Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state of
the United States of America that includes parts of the South
Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont and the southern
Appalachians. After more than 150 years as an Anglo-British
colony, the Colony of Virginia gained independence along with
twelve other colonies. In 1788, Virginia became the tenth state
to ratify the US Constitution. During the American Civil War,
the Northwestern counties broke away and became the independent
state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
The state's nickname is Old Dominion. He is also called the Mother of the Presidents because eight US Presidents were from Virginia. The capital is Richmond.
Shenandoah National Parkcovers an area of 199,017 acres (805.39 sq km) of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the state of Virginia.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Mountain pass in the Appalachian
Mountains (bordering Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee) that was a major
route taken by settlers into inland North America.
Grayson Highlands State Park, near Rugby. State Park in western Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking the state's highest peak, Mount Rogers (1,746 m).
The most comfortable flight connections to Virginia are from London
Heathrow (LHR) to Washington Dulles (IAD) or via Detroit (DTW) to
Richmond (RIC) or Norfolk (ORF). Charlottesville (CHO) and Roanoke (ROA)
are also served directly from Detroit. The Newport News/Williamsburg
International Airport (PHF) is not an option for arrival, as there are
currently no scheduled flights. Other regional airports are in Lynchburg
(LYH) and Stafford.
Lorton, southwest of Alexandria, is the northern stop on the Amtrak Auto Train line, which connects Virginia directly and non-stop with Florida. The Auto Train is the country's only motorail train. Additional Amtrak stations are located in Washington (D.C.), Alexandria, Quantico, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Springfield, Woodbridge, Ashland, Williamsburg and Newport News.
Greyhound, the nationwide bus company, serves the following stations in Virginia: Charlottesville, Danville, Emporia, Exmore, Farmville, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Lynchburg, Marion, Newport News, Norfolk, Oak Hall, Petersburg, Richmond, Roanoke, South Boston, South Hill, Springfield, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Woodbridge and Wytheville.
As almost everywhere in the USA, you can hardly get by in Virginia without your own car.
In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is home to some of the state's
largest shopping malls.
The four very large supermarkets of the regional chain Lotte Plaza, which are located in Virginia and specialize entirely in food imported from South and East Asia, are of interest to self-caterers and expats with a culinary curiosity.
Virginia is famous for its regional cuisine that is not to be missed. Of
course, these specialties cannot be found in fast food chains or
supermarkets, but only in independently run restaurants and specialty
shops, whose addresses have to be carefully researched.
Typical coastal Virginia delicacies are obviously seafood such as flounder, oysters, clams and crab. Also try the local peanut and ham specialties around Greater Norfolk.
Brunswick County, southwest of Richmond, is known for its hearty stews. Traditional settler cuisine -- with dishes like cornbread with beans, squash, venison, and wild turkey -- has survived here and there throughout the Appalachian Mountains. The Shenandoah Valley is a major apple and peach growing region and a center for poultry farming. Southern Piedmont is a great place to enjoy comfort food, traditional African American fare, like fried chicken and black-eyed peas.
Wine is grown in all parts of the state, especially in the north and in the Appalachian Mountains. After California, New York, Oregon and Washington State, Virginia is the most important wine region in the United States. There are more than 140 wineries here, all of which invite you to wine tasting and often also have their own restaurants, most of which are quite good. The demand for gourmet products is particularly high in northern Virginia. Typical specialties of this part of the country are kitchen herbs, shiitake mushrooms, smoked trout and the horseshoe-shaped shortbread cookies.
Virginia is located on the Atlantic coast of
the United States approximately midway between the northern (Maine) and
southern (Florida) stretches of the US coast. From the Atlantic Coastal
Plain along the Chesapeake Bay to the heights of the Blue Ridge
Mountains in the western Appalachians, the state has topographical
diversity. The southern border with North Carolina and
almost a straight east-west line, while the northern border with
Maryland and the District of Columbia is formed by the Potomac River.
Kentucky and West Virginia are also direct neighbors on the western side
of the Appalachian Mountains.
Virginia shares almost half of the extensive metropolitan area around the federal district of Washington, D.C. with the neighboring state of Maryland. In addition to Dulles International Airport, this also includes Arlington County, which is home to a large number of American federal agencies, including the Pentagon. In the western part of the country is the highest mountain in Virginia, the 1746 meter high Mount Rogers. Also in the Appalachia is Shenandoah National Park.
The Chesapeake Bay separates most of the contiguous part of the state
from the two-county peninsula known as the Eastern Shore. Most of its
rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac,
Rappahannock, James, and York.
Geographically and geologically, the state is divided into five regions. From east to west, we find:
Coastal lowlands — coastal plain between the Atlantic coast and the fall line, including the Eastern Shore and major estuaries.
Piedmont — Foothills based on Mesozoic sedimentary and igneous rocks in the eastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Southwestern Mountains.
Blue Range — includes Mount Rogers and the Appalachian Trail, as well as the state's highest points.
Range and Valley — includes Massanutten Mountain and the Great Appalachian Valley, with carbonate rocks underground.
Appalachian Plateau — west of the mountains toward the Allegheny Plateau with a dendritic drainage system draining into the Ohio River Basin.
The Virginia seismic zone has had no history of regular activity. Earthquakes rarely exceed 4.5 on the Richter scale due to its location in the center of the North American Plate. The largest earthquake, of magnitude 5.9, occurred in 1897 in Blacksburg. In addition to coal, resources such as slate, kyanite, sand and gravel are extracted in the state, with an annual value of more than two billion dollars .
The Eastern North
American Divide runs through Virginia. The major rivers in the eastern
part of the state drain to the Chesapeake Bay and in the southeast to
Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Major rivers in Virginia are the
Potomac River with the Shenandoah River and the Rappahannock River in
the north, the James River in the center and the Chowan and Roanoke
Rivers in the southeast. The western part of the country beyond the
watershed belongs to the Mississippi River basin. The main rivers are
the New River and the Clinch River.
Virginia has no natural lakes other than Mountain Lake and Lake Drummond. The stateliest lakes in the country were created artificially. The largest reservoir in Virginia is the almost 200 km² John H. Kerr Reservoir, which extends to North Carolina. Smith Mountain Lake (83 km²) is entirely on Virginia territory, both reservoirs are located on the Roanoke River.
The climate is mild compared to other US states. Most of the state
east of the Blue Ridge Mountains has a warm temperate rainy climate
(class Cfa) according to the effective climate classification. In the
mountainous regions west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the climate is
humid continental (class Dfa).
However, due to the varied landscape relief, some regional differences occur. The largest differences occur on the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Piedmont and in the mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The usually moderate influence of the ocean from the east, due to the Gulf Stream, alternates with brief storms from hurricanes at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. On the other hand, especially in winter, cold air masses reach the state from the mountains and bring heavy snowfalls with them. The interaction of these climatic extremes and topographical diversity create microclimates in the Shenandoah Valley, which forms the mountainous southwest, and on the coastal prairies that differ slightly from the other regions, but to an appreciable degree. A climate element of recent years is the formation of a heat island in northern Virginia, caused by the expansion of the metropolitan area around Washington D.C. and the resulting increased heat output.
Climatic natural disasters are a serious problem at times. As mentioned above, hurricanes make the Virginia coast very vulnerable, although severe hurricanes rarely make landfall and then arrive in weakened form. Far more often, the state is affected by other weather systems from the south, the ramifications of which bring torrential rains to the state. Thunderstorms are an intermittent concern, occurring 30 to 50 days annually depending on the region, with frequency increasing westward. Conversely, eastern Virginia has a higher tornado rate; a statewide average of 10 tornadoes occur annually.
Forests cover sixty-five percent of Virginia's landmass. In some
mountainous areas of the state, pine trees predominate and occasionally
prickly pear cacti grow naturally. At lower altitudes it is easier to
find small but dense formations of fir trees that love humid areas, as
well as mosses in abundance. Other commonly found trees and plants
include oak, hickory, chestnut, maple, tulip tree, mountain laurel,
milkweed, daisies, and many species of ferns. Moth infestations that
began in the early 1990s have eroded the dominance of oak forests.
Mammals include white-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, opossum, groundhog, gray fox, and Eastern cottontail rabbit. Although unconfirmed, Sightings of cougars have been reliably reported in areas of the state. Birds include the Virginia cardinal, the North American tawny owl, the Carolina chickadee, the red-tailed buzzard, and wild turkeys. The peregrine falcon was reintroduced to Shenandoah National Park in the mid-1990s. Freshwater fish include brook trout, longnose carp, and blacknose carp. Streams with rocky bottoms They are often inhabited by a large number of crayfish. The Chesapeake Bay is home to many species, including blue crabs, clams, oysters and rockfish, also known as Striped Bass.
Virginia has many units of the National Park Service, including a national park and Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah was established in 1935 and includes the scenic Skyline Drive Trail, a 170 km route that runs through the mountains. It is popular for its changing colors as the leaves fall, and is visited annually by more than two million people, in addition to being considered a National Scenic Site. Almost forty percent of the park's surface (322 km²) has been designated as "natural space" and is protected as part of the National System for the Preservation of Natural Spaces. Other parks such as Great Falls Park and Prince William Forest Park are included in its National Park Service. In addition, it has thirty-four state parks, managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Forestry. The Chesapeake Bay, although not a national park, is protected by both state and federal legislation, and The “Chesapeake Bay Program” led jointly by both administrations is aimed at restoring the bay and its watershed. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is protected by both Virginia and North Carolina.
"Jamestown 2007" marked Virginia's fortieth anniversary year, celebrating four hundred years since the establishment of the colony of Jamestown. For centuries Virginia has been at the forefront of the wars of independence, from the civil war to the Cold War and the war against terrorism. The great social changes of the mid to late 20th century were expressed through celebrations that had broad popular support and that highlighted the contributions of the state's three cultures: Native American, European and African.
In 1523, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, with authorization from Emperor
Charles I of Spain, organized an expedition to search for the northern
passage to the Spice Islands, exploring the east coast of the current
United States (states of Virginia and North Carolina). In 1526, Vázquez
de Ayllón was the first European to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay.
He established a brief town which he called "San Miguel de Guadalupe."
The location of that town is disputed, some authors place it in what
later became the city of Jamestown (Virginia) and others at the mouth of
the Pedee River.
Jesuits from La Florida established themselves in 1570 (without Spanish troops), in the mission of Ajacán (present-day Virginia). In 1572 the Company of Jesus abandoned the missions in this area, being replaced by the Order of San Francisco . The first Franciscan decade was a turbulent time in which missionary posts were abandoned, although they were later reoccupied.
At the time of English colonization of the region, numerous
indigenous peoples lived in what is now Virginia. American tribes there
included the Cherokee, Cheepian, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Meherrin,
Monacan, Nansemond, Nottoway, Pamunkey, Powhatan, Rappahannock, Saponi,
and some others. divides natives into three groups, based largely on
linguistic differences. The largest group is known as the Algonquin led
by Powhatan, chief of the Powhatan (and father of the famous
Pocahontas). In 1607, the native population of the coastal lowlands
numbered between 13,000 and 14,000. Powhatan controlled more than thirty
tribes and 150 settlements, who spoke the so-called Virginia Algonquian.
Two other large groups, such as the Nottoway and Meherrin, spoke
dialects of Iroquois, and the inhabitants who lived in the foothills
used Sioux dialects.
In 1583, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter to explore and found a colony north of Spanish Florida. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh explored the Atlantic coast of North America. Raleigh, or possibly the Queen herself, called the area "Virginia" because Queen Elizabeth was known as "the Virgin Queen" for never having married. The name was eventually applied to the entire coast from South Carolina to Maine. , including Bermuda. The Virginia Company of London was incorporated as a limited company by the Statutes of 1606, which granted property rights to the area. The company financed the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Jamestown, named after King James I, was founded on May 13, 1607 by Captains Christopher Newport and John Smith. In 1609 many settlers perished during the so-called "hungry period" after the loss of the third supply flagship, the Sea Venture.
The House of Burgesses of Virginia was established in 1619 as the elected government of the colony, and was the first legislative assembly of the New World. During these early times its population increased with the introduction of settlers and servants in the growing economy of large plantations. In 1619 the first black Africans arrived and since there were no laws on slavery, they were initially treated as indentured servants, with the same opportunities for freedom as whites. However, in 1661 slave labor laws were passed, and any little freedom that might have existed disappeared. After 1618, the land rights system brought more indentured servants from Europe. In this system, settlers received land for each servant they transported. Native lands were expropriated by force and by treaties, including the "Virginia Treaty with the Indians of 1677," which made signatory tribes tributary states. The colonial capital was moved in 1699 to Williamsburg, where the College of William and Mary had been founded in 1693.
The House of Burgesses was temporarily dissolved in 1769 by the Royal Governor, Lord Botetourt, after Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee made speeches against British taxation without corresponding colonial representation. In 1773, Henry and Lee formed a committee of correspondence, and in 1774 Virginia sent delegates to the Continental Congress. On May 15, 1776, the Virginia Convention declared its independence from the British Empire. Shortly thereafter, the Virginia Convention adopted the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason, a document that influenced the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Then, on June 29, 1776, the Convention enacted a Constitution, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, which formally declared to Virginia as an independent commonwealth.
During the Revolutionary War, the capital was moved to Richmond at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, fearing that Williamsburg's location made it vulnerable to British attack. In 1781, the combined action of land and naval forces of the Continental Army and the French army, trapped the British on the Yorktown Peninsula, where troops under George Washington and the French Comte de Rochambeau defeated British General Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown. The British surrender on October 19, 1781 shook British public opinion, led to the end of major hostilities and ensured the independence of the colonies.
Virginians were instrumental in writing the United States
Constitution. James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan in 1787 and the
Bill of Rights in 1789 and ratified its constitution on June 25, 1788.
The "three-fifths" compromise ensured that the state initially possessed
the largest bloc in the House of Representatives, and who together with
his "dynasty" of presidents granted the commonwealth national
importance. In 1790, both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form
the new District of Columbia, although in 1847 the area initially ceded
by Virginia was regained. Virginia is sometimes called the "Mother of
States" due to its role in the birth of the United States. several
The slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831 and John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 showed the deep social discontent over the issue of slavery in Virginia and its role in the large plantation economy. In addition to agriculture, slave labor was also increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding, and other industries. By 1860, nearly half a million people, approximately thirty-one percent of its total population, were slaves. .
Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, after the Battle of Fort Sumter, surrendered its military and in June of the same year ratified the constitution of the Confederate States of America. The Confederates decided to move their Capitol to Richmond. In 1863 forty-eight counties in the state's northwest seceded from Virginia to form the state of West Virginia. During the American Civil War, more battles took place in its territory than in any other state, including the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the decisive Battle of Appomattox Court House. The naval battle of Hampton Roads also took place in Chesapeake Bay. After the capture of Richmond, the Confederate Capitol was moved to Danville. With the work of the so-called "Committee of Nine" during postwar Reconstruction, it formally rejoined the Union on January 26, 1870, and adopted a Constitution that ensured black suffrage, a system of free public schools and the guarantee of civil and political rights.
However during the height of the Jim Crow era, lawmakers rewrote the Virginia Constitution to include a poll tax and other voter registration measures that effectively deprived African Americans of civil rights, underfunding segregated schools and services, in addition to the lack of representation. Despite everything, African Americans still created energetic communities and managed to progress, and the first black students attended the University of Virginia School of Law in 1950, and Virginia Tech in 1953 Protests in Farmville started by civil rights activist Barbara Rose Johns led to the Davis v. Prince Edward County School Board lawsuit, which was won by Richmond natives Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill. This famous case was later called Brown v. Board of Education. Virginia however declared in 1958 that desegregated schools would not receive state funding, under the so-called "massive resistance" policy led by the powerful segregationist senator Harry F. Byrd. In 1959 Prince Edward County decided to close its schools, rather than integrate them. .
The civil rights movement gained many supporters in the 1960s and gained the moral strength to obtain national legislation to protect the suffrage and civil rights of African Americans. In 1971, state legislators amended the constitution again, after goals, such as legal integration and the repeal of Jim Crow laws, had been achieved. In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American to accede to the position of governor in the United States.
In 1926, Dr. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, began restoration of colonial-era buildings in the historic district, with financial backing from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (son of John D. . Rockefeller) which eventually became Colonial Williamsburg. World War II and the Cold War led to the massive expansion of government programs in the areas near Washington. Virginia was the target of the attacks of September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, killing one hundred and eighty-five people. Tragedy struck Virginia again in 2007, when thirty-two students were murdered in the so-called "Virginia Tech massacre."
According to the 2010 United States Census, the state had a
population of 8,001,024 inhabitants, which represents an increase of
922,509 inhabitants, a thirteen percent increase over the previous
census of 2000.5 The geographical point closest to all the inhabitants
of the state of Virginia is located in Goochland County.
English was approved as the official state language by statute in 1981 and 1996, and by law in 2006, although official language status is not mandated by the Virginia Constitution. English is the only language spoken by 6,201 784 Virginians (86.9%), and spoken very well by an additional 536,508 (7.5%), making a total of 94.3% of the commonwealth English speakers. Spanish includes the majority of speakers of other languages, with 412,416 people (5.8%). 240,332 inhabitants (3.4%) speak Asian and Pacific Island languages, including Vietnamese and Filipino.
The five largest groups in Virginia by ancestry are: African (19.6%),
German (11.7%), unspecified Americans (11.4%), English (11.1%), and
Irish-Scottish and Irish (9.8%). Most African Americans in Virginia are
descendants of enslaved Africans who worked on tobacco, cotton, and hemp
plantations. These men and women were brought from west central Africa,
mainly from Angola and the Igbo areas of the Niger Delta region,
present-day Nigeria. The so-called Great Migration of the 20th century
(the movement of approximately seven million African Americans from the
United States from the South to the North, Midwest and West from 1910 to
1970) of black population from the rural South to the industrial North,
reduced the black population of Virginia; however, in the last forty
years there was a reverse migration of Afro-descendant population that
returned to Virginia and the rest of the South.
The western mountains have many settlements founded by Scotch-Irish immigrants before the Revolution. There are also considerable numbers of people of German ancestry in the northwest mountains and in the Shenandoah Valley. People of Anglo-Saxon heritage settled throughout the state during the colonial period, and others of British and Irish heritage migrated there over decades in search of employment.
Due to the most recent immigration of the late 20th century and early 21st century, there is a rapid increase in the Hispanic (particularly Central American) and Asian populations. In 2007, 6.6% of Virginians were Hispanic, 5.5% were Asian, and 1.8% were American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. The state's Hispanic population tripled among 1990 and 2006, two-thirds of whom live in Northern Virginia. In contrast to Hispanics nationally, those in Virginia have higher median household incomes and higher educational attainment than those in the United States as a whole.
Northern Virginia has the largest Vietnamese population on the East Coast, with just over 99,000 Vietnamese residents, with the main wave of immigration occurring after the Vietnam War. Due to its relationship with the Navy, Hampton Roads has a sizable Filipino population, estimated at about 45,000 people. Eight Federation-recognized Amerindian tribes continue to live in Virginia, six of which are recognized by the state.
Virginia is divided into independent cities and counties, which
function in the same way. According to the US Census Bureau, independent
cities are considered county equivalents. In 2006, thirty-nine of the
forty-two independent cities in the United States were in Virginia. The
incorporated cities are recognized as part of its 95 counties, but are
not independent. There are also hundreds of diverse unincorporated
communities. The state has no other political subdivisions, such as
towns or municipalities.
Virginia has eleven Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond-Petersburg are the three most populous metropolitan areas in the state. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, and its metropolitan area has a population of more than 1.2 million people. Virginia Beach is the most populous city, with Norfolk in second place and Chesapeake in third. Norfolk forms the urban heart of the metropolitan area, where more than 1.7 million people live and where the largest naval base in the world is located.
Although not incorporated as a city, Fairfax County is its most populous locality, with more than one million residents. Fairfax has a major urban business and commercial center in Tysons Corner, the largest office center in Virginia. Neighboring Loudoun County, with its county seat in Leesburg, is the fastest growing county in the United States. Arlington County, the smallest self-governing county in the United States by area, consists of a urban community organized as a county. Roanoke, with a population of 292,983, is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in Western Virginia. Suffolk, which includes a portion of the Great Dismal Swamp, is the largest city in size.
Virginia is predominantly Protestant; Baptists are the largest single
group with thirty percent of the population. Baptist denominational
groups include the Virginia Baptist General Association, with
approximately 1,400 member churches, which supports both the Southern
and moderate Baptist Conventions. Baptist Cooperative Community; and the
Conservative Southern Baptists of Virginia with more than 500 affiliated
churches, which supports the Southern Baptist Convention. Catholics are
the second largest group, and with the greatest increase between 1990
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington includes most of the Catholic Churches in Northern Virginia, while the Diocese of Richmond covers the remainder. The Virginia Synod is responsible for the congregations of the Lutheran Church. The Episcopal diocese of Virginia, Southern Virginia, and Southwestern Virginia supports several Episcopal churches. In November 2006, fifteen conservative Episcopal churches voted to secede from the diocese and the main church of the Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality and the ordination of openly gay clergy and bishops. State law allows parishioners to determine their affiliation with a Church. The outcome of the resulting legal ownership case is a test for Episcopal churches nationwide, as the diocese claims church property from those congregations that want to secede.
Among followers of "other religions" the Mormon Church makes up 0.75% of the population, while Buddhism and Hinduism share one percent each. Although they are a small part of the population in terms of the state total, Jews have been present since 1791. Muslims are a rapidly growing religious group, although they have experienced some prejudice. Nondenominational megachurches in the state include McLean Bible Church and Immanuel Bible Church.
Virginia's economy is well balanced and has varied sources of income,
providing employment to 4.1 million civilian workers. In 2006, Forbes
magazine named it the best state in the nation for business. Gross
domestic product of Virginia was $382,964 million in 2007. According to
the 2000 census, it had the largest number of counties and independent
cities, fifteen, ranking among the hundred wealthiest counties in the
United States by median household income. In addition, along with
Colorado, it also has more counties, ten, among the hundred with the
highest per capita income. As of 2007, seven Fortune 500 companies have
their headquarters in the Richmond metropolitan area. Virginia has
seventeen Fortune 500 companies 500, tenth on a national scale.
Additionally, ten Fortune 1000 companies are in Northern Virginia, for a
total of twenty-nine in the state. With only 1% of the Hispanic
population, the state has 3.6% of the companies in the Hispanic 500.
Virginia has the highest concentration of technology workers of any American state. One-third of the state's jobs are in the service sector. Chips became the state's largest gross export in 2006, surpassing major exports. traditional coal and tobacco combined. Northern Virginia, once considered the dairy capital of the state, now produces software, communications technology, and consulting companies. The Dulles Technology Corridor, near Washington-Dulles International Airport, has a large concentration of Internet, communications, and software engineering companies. In 2006, Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Northern Virginia had the first and second, respectively, highest median household income of all counties in the United States.
Many of Northern Virginia's highly educated people work directly for federal agencies. Many others work for government contractors, including security and defense contractors. Famous government agencies based in Northern Virginia include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US Department of Defense. United States, as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Hampton Roads area contains the largest concentration of military bases and supporting facilities of any metropolitan area in the world. The largest of these is the Norfolk Naval Base. It is the second state, after Alaska, in defense spending per capita.
In southern Virginia, from Hampton Roads to Richmond and Lee County, the economy is based on military installations, such as cattle ranching, tobacco farming, and peanut farming. Approximately twenty percent of Virginian jobs are in the agricultural sector, with 47,000 farms, with an average area of 732 m². Tomato cultivation surpassed soybeans as the most productive crop in 2006, with the production of peanuts and hay like other agricultural products. Oysters are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay economy, but their population and catches have declined, due to disease, pollution and overfishing. Northern wineries and vineyards Neck along the Blue Range, have also begun to generate income and attract tourists.
As of 2007, the state government of Virginia owned and managed 84.6%
of state highways, rather than local county or city authorities. 93,155
km of a total of 110,126 km are under the direction of the Department of
Highways. Virginia Transportation, making it the third largest state
highway system in the United States. Its road system is ranked 18th in
the nation. While the Washington metropolitan area has the second worst
traffic in the nation , Virginia as a whole is the 21st least
congested. With low outlays for both roads and bridges, and a low
percentage of traffic accidents, it has a good system on a tight
budget. The average length of daily trips to the workplace is 22.2
Virginia is served by five major airports: Washington-Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan National Airport, Richmond International Airport, Norfolk International Airport, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. In total, sixty-six public airports serve the state's aviation needs. The Northern Virginia company Space Adventures is currently the only company in the world offering space tourism. The state's main port is Hampton Roads, which It is also the largest port complex in the United States, and moves more than 50 million tons of merchandise per year.
Virginia has Amtrak passenger rail service along several corridors, and the Virginia Railway Express maintains two commuter lines to Washington, D.C. from Fredericksburg and Manassas. The Washington Metro rapid transit system currently serves Northern and Western Virginia, including Fairfax County, and is scheduled to expand with a metro line to Dulles Airport in Loudoun County by 2015. Its Department of Transportation operates several free ferries throughout the state, most notably the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry that crosses the James River in Surry County.
Virginia's historic culture was popularized and spread throughout the
United States and the South by Washington, Jefferson, and Lee. Its
houses represent it as the birthplace of the United States and the
South. The culture of modern Virginia is a subculture of that of the
American South, although it also displays elements of the North. Based
on geography and language , the Smithsonian Institution divides Virginia
into nine cultural regions. Although the Piedmont dialect is one of the
most famous with its strong influence on the English of the American
South, it also features other accents, including the Tidewater dialect
and the anachronistic Elizabethan of Tangier Island. , as well as a more
homogenized American English in urban areas with a large number of
In addition to typical Southern cuisine, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions. Wine is produced in many parts of the state. Smithfield ham, sometimes called Virginia ham, is a type of cured and usually highly salted ham that is protected by state law, and can only be produced in the city of Smithfield. The furniture and architecture are typical of American colonial architecture. Thomas Jefferson and many of the state's early leaders favored the neoclassical style, using it in important state buildings. Pennsylvania German and its style can also be found in parts of the state.
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities works to improve the
civic, cultural, and intellectual life of the commonwealth. The Virginia
Museum of Fine Arts is a state-funded museum with the largest collection
of Fabergé eggs outside of Russia. . The Chrysler Museum of Art
features many pieces from the Chrysler family collection, including the
late sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Other museums include the
popular Science Museum of Virginia, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from
the National Air and Space Museum, the Border Culture Museum and the
Navy Museum. In addition to these, the state has many open-air museums
and battlefields, such as Colonial Williamsburg, Richmond National
Battlefield, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located in Vienna and is the only national park designed for use as a performing arts center. The Wolf Trap is home to the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which produces an opera festival each summer. The Harrison Opera House in Norfolk is the official home of Virginia Opera. The State Symphony Orchestra is based in Hampton Roads. The American Shakespeare Center is located in Staunton and houses resident and touring theater companies. Other notable theaters include the Ferguson Center for the Arts, the Barter Theater and the Landmark Theatre.
Virginia has launched many award-winning traditional music artists as well as internationally successful popular music performances. Ralph Stanley, Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family are award-winning bluegrass and country musicians, and Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey were both from Newport News. Hip hop and rhythm and blues singers like Missy Elliott, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Chris Brown and Clipse come from the commonwealth. The Neptunes produced 43% of all songs on US radio in 2003. Virginia singer-songwriters include Jason Mraz and jam bands such as the Pat McGee Band and the Dave Matthews Band, who continue their strong connection to charitable organizations. from Charlottesville. The influential alternative rock group GWAR began at Virginia Commonwealth University. The state's major performance venues include the Birchmere, Norva Theatre, John Paul Jones Arena, Nissan Pavilion, the Patriot Center and the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater.
Many of its counties and towns celebrate fairs and festivals such as
the Virginia Lake Festival held during the third weekend of July in
Clarksville. The Virginia State Fair is held at the Richmond
International Speedway (the usual home of the Virginia races). NASCAR)
every September. Fairfax County sponsors Celebrate Fairfax! the second
weekend after Memorial Day. In Virginia Beach, the end of September
brings the Neptune Festival, celebrating the city, the coast and with
On the Eastern Shore Island of Chincoteague, the Pony Swim & Auction of Chincoteague maroon ponies in late July is a unique local tradition that expands with a week-long carnival celebration. The six-day Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival long is held annually in Winchester and includes parades and bluegrass concerts. From 2005 to 2007, Richmond was host to the National Folk Festival (a major multicultural festival, held in the US since 1934). The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival takes place over a weekend in May in Reston.
Two major film festivals, the Virginia Film Festival and the VCU French Film Festival, are held annually in Charlottesville and Richmond, respectively. The state's fan conventions include Anime USA, the national anime convention held in Crystal City, Anime Mid-Atlantic held in several cities, Magfest which is a gaming and music festival, and RavenCon consisting of a science fiction convention taking place in Richmond.
Virginia is by far the most populous American state without a
franchise in the "major leagues", the main professional sports leagues
in the US. Reasons for this situation include the lack of a dominant
city or market within the state and the proximity of teams from
Washington D.C., which has franchises in the four major league sports
(MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL). It is also home to many minor league clubs,
especially baseball and football (known as soccer in the United States),
and the Washington Redskins have Redskins Park, their headquarters and
training facility, in the city of Ashburn. The state has many
professional-grade golf courses, including the Greg Norman Course at
Lansdowne Resort, Upper Cascades and Kingsmill Resort, home of the LPGA
Tour's Michelob ULTRA Open.
The Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles also have fans due to their proximity to Virginia, and both's games are broadcast in the state on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. When the New York Mets ended their long affiliation with the Norfolk Tides in In 2007, the Orioles took over the minor league club. Other regional teams include the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves, whose main player development team, the Richmond Braves, is located in the capital.
Virginia currently has two NASCAR Cup Series race tracks: Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. Joe Weatherly, winner of the NASCAR Grand National in 1962 and 1963, was born in Norfolk. Current Virginia drivers in NASCAR include brothers Jeff Burton and Ward Burton, Ricky Rudd, Denny Hamlin and Elliot Sadler. Former Cup Series tracks include eSouth Boston Speedway, Langley Speedway, Southside Speedway and Old Dominion Speedway.
Virginia does not allow state budgeted funds to be used for operating or capital expenses of intercollegiate athletics. Despite this, both the University of Virginia Cavaliers and the Virginia Tech Hokies have been able to field competitive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference and maintain modern facilities. The traditional Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry is followed throughout the state. Virginia has other universities that compete in NCAA Division I.
Three "historically black colleges" (colleges established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community) compete in Division II of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and two others compete in Division I of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Several smaller schools compete in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and the USA South Athletic Conference of NCAA Division III. The NCAA currently holds its Division III championships in football, men's basketball, volleyball and baseball in Salem.
The state nickname is the oldest symbol, although it has never been
elevated to official status by legal provision. Virginia was given the
title "Dominion" by King Charles II of England at the time of the
Restoration, because she had remained loyal to the Crown during the
English Revolution, and the current nickname, the "Old Dominion." ) is a
reference to that title. The other nickname, "Mother of Presidents", is
also historic, named after the eight Virginians who have served as
presidents of the United States, including four of the first five:
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe,
William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.
Additionally, fellow Virginian Sam Houston served as president of the
Republic of Texas.
Most of the symbols were established as official in the late 20th century, although the state motto and seal have been official since Virginia declared its independence. In 1940 Virginia declared "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" as its state song, but It was retired in 1997 and reclassified as state song emeritus. The state song is now "Our Great Virginia."
Bat: Virginia long-eared bat
Bird: Red Cardinal
Dance: Virginia Reel
Dog: American Foxhound (English Foxhound type)
Fish: Brook trout
Flower and tree: Horn
Fossil: Chesapecten jeffersonius
Insect: Tiger butterfly
Motto: "Sic semper tyrannis"
Nickname: "The Old Dominion"
Shell: Virginia Oyster
Slogan: Virginia is for Lovers "Virginia is for lovers"
Cake: Virginia Quadcentennial Cake
There are twenty-one television stations in Virginia, representing
each of the major American networks, part of the forty-two stations
serving Virginia viewers. Approximately 352 radio stations broadcast in
Virginia. The Public Broadcasting Service, America's national public
television network, is headquartered in Arlington. The local
Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation, a nonprofit corporation
that owns public radio and TV stations, has offices throughout the
Major newspapers in the state include the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, based in Norfolk, The Roanoke Times, and the Daily Press based in Newport News. The Times-Dispatch has a daily circulation of 186,441, slightly higher than the Pilot's 183,024, ranking it fifty and fifty-second in the nation, respectively, while the Roanoke Times has 97,557 daily subscribers. Several Washington, D.C. newspapers are based in Northern Virginia, including The Washington Examiner and The Politico. The nation's largest newspaper, USA Today, is headquartered in McLean. The Freedom Forum, headquartered in Arlington, is an organization dedicated to the free press and freedom of journalistic expression. In addition to the Traditional forms of media, Virginia is home to telecommunications companies such as Sprint Nextel and XO Communications. The so-called Dulles Technology Corridor contains the lines that carry more than half of all Internet traffic in the world.
Public K-12 schools in Virginia are run by county and city
governments, not the state. Its educational system is consistently
ranked in the United States Department of Education's Assessment of
Progress in Education among the top ten states, with its students above
average in all majors and educational levels evaluated by the
educational administration. Education Week's 2008 Quality Counts report
ranked Virginia's K-12 education as the fifth best in the country. All
school divisions must adhere to educational standards set by the
Virginia Department of Education, which maintains a assessment and
accreditation regime known as Standards of Learning to ensure
accountability. In 2004, Virginia had an average higher education
graduation rate of 79.3%, which is the 19th highest in the nation.
During the 2007/2008 academic year there were a total of 1,863 local and regional schools in the commonwealth, including three "charter schools" (independent public schools, which are not run by the government, but depend on public budgets), and 104 additional alternative and special education, focusing on 134 school divisions. In addition to the general public schools in Virginia, there are Governor's Schools and selective magnet schools, which are specialized, curriculum, and graduate schools. ). Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a public but selective-admission school, is ranked the top public high school in the United States. The Governor's Schools are a series of more than forty magnet high schools. selective admission regional schools and summer programs for gifted students. The Virginia Council for Private Education oversees the regulation of private schools.
Virginia's public high schools are often highly rated, with Langley High School ranked as the 36th best public high school in the nation by the prestigious U.S. Magazine. News & World Report, with Clarke County High School (Berryville) ranked forty-eighth, and H-B Woodlawn in Arlington ranked sixteenth, according to The Washington Post's Challenge Index. Northern Virginia schools also pay students pay entrance testing fees to enter the “Advanced Placement” and “International Baccalaureate” programs, and the city of Alexandria and Arlington County lead the nation in testing for these two programs.
Two of the top ten American public universities are located in Virginia, according to the annual report for the U.S. Academic Ranking of Universities. News and World Report. The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, is ranked second and The College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in the United States, is ranked sixth. James Madison University has been the number one public university one at the master's level in the South since 1993. Virginia is also home to the Virginia Military Institute, the oldest state military academy in the United States and ranked among the nation's top public liberal arts colleges. Virginia Commonwealth University with more than 30,000 students is the largest university in the state, followed closely by George Mason University. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as "Virginia Tech" and Virginia State University are the universities selected by the state to receive grants from the so-called Morrill acts of 1862 and 1890. The state also administers twenty-three university centers on forty campuses serving more than 240,000 students.
Unlike its nationally leading education system, Virginia has a mixed
health record. Virginia falls to twenty-third in the United States in
percentage of premature deaths, 855.6 per 100,000. According to the 2007
United Health Foundation's Health Rankings, it ranks as the
twenty-second healthiest state in the United States, with data such as
that 81.5% of children between 19 and 35 months receive a complete
vaccination or that since 1990 the smoking rate fell from 32.7% to 19.3
percent of the population, but with challenges such as a high rate
infant mortality rate of 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, a high
frequency of infectious diseases of 17.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants,
a high number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases of 302.4 deaths per
100,000 inhabitants and a high number of deaths from cancer, with 201.9
deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2007, Virginia had an obesity rate of
25.3% in adults, and in 2003 30% of youth between 10 and 17 years old
were overweight or obese, and only seventy-eight percent of residents
exercised regularly. In 2005, 86.4% of Virginians had health
There are ninety-eight hospitals in Virginia listed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Chief among them are Inova Hospital in Fairfax, the largest hospital in the Washington metropolitan area, and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), the school of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, home of the nation's oldest organ transplant program. The University of Virginia Medical Center, part of the University of Virginia Health System, is ranked eighth in the nation for endocrinology by U.S. News & World Report, and best in the South. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, part of the Hampton Roads-based Sentara Health System, is also nationally ranked, and was the site of the first successful IVF birth in the United States.
In colonial Virginia, freemen elected the lower house of the
legislature, called the House of Burgesses, which, together with the
Governor's Council, formed the "General Assembly." Founded in 1619, the
Virginia General Assembly is still the oldest existing legislature in
the Western Hemisphere. The modern government is rated “A-,” the highest
grade in the nation, by the Pew Research Center, an honor that it shares
with only two other states.
Virginia is governed under the 1971 Virginia Constitution, the state's seventh constitution, which provides for fewer elected officials than the previous constitution, with a strong legislature and a unified judicial system. Similar to the federal structure, the state government is divided into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative power is made up of the General Assembly, a bicameral body made up of one hundred members of the House of Delegates and forty members of the Senate, who write the laws for the commonwealth. The Assembly is stronger than the executive, where governors cannot stand for re-election, and the General Assembly selects judges and magistrates. In 2010, Tim Kaine was elected governor. Other members of the executive branch include the lieutenant governor and the attorney general. The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia Court of Appeals, the General District Courts, and the Superior Courts.
The "Code of Virginia" is statutory law, and contains the codified legislation of the General Assembly. The Virginia State Police is the state's largest law enforcement agency. The Virginia Congressional Police is the oldest police department in the United States. The Virginia Army National Guard is comprised of 7,500 soldiers plus 1,200 airmen in the Virginia National Guard Air Force. The "risk "total crime rate" is 29% lower than the national average. However, in 2006, Virginia saw 341 crimes related to racial hatred, the sixth highest number in the nation. Since the 1976 resumption of the death penalty, death in Virginia, 101 people have been executed, the second highest number in the United States (after Texas).
Over the past century, Virginia has changed from a primarily rural,
politically southern, and conservative state to a more urbanized and
politically pluralistic environment. Rural southern and eastern parts of
the state are Republican-leaning, while urban centers and outskirts of
Washington, such as Fairfax and Arlington counties, are largely
Democratic-leaning. African Americans were disenfranchised effective
voting rights until after the passage of civil rights legislation in the
mid-1960s, which was one of the catalysts for the "Great Migration" of
the early 20th century to northern cities. The granting of the right to
vote and the immigration of other groups, especially Hispanics, have
demonstrated the growing importance of minority voting.
Regional differences play a big role in Virginia politics. Urban areas and growing politically moderate suburban areas, including Northern Virginia, are the base of the Democratic Party. Rural Virginia moved its support to the Republican Party in response to its "southern strategy" (in American politics, refers to a Republican method of bringing racism among white voters to the southern states).198 Parts of Southwestern Virginia under the influence of unionized coal mines, college towns such as Charlottesville and Blacksburg, and southeastern counties in the region "Black Belt" have remained more favorable to the Democratic vote.
The strength of Virginia's political parties has changed in recent years. In the 2004 United States presidential election, Fairfax County in Northern Virginia voted Democratic for the first time in forty years, joining the Democratic strongholds of Alexandria and Arlington. In 2006, Democrat Tim Kaine and in the 2007 state elections Democrats regained control of the state Senate and reduced the Republican majority in the House of Delegates to eight seats. But in the 2009 elections Republican Bob McDonnell was elected governor by a 17-point margin. ; The lieutenant governor and attorney general were also Republicans, and they regained six seats in the House of Delegates.
In federal elections since 2006, Democrats have been more successful. In the 2006 Senate election, Democrat Jim Webb defeated the Republican incumbent in a close election. The party won both US Senate seats after 2008, when former Governor Mark Warner replaced Republican John Warner. Of the 11 The state's seats in the House of Representatives, Democrats won six and Republicans five. Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes, was won by Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, when Republican candidates had won in the previous ten presidential elections. Virginia is considered a "swing state" in presidential elections.