the regional partnership that directs and conducts the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay in the United States. As a partnership, the Chesapeake Bay Program brings together members of various state, federal, academic and local watershed organizations to build and adopt...

 which conducts restoration on the bay and its watershed. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1974 to help protect and preserve a portion of the Great Dismal Swamp, a marshy region on the Coastal Plain of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina between Norfolk, Virginia, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina in the...

 extends into North Carolina.
The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Virginia is located in the independent city of Virginia Beach. Established in 1938 in isolated portion of Princess Anne County, it is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service....

 marks the beginning of the Outer Banks
Outer Banks
The Outer Banks is a 200-mile long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States....

 which also extends into North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.

History


Jamestown 2007
Jamestown 2007
Jamestown 2007 is the name of the organization planning the events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the first permanent English-speaking settlement in what is now the United States of America...

 marked Virginia's quadricentennial year, celebrating 400 years since the establishment of the Jamestown Colony. The celebrations highlighted contributions from Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, Europeans, and Africans, each which had a significant part in shaping Virginia's history. Warfare, including among these groups, has also had an important role. Virginia was a focal point in conflicts from the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

, the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, to the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. Stories about historic figures, such as those surrounding Pocahontas
Pocahontas
Pocahontas was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, the head of a network of tributary tribal nations in Tidewater Virginia...

 and John Smith, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's childhood, or the plantation elite in the slave society of the antebellum period, have also created potent myths of state history, and have served as rationales for Virginia's ideology.

Colony



The first people are estimated to have arrived in Virginia over 12,000 years ago. By 5,000 years ago more permanent settlements emerged, and farming began by 900 AD. By 1500, the Algonquian peoples
Algonquian peoples
The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds. Today hundreds of thousands of individuals identify with various Algonquian peoples...

 had founded towns such as Werowocomoco
Werowocomoco
Werowocomoco was a village that served as the political center of the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, a grouping of about 30 Virginia Indian tribes speaking an Algonquian language...

 in the Tidewater region
Tidewater region of Virginia
The Tidewater region of Virginia is the eastern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia formally known as Hampton Roads. The term tidewater may be correctly applied to all portions of any area, including Virginia, where the water level is affected by the tides...

, which they referred to as Tsenacommacah
Tsenacommacah
Tsenacommacah is what the Powhatan Indians called their homeland. This area encompassed all of Tidewater Virginia and parts of the Eastern Shore...

. The other major language groups in the area were the Siouan
Siouan languages
The Western Siouan languages, also called Siouan proper or simply Siouan, are a Native American language family of North America, and the second largest indigenous language family in North America, after Algonquian...

 to the west, and the Iroquoians
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

, who included the Nottoway
Nottoway Tribe
The Nottoway, in their own language Cheroenhaka, Cherohakah, Cheroohoka or Tcherohaka, are an Iroquoian-language tribe of Virginia Indians. Two Nottoway groups, the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and the Cheroenhaka Indian Tribe, have both been recognized as tribes by the state of Virginia...

 and Meherrin
Meherrin
The Meherrin Nation is one of eight state-recognized Nations of Native Americans in North Carolina. They reside in rural northeastern North Carolina, near the river of the same name on the Virginia-North Carolina border. They received formal state recognition in 1986. The Meherrin have an...

, to the north and south. After 1570, the Algonquians consolidated under Chief Powhatan
Chief Powhatan
Chief Powhatan , whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh , was the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia at the time English settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607...

 in response to threats from these other groups on their trade network. Powhatan controlled more than 30 smaller tribes and over 150 settlements, who shared a common Virginia Algonquian
Powhatan language
Powhatan or Virginia Algonquian is an extinct language belonging to the Eastern Algonquian subgroup of the Algonquian languages. It was spoken by the Powhatan people of tidewater Virginia. It became extinct around the 1790s after speakers switched to English. The sole documentary evidence for this...

 language. In 1607, the native Tidewater population was between 13,000 to 14,000.

In 1583, Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 granted Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

 a charter to explore and plant a colony north of Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

. In 1584, Raleigh sent an expedition to the Atlantic coast of North America
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

. The name "Virginia" may have been suggested then by Raleigh or Elizabeth, perhaps noting her status as the "Virgin Queen", and may also be related to a native phrase, "Wingandacoa", or name, "Wingina". Initially the name applied to the entire coastal region from South Carolina to Maine, plus the island of Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

. The London Company
London Company
The London Company was an English joint stock company established by royal charter by James I of England on April 10, 1606 with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America.The territory granted to the London Company included the coast of North America from the 34th parallel ...

 was incorporated as a joint stock company by the proprietary Charter of 1606
Charter of 1606
The Charter of 1606, also known as the First Charter of Virginia, is a document from King James I of England to the Virginia Company assigning land rights to colonists for the stated purpose of propagating the Christian religion...

, which granted land rights to this area. The Company financed the first permanent English settlement in the "New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

", Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

. Named for King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

, it was founded in May 1607 by Christopher Newport
Christopher Newport
Christopher Newport was an English seaman and privateer. He is best known as the captain of the Susan Constant, the largest of three ships which carried settlers for the Virginia Company in 1607 on the way to find the settlement at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, which became the first permanent...

. In 1619, colonists took greater control with an elected legislature called the House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses
The House of Burgesses was the first assembly of elected representatives of English colonists in North America. The House was established by the Virginia Company, who created the body as part of an effort to encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America...

. With the bankruptcy of the London Company in 1624, the settlement was taken into royal authority as a British crown colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

.


Life in the colony was perilous, and many died during the "starving time
Starving Time (Jamestown)
The Starving Time at Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia was a period of forced starvation initiated by the Powhatan Confederacy to remove the English from Virginia. The campaign killed all but 60 of the 500 colonists during the winter of 1609–1610....

" in 1609 and the Anglo-Powhatan Wars, including the Indian massacre of 1622
Indian massacre of 1622
The Indian Massacre of 1622 occurred in the Colony of Virginia, in what now belongs to the United States of America, on Friday, March 22, 1622...

, which fostered the colonists' negative view of all tribes. By 1624, only 3,400 of the 6,000 early settlers had survived. However, European demand for tobacco
History of commercial tobacco in the United States
The history of commercial tobacco production in the United States dates back to the 17th century when the first commercial crop was planted. The industry originated in the production of tobacco for pipes and snuff. Different war efforts in the world created a shift in demand and production of...

 fueled the arrival of more settlers and servants. The headright system tried to solve the labor shortage by providing colonists with land for each indentured servant
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

 they transported to Virginia. African workers were first imported in 1619, and their slavery was codified after a 1654 lawsuit over the servant John Casor
John Casor
John Casor , a servant in Northampton County in the Virginia Colony, in 1654 became the first person of African descent in the Thirteen Colonies to be declared by the county court a slave for life. In one of the earliest freedom suits, Casor argued that he was an indentured servant who had been...

.

Tensions and the geographic differences between the working and ruling classes led to Bacon's Rebellion
Bacon's Rebellion
Bacon's Rebellion was an uprising in 1676 in the Virginia Colony in North America, led by a 29-year-old planter, Nathaniel Bacon.About a thousand Virginians rose because they resented Virginia Governor William Berkeley's friendly policies towards the Native Americans...

 in 1676, by which time current and former indentured servants made up as much as 80% of the population. Rebels, largely from the colony's frontier, were also opposed to the conciliatory policy towards native tribes
Native American tribes in Virginia
This page details the history and current status of Indian tribes in the Commonwealth of Virginia.All of the Commonwealth of Virginia used to be Virginia Indian territory, an area estimated to have been occupied by indigenous peoples for more than 12,000 years. Their population has been estimated...

. Colonists appropriated tribal land by force and treaty, including the Treaty of 1677
Treaty of 1677
The Treaty of 1677 was signed in Virginia on May 28, 1677 between Charles II of England and representatives from various Virginia Native American tribes. Based on the terms of the accord, the Virginia Indians were to swear fealty to the British Empire...

, which made the signatory tribes tributary state
Tributary state
The term tributary state refers to one of the two main ways in which a pre-modern state might be subordinate to a more powerful neighbour. The heart of the relationship was that the tributary would send a regular token of submission to the superior power...

s. Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

 became the colonial capital in 1699, following the founding of The College of William & Mary in 1693. In 1747, a group of Virginian speculators formed the Ohio Company
Ohio Company
The Ohio Company, formally known as the Ohio Company of Virginia, was a land speculation company organized for the settlement by Virginians of the Ohio Country and to trade with the Indians there...

, with the backing of the British crown, to start English settlement and trade in the Ohio Country
Ohio Country
The Ohio Country was the name used in the 18th century for the regions of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and in the region of the upper Ohio River south of Lake Erie...

 west of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, which claimed this area as part of their colony of New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

, viewed this as a threat, and the ensuing French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 became part of the Seven Years War (1756–1763). A militia from several British colonies, called the Virginia Regiment
Virginia Regiment
The Virginia Regiment was formed in 1754 by Virginia's Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie, initially as an all volunteer militia corps, and he promoted George Washington, the future first president of the United States of America, to its command upon the death of Colonel Joshua Fry...

, was led by then-Lieutenant colonel George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

.

Statehood


The British Parliament's
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 efforts to levy new taxes following the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 were deeply unpopular in the colonies. In the House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses
The House of Burgesses was the first assembly of elected representatives of English colonists in North America. The House was established by the Virginia Company, who created the body as part of an effort to encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America...

, opposition to taxation without representation
No taxation without representation
"No taxation without representation" is a slogan originating during the 1750s and 1760s that summarized a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution...

 was led by Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 and Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States...

, among others. Virginians began to coordinate their actions
Committee of correspondence
The Committees of Correspondence were shadow governments organized by the Patriot leaders of the Thirteen Colonies on the eve of American Revolution. They coordinated responses to Britain and shared their plans; by 1773 they had emerged as shadow governments, superseding the colonial legislature...

 with other colonies in 1773, and sent delegates to the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 the following year. After the House of Burgesses was dissolved by the royal governor in 1774, Virginia's revolutionary leaders continued to govern via the Virginia Conventions
Virginia Conventions
The Virginia Conventions were a series of five political meetings in the Colony of Virginia during the American Revolution. Because the House of Burgesses had been dissolved in 1774 by Royal Governor Lord Dunmore, the conventions served as a revolutionary provisional government until the...

. On May 15, 1776, the Convention declared Virginia's independence from the British Empire and adopted George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

's Virginia Declaration of Rights
Virginia Declaration of Rights
The Virginia Declaration of Rights is a document drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to rebel against "inadequate" government...

, which was then included in a new constitution. Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, drew upon Mason's work in drafting the national Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

.

When the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 began, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 was selected to head the colonial army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

. During the war, the capital was moved to Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's location would make it vulnerable to British attack. In 1781, the combined action of Continental
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 and French land and naval forces trapped the British army on the Virginia Peninsula
Virginia Peninsula
The Virginia Peninsula is a peninsula in southeast Virginia, USA, bounded by the York River, James River, Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay.Hampton Roads is the common name for the metropolitan area that surrounds the body of water of the same name...

, where troops under George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau defeated British General Cornwallis in the Siege of Yorktown
Siege of Yorktown
The Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown, or Surrender of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by a combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis...

. His surrender on October 19, 1781, led to peace negotiations in Paris
Peace of Paris (1783)
The Peace of Paris was the set of treaties which ended the American Revolutionary War. On 3 September 1783, representatives of King George III of Great Britain signed a treaty in Paris with representatives of the United States of America—commonly known as the Treaty of Paris —and two treaties at...

 and secured the independence of the colonies.

Virginians were instrumental in writing the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 drafted the Virginia Plan
Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates, for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787...

 in 1787 and the Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

 in 1789. Virginia ratified
Virginia Ratifying Convention
The Virginia Ratifying Convention was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginia who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, which had been drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year.The Convention met and deliberated from June 2 through June 27 in Richmond...

 the Constitution on June 25, 1788. The three-fifths compromise
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

 ensured that Virginia, with its large number of slaves, initially had the largest bloc in the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. Together with the Virginia dynasty
Virginia Dynasty
The Virginia dynasty is a term sometimes used to describe the fact that four of the first five Presidents of the United States were from Virginia. The term sometimes excludes George Washington, who, though a Virginia planter, was closely aligned with the policies of the Federalist Party, and was...

 of presidents, this gave the Commonwealth national importance. In 1790, both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form the new District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, though the Virginian area was retroceded in 1846. Virginia is sometimes called "Mother of States" because of its role in being carved into states like Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, which became the 15th state in 1792, and for the numbers of American pioneer
American pioneer
American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European or American society, although the...

s born in Virginia.

Civil War and aftermath


In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries. Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831 and John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was an attempt by white abolitionist John Brown to start an armed slave revolt by seizing a United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia in 1859...

 in 1859 showed deep social discontent about slavery and its role in the plantation economy
Plantation economy
A plantation economy is an economy which is based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few staple products grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income...

. By 1860, almost half a million people, roughly 31% of the total population of Virginia, were enslaved. This division contributed to the start of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

Virginia voted to secede from the United States on April 17, 1861, after the Battle of Fort Sumter
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On...

 and Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's call for volunteers. On April 24, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

, which chose Richmond as its capital. After the 1863 Wheeling Convention
Wheeling Convention
The 1861 Wheeling Convention was a series of two meetings that ultimately repealed the Ordinance of Secession passed by Virginia, thus establishing the Restored government of Virginia, which ultimately authorized the counties that organized the convention to become West Virginia. The convention was...

, 48 counties in the northwest separated to form a new state of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, which chose to remain loyal to the Union. During the war, more battles were fought in Virginia than anywhere else, including Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas , was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the City of Manassas...

, the Seven Days Battles
Seven Days Battles
The Seven Days Battles was a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from...

, Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

, and the concluding Battle of Appomattox Court House. After the capture of Richmond
Siege of Petersburg
The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War...

 in 1865, the capital was briefly moved to Danville
Danville, Virginia
Danville is an independent city in Virginia, United States, bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina. It was the last capital of the Confederate States of America. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Danville with Pittsylvania county for...

. Virginia was formally restored to the United States in 1870, due to the work of the Committee of Nine
Committee of Nine
The Committee of Nine was a group of state leaders in Virginia, following the American Civil War, who engineered the political machinery so that the Old Dominion might be readmitted into the Union.Led by Alexander H. H. Stuart, a former U.S...

.

During the post-war Reconstruction era, Virginia adopted a constitution which provided for free public schools, and guaranteed political, civil, and voting rights
Voting rights in the United States
The issue of voting rights in the United States has been contentious throughout the country's history. Eligibility to vote in the U.S. is determined by both Federal and state law. Currently, only citizens can vote in U.S. elections . Who is a citizen is governed on a national basis by Federal law...

. The populist Readjuster Party
Readjuster Party
The Readjuster Party was a political coalition formed in Virginia in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following the American Civil War. Readjusters aspired "to break the power of wealth and established privilege" and to promote public education, a program which attracted biracial support....

 ran an inclusive coalition until the conservative white Democratic Party
Democratic Party of Virginia
The Democratic Party of Virginia is based in Richmond in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is affiliated with the national Democratic Party of the United States. The organization is governed by a State Party Plan, which guarantees an open and fair candidate selection process...

 gained power after 1883. It passed segregationist Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 and in 1902 rewrote the Constitution of Virginia
Constitution of Virginia
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the document that defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Like all other state constitutions, it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government,...

 to include a poll tax
Poll tax
A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

 and other voter registration measures that effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites until federal legislation was passed in the 1960s. Though their schools were segregated and underfunded, as were services, due to a lack of political representation, African Americans were able to create their own communities.

Contemporary era



Protests started by Barbara Rose Johns
Barbara Rose Johns
Barbara Rose Johns was a young American civil rights hero who in 1951, at the age of 16, campaigned for the integration of Moton High School in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia. After she appealed to the NAACP for legal representation, her suit became part of the historic 1954 United...

 in 1951 in Farmville
Farmville, Virginia
Farmville is a town in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. The population was 6,845 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Prince Edward County....

 against segregated schools led to the lawsuit Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County was one of the five cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the famous case in which the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1954, officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools...

. This case, filed by Richmond natives Spottswood Robinson
Spottswood William Robinson III
Spottswood William Robinson III was an educator, civil rights attorney and judge.In the early 1950s, Robinson and his law-partner Oliver Hill litigated several civil rights lawsuits in Virginia. In 1951, Robinson and Hill took up the cause of the African American students at the segregated R.R...

 and Oliver Hill
Oliver Hill
Oliver White Hill, Sr. was a civil rights attorney from Richmond, Virginia. His work against racial discrimination helped end the doctrine of "separate but equal." He also helped win landmark legal decisions involving equality in pay for black teachers, access to school buses, voting rights, jury...

, was decided in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

, which rejected the segregationist doctrine of "separate but equal
Separate but equal
Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law that justified systems of segregation. Under this doctrine, services, facilities and public accommodations were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities was to...

". But, in 1958, under the policy of "massive resistance
Massive resistance
Massive resistance was a policy declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. on February 24, 1956, to unite other white politicians and leaders in Virginia in a campaign of new state laws and policies to prevent public school desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision...

" led by the influential segregationist Senator Harry F. Byrd
Harry F. Byrd
Harry Flood Byrd, Sr. of Berryville in Clarke County, Virginia, was an American newspaper publisher, farmer and politician. He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia...

 and his Byrd Organization
Byrd Organization
The Byrd Organization was a political machine led by former Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. that dominated Virginia politics for much of the middle portion of the 20th century...

, the Commonwealth prohibited desegregated
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

 local schools from receiving state funding.

The Civil Rights Movement gained many participants in the 1960s. It achieved the moral force and support to gain passage of national legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

 and the Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 of 1965. In 1964 the United States Supreme Court ordered Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County, Virginia
Prince Edward County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 23,368. Its county seat is Farmville.-Formation and County Seats:...

 and others to integrate
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

 schools. In 1967, the Court also struck down
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

 the state's ban on interracial marriage
Interracial marriage in the United States
Interracial marriage in the United States has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates...

. From 1969 to 1971, state legislators under Governor Mills Godwin rewrote the constitution, after goals such as the repeal of Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 had been achieved. In 1989, Douglas Wilder
Douglas Wilder
Lawrence Douglas "Doug" Wilder is an American politician, the first African American to be elected as governor of Virginia, and the second to serve as governor of a U.S. state. Wilder served as the 66th Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. When earlier elected as Lieutenant Governor, he was...

 became the first African American elected as governor in the United States.

New economic forces also changed the Commonwealth. In 1926, Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Church
Bruton Parish Church
Bruton Parish Church is located in the restored area of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. It was established in 1674 in the Virginia Colony, and remains an active Episcopal parish.-History of Bruton Parish Church:...

, began restoration of colonial-era buildings in the historic district with financial backing of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. was a major philanthropist and a pivotal member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the sole son among the five children of businessman and Standard Oil industrialist John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers...

; their work led to the development of Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. The district includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780 which made colonial Virginia's capital. The capital straddled the boundary of the original shires of Virginia —...

, the state's most popular tourism site. World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 led to the expansion of national defense government programs housed in offices in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., and correlative population growth. Among the federal developments was the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

, built during WWII as the headquarters for the Department of Defense. It was one of the targets of the September 11 attacks; 189 people died at the site when a jet passenger plane crashed into the building.

Cities and towns


Virginia is divided into 95 counties and 39 independent cities
Independent city
An independent city is a city that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity. These type of cities should not be confused with city-states , which are fully sovereign cities that are not part of any other sovereign state.-Historical precursors:In the Holy Roman Empire,...

, which both operate the same way since independent cities are considered to be county-equivalent
County-equivalent
A county-equivalent in the United States is a term used by the federal government to describe one of the two following governmental subdivisions:#A unit of local government in certain states which is comparable to a county as found in most states....

. This method of treating cities and counties equally is unique to Virginia, with only three other independent cities in the United States outside Virginia. Virginia limits the authority of cities and counties to countermand laws expressly allowed by the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 under what is known as Dillon's Rule. In addition to independent cities, there are also incorporated towns which operate under their own governments, but are part of a county. Finally there are hundreds of unincorporated communities within the counties. Virginia does not have any further political subdivisions, such as villages or townships.

Virginia has 11 Metropolitan Statistical Areas
Virginia census statistical areas
The United States Census Bureau has defined 2 Combined Statistical Areas , 11 Metropolitan Statistical Areas , and 4 Micropolitan Statistical Areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The following table describes these areas with the following information:*The name of the Combined Statistical Area...

; Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

, and Richmond-Petersburg
Richmond-Petersburg
The Greater Richmond Region is a region located in a central part of the state of Virginia in the United States. As of 2010, it had a population of 1,258,251, making it the 43rd largest MSA in the country...

 are the three most populous. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, and its metropolitan area has a population of over 1.2 million. , Virginia Beach is the most populous city in the Commonwealth, with Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

 and Chesapeake
Chesapeake, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 199,184 people, 69,900 households, and 54,172 families residing in the city. The population density was 584.6 people per square mile . There were 72,672 housing units at an average density of 213.3 per square mile...

 second and third, respectively. Norfolk forms the urban core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which has a population over 1.6 million people and is the site of the world's largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk
Naval Station Norfolk
Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Virginia, is a base of the United States Navy, supporting naval forces in the United States Fleet Forces Command, those operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean...

. Suffolk
Suffolk, Virginia
Suffolk is the largest city by area in Virginia, United States, and is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 84,585. Its median household income was $57,546.-History:...

, which includes a portion of the Great Dismal Swamp
Great Dismal Swamp
The Great Dismal Swamp is a marshy area on the Coastal Plain Region of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina between Norfolk, Virginia, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina in the United States. It is located in parts of southern Chesapeake and Suffolk in Virginia, as well as northern...

, is the largest city by area at 429.1 square miles (1,111.4 km²).

Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 is the most populous locality in Virginia, with over one million residents, although that does not include its county seat Fairfax, which is one of the independent cities. Fairfax County has a major urban business and shopping center in Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest office market. Neighboring Loudoun County
Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county is estimated to be home to 312,311 people, an 84 percent increase over the 2000 figure of 169,599. That increase makes the county the fourth...

, with the county seat at Leesburg
Leesburg, Virginia
Leesburg is a historic town in, and county seat of, Loudoun County, Virginia, United States of America. Leesburg is located west-northwest of Washington, D.C. along the base of the Catoctin Mountain and adjacent to the Potomac River. Its population according the 2010 Census is 42,616...

, is both the fastest-growing county in Virginia and has the highest median household income ($114,204) in the country . Arlington County
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The land that became Arlington was originally donated by Virginia to the United States government to form part of the new federal capital district. On February 27, 1801, the United States Congress organized the area as a subdivision of...

, the smallest self-governing county in the United States by land area, is an urban community organized as a county. The Roanoke
Roanoke, Virginia
Roanoke is an independent city in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Virginia and is the tenth-largest city in the Commonwealth. It is located in the Roanoke Valley of the Roanoke Region of Virginia. The population within the city limits was 97,032 as of 2010...

 area, with an estimated population of 300,399, is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in western Virginia.

Demographics




As of the 2010 census
2010 census
The following countries conducted a census in 2010:* Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China* Russian Census * 2010 United States Census...

, Virginia had a population of 8,001,024 which is an increase of 118,434, or about 1.5%, from the prior year's estimate and an increase of 922,509, or 13%, since 2000. This includes an increase from net migration of 314,832 people into the Commonwealth. Immigration
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 159,627 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 155,205 people. As of the same census, the state's population was 64.8% Non-Hispanic White, 19.4% African-American, 7.9% Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 5.5% Asian, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander. The center of population
Center of population
In demographics, the center of population of a region is a geographical point that describes a centerpoint of the region's population...

 is located in Goochland County
Goochland County, Virginia
Goochland County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 21,717. Its county seat is Goochland. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area ....

 outside of Richmond.

English was passed as the Commonwealth's official language by statutes in 1981 and again in 1996, though the status is not mandated by the Constitution of Virginia
Constitution of Virginia
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the document that defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Like all other state constitutions, it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government,...

. English is the only language spoken by , though it is spoken "very well" by an additional 570,638 (7.9%) for a total of 94.6% of the Commonwealth. Among speakers of other languages, Spanish is the most common with 424,381 (5.9%). Asian and Pacific Islander languages, including Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

, Vietnamese
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam...

, and Filipino
Filipino language
This move has drawn much criticism from other regional groups.In 1987, a new constitution introduced many provisions for the language.Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:...

.

Religion

Religion (2008)
Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

76%
Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

27%
Roman Catholic
Roman Catholicism in the United States
The Catholic Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Pope. With more than 68.5 registered million members, it is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising about 22 percent of the population...

 
11%
Methodist
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

8%
Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

2%
Other Christian 28%
Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

1%
Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

1%
Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

1%
Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

0.5%
Unaffiliated
Irreligion
Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

18%


Virginia is predominantly Christian and Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

; Baptists are the largest single group with 27% of the population . Baptist denominational groups in Virginia include the Baptist General Association of Virginia
Baptist General Association of Virginia
The Baptist General Association of Virginia is an umbrella organization of Baptist churches founded in 1823. The BGAV has been characterized as a moderate association...

, with about 1,400 member churches, which supports both the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 and the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a Christian fellowship of Baptist churches formed in 1991. Theologically moderate, the CBF withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention over philosophical and theological differences, such as the SBC prohibition of women serving as pastors. The Cooperative...

; and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia is a fellowship of 547 conservative Southern Baptist churches in Virginia and in surrounding areas. It is supportive of the national Southern Baptist Convention . It was formed in 1993 when conservative Virginia Baptists across the state founded the...

 with more than 500 affiliated churches, which supports the Southern Baptist Convention. Roman Catholics
Roman Catholicism in the United States
The Catholic Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Pope. With more than 68.5 registered million members, it is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising about 22 percent of the population...

 are the second-largest religious group, and the group which grew the most in the 1990s. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington
Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the southern United States. The Diocese of Arlington comprises 68 located in the 21 northern-most counties within the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke,...

 includes most of Northern Virginia's Catholic churches, while the Diocese of Richmond
Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond is an ecclesiastical and episcopal see or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Its current territory was created by Pope Paul VI and encompasses all of central and southern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the eastern shore...

 covers the rest.


The Virginia Conference is the regional body
Annual Conference
An Annual Conference in the United Methodist Church is a regional body that governs much of the life of the "Connectional Church." Annual conferences are composed primarily of the clergy members and a lay member or members from each charge . Each conference is a geographical division...

 of the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 and the Virginia Synod
Virginia Synod
The Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the geographical synod consisting of the entire state of Virginia, except for several counties and cities in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod....

 is responsible for the congregations of the Lutheran Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

. Presbyterians
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

, Pentecostals
Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

, Congregationalists
Congregational church
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

, and Episcopalians each composed 1–3% of the population . The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Diocese of Virginia is a diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America encompassing 38 counties in the northern and central parts of the state of Virginia. The diocese was organized in 1785 and is one of the Episcopal Church's nine original dioceses. However, the diocese has...

, Southern Virginia
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
-General information:Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia is the diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America located in the southeast area of Virginia. It is in Province III...

, and Southwestern Virginia
Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia is the diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America located in the southwest area of Virginia. It is in Province III . The diocese includes 56 parishes in the southwestern corner of Virginia, including the cities of Lynchburg and...

 support the various Episcopal churches
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

.

In November 2006, 15 conservative Episcopal churches voted to split from the Diocese of Virginia over the ordination of openly gay bishops
Gay bishops
The existence of homosexual bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions is a matter of historical record, though never, until recently, considered licit by any of the main Christian denominations. Homosexual activity was engaged in secretly. When it was made public, official...

 and clergy in other dioceses of the Episcopal Church; these churches continue to claim affiliation with the larger Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 through other bodies outside the United States
Anglican realignment
The term Anglican realignment refers to a movement among some Anglicans to align themselves under new or alternative oversight within or outside the Anglican Communion. This movement is primarily active in parts of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada...

. Though Virginia law allows parishioners to determine their church's affiliation, the diocese claims the secessionist churches' properties. The resulting property law case is a test for Episcopal churches nationwide.

Among other religions, adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints constitute 1% of the population, with 190 congregations in Virginia
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Virginia
As of year-end 2007, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 83,225 members in 19 stakes, 183 Congregations , and 2 missions in Virginia.-History:A brief history can be found at -Membership History:-Stakes:...

 . Fairfax Station
Fairfax Station, Virginia
Fairfax Station is a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, ZIP code 22039. The population as of the 2010 Census was 12,030. As a suburb of Washington, DC, it is a bedroom community for many who work in the federal government.-Averages:...

 is the site of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple
Ekoji Buddhist Temple
is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple of the Nishi-Hongwanji Tradition in Fairfax Station, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. It is a member of the Buddhist Churches of America, the oldest Buddhist organization in the mainland United States....

, of the Jodo Shinshu
Jodo Shinshu
, also known as Shin Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Today, Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan.-Shinran :...

 school, and the Hindu Durga
Durga
For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

 Temple. While the state's Jewish population is small, organized Jewish sites date to 1789 with Congregation Beth Ahabah
Congregation Beth Ahabah
Beth Ahabah is a Reform synagogue in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1789 by Spanish and Portuguese Jews as Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome it is one of the oldest synagogues in the United States.-History:When the congregation was founded, there were 100 Jews in Richmond's population of 3,900...

. Muslims are a growing religious group throughout the Commonwealth through immigration. Megachurch
Megachurch
A megachurch is a church having 2,000 or more in average weekend attendance. The Hartford Institute's database lists more than 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States. According to that data, approximately 50 churches on the list have attendance ranging from 10,000 to 47,000...

es in the Commonwealth include Thomas Road Baptist Church
Thomas Road Baptist Church
Thomas Road Baptist Church is a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia. It currently claims 24,000 members and is headed by Jonathan Falwell.-History:Started in 1956 by a group of 35, including Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road now claims over 24,200 members...

, Immanuel Bible Church
Immanuel Bible Church
Immanuel Bible Church is a non-denominational megachurch located in Springfield, Virginia, approximately 2 miles inside of the Capital Beltway at 6911 Braddock Road, approximately 10 miles south of Washington, DC.-History:...

, and McLean Bible Church
McLean Bible Church
McLean Bible Church is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian megachurch with multiple locations in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Lon Solomon, a Jewish convert to Christianity, has been MBC's senior pastor since 1980. Solomon also serves on the board of directors of Jews for Jesus and...

. Several Christian universities are also based in the state, including Regent University
Regent University
Regent University is a private coeducational interdenominational Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States. The school was founded by the American televangelist Pat Robertson in 1978 as Christian Broadcasting Network University. A satellite campus located in...

, Liberty University
Liberty University
Liberty University is a private Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty's annual enrollment is around 72,000 students, 12,000 of whom are residential students and 60,000+ studying through Liberty University Online...

, and Lynchburg College
Lynchburg College
Lynchburg College is a private college in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA, related by covenant to the Christian Church with approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The Princeton Review lists it as one of the 368 best colleges in the nation...

.

Economy




While Virginia is an employment-at-will
At-will employment
At-will employment is a doctrine of American law that defines anemployment relationship in which either party can break the relationship with no liability, provided there was no express contract for a definite term governing the employment relationship and that the employer does not belong to a...

 state, its economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and business. Virginia has 4.1 million civilian workers, and one-third of the jobs are in the service sector. The unemployment rate was 6.3% . The Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 of Virginia was $424 billion in 2010. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Economic Analysis
The Bureau of Economic Analysis is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides important economic statistics including the gross domestic product of the United States. Its stated mission is to "promote a better understanding of the U.S...

, Virginia had the most counties in the top 100 wealthiest in the United States
Highest-income counties in the United States
There are 3,141 counties in the United States. The source of the data is the U.S. Census Bureau and the data is current as of the indicated year. Independent cities are considered county-equivalent by the Census Bureau.-2011:...

 based upon median income in 2007.

Virginia has the highest concentration of technology workers of any state. Computer chips
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 became the state's highest-grossing export in 2006, surpassing its traditional top exports of coal and tobacco combined. Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, once considered the state's dairy capital, now hosts software, communication technology, and consulting companies, particularly in the Dulles Technology Corridor
Dulles Technology Corridor
Located in Northern Virginia near Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Technology Corridor, dubbed the "Netplex" in 1993 by Fortune magazine, contains the "vital electronic pathways that carry more than half of all traffic on the Internet...

. Northern Virginia's data center
Data center
A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems...

s currently carry more than 50% of the nation's internet traffic, and by 2012 Dominion Power expects that 10% of all its electricity in Northern Virginia will be used by data centers. Loudoun
Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county is estimated to be home to 312,311 people, an 84 percent increase over the 2000 figure of 169,599. That increase makes the county the fourth...

 and Fairfax
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 counties in Northern Virginia have the highest and second highest median household income, respectively, of all counties in the United States .

Virginia companies received the fourth-highest amount of venture capital funding in the first half of 2011 after California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. In 2009, Forbes Magazine named Virginia the best state in the nation for business for the fourth year in a row, while CNBC
CNBC
CNBC is a satellite and cable television business news channel in the U.S., owned and operated by NBCUniversal. The network and its international spinoffs cover business headlines and provide live coverage of financial markets. The combined reach of CNBC and its siblings is 390 million viewers...

 named it the top state for business
America's Top States For Business
America's Top States For Business In 2011, CNBC, a division of NBC Universal, owned in part by Comcast and General Electric, released its "America's Top States For Business 2011" report. This report is the second publication of its kind from CNBC, "Top States For Business 2010" and "Top States For...

 in 2007, 2009, and 2011. Virginia has 20 Fortune 500
Fortune 500
The Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks the top 500 U.S. closely held and public corporations as ranked by their gross revenue after adjustments made by Fortune to exclude the impact of excise taxes companies collect. The list includes publicly and...

 companies, ranking the state eighth nationwide.

Virginia has the highest defense spending of any state per capita, providing the Commonwealth with around 900,000 jobs, and 10% of all U.S. federal procurement money is spent in Virginia. Virginia has over 800,000 veterans, more than any other state, and is second to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in total Department of Defense employees. Many Virginians work for federal agencies in Northern Virginia, which include the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 and the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

, as well as the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

, the United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

. Many others work for government contractor
Government contractor
A government contractor is a private company that produces goods or services under contract for the government. Often the terms of the contract specify cost plus – i.e., the contractor gets paid for its costs, plus a specified profit margin. Laws often require governments to award contracts...

s, including defense and security firms, which hold more than 15,000 federal contracts. The Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

 area has the largest concentration of military bases and facilities of any metropolitan area in the world. The largest of the bases is Naval Station Norfolk
Naval Station Norfolk
Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Virginia, is a base of the United States Navy, supporting naval forces in the United States Fleet Forces Command, those operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean...

.
Agriculture occupies 24% of the land in Virginia. , about 357,000 Virginian jobs were in agriculture, with over 47,000 farms, averaging 171 acre (0.267187736240225 sq mi; 0.69201306 km²), in a total farmland area of 8.1 million acres (12,656 sq mi; 32,780 km2). Though agriculture has declined significantly since 1960 when there were twice as many farms, it remains the largest single industry in Virginia. Tomatoes surpassed soy as the most profitable crop in Virginia in 2006, with peanuts and hay as other agricultural products. Although it is no longer the primary crop, Virginia is still the fifth-largest producer of tobacco nationwide. Eastern oyster
Eastern oyster
The eastern oyster — also called Atlantic oyster or Virginia oyster — is a species of true oyster native to the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast of North America. It is also farmed in Puget Sound, Washington, where it is known as the Totten Inlet Virginica. Eastern oysters are and have...

 harvests are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 economy, but declining oyster populations from disease, pollution, and overfishing have diminished catches. Wineries and vineyards in the Northern Neck
Northern Neck
The Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsulas on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This peninsula is bounded by the Potomac River on the north and the Rappahannock River on the south. It encompasses the following Virginia counties: Lancaster,...

 and along the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most...

 also have begun to generate income and attract tourists.

Virginia collects personal income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 in five income brackets, ranging from 3.0% to 5.75%. The state sales and use tax
Use tax
A use tax is a type of excise tax levied in the United States. It is assessed upon otherwise "tax free" tangible personal property purchased by a resident of the assessing state for use, storage or consumption of goods in that state , regardless of where the purchase took place...

 rate is 4%, while the tax rate on food is 1.5%. There is an additional 1% local tax, for a total of a 5% combined sales tax
Sales tax
A sales tax is a tax, usually paid by the consumer at the point of purchase, itemized separately from the base price, for certain goods and services. The tax amount is usually calculated by applying a percentage rate to the taxable price of a sale....

 on most Virginia purchases and 2.5% on most food. Virginia's property tax
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

 is set and collected at the local government level and varies throughout the Commonwealth. Real estate is also taxed at the local level based on 100% of fair market value. Tangible personal property also is taxed at the local level and is based on a percentage or percentages of original cost.

Culture


Virginia's historic culture was popularized and spread across America and the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 by figures such as George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, and Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

. Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South. Modern Virginia culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States
Culture of the Southern United States
The Culture of the Southern United States, or Southern Culture, is a subculture of the United States that is perhaps America's most distinct, in the minds both of its residents and of those in other parts of the country...

. The Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 divides Virginia into nine cultural regions. The Piedmont
Piedmont, Virginia
The Piedmont region of Virginia is a part of the greater Piedmont region which stretches from the falls of the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The region is 50 miles wide, more or less, and 100 miles in length...

 region is one of the most famous for its dialect's strong influence on Southern American English
Southern American English
Southern American English is a group of dialects of the English language spoken throughout the Southern region of the United States, from Southern and Eastern Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast, and from the Atlantic coast to most of Texas and Oklahoma.The Southern dialects make...

. While a more homogenized American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 is found in urban areas, various accents are also used, including the Tidewater accent
Tidewater accent
Tidewater accent, also known as Tidewater English or the Tidewater Dialect is a specific dialect of Southern American English. While the dialect is said to have roots up and down the eastern seaboard, it is primarily concentrated in the southeastern part of Virginia otherwise known as the Tidewater...

, the Old Virginia accent
Old Virginia accent
The Old Virginia accent is one that is primarily heard in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Traces of this dialect and its characteristic drawl can also be heard in adjacent states, including words that are pronounced differently, such as "out" and...

, and the anachronistic Elizabethan
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 of Tangier Island.

Literature in Virginia often deals with the state's extensive and sometimes troubled past. The works of Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 winner Ellen Glasgow
Ellen Glasgow
Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist who portrayed the changing world of the contemporary south.-Biography:...

 often dealt with social inequalities and the role of women in her culture. Glasgow's peer and close friend James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell, ; April 14, 1879 – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when his...

 wrote extensively about the changing position of gentry in the Reconstruction era, and challenged its moral code with Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice
Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice
Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice is a 1919 fantasy book by James Branch Cabell – the eighth among some fifty-two books written by this author – which gained fame shortly after its publication.-The book and its reception:...

. William Styron
William Styron
William Clark Styron, Jr. was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work.For much of his career, Styron was best known for his novels, which included...

 approached history in works such as The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967)
The Confessions of Nat Turner is a 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by U.S. writer William Styron. Presented as a first-person narrative by historical figure Nat Turner, the novel concerns the slave revolt in Virginia in 1831...

and Sophie's Choice
Sophie's Choice (novel)
Sophie's Choice is a novel by William Styron published in 1979. It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps...

. Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

 has occasionally dealt with his southern heritage in bestsellers like I Am Charlotte Simmons
I Am Charlotte Simmons
I Am Charlotte Simmons is a 2004 novel by Tom Wolfe, concerning sexual and status relationships at the fictional Dupont University, closely modeled after Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University...

. Virginia also names a state Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate of Virginia
The position of Poet Laureate of Virginia was established December 18, 1936 by the General Assembly.Originally the Poet Laureate of Virginia was appointed without outside consultation by the General Assembly, usually for one year. The procedure was later changed and most recently codified in 1998...

, currently Kelly Cherry
Kelly Cherry
Kelly Cherry is an author, poet, and the Poet Laureate of Virginia,. A resident of Halifax, Virginia, she was named the state's Poet Laureate by Governor Bob McDonnell in July 2010...

 of Halifax County, who will serve until 2012.

Besides the general cuisine of the Southern United States
Cuisine of the Southern United States
The cuisine of the Southern United States is defined as the historical regional culinary form of states generally south of the Mason Dixon Line dividing Pennsylvania from Maryland and Delaware as well as along the Ohio River, and extending west to Southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.The most...

, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions. Virginia wine
Virginia wine
Virginia wine refers to wine made from grapes grown in the U.S. state of Virginia. Wine has been produced in the area since the early days of European colonization in the 17th century. Virginia has hot humid summers that can be challenging to viticulture. Since 2000, Chardonnay has been the most...

 is made in many parts of the state. Smithfield ham
Smithfield ham
Smithfield ham is a specific form of the country ham, a product which originated in the town of Smithfield in Isle of Wight County in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, USA.-Legal definition:...

, sometimes called "Virginia ham", is a type of country ham
Country ham
Country ham is a variety of cured ham, typically very salty, associated with the Southern United States. Country ham is first mentioned in print in 1944, referring to a method of curing and smoking done in the rural parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky and other nearby...

 which is protected by state law
Geographical indication
A geographical indication is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin...

, and can only be produced in the town of Smithfield
Smithfield, Virginia
Smithfield is a town in Isle of Wight County, in the South Hampton Roads subregion of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia in the United States. The population was 8,089 at the 2010 census....

. Virginia furniture
Virginia furniture
Virginia furniture has a long tradition, from the colonial period to today.-Colonial period:In colonial days, when cabinetmaker Anthony Hay made furniture in Colonial Williamsburg, at least six shops catered to local tastes. As the colony grew in taste and sophistication, shops developed in other...

 and architecture are typical of American colonial architecture. Thomas Jefferson and many of the state's early leaders favored the Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 style, leading to its use for important state buildings. The Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch refers to immigrants and their descendants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 and their style can also be found in parts of the state.

Fine and performing arts




Though rich in cultural heritage, Virginia ranks near the bottom of U.S. states in terms of public spending on the arts, at nearly half of the national average. The state government does fund some institutions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine arts, or VMFA, is an art museum in Richmond, Virginia, in the United States, which opened in 1936.The museum is owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, while private donations, endowments, and funds are used for the support of specific programs and all...

 and the Science Museum of Virginia
Science Museum of Virginia
The Science Museum of Virginia is a science museum located in Richmond, Virginia.-History:In 1906, the Virginia General Assembly approved funds for the construction of a simple "exhibits center" to display mineral and timber exhibits being assembled for the Jamestown Exposition of 1907. After the...

. Other museums include the popular Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States....

 of the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

 and the Chrysler Museum of Art
Chrysler Museum of Art
The Chrysler Museum of Art is an art museum in the Ghent district of Norfolk, Virginia. The museum was originally founded in 1933 as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. In 1971, automotive heir, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. , donated most of his extensive collection to the museum...

. Besides these sites, many open-air museums are located in the Commonwealth, such as Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. The district includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780 which made colonial Virginia's capital. The capital straddled the boundary of the original shires of Virginia —...

, the Frontier Culture Museum
Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
The Frontier Culture Museum, located in Staunton, Virginia is a living history museum that tells the story of the people who migrated from the Old World to America and the life they created in the Shenandoah Valley...

, and various historic battlefields. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities aims to develop the civic, cultural, and intellectual life of the Commonwealth of Virginia by creating learning opportunities for all Virginians....

 works to improve the Commonwealth's civic, cultural, and intellectual life.

Theaters and venues in the Commonwealth are found both in the cities and suburbs. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, known locally in the Washington, D.C. area as simply Wolf Trap, is a performing arts center located on 130 acres of national park land in Wolf Trap, Virginia...

 is located in Vienna
Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in zip codes with the Vienna postal addresses bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to...

 and is the only national park intended for use as a performing arts center. The Harrison Opera House
Harrison Opera House
The Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House, also known as the Harrison Opera House, is the official home of the Virginia Opera in the Ghent district of Norfolk, Virginia. Once a World War II USO theater, this historic venue was renovated in 1993. With 1,632 seats, the renovated Harrison...

, in Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, is home of the Virginia Opera
Virginia Opera
Virginia Opera is an opera company based in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Organized in 1974 by a group of Norfolk, Virginia community volunteers, Virginia Opera presented its first productions in 1975 and in the intervening four decades has become known and respected nationwide for the...

. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra is an American regional orchestra in the Hampton Roads metro area. The orchestra performs at several venues in Virginia, including Chrysler Hall in Norfolk and the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News....

 operates in and around Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

.
Resident and touring theater troupes operate from the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton
Staunton, Virginia
Staunton is an independent city within the confines of Augusta County in the commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 23,746 as of 2010. It is the county seat of Augusta County....

. The Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre, located in Abingdon, Virginia, opened on June 10, 1933. It is one of the longest running professional theatres in the nation. In 1933, when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression, most patrons were not able to pay the full ticket price...

 in Abingdon
Abingdon, Virginia
Abingdon is a town in Washington County, Virginia, USA, 133 miles southwest of Roanoke. The population was 8,191 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Washington County and is a designated Virginia Historic Landmark...

 won the first ever Regional Theatre Tony Award
Regional Theatre Tony Award
The Regional Theatre Tony Award is a special non-competitive Tony Award given annually to a regional theatre company in the United States. Initially presented in 1948 to Robert Porterfield of the Virginia Barter Theatre for their Contribution To Development Of Regional Theatre, the Regional Theatre...

 in 1948, while the Signature Theatre in Arlington won it in 2009. There's also a Children's Theater of Virginia, Theatre IV
Theatre IV
Theatre IV is The Children's Theatre of Virginia. It is the second largest children's theatre in the nation and the largest in-school touring theatre company in the nation. In 1975, Theatre IV was founded by Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway, becoming the state's first professional theatre for young...

, which is the second largest touring troupe nationwide. Virginia has launched many award-winning traditional musical artists and internationally successful popular music acts, as well as Hollywood actors. Notable performance venues include The Birchmere
The Birchmere
The Birchmere is a concert hall in Alexandria, Virginia, known for presenting performers in the bluegrass, country, folk, and jazz genres. The main stage has table seating with dinner service. The room seats 500 people and the tables in front are about two feet from the stage...

, the Landmark Theater, and Jiffy Lube Live.

Festivals



Many counties and localities host county fair
County Fair
"County Fair" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was originally released as the second track on their 1962 album Surfin' Safari. On November 26th of that year, it was released as the B-side to The Beach Boys' third single, "Ten Little...

s and festivals. The Virginia State Fair
Virginia State Fair
The State Fair of Virginia is held annually at the end of September, currently at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, Virginia. Through 2008, the fair was held at the Richmond Raceway Complex, located in eastern Henrico County, just outside of the capital city of Richmond.-Structure :The...

 is held at the Meadow Event Park
Meadow Event Park
Meadow Event Park is a large park and nature preserve in Doswell, Virginia with several fields and facilities. It has been the home of the State Fair of Virginia since 2009, previously held at Richmond International Raceway. The 2009 state fair was the park's inaugural event. Since then it has also...

 every September. Also in September is the Neptune Festival
Neptune Festival
The Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia was created by Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce President and RK Chevrolet founder Richard Kline in 1973 to celebrate the unique heritage of Virginia Beach. Since that time, the festival has grown to be one of America’s top 100 festivals and one...

 in Virginia Beach, which celebrates the city, the waterfront, and regional artists. Norfolk's Harborfest, in June, features boat racing and air show
Air show
An air show is an event at which aviators display their flying skills and the capabilities of their aircraft to spectators in aerobatics. Air shows without aerobatic displays, having only aircraft displayed parked on the ground, are called "static air shows"....

s. Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 also sponsors Celebrate Fairfax!
Celebrate Fairfax!
The Celebrate Fairfax! festival is an annual community-wide celebration that is held during the second weekend after Memorial Day at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The annual festival hosts more than 70,000 visitors each year....

 with popular and traditional music performances. The Virginia Lake Festival
Clarksville, Virginia
Clarksville is a town founded in Mecklenburg County and overlapping across Halifax County in the U.S. state of Virginia, near the southern border of the state. The population was 1,139 at the 2010 census...

 is held during the third weekend in July in Clarksville. Wolf Trap hosts the Wolf Trap Opera Company
Wolf Trap Opera Company
The Wolf Trap Opera Company produces a summer opera festival as part of the program of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia....

, which produces an opera festival every summer.

On the Eastern Shore
Eastern Shore of Virginia
The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of two counties on the Atlantic coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Its population was 45,553 as of 2010...

 island of Chincoteague
Chincoteague, Virginia
Chincoteague is a town on Chincoteague Island in Accomack County, Virginia, United States. The population was 4,317 at the 2000 census. The town is perhaps best known for the Chincoteague Ponies, although these are not actually on the island of Chincoteague but on nearby Assateague Island...

 the annual Pony Swim & Auction of feral
Feral
A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed. In the case of plants it is a movement from cultivated to uncultivated or controlled to volunteer. The introduction of feral animals or plants to their non-native regions, like any introduced species, may...

 Chincoteague ponies
Chincoteague Pony
The Chincoteague Pony, also known as the Assateague horse, is a breed of pony that developed and lives in a feral condition on Assateague Island in the United States states of Virginia and Maryland. The breed was made famous by the Misty of Chincoteague series written by Marguerite Henry starting...

 at the end of July is a unique local tradition expanded into a week-long carnival. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, a six-day festival held annually in Winchester, Virginia, is known for its many guest celebrities and events. The festival was first held Saturday, May 3, 1924, and was originally celebrated as a one day event...

 is a six-day festival held annually in Winchester
Winchester, Virginia
Winchester is an independent city located in the northwestern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the USA. The city's population was 26,203 according to the 2010 Census...

 that includes parades and bluegrass
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 concerts. The Old Time
Old-time music
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music, with roots in the folk music of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and countries in Africa. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dance, buck dance, and clogging. The genre also...

 Fiddlers' Convention in Galax
Galax, Virginia
Galax is an independent city in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is bounded to the northeast by Carroll County and to the southwest by Grayson County. The population was 7,042 as of 2010...

, begun in 1935, is one of the oldest and largest such events worldwide. Two important film festivals, the Virginia Film Festival
Virginia Film Festival
The Virginia Film Festival is hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, held usually in late October/ early November.- Themes :The Virginia Film Festival has historically had a different theme each year...

 and the VCU French Film Festival
VCU French Film Festival
The VCU French Film Festival, an annual film festival held in Richmond, Virginia, focused on recently-produced French-language films.It was created at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993. It is billed as the largest festival of French film in the United States...

, are held annually in Charlottesville
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

 and Richmond, respectively.

Media



The Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

 area is the 43rd-largest media market
Media market
A media market, broadcast market, media region, designated market area , Television Market Area , or simply market is a region where the population can receive the same television and radio station offerings, and may also include other types of media including newspapers and Internet content...

 in the United States as ranked by Nielsen Media Research
Nielsen Media Research
Nielsen Media Research is an American firm that measures media audiences, including television, radio, theatre films and newspapers...

, while the Richmond-Petersburg
Richmond-Petersburg
The Greater Richmond Region is a region located in a central part of the state of Virginia in the United States. As of 2010, it had a population of 1,258,251, making it the 43rd largest MSA in the country...

 area is 57th and Roanoke
Roanoke, Virginia
Roanoke is an independent city in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Virginia and is the tenth-largest city in the Commonwealth. It is located in the Roanoke Valley of the Roanoke Region of Virginia. The population within the city limits was 97,032 as of 2010...

-Lynchburg
Lynchburg, Virginia
Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 75,568 as of 2010. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills" or "The Hill City." Lynchburg was the only major city in...

 is 66th . Northern Virginia is part of the much larger Washington, D.C. media market.

There are 36 television stations in Virginia, representing each major U.S. network, part of 42 stations which serve Virginia viewers. More than 720 FCC
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

-licensed FM radio stations broadcast in Virginia, with about 300 such AM stations. The nationally available Public Broadcasting Service
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 (PBS) is headquartered in Arlington. Independent PBS affiliates exist throughout Virginia, and the Arlington PBS member station WETA-TV
WETA-TV
WETA-TV is a Public Broadcasting Service member public televisionstation for the Washington, D.C., area. Its studios are in nearby Arlington, Virginia...

 produces programs such as the PBS NewsHour and Washington Week
Washington Week
Washington Week is a public affairs program on PBS. Unlike panel discussion shows that focus on debate as a means of discussing topics, the program follows a path of moderation and discussion...

.

The most circulated native newspapers in the Commonwealth are Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

's The Virginian-Pilot
The Virginian-Pilot
The Virginian-Pilot is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia, and serving the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, southeastern Virginia, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The flagship property of Landmark Media Enterprises, The Pilot is Virginia's largest daily...

(156,968 daily subscribers), the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the primary daily newspaper in Richmond the capital of Virginia, United States, and is commonly considered the "newspaper of record" for events occurring in much of the state...

(118,489), The Roanoke Times
The Roanoke Times
The Roanoke Times is the primary newspaper in Southwestern Virginia and is based in Roanoke, Virginia, United States. It is published by Landmark Media Enterprises...

(75,740), and Newport News
Newport News, Virginia
Newport News is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News...

' Daily Press
Daily Press (Virginia)
The Daily Press is a morning newspaper located in Newport News, Virginia, that covers the Hampton Roads metro area of Virginia. It was established in 1896 and has been owned by the Tribune Company since July 1986...

(63,366), . Several Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 papers are based in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, such as The Washington Examiner and Politico
Politico (newspaper)
The Politico is an American political journalism organization based in Arlington, Virginia, that distributes its content via television, the Internet, newspaper, and radio. Its coverage of Washington, D.C., includes the U.S. Congress, lobbying, media and the Presidency...

. The paper with the nation's widest circulation, USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

, with 1.83 million daily subscriptions, is headquartered in McLean
McLean, Virginia
McLean is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. The community had a total population of 48,115 as of the 2010 census....

. Besides traditional forms of media, Virginia is the home base for telecommunication companies such as Voxant
Voxant
Voxant is a new media company based in Herndon, Virginia in the United States. Voxant is a privately held company which was founded in 2004.In April 2006, Voxant launched its new media network, syndicating fully licensed news and information content to Web publishers and bloggers. Today over...

 and XO Communications
XO Communications
XO Communications is a telecommunications company owned by XO Holdings, Inc...

. In Northern Virginia, The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

 is the dominant newspaper, since Northern VA is located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Education


Virginia's educational system consistently ranks in the top ten states on the U.S. Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

's National Assessment of Educational Progress
National Assessment of Educational Progress
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP is a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics , within the ...

, with Virginia students outperforming the average in all subject areas and grade levels tested. The 2011 Quality Counts report ranked Virginia's K–12 education fourth best in the country. All school divisions must adhere to educational standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Department of Education
The Virginia Department of Education is the state education agency of The Commonwealth of Virginia. It is headquartered in the James Monroe Building in Richmond. The department is headed by the Virginia Secretary of Education, a position that is appointed by the Governor of Virginia...

, which maintains an assessment and accreditation regime known as the Standards of Learning
Standards of Learning
Standards of Learning ' is a public school standardized testing program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It sets forth learning and achievement expectations for core subjects for grades K-12 in Virginia's Public Schools...

 to ensure accountability. In 2010, 85% of high school students graduated on-time after four years. Between 2000 and 2008, school enrollment increased 5%, the number of teachers 21%.

Public K–12 schools in Virginia are generally operated by the counties and cities, and not by the state. , a total of 1,267,063 students were enrolled in 1,873 local and regional schools in the Commonwealth, including three charter school
Charter school
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter...

s, and an additional 109 alternative and special education centers across 132 school divisions. Besides the general public schools in Virginia, there are Governor's Schools
Governor's Schools (Virginia)
The Governor's Schools are a collection of regional magnet high schools and summer programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia intended for gifted students....

 and selective magnet school
Magnet school
In education in the United States, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities as school zones that feed into certain schools.There are magnet schools at the...

s. The Governor's Schools are a collection of more than 40 regional high schools and summer programs intended for gifted students. The Virginia Council for Private Education oversees the regulation of 320 state accredited and 130 non-accredited private schools. An additional 24,682 students receive homeschooling.

, there are 176 colleges and universities in Virginia. In the U.S. News and World Report ranking of public colleges, the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

 is second and The College of William & Mary is sixth. Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is a public university located in Richmond, Virginia. It comprises two campuses in the Downtown Richmond area, the product of a merger between the Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia in 1968...

 is ranked the top public graduate school in fine arts, while James Madison University
James Madison University
James Madison University is a public coeducational research university located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, U.S. Founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, the university has undergone four name changes before settling with James Madison University...

 has been recognized as the top regional public master's program in The South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 since 1993. The Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute
The Virginia Military Institute , located in Lexington, Virginia, is the oldest state-supported military college and one of six senior military colleges in the United States. Unlike any other military college in the United States—and in keeping with its founding principles—all VMI students are...

 is the oldest state military college
Military academy
A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps of the army, the navy, air force or coast guard, which normally provides education in a service environment, the exact definition depending on the country concerned.Three...

 and a top ranked public liberal arts college
Liberal arts college
A liberal arts college is one with a primary emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences.Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional...

. George Mason University
George Mason University
George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

 is the largest university in Virginia with over 32,000 students. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University
Virginia State University
Virginia State University is a historically black and land-grant university located north of the Appomattox River in Chesterfield, in the Richmond area. Founded on , Virginia State was the United States's first fully state-supported four-year institution of higher learning for black Americans...

 are the state's land-grant universities
Land-grant university
Land-grant universities are institutions of higher education in the United States designated by each state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890....

. Virginia also operates 23 community colleges
Virginia Community College System
The Virginia Community College System oversees a network of 23 community colleges in Virginia, which serve residents of Virginia and provide 2-year degrees and various specialty training and certifications. In 2006, the Virginia Community College System's annual enrollment rate topped 233,00...

 on 40 campuses serving over 260,000 students. There are 129 private institutions, including Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University is a private liberal arts college in Lexington, Virginia, United States.The classical school from which Washington and Lee descended was established in 1749 as Augusta Academy, about north of its present location. In 1776 it was renamed Liberty Hall in a burst of...

, Hampden–Sydney College, Emory & Henry College, Roanoke College
Roanoke College
Roanoke College is an private, coeducational, four-year liberal-arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The college is located in Salem, Virginia, a suburban independent city adjacent to Roanoke, Virginia...

, and the University of Richmond
University of Richmond
The University of Richmond is a selective, private, nonsectarian, liberal arts university located on the border of the city of Richmond and Henrico County, Virginia. The University of Richmond is a primarily undergraduate, residential university with approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate...

.

Health



Virginia has a mixed health record, and is ranked as the 22nd overall healthiest state according to the 2010 United Health Foundation's Health Rankings. Virginia also ranks 21st among the states in the rate of premature deaths, 7,104 per 100,000. In 2008, Virginia reached its lowest ever rate of infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

, at 6.7 deaths per 1,000. There are however racial and social health disparities, with African Americans experiencing 27.9% more premature deaths than whites, while 12.7% of Virginians lack any health insurance
Health insurance
Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals. By estimating the overall risk of health care expenses among a targeted group, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to ensure that money is...

. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

's 2009 survey, 25.5% of Virginians are obese and another 35.1% are overweight. 78.1% of residents claim to have exercised once in the past three months. About 30% of Virginia's 10- to 17-year-olds are overweight or obese. Virginia banned smoking in bars and restaurants in January 2010. 19% of Virginians smoke tobacco.

There are 89 hospitals in Virginia listed with the United States Department of Health and Human Services
United States Department of Health and Human Services
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a Cabinet department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America"...

. Notable examples include Inova Fairfax Hospital
Inova Fairfax Hospital
Inova Fairfax Hospital is the largest hospital in the Washington D.C. area. Located in Fairfax County, Virginia, Inova Fairfax Hospital is the flagship hospital of Inova Health System, one of the largest employers in Fairfax County...

, the largest hospital in the Washington Metropolitan Area
Washington Metropolitan Area
The Washington Metropolitan Area is the metropolitan area centered on Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The area includes all of the federal district and parts of the U.S...

, and the VCU Medical Center
VCU Medical Center
VCU Medical Center, is Virginia Commonwealth University's medical campus located in downtown Richmond, Virginia in the Court End neighborhood. The VCU Medical Center used to be known as the Medical College of Virginia until it merged with the Richmond Professional Institute in 1968 to create...

, located on the medical campus of Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is a public university located in Richmond, Virginia. It comprises two campuses in the Downtown Richmond area, the product of a merger between the Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia in 1968...

. The University of Virginia Medical Center, part of the University of Virginia Health System
University of Virginia Health System
The University of Virginia Health System is a nationally renowned healthcare provider based in Charlottesville, Virginia and associated with the University of Virginia. The health system includes a medical center, school of medicine and health sciences library...

, is highly ranked in endocrinology
Endocrinology
Endocrinology is a branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions called hormones, the integration of developmental events such as proliferation, growth, and differentiation and the coordination of...

 according to U.S.News & World Report. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is a hospital in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia. It is located adjacent to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Sentara Heart Hospital and Eastern Virginia Medical School for which it serves as the teaching hospital. Norfolk General is home to...

, part of the Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

 based Sentara Health System
Sentara Health System
Sentara Healthcare, also known as Sentara Health System, is a not-for-profit health care organization serving southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina...

 and a teaching institution of Eastern Virginia Medical School
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Eastern Virginia Medical School commonly referred to as EVMS, in Norfolk, Virginia is a public-private medical school founded by the citizens of Hampton Roads, Virginia...

, was the site of the first successful in-vitro fertilization birth. Virginia has a ratio of 124 primary care physician
Primary care physician
A primary care physician, or PCP, is a physician/medical doctor who provides both the first contact for a person with an undiagnosed health concern as well as continuing care of varied medical conditions, not limited by cause, organ system, or diagnosis....

s per 10,000 residents, which is the 13th highest nationally. Virginia was one of five states to receive a perfect score in disaster preparedness according to a 2008 report by the Trust for America's Health
Trust for America's Health
Trust for America's Health is a Washington, D.C.-based health policy organization. The organization's website calls the group "a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national...

, based on criteria such as detecting pathogens and distributing vaccines and medical supplies.

Transportation


Because of the 1932 Byrd Road Act
Byrd Road Act
Byrd Road Act was an Act of Assembly passed in February, 1932 by the Virginia General Assembly. Named for former Governor Harry F. Byrd, the legislation was originally presented as measure to relieve the financial pressures of the Great Depression upon the counties, as the state offered to take...

, the state government controls most of Virginia's roads, instead of a local county authority as is usual in other states. , the Virginia Department of Transportation
Virginia Department of Transportation
The Virginia Department of Transportation is the agency of state government responsible for transportation in the state of Virginia in the United States. Headquartered in Downtown Richmond, VDOT is responsible for building, maintaining, and operating the roads, bridges and tunnels in the...

 owns and operates 57867 miles (93,127.7 km) of the total 70105 miles (112,822.8 km) of roads in the state, making it the third largest state highway system in the United States. Although the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, has the second worst traffic in the nation, Virginia as a whole has the 21st-lowest congestion and the average commute time is 26.9 minutes.

Virginia has Amtrak
Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

 passenger rail service along several corridors, and Virginia Railway Express
Virginia Railway Express
The Virginia Railway Express is a regional/ commuter rail service that connects the Northern Virginia suburbs to Union Station in Washington, D.C., via two lines: the Fredericksburg Line from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the Manassas Line from Broad Run/Airport station in Bristow,...

 (VRE) maintains two commuter lines into Washington, D.C. from Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia located south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,286...

 and Manassas
Manassas, Virginia
The City of Manassas is an independent city surrounded by Prince William County and the independent city of Manassas Park in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. Its population was 37,821 as of 2010. Manassas also surrounds the county seat for Prince William County but that county...

. VRE is one of the nation's fastest growing commuter rail services, handling nearly 20,000 passengers a day. The Washington Metro
Washington Metro
The Washington Metro, commonly called Metro, and unofficially Metrorail, is the rapid transit system in Washington, D.C., United States, and its surrounding suburbs. It is administered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority , which also operates Metrobus service under the Metro name...

 rapid transit system serves Northern Virginia as far west as communities along I-66 in Fairfax County, with expansion plans
Silver Line (Washington Metro)
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, formally dubbed the Silver Line, is an extension of the Washington Metro rapid transit system, currently under construction with the goal of providing rapid transit service to Dulles International Airport and Tysons Corner...

 to reach Tysons Corner by 2013, and Loudoun County
Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county is estimated to be home to 312,311 people, an 84 percent increase over the 2000 figure of 169,599. That increase makes the county the fourth...

 by 2017. Major freight railroads in Virginia include Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation
CSX Transportation
CSX Transportation operates a Class I railroad in the United States known as the CSX Railroad. It is the main subsidiary of the CSX Corporation. The company is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and owns approximately 21,000 route miles...

. Commuter buses include the Fairfax Connector
Fairfax Connector
Fairfax Connector is a public bus service provided by Fairfax County, Virginia, and operated under contract by MV Transportation. The first buses rolled out in September 1985 as a lower-cost alternative to the Metrobus service of the regional Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority...

 and the Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus
Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus
The Valley Connector Regional Shuttle and Commuter Bus is a public transportation service provided by S & W Tours, LLC and Valley Connector, Inc. which provided weekday commuter bus service in the United States from Northern Shenandoah Valley to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.. Commuter bus...

. The Virginia Department of Transportation operates several free ferries throughout Virginia, the most notable being the Jamestown-Scotland ferry which crosses the James River in Surry County
Surry County, Virginia
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,058 people, 2,619 households, and 1,917 families residing in the county. The population density was 24 people per square mile . There were 3,294 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile...

.

Virginia has five major airports: Washington Dulles International
Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport is a public airport in Dulles, Virginia, 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C. The airport serves the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia metropolitan area centered on the District of Columbia. It is named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of...

 handling over 23 million passengers a year, Reagan Washington National
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a public airport located south of downtown Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia. It is the commercial airport nearest to Washington, D.C. For many decades, it was called Washington National Airport, but this airport was renamed in 1998 to...

, Norfolk International
Norfolk International Airport
-Baggage Claims:Southwest Airlines #1,Delta Airlines #2,US Airways | American Airlines #3,Continental Airlines|United Express #5- Facilities and aircraft :...

 serving the Hampton Roads area, Richmond International
Richmond International Airport
- Accidents and incidents :*In 1996, Eastwind Airlines Flight 517 from Trenton experienced loss of rudder control while on approach to Richmond, however rudder control was regained shortly after and the aircraft landed normally. There was one minor injury....

, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is an airport located 9 mi northwest of downtown Newport News, Virginia, and serves the entire Hampton Roads metropolitan area along with Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk...

. Several other airports offer limited commercial passenger service, and sixty-six public airports serve the state's aviation needs. The Virginia Port Authority
Virginia Port Authority
The Virginia Port Authority is an autonomous agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that owns the Port of Virginia...

's main seaports are those in Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

, which carried 17726251 short tons (16,080,984.4 t) of bulk cargo in 2007, the sixth most of United States ports. The Eastern Shore of Virginia
Eastern Shore of Virginia
The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of two counties on the Atlantic coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Its population was 45,553 as of 2010...

 is the site of Wallops Flight Facility
Wallops Flight Facility
Wallops Flight Facility , located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, is operated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, primarily as a rocket launch site to support science and exploration missions for NASA and other U.S. government agencies...

, a rocket testing center owned by NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is a commercial space launch facility located at the southern tip of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Delmarva Peninsula south of Chincoteague, Virginia.-Background:...

, a commercial spaceport. Space tourism
Space tourism
Space Tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry...

 is also offered through Vienna
Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in zip codes with the Vienna postal addresses bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to...

-based Space Adventures
Space Adventures
Space Adventures, Ltd. is a Virginia, USA-based space tourism company founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson. , offerings include zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital spaceflights , and other spaceflight-related experiences including cosmonaut training, spacewalk training, and launch tours...

.

Law and government


In colonial Virginia, free men elected the lower house of the legislature, called the House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses
The House of Burgesses was the first assembly of elected representatives of English colonists in North America. The House was established by the Virginia Company, who created the body as part of an effort to encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America...

, which together with the Governor's Council, made the "General Assembly". Founded in 1619, the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 is still in existence as the oldest legislature in the Western Hemisphere. The modern government is ranked by the Pew Center on the States
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 with an A− in terms of its efficiency, effectiveness, and infrastructure. This is the second time Virginia received the highest grade in the nation, which it shares with two others.

Since 1971, the government has functioned under the seventh Constitution of Virginia
Constitution of Virginia
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the document that defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Like all other state constitutions, it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government,...

, which provides for a strong legislature and a unified judicial system. Similar to the federal structure
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, the government is divided in three branches
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislature is the General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

, a bicameral body whose 100-member House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 and 40-member Senate
Senate of Virginia
The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia...

 write the laws for the Commonwealth. The Assembly is stronger than the executive, as it selects judges and justices. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
The Lieutenant Governor is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Lieutenant Governor is elected every four years along with the Governor and Attorney General. The office is currently held by Republican William T. Bolling. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected...

 are elected every four years in separate elections. Incumbent governors cannot run for re-election, however the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General
Attorney General of Virginia
The Attorney General of Virginia is an executive office in the Government of Virginia. Attorneys General are elected for a four-year term in the year following a presidential election . There are no term limits restricting the number of terms someone can serve as Attorney General...

 can, and governors may serve non-consecutive terms. The judicial system, the oldest in America, consists of a hierarchy from the Supreme Court of Virginia
Supreme Court of Virginia
The Supreme Court of Virginia is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It primarily hears appeals from the trial-level city and county Circuit Courts, as well as the criminal law, family law and administrative law cases that go through the Court of Appeals of Virginia. It is one of...

 and the Court of Appeals of Virginia
Court of Appeals of Virginia
The Court of Appeals of Virginia, established January 1, 1985, is an eleven-judge body that hears appeals from decisions of Virginia's circuit courts and the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. The Court sits in panels of at least three judges, and sometimes hears cases en banc...

 to the lower general district and circuit courts
Virginia Circuit Court
The Virginia Circuit Courts are the state trial courts of general jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Circuit Courts have jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases. For civil cases, the courts has authority to try cases with an amount in controversy of more than $4,500 and has...

.

The Code of Virginia
Code of Virginia
The Code of Virginia is the statutory law of the U.S. state of Virginia, and consists of the codified legislation of the Virginia General Assembly. The 1950 Code of Virginia is the revision currently in force...

 is the statutory law, and consists of the codified legislation of the General Assembly. The Virginia State Police
Virginia State Police
Virginia State Police is a state agency, conceived in 1919 and established in 1932, that acts as the state police force for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The agency originated out of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as an inspector and enforcer of highway laws...

 is the largest law enforcement agency in Virginia. The Virginia Capitol Police
Virginia Capitol Police
The Virginia State Capitol Police is America's oldest police department, originating in 1618.A legislative agency, today the Division of Capitol Police is responsible for:*General Law Enforcement for the Capitol Complex and properties assigned to the agency...

 is the oldest police department in the United States. The Virginia National Guard
Virginia National Guard
The Virginia National Guard consists of the Virginia Army National Guard and the Virginia Air National Guard. It is part of the Government of Virginia though the National Guard across the United States is mostly funded by federal monies. The Constitution of the United States specifically charges...

 consists of 7,500 soldiers in the Virginia Army National Guard
Virginia Army National Guard
The Virginia Army National Guard is composed of approximately 7500 soldiers, 1200 airmen, and maintains 67 armories in 50 communities.The Governor may call individuals or units of the Virginia National Guard into state service during emergencies or to assist in special situations which lend...

 and 1,200 airmen in the Virginia Air National Guard
Virginia Air National Guard
The Virginia Air National Guard is the air force militia of the U.S. state of Virginia. It is, along with the Virginia Army National Guard, an element of the Virginia National Guard...

. Since the resumption of capital punishment in Virginia
Capital punishment in Virginia
Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. State of Virginia. In what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first execution in the future United States was carried out in 1608. It was the first of 1,384 executions, the highest total of any state in the Union...

 in 1982, 107 people have been executed, the second highest number in the nation. The "total crime risk" is 28% lower than the national average. Since Virginia ended prisoner parole in 1995, the rate of recidivism
Recidivism
Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior...

 has fallen to 28.3%, among the lowest nationwide.

Politics



Over the 20th century, Virginia shifted from a largely rural, politically Southern
Politics of the Southern United States
Politics of the Southern United States refers to the political landscape of the Southern United States. Due to the region's unique cultural and historic heritage, the American South has been prominently involved in numerous political issues faced by the United States as a whole, including States'...

 and conservative state to a more urbanized, pluralistic, and politically moderate environment. Up until the 1970s, Virginia was a racially divided single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 dominated by the Byrd Organization
Byrd Organization
The Byrd Organization was a political machine led by former Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. that dominated Virginia politics for much of the middle portion of the 20th century...

. The legacy of slavery in the state
History of slavery in Virginia
The History of slavery in Virginia can be traced back to the very founding of Virginia as an English colony by the London Virginia Company. The headright system tried to solve the labor shortage by providing colonists with land for each indentured servant they transported to Virginia...

 effectively disfranchised
Disfranchisement
Disfranchisement is the revocation of the right of suffrage of a person or group of people, or rendering a person's vote less effective, or ineffective...

 African Americans until after passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s. Enfranchisement and immigration of other groups, especially Hispanics, have placed growing importance on minority voting. Regional differences play a large part in Virginia politics. Rural southern and western areas moved to support the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 in response to its "southern strategy
Southern strategy
In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters...

", while urban and growing suburban areas, including much of Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

, form the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 base
Base (politics)
In politics, the term base refers to a group of voters who almost always support a single party's candidates for elected office. Base voters are very unlikely to vote for the candidate of an opposing party, regardless of the specific views each candidate holds...

. Democratic support also persists in union-influenced parts of Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia, often abbreviated as SWVA, is a mountainous region of Virginia in the westernmost part of the commonwealth. Southwest Virginia has been defined alternatively as all Virginia counties on the Appalachian Plateau, all Virginia counties west of the Eastern Continental Divide, or...

, college towns such as Charlottesville
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

 and Blacksburg
Blacksburg, Virginia
Blacksburg is an incorporated town located in Montgomery County, Virginia, United States, with a population of 42,620 at the 2010 census. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford are the three principal jurisdictions of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area which...

, and the southeastern Black Belt Region.


Political party strength in Virginia
Political party strength in Virginia
The following table indicates the party of elected officials in the U.S. state of Virginia:*Governor*Lieutenant Governor*Attorney GeneralThe table also indicates the historical party composition in the:*State Senate*State House of Delegates...

 has likewise been in flux. In the 2007 state elections
Virginia state elections, 2007
Virginia's 2007 state elections were held on November 6, 2007. Voters elected all 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates to two-year terms ending in 2009, and all 40 members of the Virginia Senate to four-year terms ending in 2011. There were also elections for local offices in most counties...

, Democrats regained control of the State Senate
Senate of Virginia
The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia...

, and narrowed the Republican majority in the House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 to eight seats. Yet elections in 2009
Virginia elections, 2009
The following offices were up for election in the United States Commonwealth of Virginia in the November 2009 general election:*Three statewide offices – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General – for four-year terms...

 resulted in the election of Republican Robert McDonnell as governor by a 17 point margin, the election of a Republican Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, as well as Republican gains of six seats in the House of Delegates. In 2011, the Republican caucus took over two-thirds of the seats in the House of Delegates, and a majority of the Senate based on the Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling
Bill Bolling
William T. "Bill" Bolling is the current Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Running as a Republican, he was elected twice to the position by defeating his Democratic opponent in both the 2005 and 2009 general elections. He is the first Lieutenant Governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia to serve two...

 as the tie-breaker.
State election seasons traditionally start with the annual Shad Planking
Shad Planking
The Shad Planking is an annual political event in Virginia which takes place every April near Wakefield in Sussex County. It is sponsored by a chapter of the Ruritans, a community service organization which was originally founded in the small town of Holland about 30 miles to the...

 event in Wakefield
Wakefield, Virginia
Wakefield is an incorporated town in Sussex County, Virginia, United States. The population was 1,038 at the 2000 census.Wakefield is famous for being the "Peanut Capital of the World" and the location of the famous , as well as the site of Airfield Conference and 4-H Educational Center...

.

In federal elections since 2006, both parties have seen success. In the 2006 Senate election
Virginia United States Senate election, 2006
The 2006 United States Senate election in Virginia was held on November 7, 2006. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator George Allen ran for re-election to a second term, but lost to Democrat Jim Webb.-Background:...

, Democrat Jim Webb
Jim Webb
James Henry "Jim" Webb, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Virginia. He is also an author and a former Secretary of the Navy. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

 won on a populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 platform over the Republican incumbent following a very close race. The party took both U.S. Senate seats with the election
United States Senate election in Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States Senate election in Virginia was held on November 4, 2008. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Warner decided to retire instead of seeking a sixth term...

 of former Governor Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

 to replace retiring Republican John Warner
John Warner
John William Warner, KBE is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009...

. Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes, was won by Democrat Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 in 2008, after being won by Republican candidates in the previous ten presidential elections
United States presidential election
Elections for President and Vice President of the United States are indirect elections in which voters cast ballots for a slate of electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn directly elect the President and Vice President...

. In the 2010 elections
Virginia elections, 2010
Elections in Virginia for the 2010 election cycle will be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. Primary elections were held on June 8.City and town elections were held on May 4...

, Republicans picked up three House seats from Democrats. Of the state's 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans hold eight and Democrats hold three. Virginia may be considered a "swing state
Swing state
In United States presidential politics, a swing state is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state's electoral college votes...

" in future presidential elections.

Sports




Virginia is the most populous U.S. state without a major professional sports league franchise. The reasons for this include the lack of any dominant city or market within the state and the proximity of teams in Washington, D.C.
Sports in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.-area athletes and sports teams participate in all levels of sports competition. The region is home to several major sports venues including the Verizon Center, RFK Stadium, FedEx Field, and Nationals Park...

 Virginia has several minor league clubs, especially in baseball and soccer, and the Virginia Destroyers are the 2011 champions
2011 UFL season
The 2011 UFL season was the third season of the United Football League. The season, which was affected by franchise shifts and schedule delays due in part to the UFL's lingering financial issues , began on September 15, 2011 and would have run through October 28, with a championship game set for the...

 of the United Football League. Additionally, the Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team and members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team plays at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, while its headquarters and training facility are at Redskin Park in Ashburn,...

 have Redskins Park, their headquarters and training facility, in Ashburn
Ashburn, Virginia
Ashburn, Virginia is a census-designated place located in Loudoun County, Virginia, northwest of Washington, D.C., and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area...

 and the Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals are a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . Since their founding in 1974, "The Caps" have won one conference championship to reach the 1998 Stanley Cup...

 train at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. Virginia has many professional caliber golf courses including the Greg Norman
Greg Norman
Gregory John Norman AO is an Australian professional golfer and entrepreneur who spent 331 weeks as the world's Number 1 ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s...

 course at Lansdowne Resort and Kingsmill Resort, home of the Michelob ULTRA Open
Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill
The Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill was a women's professional golf tournament, played from 2003 through 2009 on the LPGA Tour. It took place annually in Virginia in May, with the final round traditionally played on Mother's Day since 2004...

. NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 currently schedules Sprint Cup races on two tracks in Virginia: Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville Speedway is an International Speedway Corporation-owned NASCAR stock car racing track located in Henry County, near Ridgeway, Virginia, just to the south of Martinsville. At in length, it is the shortest track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The track was also one of the first paved...

 and Richmond International Raceway
Richmond International Raceway
Richmond International Raceway is a 3/4-mile , D-shaped, asphalt race track located just outside Richmond, Virginia in Henrico County. It hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series...

. Current Virginia drivers in the series include Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton
Jeffrey Brian "Jeff" Burton , also referred to as JB or The Mayor, is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver who drives the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala for Richard Childress Racing. Burton is the younger brother of Ward Burton, who is a former Sprint Cup driver...

, Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin
James Dennis Alan "Denny" Hamlin is an American race car driver. Though originally born in Tampa, Florida, Hamlin was raised for most of his life in Chesterfield, Virginia. After racing in go-karts for a number of years, he worked his way up to Late Models by 2004 and signed a development contract...

, and Elliott Sadler
Elliott Sadler
Elliott William Barnes Sadler is a NASCAR driver. He currently drives the #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Impala for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the Nationwide Series. He is one of only 23 drivers to have won in each of NASCAR's top three series...

.

The Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are a member of the Eastern Division of the National League of Major League Baseball . The team moved into the newly built Nationals Park in 2008, after playing their first three seasons in RFK Stadium...

 and Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles are a professional baseball team based in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States. They are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's American League. One of the American League's eight charter franchises in 1901, it spent its first year as a major league...

 also have followings due to their proximity, and both are broadcast in the state on MASN. When the New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 ended their long affiliation with the Norfolk Tides
Norfolk Tides
The Norfolk Tides are a minor league baseball team in the Triple-A International League. They play at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Virginia. Since 2007 they have been a farm team of the Baltimore Orioles; prior to that, they had a 38-year affiliation with the New York Mets.-Franchise history:The...

 in 2007, the Orioles adopted the minor league club as their top level (AAA) minor league affiliate. The San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

' AA team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels
Richmond Flying Squirrels
The Richmond Flying Squirrels are a minor league baseball team in Richmond, Virginia. The team, which is a part of the Eastern League, is the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants major league club, and plays at The Diamond...

, began play at The Diamond in 2010, replacing the AAA Richmond Braves
Richmond Braves
The Richmond Braves were the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and played in the International League. Colloquially referred to as the R-Braves, they were based in Richmond, Virginia, where they played from 1966, when the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta where their AAA team, the Crackers,...

, who relocated after 2008. Additionally, the Nationals, Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

, Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are a professional baseball team based in Seattle, Washington. Enfranchised in , the Mariners are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Safeco Field has been the Mariners' home ballpark since July...

, Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are a Major League Baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois.The White Sox play in the American League's Central Division. Since , the White Sox have played in U.S. Cellular Field, which was originally called New Comiskey Park and nicknamed The Cell by local fans...

, and Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Braves have played in Turner Field since 1997....

 also have Single-A and Rookie-level farm team
Farm team
In sports, a farm team, farm system, feeder team or nursery club, is generally a team or club whose role is to provide experience and training for young players, with an agreement that any successful players can move on to a higher level at a given point...

s in Virginia.

Virginia does not allow state appropriated funds to be used for either operational or capital expenses for intercollegiate athletics. Despite this, both the Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia Cavaliers
The Virginia Cavaliers, also known as Wahoos or Hoos, are the athletic teams officially representing the University of Virginia in college sports. The Cavaliers compete in 25 NCAA Division I varsity sports and are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

 and Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Virginia Tech Hokies are the athletic teams officially representing Virginia Tech in college sports. The Hokies participate in the NCAA's Division I Atlantic Coast Conference in 19 varsity sports. Virginia Tech's men's sports are football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, soccer,...

 have been able to field competitive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference is a collegiate athletic league in the United States. Founded in 1953 in Greensboro, North Carolina, the ACC sanctions competition in twenty-five sports in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its twelve member universities...

 and maintain modern facilities. Their rivalry
Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry
The Virginia–Virginia Tech rivalry is an American college rivalry that exists between the Virginia Cavaliers sports teams of the University of Virginia and the Virginia Tech Hokies sports teams of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Both universities are members of the...

 is followed statewide. Several other universities compete in NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 Division I, particularly in the Colonial Athletic Association
Colonial Athletic Association
The Colonial Athletic Association is a NCAA Division I college athletic conference whose full-time members are located in East Coast states from Massachusetts to Georgia. Most of its members are public universities, with five in Virginia alone, and the conference is headquartered in Richmond,...

. Three historically black schools
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community....

 compete in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is a college athletic conference, mostly consisting of historically black colleges and universities. Recent addition Chowan University is the first non-HBCU to play in the conference. Conference teams participate in the NCAA's Division II...

, and two others compete in the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is a collegiate athletic conference of historically black colleges and universities in the Southeastern United States...

. Several smaller schools compete in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference
Old Dominion Athletic Conference
The Old Dominion Athletic Conference is an NCAA Division III athletic conference. Its member schools are located primarily in Virginia, with other members in North Carolina and Washington, DC. Only the American Southwest Conference in Texas is larger in Division III. -History:The conference was...

 and the USA South Athletic Conference
USA South Athletic Conference
The USA South Athletic Conference is an athletic conference which competes in the NCAA's Division III...

 of NCAA Division III. The NCAA currently holds its Division III championships in football
NCAA Division III national football championship
The NCAA Division III National Football Championship began in 1973. Before 1973, most of the schools now in Division III competed in the NCAA's former "College Division"....

, men's basketball, volleyball and softball in Salem
Salem, Virginia
Salem is an independent city in Virginia, USA, bordered by the city of Roanoke to the east but otherwise adjacent to Roanoke County. It is part of the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 24,802 according to 2010 U.S. Census...

.

State symbols


The state nickname is its oldest symbol, though it has never been made official by law. Virginia was given the title "Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

" by King Charles II of England
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 at the time of The Restoration, because it had remained loyal to the crown during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, and the present moniker, "Old Dominion" is a reference to that title. The other nickname, "Mother of Presidents", is also historic, as eight Virginians have served as President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, including four of the first five.

The state's motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants." It is sometimes mistranslated as "down with the tyrant." The phrase is said to have originated with Marcus Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar....

, translates from Latin as "Thus Always to Tyrants", and is used on the state seal, which is then used on the flag. While the seal was designed in 1776, and the flag was first used in the 1830s, both were made official in 1930. The majority of the other symbols were made official in the late 20th century. The Virginia reel
Virginia Reel (dance)
The Virginia reel is a folk dance that dates from the 17th century. Though the reel may have its origins in Scottish country dance and the Highland reel, and perhaps have an even earlier influence from an Irish dance called the Rinnce Fada, it is generally considered to be an English country dance...

 is among the square dance
Square dance
Square dance is a folk dance with four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, beginning with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise until getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples...

s classified as the state dance. Virginia currently has no state song. In 1940, Virginia made "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" is a song which was written by James A. Bland , an African American minstrel who wrote over 700 folk songs...

" the state song, but it was retired in 1997 and reclassified as the state song emeritus. Various alternatives, including a version of "Oh Shenandoah
Oh Shenandoah
"Oh Shenandoah" is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating at least to the early 19th century...

", have met with resistance in the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

.
  • Mammal: Virginia Big-Eared Bat
    Townsend's big-eared bat
    Townsend's Big-Eared Bat is a species of vesper bat in the Vespertilionidae family.- Description :The Townsend's Big-Eared Bat is a medium-sized bat with extremely long, flexible ears and small yet noticeable lumps on each side of the snout. Its upperparts are similar to dark brown on the back,...

  • Beverage: Milk
    Milk
    Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

  • Boat: Chesapeake Bay deadrise
    Chesapeake Bay deadrise
    The Chesapeake Bay deadrise is a type of traditional fishing boat used in the Chesapeake Bay. Watermen use these boats year round for everything from crabbing and oystering to catching fish or eels. Traditionally wooden hulled, the deadrise is characterised by a sharp bow that quickly becomes a...

  • Bird: Cardinal
    Northern Cardinal
    The Northern Cardinal or Redbird or Common Cardinal is a North American bird in the genus Cardinalis. It can be found in southern Canada, through the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and south through Mexico...

  • Dance: Square dancing
    Square dance
    Square dance is a folk dance with four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, beginning with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise until getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples...

  • Dog: American Foxhound
    American Foxhound
    The American Foxhound is a breed of dog that is cousin to the English Foxhound. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt foxes by scent.-History:...

  • Fish: Brook trout
    Brook trout
    The brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior are known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters...

    , Striped bass
    Striped bass
    The striped bass is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the state saltwater fish of New York, Virginia, and New Hampshire...

  • Flower/Tree: Dogwood
  • Fossil: Chesapecten jeffersonius
    Chesapecten jeffersonius
    Chesapecten jeffersonius is the state fossil of the State of Virginia in the United States. It is the fossilized form of an extinct scallop, which lived in the early Pliocene epoch between four and five million years ago on Virginia's coastal plain. In 1687, Martin Lister published a drawing of C...

  • Insect: Tiger swallowtail
    Eastern tiger swallowtail
    The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a species of swallowtail butterfly native to North America. It is one of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern United States, where it is common in many different habitats. It flies from spring to fall, during which it produces two to three broods...

  • Motto: Sic Semper Tyrannis
    Sic semper tyrannis
    Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants." It is sometimes mistranslated as "down with the tyrant." The phrase is said to have originated with Marcus Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar....

  • Nickname: The Old Dominion
  • Shell: Eastern oyster
    Eastern oyster
    The eastern oyster — also called Atlantic oyster or Virginia oyster — is a species of true oyster native to the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast of North America. It is also farmed in Puget Sound, Washington, where it is known as the Totten Inlet Virginica. Eastern oysters are and have...

  • Slogan: Virginia is for Lovers
    Virginia is for Lovers
    Virginia is for Lovers is the tourism and travel slogan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Used since 1969, it has become a well recognized and often imitated part of American jargon. For example, New York drew on its success to create the I Love New York logo nearly a decade later in 1977...

  • Tartan: Virginia Quadricentennial
    Virginia Quadricentennial Tartan
    The Virginia Quadricentennial Tartan is the official state tartan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Originally named "Measure plc", it was designed in 2003 by David McGill of International Tartans for the marketing of several products, including the now defunct Kinmount Scotch Whisky...



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