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Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
in the
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
and
Southeastern The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
regions of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, between the Atlantic Coast and the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician, Ordovician Period. They once reache ...

Appalachian Mountains
. The geography and climate of the
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...
are shaped by the
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province A physiographic province is a geographic region with a characteristic geomorphology, and often specific subsurface rock type or structural elements. The continents are subdivided into variou ...
and the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest in the United States. The Bay is located in the and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the (including the parts: the / and the state of ) with its mouth of the Bay at the south end located ...
, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
;
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach is an independent city (United States), independent city located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The population was 433,750 in 2009, and in 2019, it was e ...
is the most-populous city, and
Fairfax County Fairfax County, officially the County of Fairfax, is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern ...
is the most-populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's population was over 8.65million, with 36% of them living in the
Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area The Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area is a combined statistical area consisting of the overlapping labor market region of the cities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. The region includes Central Maryland, Northern Virginia, thr ...
. The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the
Powhatan in a longhouse at Werowocomoco (detail of John Smith map, 1612) The Powhatan people (; also spelled Powatan) may refer to any of the indigenous Algonquian peoples, Algonquian people that are traditionally from eastern Native American tribes i ...
. In 1607, the
London Company The London Company, officially known as the Virginia Company of London, was a Division (business), division of the Virginia Company with responsibility for British colonization of the Americas, colonizing the east coast of America between 34th pa ...
established the
Colony of Virginia , legislature = House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly, the legislative body of the Colony of Virginia , legislature = House of Burgesses (1619–177 ...
as the first permanent English colony in the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
. Virginia's state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status. Slave labor and land acquired from displaced native tribes fueled the growing plantation economy, but also fueled conflicts both inside and outside the colony. Virginia was one of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
during the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) ...
, becoming part of the United States in 1776. The state was split by the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and sout ...
in 1861, when Virginia's state government in Richmond joined the
Confederacy Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
, but many in the state's western counties remained loyal to the Union, helping form the state of
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...
in 1863. Although the Commonwealth was under
one-party rule A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of unitary state A unitary state is a State (polity), state governed as a single entity in which the central government is ultimately supreme. Unitary st ...
for nearly a century following
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
, both major political parties are competitive in modern Virginia. Virginia's state legislature is the
Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) wh ...
, which was established in July 1619, making it the oldest current law-making body in North America. It is made up of a 40-member
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and a 100-member House of Delegates. The state government is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the
Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by ...

Shenandoah Valley
; high tech and federal agencies, including the headquarters of the
U.S. Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national secur ...
and
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. fed ...
, in
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
; and military facilities in
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
, the site of the region's main seaport.


Geography

Virginia has a total area of , including of water, making it the 35th- largest state by area. Virginia is bordered by
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), 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 ...

Maryland
and
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
to the north and east; by the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
to the east; by
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
to the south; by
Tennessee Tennessee (, ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The S ...

Tennessee
to the southwest; by
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
to the west; and by
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...
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 The Potomac River () is found within the Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World ...

Potomac River
. The Commonwealth's southern border is defined as 36°30' north latitude, though surveyor error in the 1700s led to deviations of as much as three
arcminute A minute of arc, arcminute (arcmin), arc minute, or minute arc, denoted by the symbol ', is a unit of angular measurement equal to of one degree. Since one degree is of a turn (or complete rotation), one minute of arc is of a turn. The n ...
s as the North Carolina border moved west. Surveyors appointed by Virginia and
Tennessee Tennessee (, ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The S ...

Tennessee
worked in 1802 and 1803 to reset the border as a line from the summit of White Top Mountain to the top of Tri-State Peak in the
Cumberland Mountains The Cumberland Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America North America is a ...
. However, errors in this line were discovered in 1856, and Virginia proposed a new surveying commission in 1871, but Tennessee disagreed, and in 1893 the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
decided in favor of the 1803 line in the case ''
Virginia v. Tennessee ''Virginia v. Tennessee'', 148 U.S. 503 (1893), was a suit brought before the Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the Supreme court, highest court in the Federal judiciary of the United Stat ...
''. One result of this is the division of the city of
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...
between the two states.


Geology and terrain

The
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest in the United States. The Bay is located in the and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the (including the parts: the / and the state of ) with its mouth of the Bay at the south end located ...
separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The bay was formed from the drowned river valley of the ancient
Susquehanna River The Susquehanna River (; Unami language, Lenape: Siskëwahane) is a major river located in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, overlapping between the lower Northeastern United States, Northeast and the Upla ...

Susquehanna River
. Many of Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the
Potomac
Potomac
,
Rappahannock
Rappahannock
,
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...
, and
James James is a common English language surname and given name: * James (name), the typically masculine first name James * James (surname), various people with the last name James James or James City may also refer to: People * King James (disambiguati ...

James
, which create three peninsulas in the bay, traditionally referred to as "necks" named
Northern Neck The Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrou ...
,
Middle Peninsula Image:Middle Peninsula- Location.svg, Map of Virginia with the Middle Peninsula in red. The Middle Peninsula is the second of three large peninsulas on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, in the United States. It lies between the Nort ...
, and the
Virginia Peninsula The Virginia Peninsula is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is u ...
from north to south.
Sea level rise Tide gauge measurements show that the current global sea level rise began at the start of the 20th century. Between 1900 and 2017, the globally averaged sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloqu ...

Sea level rise
has eroded the land on Virginia's islands, which include
Tangier Island Tangier is a town in Accomack County, Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the Uni ...
in the bay and Chincoteague, one of 23 barrier islands on the Atlantic coast. The
Tidewater Tidewater may refer to: * Tidewater region, a geographic area of southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina ** Tidewater accent, an accent of American English associated with the Tidewater region of Virginia * Tidewater glacier, a classificati ...
is a
coastal plain A coastal plain is flat, low-lying land adjacent to a sea coast. A fall line A fall line (or fall zone) is the area where an upland region and a coastal plain meet and is typically prominent where rivers cross it, with resulting rapids or water ...

coastal plain
between the Atlantic coast and the
fall line A fall line (or fall zone) is the area where an upland region and a coastal plain meet and is typically prominent where rivers cross it, with resulting rapids or waterfalls. The uplands are relatively hard Basement (geology), crystalline basement r ...
. It includes the Eastern Shore and major
estuaries An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water Brackish water, also sometimes termed brack water, is water occurring in a natural environment having more salinity File:IAPSO Standard Seawater.jpg, upInternational Associatio ...

estuaries
of Chesapeake Bay. The Piedmont is a series of
sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (geology), cementation. Sedimentatio ...

sedimentary
and
igneous rock Igneous rock (derived from the Latin word ''ignis'' meaning fire), or magmatic rock, is one of the three main The three types of rocks, rock types, the others being Sedimentary rock, sedimentary and metamorphic rock, metamorphic. Igneous rock i ...
-based
foothills Foothills or piedmont are geographically Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...

foothills
east of the mountains which were formed in the
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy ...
era. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the
Southwest Mountains The Southwest Mountains of Virginia are a mountain range centered on Charlottesville, Virginia, Charlottesville, parallel to and geologically associated with the Blue Ridge Mountains, which lie about 30 miles (50 km) to the west. Some of the ...
around
Charlottesville Charlottesville, colloquially known as C'ville, is an independent city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is th ...
. The
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province A physiographic province is a geographic region with a characteristic geomorphology, and often specific subsurface rock type or structural elements. The continents are subdivided into variou ...
are a
physiographic province A physiographic province is a geographic region with a characteristic geomorphology, and often specific subsurface rock type or structural elements. The continents are subdivided into various physiographic provinces, each having a specific characte ...
of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician, Ordovician Period. They once reache ...

Appalachian Mountains
with the highest points in the Commonwealth, the tallest being Mount Rogers at . The Ridge-and-Valley region is west of the mountains,
carbonate rock 250px, Carbonate ooids on the surface of a limestone; Carmel Formation (Middle Jurassic) of southern Utah, USA. Largest is 1.0 mm in diameter. Carbonate rocks are a class of sedimentary rocks composed primarily of carbonate minerals. The two major ...
based, and includes the
Massanutten Mountain Massanutten Mountain is a Syncline, synclinal ridge in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, located in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is near the West Virginia state line. Geography The mountain bisects the Shenandoah Valley just east of Strasbu ...
ridge and the
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 Mou ...
, which is called the
Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by ...

Shenandoah Valley
in Virginia. The
Cumberland Plateau 300px, Map showing the Cumberland Plateau in yellow as defined by Bailey's ecoregions. The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau in the Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians ...
and
Cumberland Mountains The Cumberland Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America North America is a ...
are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the
Allegheny Plateau The Allegheny Plateau , in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. ...
. In this region, rivers flow northwest, with a
dendritic drainage system
dendritic drainage system
, into the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
basin. The
Virginia Seismic Zone The Virginia Seismic Zone in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North Americ ...
has not had a history of regular
earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known ...

earthquake
activity. Earthquakes are rarely above 4.5 in
magnitude Magnitude may refer to: Mathematics *Euclidean vector, a quantity defined by both its magnitude and its direction *Magnitude (mathematics), the relative size of an object *Norm (mathematics), a term for the size or length of a vector *Order of ...
, because Virginia is located away from the edges of the
North American Plate The North American Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and c ...
. The Commonwealth's largest earthquake in at least a century, at a magnitude of 5.8, struck central Virginia on August 23, 2011, near
Mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.John P. Rafferty, ed. (2 ...
. Due to the area's geologic properties, this earthquake was felt from
Northern Florida North Florida is a Regions of the United States#Florida, region of the U.S. state of Florida comprising the northernmost part of the state. Along with South Florida and Central Florida, it is one of Florida's three most common "directional" regio ...
to
Southern Ontario Southern Ontario is a primary region of the province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first ...
. 35million years ago, a
bolide A bolide (; Italian via Latin from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its ...

bolide
impacted what is now eastern Virginia. The resulting Chesapeake Bay impact crater may explain what
earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known ...

earthquake
s and
subsidence Subsidence is a general term for downward vertical movement of the Earth's surface, which can be caused by both natural processes and human activities. Subsidence involves little or no horizontal movement, which distinguishes it from slope move ...
the region does experience. A meteor impact is also theorized as the source of
Lake Drummond Lake Drummond is a freshwater lake at the center 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 United S ...

Lake Drummond
, one of just two natural lakes in the state. The Commonwealth's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000
limestone cave A solutional cave, solution cave, or karst cave is a cave usually formed in the soluble rock (geology), rock limestone. It is the most frequently occurring type of cave. It can also form in other rocks, including chalk, Dolomite (rock), dolomite, ma ...

limestone cave
s, ten of which are open for tourism, including the popular
Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns
and Skyline Caverns. Virginia's iconic
Natural Bridge A natural arch, natural bridge, or (less commonly) rock arch is a natural rock formation where an arch has formed with an opening underneath. Natural arches commonly form where inland cliffs, Cliffed coast, coastal cliffs, Fin (geology), fins or ...
is also the remaining roof of a collapsed limestone cave.
Coal mining Coal mining is the process of extracting coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as stratum, rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other Chemical element, ele ...
takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins. More than 72million tons of other non-fuel resources, such as
slate Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism uprigh ...

slate
,
kyanite Kyanite is a typically blue aluminosilicate Aluminosilicate mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid ...

kyanite
, sand, or gravel, were also mined in Virginia . The largest-known deposits of
uranium Uranium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

uranium
in the U.S. are under Coles Hill, Virginia. Despite a challenge that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state has banned its mining since 1982 due to the dangers of radiation.


Climate

Virginia has a humid subtropical climate that transitions to Humid continental climate, humid continental west of the
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province A physiographic province is a geographic region with a characteristic geomorphology, and often specific subsurface rock type or structural elements. The continents are subdivided into variou ...
. Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of in January to average highs of in July. The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream have a strong effect on eastern and southeastern coastal areas of the Commonwealth, making the climate there warmer and more constant. Most of Virginia's recorded extremes in temperature and precipitation have occurred in the Blue Ridge Mountains and areas west. Virginia receives an average of of precipitation annually, with the
Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by ...

Shenandoah Valley
being the state's driest region due to the mountains on either side. Virginia has around 35–45 days with thunderstorms annually, and storms are common in the late afternoon and evenings between April and September. These months are also the most common for tornadoes, fifteen of which touched down in the Commonwealth in 2020. List of Virginia hurricanes, Hurricanes and tropical storms can occur from August to October, and though they typically impact coastal regions, the deadliest natural disaster in Virginia was Hurricane Camille#Virginia, Hurricane Camille, which killed over 150 people mainly in inland Nelson County, Virginia, Nelson County in 1969. Between December and March, cold-air damming caused by the Appalachian Mountains can lead to significant snowfalls across the state, such as the January 2016 United States blizzard, January 2016 blizzard, which created the state's highest recorded snowfall of near Bluemont, Virginia, Bluemont. Virginia only received of snow during winter 2018–19, just above the state's average of . Climate change in Virginia is leading to higher temperatures year-round as well as more heavy rain and flooding events. Urban heat islands can be found in many Virginia cities and suburbs, particularly in neighborhoods linked to historic redlining. Arlington County, Virginia, Arlington had the most Ozone Action Day, code orange days in 2020 for high ozone pollution in the air, with seven, followed by
Fairfax County Fairfax County, officially the County of Fairfax, is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern ...
with four. Exposure of Particulate pollution, particulate matter in Virginia's air has decreased 49% from 13.5 micrograms per cubic meter in 2003 to 6.9 in 2020. The closure and conversion of coal power plants in Virginia and the Ohio Valley region has reduced haze in the mountains, which peaked in 1998. Coal has declined as a List of power stations in Virginia, source of Virginia's electricity from 44% in 2008 to just 4% in 2019, and current plans call for 30% of the Commonwealth's electricity to be renewable by 2030 and for all to be carbon-free by 2050.


Ecosystem

Forests cover 62% of Virginia , of which 78% is considered hardwood forest, meaning that trees in Virginia are primarily deciduous and Broad-leaved tree, broad-leaved. The other 22% is pine, with Pinus taeda, Loblolly and Pinus echinata, shortleaf pine dominating much of central and eastern Virginia. In the western and mountainous parts of the Commonwealth, oak and hickory are most common, while lower altitudes are more likely to have small but dense stands of moisture-loving hemlocks and mosses in abundance. Gypsy moths in the United States, Gypsy moth infestations in oak trees and the chestnut blight, blight in chestnut trees have decreased both of their numbers, leaving more room for hickory and invasive Ailanthus altissima, ailanthus trees. In the lowland tidewater and Piedmont (United States), Piedmont, yellow pines tend to dominate, with bald cypress wetland forests in the Great Dismal and Nottoway swamps. Other common trees include red spruce, Chamaecyparis thyoides, Atlantic White cedar, Liriodendron tulipifera, tulip-poplar, and the Cornus florida, flowering dogwood, the List of U.S. state and territory trees, state tree and flower, as well as willows, ashes, and laurels. Plants like Asclepias, milkweed, dandelions, daisies, ferns, and Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia creeper, which is featured on the Flag of Virginia, state flag, are also common. The G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, Thompson Wildlife Area in Fauquier County, Virginia, Fauquier is known for one of the largest populations of Trillium grandiflorum, trillium wildflowers in all of North America. , roughly 16.2% of land in the Commonwealth is protected by federal, state, and local governments and non-profits. Federal lands account for the majority, with thirty National Park Service units in the state, such as Great Falls Park and the Appalachian Trail, and one national park, Shenandoah National Park, Shenandoah. Shenandoah was established in 1935 and encompasses the scenic Skyline Drive. Almost forty percent of the park's total area has been designated as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System. The United States Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service administers the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, which cover more than within Virginia's mountains, and continue into
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...
and
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge also extends into North Carolina, as does the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which marks the beginning of the Outer Banks. State agencies control about one-third of protected land in the state, and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation manages over in forty List of Virginia state parks, Virginia state parks and in 65 Virginia Natural Area Preserve System, Natural Area Preserves, plus three undeveloped parks. Breaks Interstate Park crosses the Kentucky border and is one of only two inter-state parks in the United States. Virginia allows sustainable logging in 26 List of Virginia state forests, state forests managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry totaling , and hunting in 44 Virginia Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife Management Areas run by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources covering over . The
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest in the United States. The Bay is located in the and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the (including the parts: the / and the state of ) with its mouth of the Bay at the south end located ...
is not a national park, but is protected by both state and federal legislation and the inter-state Chesapeake Bay Program, which conducts restoration on the bay and its watershed.


Wildlife

White-tailed deer, one of 75 mammal species recorded in Virginia, rebounded from an estimated population of as few as 25 thousand in the 1930s to over one million by the 2010s. Native carnivorans include American black bear, black bears, who have a population of around five to six thousand in the state, as well as bobcats, coyotes, both gray fox, gray and red foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Rodents include groundhogs, weasels, nutria, beavers, both Eastern gray squirrel, gray squirrels and fox squirrels, chipmunks, and Allegheny woodrats, while the 17 bat species include brown bats and the Virginia big-eared bat, the List of U.S. state mammals, state mammal. The Virginia opossum is also the only marsupial native to the United States and Canada, and the native Appalachian cottontail was recognized in 1992 as a distinct species of rabbit, one of three found in the state. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises have also been recorded in Virginia's coastal waters, with bottlenose dolphins being the most frequent aquatic mammals. List of birds of Virginia, Virginia's bird fauna consists of 422 counted species, of which 359 are regularly occurring, 41 are accidental (Vagrancy (biology), vagrant), 20 are Hypothetical species, hypothetical, and two are extinct; of the regularly occurring species, 214 have bred in Virginia, while the rest are Bird migration, winter residents or transients in Virginia.Karen Terwilliger, ''A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species in Virginia'' (Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries/McDonald & Woodward: 1995), p. 158. Water birds include sandpipers, wood ducks, and Virginia rail, while common inland examples include warblers, woodpeckers, and cardinals, the List of U.S. state birds, state bird, and birds of prey include osprey, broad-winged hawks, and barred owls. There are no species of bird Endemic species, endemic to the Commonwealth. National Audubon Society, Audubon recognizes 21 Important Bird Areas in the state. Peregrine falcons, whose numbers dramatically declined due to DDT pesticide poisoning in the middle of the 20th century, are the focus of conservation efforts in the state and a reintroduction program in Shenandoah National Park. Virginia has 226 species of freshwater fish from 25 families; the state's diverse array of fish species is attributable to its varied and humid climate, topography, interconnected river system, and lack of Pleistocene glaciation, Pleistocene glaciers. The state's lakes and rivers are home to Eastern blacknose dace and sculpin on the Appalachian Plateau; smallmouth bass and redhorse sucker in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, Ridge-and-Valley region; brook trout, the List of U.S. state fish, state fish, and Kanawha darter in the Blue Ridge; stripeback darter and Roanoke bass in the Piedmont; and swampfish, bluespotted sunfish, and pirate perch in the Tidewater (region), Tidewater. The
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest in the United States. The Bay is located in the and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the (including the parts: the / and the state of ) with its mouth of the Bay at the south end located ...
is host to clams, oysters, and 350 species of saltwater fish, saltwater and Coastal fish, estuarine fish, including the bay's most abundant finfish, the Bay anchovy, as well as the invasive blue catfish. An estimated 405 million Callinectes sapidus, Chesapeake blue crabs live in the bay . There are 34 native species of crayfish, like the Big Sandy crayfish, Big Sandy, which often inhabit rocky bottomed streambeds. Amphibians found in Virginia include the Cumberland Plateau salamander and Eastern hellbender, while the northern watersnake is the most common of the 32 snake species.


History

Virginia celebrated its quadricentennial year in 2007, marking 400 years since the establishment of the Jamestown Colony. The observances highlighted contributions from Native Americans in the United States, Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans, each of 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, the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) ...
and the American Civil War, Civil War, to the Cold War and the War on Terrorism. Fictionalized stories about the early colony, in particular the story of Pocahontas and John Smith (explorer), John Smith, first became popular in the period after the Revolutionary War, and together with other myths surrounding George Washington's childhood and the plantation elite in the Antebellum Era in the United States, antebellum period, became touchstones of Virginian and American culture and helped shape the state's historic politics and beliefs.


Original inhabitants

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 had founded towns such as Werowocomoco in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Tidewater region, which they referred to as Tsenacommacah. The other major language groups in the area were the Siouan languages, Siouan to the west and the Iroquoian languages, Iroquoians, who included the Nottoway Tribe, Nottoway and Meherrin, to the north and south. After 1570, the Algonquians consolidated under Wahunsenacawh, known in English as Chief Powhatan, in response to threats from these other groups on their trade network. Powhatan controlled more than thirty smaller tribes and more than 150 settlements, who shared a common Powhatan language, Virginia Algonquian language. In 1607, the native Tidewater population was between 13,000 and 14,000, but over that century, three-fourths of the native population in Virginia would die from smallpox and other Old World diseases.


Colony

Several European expeditions, including a Ajacán Mission, group of Spanish Jesuits, explored the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest in the United States. The Bay is located in the and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the (including the parts: the / and the state of ) with its mouth of the Bay at the south end located ...
during the 16th century. To help counter Spanish West Indies, Spain's colonies in the Caribbean, Queen Elizabeth I of England supported Walter Raleigh's April 1584 expedition to the East Coast of the United States, Atlantic coast of North America. The name "Virginia" was used by Captain Arthur Barlowe in the expedition's report, and may have been suggested that year by Raleigh or Elizabeth, perhaps noting her status as the "Virgin Queen" or that they viewed the land as being untouched, and may also be related to an Algonquin phrase, ''Wingandacoa'' or ''Windgancon'', or leader's name, Wingina, as heard by the expedition. Initially the name applied to the entire coastal region from South Carolina to Maine, plus the island of Bermuda. Roanoke Colony, Raleigh's colony failed, but in 1606, the new king James I of England issued the First Virginia Charter to the
London Company The London Company, officially known as the Virginia Company of London, was a Division (business), division of the Virginia Company with responsibility for British colonization of the Americas, colonizing the east coast of America between 34th pa ...
, a joint stock company that financed a new expedition, which was led by Christopher Newport and sailed that December. They landed in Virginia in May 1607, and established a settlement named for the king, Jamestown, Virginia, Jamestown. Life in the colony was perilous, and many died during the Starving Time (Jamestown), Starving Time in 1609 and in a Anglo-Powhatan Wars, series of conflicts with the Powhatan Confederacy that started in 1610, and Indian massacre of 1622, flared up again in 1622, when led by Powhatan's brother, Opechancanough. Only 3,400 of the 6,000 early settlers had survived by 1624. However, European Tobacco in the American Colonies, demand for tobacco 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 they transported to Virginia. African workers were First Africans in Virginia, first imported to Jamestown in 1619 initially under the rules of indentured servitude. The shift to a system of African History of slavery in Virginia, slavery in Virginia was propelled by the legal cases of John Punch (slave), John Punch, who was sentenced to lifetime slavery for attempting to escape servitude in 1640, and of John Casor, who was claimed by Anthony Johnson (colonist), Anthony Johnson as his servant for life in 1655. Slavery first appears in Virginia statutes in 1661 and 1662, when a law made it hereditary based on the mother's status. Colonists struggled with rule from both the London Company and English monarchy, which took crown colony, direct control of the colony in 1624. Starting in 1619, colonists pushed for greater local control with an elected leadership, later called the House of Burgesses, that shared power with the List of colonial governors of Virginia, appointed governors. In 1635, colonists arrested a despised governor and forced him to return to England against his will. The turmoil of the English Civil War permitted Virginia even greater autonomy during the 1650s, and many supporters of the king fled to the colony, becoming known as "Virginia Cavaliers (historical), Virginia Cavaliers". Tensions and the geographic differences between the working and ruling classes led to Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, by which time current and former indentured servants made up as much as eighty percent of the population. The rebels, who burned Jamestown, were largely from the colony's frontier, and opposed to the governor's conciliatory policy towards Native American tribes in Virginia, native tribes. One result of the rebellion was the signing at Middle Plantation (Virginia), Middle Plantation of the Treaty of 1677, which made the signatory tribes tributary states and was part of a pattern of appropriating tribal land by force and treaty. In 1693, the College of William & Mary was founded in Middle Plantation, which was renamed Williamsburg, Virginia, Williamsburg in 1699, when it became the new capital of the growing colony. Colonists in the 1700s were likewise moving inland, and in 1747, a group of Virginian speculators formed the Ohio Company, with the backing of the British crown, to start English settlement and trade in the Ohio Country west of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician, Ordovician Period. They once reache ...

Appalachian Mountains
. France, which claimed this area as part of their colony of New France, viewed this as a threat, and the ensuing French and Indian War became part of the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). A militia from several British colonies, called the Virginia Regiment, was led by then-Lieutenant Colonel George Washington.


Statehood

The Parliament of Great Britain, British Parliament's efforts to levy new taxes following the French and Indian War were deeply unpopular in the colonies. In the House of Burgesses, opposition to No taxation without representation, taxation without representation was led by Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, among others. Virginians began to committee of correspondence, coordinate their actions with other colonies in 1773, and sent delegates to the Continental Congress the following year. After the House of Burgesses was dissolved by the British governor in 1774, Virginia's revolutionary leaders continued to govern via the Virginia Conventions. On May 15, 1776, the Convention declared Virginia's independence from the British Empire and adopted George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was then included in a new constitution. Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, drew upon Mason's work in drafting the national United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence. When the American Revolutionary War began in 1776, George Washington was selected to head the Continental Army, and many Virginia Line, Virginians joined the army and other revolutionary militias. Virginia was the first colony to ratify the Articles of Confederation in December 1777. In April 1780, the capital was moved to
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's coastal location would make it vulnerable to British attack. British forces indeed landed around Portsmouth, Virginia, Portsmouth in October 1780, and soldiers under Benedict Arnold managed to Raid on Richmond, raid Richmond in January 1781. Though a larger force, British indecision and maneuvers by Continental Army regiments under the Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette and the French navy together Yorktown campaign, trapped the British army on the
Virginia Peninsula The Virginia Peninsula is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is u ...
in September 1781, where troops under George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau converged and defeated British General Cornwallis in the siege of Yorktown. His surrender on October 19, 1781, led to Peace of Paris (1783), peace negotiations in Paris and secured the independence of the colonies. Virginians were instrumental in the new country's early years and in writing the United States Constitution. James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan in 1787 and the United States Bill of Rights, Bill of Rights in 1789. Virginia Ratifying Convention, Virginia ratified the Constitution on June 25, 1788. The three-fifths compromise ensured that Virginia, with its large number of slaves, initially had the largest bloc in the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives. Together with the Virginia dynasty of presidents, this gave the Commonwealth national importance. In 1790, both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form the new Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, though the Virginian area was District of Columbia retrocession, retroceded in 1846. Virginia is called the "Mother of States" because of its role in being carved into states such as
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
, which became the fifteenth state in 1792, and for the numbers of American pioneers born in Virginia.


Civil War

In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries. Land degradation, Soil exhausted by years of tobacco farming also pushed the plantation economy to expand westward. The failed slave uprisings of Gabriel Prosser in 1800 and Nat Turner in 1831 however marked the growing resistance to the system of slavery. One response to Nat Turner's slave rebellion, Nat Turner's rebellion by the Virginia government was to arrange for ships to transport free Blacks to Liberia. On October 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown (abolitionist), John Brown led a John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, raid on an armory in Harpers Ferry in an attempt to start a slave revolt across the southern states. The polarized national response to his raid and execution marked a tipping point for many who believed the end of slavery would need to be achieved by force. By 1860, almost half a million people, roughly 31% of the total population of Virginia, were enslaved. Open warfare started on April 12, 1861, at the Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the first state to secede from the United States. The next week Abraham Lincoln, President Lincoln called for armed volunteers while in Virginia, Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, a special convention called by the General Assembly Ordinance of Secession, voted to secede on the condition it was approved in a referendum the next month. The convention then voted on April 24 to join the Confederate States of America, which named
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
as its capital on May 20. During the referendum, armed pro-Confederate groups prevented the casting and counting of votes from many northwestern counties that opposed secession. Representatives from 27 of these counties instead attended the Wheeling Convention, which organized a government loyal to the Union (Civil War), Union and led to the separation of
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...
as a new state. Union forces Peninsula campaign, reached the outskirts of Richmond by June 1862, but Virginian general Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and Seven Days Battles, repelled the Union army, led invasions into Union territory, and was named General in Chief of Confederate armies in February 1865. During the war, more battles were fought in Virginia than anywhere else, including the First Battle of Bull Run, Battles of Bull Run, Battle of Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Chancellorsville, and the concluding Battle of Appomattox Court House, where Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. After the Siege of Petersburg, capture of Richmond that month, the state capital was briefly moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, Lynchburg, while the Confederate leadership fled to Danville, Virginia, Danville. 32,751 Virginians died in the American Civil War, Civil War. Virginia was formally restored to the United States in 1870, due to the work of the Committee of Nine.


Reconstruction and Jim Crow

During the post-war Reconstruction era of the United States, Reconstruction era, African Americans were able to unite in communities, particularly around
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
, Danville, Virginia, Danville, and the Tidewater (region), Tidewater region, and take a greater role in Virginia society, as many achieved some land ownership during the 1870s. Virginia Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1868, adopted a constitution in 1868 which guaranteed political, civil, and Voting rights in the United States, voting rights, and provided for free public schools. However, with much of the railroads and other infrastructure investments destroyed during the Civil War, the Commonwealth was deeply in debt, and in the late 1870s redirected money from public schools to pay bondholders. The Readjuster Party formed in 1877 and won legislative power in 1879 by uniting Black and white Virginians behind a shared opposition to debt payments and the perceived planter class, plantation elites. The Readjusters focused on building up schools, like Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, Virginia State, and successfully forced
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...
to share in the pre-war debt. But in 1883, they were divided by a proposed repeal of anti-miscegenation laws, and days before that year's election, a riot in Danville involving armed policemen left four Black men and one white man dead. These events motivated a push by white supremacists to seize political power, and Racial segregation in the United States, segregationists in the Democratic Party of Virginia, Democratic Party won the legislature that year and maintained control for decades. They passed Jim Crow laws and in 1902 rewrote the Constitution of Virginia, state constitution to include a Poll tax (United States), poll tax and other voter registration measures that effectively Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era, disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites. New economic forces would meanwhile industrialize the Commonwealth. Virginian James Albert Bonsack invented the tobacco cigarette rolling machine in 1880 leading to new large-scale production centered around Richmond. In 1886, railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington founded Newport News Shipbuilding, which was responsible for building six World War I-era dreadnoughts, seven battleships, and 25 destroyers for the U.S. Navy from 1907 to 1923. During the war, German Empire, German submarines like SM U-151, U-151 attacked ships outside the port. A homecoming parade to honor African-American veterans returning from the war was 1919 Norfolk race riot, attacked in July 1919 as part of a renewed white-supremacy movement that was known as Red Summer. During World War II, the shipyard quadrupled its labor force to 70,000 by 1943, while the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Radford Arsenal outside Blacksburg, Virginia, Blacksburg had 22,000 workers making explosives.


Civil Rights to present

Protests against segregated schools started by Barbara Rose Johns in 1951 in Farmville, Virginia, Farmville led to the lawsuit ''Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County''. This case, filed by Richmond natives Spottswood William Robinson III, Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill, was decided in 1954 with ''Brown v. Board of Education'', which rejected the segregationist doctrine of "separate but equal". But, in 1956, under the policy of "massive resistance" led by the influential segregationist Senator Harry F. Byrd and his Byrd Organization, the Commonwealth prohibited desegregation, desegregated local schools from receiving state or private funding as part of the Stanley Plan. After schools in many districts began closing in September 1958, state and district courts ruled the plan unconstitutional, and on February 2, 1959, the first Black students racial integration, integrated schools in Arlington County, Virginia, Arlington and Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk, where they were known as the Norfolk 17. Prince Edward County, Virginia, Prince Edward County responded in June 1959 by closing their whole school system, until the United States Supreme Court, Supreme Court Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, ordered all Virginia schools to be open and integrated in May 1964. The civil rights movement gained national support during the 1960s. Federal passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act in June 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, Voting Rights Act in August 1965, and their later enforcement, helped end racial segregation in Virginia and overturn Jim Crow laws, Jim Crow era state laws. In June 1967, the Supreme Court also struck down the state's ban on Interracial marriage in the United States, interracial marriage with ''Loving v. Virginia''. In 1968, Governor Mills Godwin called a commission to rewrite the state constitution. The new constitution, which banned discrimination and removed articles which now violated federal law, 1970 Virginia ballot measures, passed in a referendum with 71.8% support and went into effect in June 1971. In 1977, Black members became the majority of Richmond's city council; in 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected as governor in the United States; and in 1992, Bobby Scott (politician), Bobby Scott became the first Black congressman from Virginia since 1888. The expansion of federal government offices into Northern Virginia's suburbs during the Cold War boosted the region's population and economy. The
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. fed ...
outgrew their offices in Foggy Bottom during the Korean War, and moved to Langley, Virginia in 1961, in part due to a decision by the United States National Security Council, National Security Council that the agency relocate outside Washington, D.C.'s city limits. The agency was involved in various Timeline of events in the Cold War, Cold War events, and its headquarters was a target of History of Soviet and Russian espionage in the United States, Soviet espionage activities. The Pentagon, built during World War II as the headquarters of the Department of Defense, was one of the targets of the September 11, 2001 attacks; 189 people died at the site when a jet passenger plane was flown into the building. Mass shootings at Virginia Tech shooting, Virginia Tech in 2007 and in 2019 Virginia Beach shooting, Virginia Beach in 2019 led to passage of gun control measures in 2020. Racial injustice and the presence of List of Confederate monuments and memorials in Virginia, Confederate monuments in Virginia have also led to large demonstrations, including in August 2017, when a white supremacist Charlottesville car attack, drove his car into protesters, killing one, and in June 2020, when protests that were part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement brought about the Removal of Confederate monuments and memorials#Virginia, removal of statues on Monument Avenue in Richmond and elsewhere.


Cities and towns

Virginia is divided into 95List of counties in Virginia, counties and 38independent city (United States), independent cities, the latter acting in many ways as county-equivalents. This general method of treating cities and counties on par with each other is unique to Virginia; only three other Independent city (United States)#Other states, independent cities exist elsewhere in the United States, each in a different state. The differences between counties and cities are small and have to do with how each assess new taxes, whether a referendum is necessary to issue bonds, and with the application of Dillon's Rule, which limits the authority of cities and counties to countermand acts expressly allowed by the Virginia General Assembly, General Assembly. Within counties, there can also be List of towns in Virginia, incorporated towns, which operate their own governments, and List of unincorporated communities in Virginia, unincorporated communities, which don't. Virginia does not have any further political subdivisions, such as villages or townships. Over 3.1million people, 36% of Virginians, live in
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
, which is part of the larger Washington metropolitan area and the Northeast megalopolis.
Fairfax County Fairfax County, officially the County of Fairfax, is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern ...
is the most populous locality in the state, with more than 1.1million residents, although that does not include its county seat Fairfax, Virginia, Fairfax City, 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 Prince William County, Virginia, Prince William County is Virginia's second most populous county, with a population exceeding 450,000, and is home to Marine Corps Base Quantico, the FBI Academy and Manassas National Battlefield Park. Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun County, with its county seat at Leesburg, Virginia, Leesburg, is the fastest-growing county in the state. Arlington County, Virginia, Arlington County is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. by land area, and has considered reorganizing as an independent city due to its high density.
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
is the capital of Virginia, and its city proper has a population of over 230,000, while its metropolitan area has over 1.2million. ,
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach is an independent city (United States), independent city located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The population was 433,750 in 2009, and in 2019, it was e ...
is the most populous independent city in the Commonwealth, with Chesapeake, Virginia, Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk second and third, respectively. The three are part of the larger
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
metropolitan area, which has a population over 1.7million people and is the site of the world's largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. Suffolk, Virginia, Suffolk, which includes a portion of the Great Dismal Swamp, is the largest city by area at . In western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, Roanoke city and Montgomery County, Virginia, Montgomery County, part of the Blacksburg–Christiansburg metropolitan area, both have surpassed a population of over 100,000 since 2018.


Demographics

The United States Census Bureau found the state resident population was 8,631,393 on April 1, 2020, a 7.9% increase since the 2010 United States Census. Another 23,149 Virginians live overseas, giving the state a total population of 8,654,542. Virginia has the fourth largest overseas population of U.S. states due to its federal employees and military personnel. The birth rate in Virginia was 11.4 per 1,000 over five years, and the List of U.S. states and territories by median age, median age was 38.4 years old, both identical to the national averages . , the center of population was located in Louisa County, Virginia, Louisa County, near
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
. Immigration to the United States, Immigration between 2010 and 2018 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. Aside from Virginia, the top birth state for Virginians is New York (state), New York, having overtaken
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
in the 1990s, with the Northeastern United States, Northeast accounting for the largest number of domestic migrants into the state by region. About twelve percent of residents were born outside the United States . El Salvador was the most common foreign country of birth, with India, South Korea, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and the Philippines as other common birthplaces.


Ethnicity

The state's most populous ethnic group, Non-Hispanic whites, has declined as a proportion of population from 76% in 1990 to 60% in 2020, as other ethnicities have increased. Immigrants from the islands of Britain and Ireland settled throughout the Commonwealth during the colonial period, a time when roughly three-fourths of immigrants came as indentured servants. Those who identify on the census as having "American ethnicity" are predominantly of English descent, but have ancestors who have been in North America for so long they choose to identify simply as American. The western mountains have many settlements that were founded by Scotch-Irish Americans, Scotch-Irish immigrants before the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) ...
. There are also sizable numbers of people of German descent in the northwestern mountains and
Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by ...

Shenandoah Valley
, and 10.6% of Virginians are estimated to have German ancestry, . The largest minority group in Virginia are Blacks and African Americans, who include about one-fifth of the population. Virginia was a major destination of the Atlantic slave trade, and the first generations of enslaved men, women, and children were brought primarily from Angola and the Bight of Biafra. The Igbo American, Igbo ethnic group of what is now southern Nigeria were the single largest African group among slaves in Virginia. Blacks in Virginia also have more European ancestry than those in other southern states, and DNA analysis shows many have asymmetrical male and female ancestry contributions from before the Civil War, evidence of European fathers and African or Native American mothers during the time of slavery. Though the Black population was reduced by the Great Migration (African American), Great Migration to northern industrial cities in the first half of the 20th century, since 1965 there has been a reverse migration of Blacks New Great Migration, returning south. The Commonwealth has the highest number of Black-white Interracial marriage in the United States, interracial marriages in the United States, and 8.2% of Virginians describe themselves as Multiracial people, multiracial. More recent immigration in the late 20th century and early 21st century has resulted in new communities of Hispanics and Asians. , 10.5% of Virginia's total population describe themselves as Hispanic and Latino Americans, Hispanic or Latino, and 8.8% as Asian people, Asian. The state's Hispanic population rose by 92% from 2000 to 2010, with two-thirds of Hispanics in the state living in
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
. Northern Virginia also has a significant population of Vietnamese Americans, whose major wave of immigration followed the Vietnam War. Korean Americans have migrated more recently, attracted by the quality school system. The Filipino American community has about 45,000 in the Hampton Roads area, many of whom have ties to the U.S. Navy and armed forces. Native American tribes in Virginia, Tribal membership in Virginia is complicated by the legacy of the state's "Racial Integrity Act of 1924, pencil genocide" of intentionally categorizing Native Americans and Blacks together, and many tribal members do have African and European ancestry. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau found that only 0.5% of Virginians were exclusively Native Americans in the United States, American Indian or Alaska Native, though 2.1% were in some combination with other ethnicities. Virginia has extended State-recognized tribes in the United States, state recognition to eleven indigenous tribes resident in the state. Seven tribes also have federal recognition, including six that were recognized in 2018 after passage of bill named for activist Thomasina Jordan. The Pamunkey and Mattaponi have reservations on tributaries of the York River (Virginia), York River in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Tidewater region.


Languages

, 85.9% (6,299,127) of Virginia residents age five and older spoke English language, English at home as a first language, while 14.1% (1,036,442) did not—6.4% (470,058) spoke Spanish language, Spanish, 0.8% (56,518) Korean language, Korean, 0.6% (45,881) Vietnamese language, Vietnamese, 0.6% (42,418) Chinese language, Chinese (including Standard Mandarin, Mandarin), and 0.6% (40,724) Tagalog language, Tagalog. 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. The Piedmont region of Virginia, Piedmont region is known for its dialect's strong influence on Southern American English. While a more homogenized American English is found in urban areas, various accents are also used, including the Tidewater accent, the Old Virginia accent, and the anachronistic Early Modern English, Elizabethan of Tangier Island.


Religion

Virginia is predominantly Christian and Protestantism, Protestant; Baptists, Baptist denominations combined to form largest group with over a quarter of the population . Baptist denominational groups in Virginia include the Baptist General Association of Virginia, with about 1,400 member churches, which supports both the Southern Baptist Convention and the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia with more than 500 affiliated churches, which supports the Southern Baptist Convention. Roman Catholicism in the United States, Roman Catholics are the next largest religious group with around twelve percent. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington includes most of Northern Virginia's Catholic churches, while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Diocese of Richmond covers the rest. The United Methodist Church, representing about six percent of Virginians, has the Virginia Conference as their Annual Conference, regional body in most of the Commonwealth, while the Holston Conference represents much of extreme Southwest Virginia. Around five percent of Virginians attend Pentecostalism, Pentecostal churches, while around three percent attend Presbyterianism, Presbyterian churches, which are split between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church, under the Virginia Synod, Congregational churches, and Episcopalian adherents each comprised less than two percent of the population . The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, Southern Virginia, and Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, Southwestern Virginia support the various Episcopal Church (United States), Episcopal churches. In November 2006, fifteen conservative Episcopal churches voted to split from the Diocese of Virginia over the ordination of openly gay bishops and clergy in other dioceses of the Episcopal Church; these churches continue to claim affiliation with the larger Anglican Communion through Anglican realignment, other bodies outside the United States. Though Virginia law allows parishioners to determine their church's affiliation, the diocese claimed the secessionist churches' buildings and properties. The resulting property law case, ultimately decided in favor of the mainline diocese, was a test for Episcopal churches nationwide. Among other religions, adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints constitute one percent of the population, with 204 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Virginia, congregations in Virginia . Fairfax Station, Virginia, Fairfax Station is the site of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple, of the Jodo Shinshu school, and the Hindu Durga Temple. Sterling, Virginia, Sterling is the home of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which, with its eleven satellite branches, considers itself the second largest Muslim mosque community in the country. While the state's Jewish population is small, organized Jewish sites date to 1789 with Congregation Beth Ahabah. Megachurches in the Commonwealth include Thomas Road Baptist Church, Immanuel Bible Church, and McLean Bible Church, and the twenty percent who describe themselves as unaffiliated also include seven percent who say religion is important to them, but may not attend regular services with formal membership. Several Christian universities are also based in the state, including Regent University, Liberty University, and the University of Lynchburg.


Economy

Virginia's economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and high-tech. The state's average earnings per job was $63,281, the 11th-highest nationwide, and the gross domestic product (GDP) was $476.4billion in 2018, the 13th-largest among U.S. states. Prior to the COVID-19 recession, in March 2020, Virginia had 4.36million people employed with an unemployment rate of 2.9%, but jobless claims due to the virus soared over 10% in early April 2020, before leaving off around 5% in November 2020. In October 2021, it was 3.6%, which was the 15th-lowest nationwide. Virginia however ranked worst in the nation for timely review of unemployment benefits due to the pandemic. Virginia has a median household income of $72,600, 11th-highest nationwide, and a poverty rate of 10.7%, 12th-lowest nationwide, . Montgomery County, Virginia, Montgomery County outside Blacksburg, Virginia, Blacksburg has the highest poverty rate in the state, with 28.5% falling below the Poverty thresholds (United States Census Bureau), U.S. Census poverty thresholds. Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun County meanwhile has the highest median household income in the nation, and the wider
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
region is among the highest-income regions nationwide. , six of the twenty highest-income counties in the United States, including the two highest, as well as three of the fifty highest-income towns, are all located in Northern Virginia. Though the List of U.S. states by Gini coefficient, Gini index shows Virginia has less income inequality than the national average, the state's middle class is also smaller than the majority of states. Virginia's business environment has been ranked highly by various publications. In 2021, CNBC named Virginia their America's Top States For Business, Top State for Business, with its deductions being mainly for the high cost of living, while ''Forbes'' magazine ranked it fourth, though number one in quality of life. Additionally, in 2014 a survey of 12,000 small business owners found Virginia to be one of the most friendly states for small businesses. Oxfam America however ranked Virginia as the fourteenth worst state to work in, with pluses for new worker protections from sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, but negatives for laws on organized labor and the low minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Virginia has been an At-will employment, employment-at-will state since 1906 and a "right to work" state since 1947. The minimum wage was raised to $9.50 an hour in April 2021, with plans to increase it to $12 in 2023.


Government agencies

Government agencies directly employ around 700,000 people, almost 17% of all employees, . Approximately twelve percent of all Government procurement in the United States, U.S. federal procurement money is spent in Virginia, the second-highest amount after California. , 124,870 active-duty personnel and 98,506 civilians work directly for the U.S. Department of Defense across the 27 military bases in the state and the headquarters at the Pentagon, and over 139,000 Virginians work for government contractor, defense contracting firms, which received over $37.4 billion worth of contracts in the 2018 fiscal year. Virginia has one of the highest concentrations of veterans of any state, and the
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
area has the largest concentration of military personnel and assets of any metropolitan area in the world. Other large List of federal agencies in Northern Virginia, federal agencies in Northern Virginia include the
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. fed ...
in Langley, Virginia, Langley, the National Science Foundation and United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, Alexandria, the United States Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, Reston, and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia, Bailey's Crossroads. In its state government, Virginia employs over 106,000 public employees, who combined have a median income of $52,401 , with the Virginia Department of Education, Departments of Education and of Virginia Department of Transportation, Transportation being the largest by expenditure.


Business

Virginia was home to 653,193 separate firms in the 2012 U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners, with 54% of those majority male-owned and 36.2% majority female-owned. Approximately 28.3% of firms were also majority minority-owned, and 11.7% were veteran-owned. Twenty-one Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Virginia , with the largest companies by revenue being Freddie Mac, General Dynamics, and Capital One. The largest by their number of employees are Dollar Tree in Chesapeake, Virginia, Chesapeake and Hilton Worldwide Holdings in McLean, Virginia, McLean. Virginia has the third highest concentration of technology workers and the fifth highest overall number among U.S. states , with the 451,268 tech jobs accounting for 11.1% of all jobs in the state and earning a median salary of $98,292. Many of these jobs are in
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
, which hosts a large number of software, communications, and cybersecurity companies, particularly in the Dulles Technology Corridor and Tysons Corner areas. Amazon (company), Amazon additionally selected Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia, Crystal City for Amazon HQ2, its HQ2 in 2018, while Google expanded their Reston, Virginia, Reston offices in 2019. Virginia became the world's largest data center market in 2016, with Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun County specifically branding itself "Data Center Alley" due to the roughly in use for data. In 2020, the state had the second highest average internet download speeds in the United States, with 193.1 Mbit/s. Integrated circuit, Computer chips first became the state's highest-grossing export in 2006, and had a total export value of $827million in 2020. Though in the top quartile for diversity based on the Simpson index, only 26% of tech employees in Virginia are women, and only 13% are Black or African American. Tourism in Virginia supported an estimated 234,000 jobs in 2018, making tourism the state's fifth largest industry. It generated $26billion, an increase 4.4% from 2017. The state was eighth nationwide in domestic travel spending in 2018, with Arlington County, Virginia, Arlington County the top tourist destination in the state by domestic spending, followed by
Fairfax County Fairfax County, officially the County of Fairfax, is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern ...
, Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun County, and
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach is an independent city (United States), independent city located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The population was 433,750 in 2009, and in 2019, it was e ...
. Virginia also saw 1.1million international tourists in 2018, a five percent increase from 2017.


Agriculture

, agriculture occupied 28% of the land in Virginia with 7.8million acres (12,188 sq mi; 31,565 km2) of farmland. Nearly 54,000 Virginians work on the state's 43,225 farms, which average . Though agriculture has declined significantly since 1960 when there were twice as many farms, it remains the largest single industry in Virginia, providing for over 334,000 jobs. Soybeans were the most profitable crop in Virginia in 2017, ahead of corn and cut flowers as other leading agricultural products. However, the ongoing China–United States trade war, China-U.S. trade war led many Virginia farmers to plant cotton instead of soybeans in 2019. Though it is no longer the primary crop, Virginia is still the third-largest Cultivation of tobacco, producer of tobacco in the United States. Virginia is also the country's third-largest producer of seafood , with Placopecten magellanicus, sea scallops, oysters, Callinectes sapidus, Chesapeake blue crabs, menhaden, and hardshell clams as the largest seafood harvests by value, and France, Canada, and Hong Kong as the top export destinations. Commercial fishing supports 18,220 jobs , while recreation fishing supports another 5,893. Eastern oyster harvests had increased from 23,000 bushels in 2001 to over 500,000 in 2013, but fell to 248,347 in 2019 because of low salinity in coastal waters due to heavy spring rains. Those same rains however made 2019 a record wine harvest for vineyards in the
Northern Neck The Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrou ...
and along the
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province A physiographic province is a geographic region with a characteristic geomorphology, and often specific subsurface rock type or structural elements. The continents are subdivided into variou ...
, which also attract 2.3million tourists annually. Virginia has the seventh-highest number of wineries in the nation, with 307 . Cabernet franc and Chardonnay are the most grown varieties.


Taxes

Virginia collects State income tax, personal income tax from those with incomes above a Tax return (United States), filing threshold; there are five income brackets, with rates ranging from 2.0% to 5.75% of taxable income. The Sales taxes in the United States, state sales and use tax rate is 4.3%. There is an additional 1% local tax, for a total of a 5.3% combined sales tax on most Virginia purchases. The sales tax rate is higher in three regions: Northern Virginia (6%), Hampton Roads (6%) and the Historic Triangle (7%). Unlike the majority of states, Virginia collects sales tax on groceries, but at a lower rate than the general sales tax; the sales tax for food and certain essential personal hygiene goods is 2.5%. Virginia's Property tax in the United States, property tax 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 one hundred percent of fair market value. As of fiscal year 2018, the median real estate tax rate per $100 of assessed taxable value was $1.07 for cities, $0.67 for counties, and $0.17 for towns; town rates are lower because towns (unlike cities) have a narrow range of responsibilities and are subordinate to counties. Of local government tax revenue, about 61% is generated from real property taxes; about 24% from tangible personal property, sales and use, and business license tax; and 15% from other taxes (such as restaurant meal taxes, public service corporation property tax, consumer utility tax, and hotel tax).


Culture

Modern Virginian culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States. The Smithsonian Institution divides Virginia into nine cultural regions, and in 2007 used their annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Folklife Festival to recognize the substantial contributions of England and Senegal on Virginian culture. Virginia's culture was popularized and spread across America and the Southern United States, South by figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee. Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South. Besides the general cuisine of the Southern United States, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions. Virginia wine is made in many parts of the Commonwealth. Smithfield ham, sometimes called "Virginia ham", is a type of country ham which is Geographical indication, protected by state law, and can be produced only in the town of Smithfield, Virginia, Smithfield. Virginia furniture and architecture are typical of American colonial architecture. Thomas Jefferson and many of the Commonwealth's early leaders favored the Neoclassical architecture style, leading to its use for important state buildings. The Pennsylvania Dutch and their style can also be found in parts of the Commonwealth. Literature in Virginia often deals with the Commonwealth's extensive and sometimes troubled past. The works of Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Glasgow often dealt with social inequalities and the role of women in her culture. Glasgow's peer and close friend James Branch Cabell wrote extensively about the changing position of gentry in the Reconstruction era, and challenged its moral code with ''Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice''. William Styron approached history in works such as ''The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), The Confessions of Nat Turner'' and ''Sophie's Choice (novel), Sophie's Choice''. Tom Wolfe has occasionally dealt with his southern heritage in bestsellers like ''I Am Charlotte Simmons''. Mount Vernon, Virginia, Mount Vernon native Matt Bondurant received critical acclaim for his historical fiction, historic novel ''The Wettest County in the World'' about moonshiners in Franklin County, Virginia, Franklin County during Prohibition in the United States, prohibition. Virginia also names a Poet Laureate of Virginia, state Poet Laureate.


Fine and performing arts

Virginia ranks near the middle of U.S. states in terms of public spending on the arts , at just over half of the national average. The state government does fund some institutions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Science Museum of Virginia. Other museums include the popular Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art. Besides these sites, many open-air museums are located in the Commonwealth, such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, Frontier Culture Museum, and various historic battlefields. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities works to improve the Commonwealth's civic, cultural, and intellectual life. Theaters and venues in the Commonwealth are found both in the cities and in suburbs. The Harrison Opera House, in Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk, is home of the Virginia Opera. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra operates in and around
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
. Resident and touring theater troupes operate from the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia, Staunton. The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, Abingdon, designated the State Theatre of Virginia, won the first Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1948, while the Signature Theatre (Arlington, Virginia), Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, Arlington won it in 2009. There is also a Children's Theater of Virginia, Theatre IV, which is the second largest touring troupe nationwide. Notable music performance venues include The Birchmere, the Landmark Theater (Richmond, Virginia), Landmark Theater, and Jiffy Lube Live. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located in Vienna, Virginia, Vienna and is the only national park intended for use as a performing arts center. Virginia has launched many award-winning traditional musical artists and internationally successful popular music acts, as well as Hollywood actors. Virginia is known for its tradition in the music genres of Old-time music, old-time string and Bluegrass music, bluegrass, with groups such as the Carter Family and Stanley Brothers. The state's African tradition is found through Gospel (music), gospel, blues, and shout bands, with both Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey coming from Newport News, Virginia, Newport News. Contemporary Virginia is also known for folk rock artists like Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, Hip hop music, hip hop stars like Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott and Pusha T, as well as thrash metal groups like GWAR and Lamb of God (band), Lamb of God. Several members of country music band Old Dominion (band), Old Dominion grew up in the Roanoke, Virginia, Roanoke area, and took their band name from Virginia's state nickname.


Festivals

Many counties and localities host county fairs and festivals. The Virginia State Fair is held at the Meadow Event Park every September. Also in September is the Neptune Festival in
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach is an independent city (United States), independent city located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The population was 433,750 in 2009, and in 2019, it was e ...
, which celebrates the city, the waterfront, and regional artists. Norfolk, Virginia#Parks and recreation, Norfolk's Harborfest, in June, features boat racing and air shows.
Fairfax County Fairfax County, officially the County of Fairfax, is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern ...
also sponsors Celebrate Fairfax! with popular and traditional music performances. The Virginia Lake Festival is held during the third weekend in July in Clarksville, VA, Clarksville. On the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague the annual Pony Penning of feral Chincoteague Pony, Chincoteague ponies at the end of July is a unique local tradition expanded into a week-long carnival. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a six-day festival held annually in Winchester, Virginia, Winchester which includes parades and bluegrass music, bluegrass concerts. The Old-time music, Old Time Fiddlers' Convention in Galax, Virginia, Galax, begun in 1935, is one of the oldest and largest such events worldwide, and Wolf Trap hosts the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which produces an opera festival every summer. Two important film festivals, the Virginia Film Festival and the VCU French Film Festival, are held annually in
Charlottesville Charlottesville, colloquially known as C'ville, is an independent city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is th ...
and Richmond, respectively.


Media

The
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
area is the 42nd-largest media market in the United States as ranked by Nielsen Media Research, while the Richmond-Petersburg area is 54th and Roanoke, Virginia, Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia, Lynchburg is 69th . Northern Virginia is part of the much larger Washington, D.C. media market, which is the country's 7th-largest. There are 36 List of television stations in Virginia, television stations in Virginia, representing each major List of United States over-the-air television networks, U.S. network, part of 42 stations which serve Virginia viewers including those broadcasting from neighboring jurisdictions. According the Federal Communications Commission, 595 Federal Communications Commission, FCC-licensed FM radio List of radio stations in Virginia, stations broadcast in Virginia, with 239 such AM stations . The nationally available Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, Arlington. Independent PBS affiliates exist throughout Virginia, and the Arlington PBS member station WETA-TV produces programs such as the ''PBS NewsHour'' and ''Washington Week''. The most circulated List of newspapers in Virginia, native newspapers in the Commonwealth are Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk's ''The Virginian-Pilot'' with around 132,000 subscribers, the ''Richmond Times-Dispatch'' with 86,219, and ''The Roanoke Times'' . The paper with nation's most daily readers, ''USA Today'', with 520,000daily subscriptions, is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, McLean. ''USA Today'' is the flagship publication of Gannett, Gannett, Inc., which merged with GateHouse Media in 2019, and operates over one hundred local newspapers nationwide. In Northern Virginia, ''The Washington Post'' is the dominant newspaper and provides local coverage for the region. ''Politico (newspaper), Politico'', which covers national politics, has its offices in Rosslyn, Virginia, Rosslyn.


Education

Virginia's educational system consistently ranks in the top five states on the United States Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, with Virginia students outperforming the average in all subject areas and grade levels tested. The 2020 ''Education Week#Quality Counts, Quality Counts'' report ranked Virginia's K–12 education eighth in the country, with a letter grade of B. All school divisions must adhere to educational standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Education, which maintains an assessment and accreditation regime known as the Standards of Learning to ensure accountability. Public school (government funded), Public K–12 (education), K–12 schools in Virginia are generally operated by the counties and cities, and not by the state. a total of 1,290,576 students were enrolled in 2,293 local and regional schools in the Commonwealth, including eight charter schools, and an additional 98 alternative and special education centers across 133 List of school divisions in Virginia, school divisions. 2018 marked the first decline in overall enrollment in public schools, by just over 2,000 students, since 1984. Besides the general public schools in Virginia, there are Governor's Schools (Virginia), Governor's Schools and selective magnet schools. The Governor's Schools are a collection of more than forty regional high schools and summer programs intended for gifted students. The Virginia Council for Private Education oversees the regulation of 483 state accredited private schools. An additional 17,283 students receive homeschooling. In 2019, 91.5% of high school students graduated on-time after four years, an increase of two percent from 2013, and 89.3% of adults over the age 25 had their high school diploma. Virginia has one of the smaller racial gaps in graduation rates among U.S. states, with 89.7% of Black students graduating on time, compared to 94.7% of white students and 97.5% of Asian students. Despite ending School segregation in the United States, school segregation in the 1960s, seven percent of Virginia's public schools were rated as "intensely segregated" by The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA in 2019, and the number has risen since 1989, when only three percent were. Virginia has comparatively large public school districts, typically comprising entire counties or cities, and this helps mitigate funding gaps seen in other states such that non-white districts average slightly more funding, $255 per student , than majority white districts. Elementary schools, with Virginia's smallest districts, were found to be more segregated than state middle or high schools by a 2019 VCU study.


Colleges and universities

, Virginia has the List of U.S. states and territories by educational attainment, sixth highest percent of residents with bachelor's degrees or higher, with 38.2%. As of that year, there are 169 List of colleges and universities in Virginia, colleges and universities in Virginia. In the 2021 ''U.S. News & World Report'' ranking of national public universities, the University of Virginia is ranked 4th, the College of William and Mary is 11th, Virginia Tech is 29th, George Mason University is 65th, and Virginia Commonwealth University is 77th. James Madison University is also ranked the third best regional university in Southern United States, the South. There are 124 private institutions in the state, including Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond, which are ranked as the country's 9th and 22nd best liberal arts colleges respectively. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University are the state's land-grant university, land-grant universities, and Virginia State is one of five historically black colleges and universities in Virginia. The Virginia Military Institute is the oldest state military academy, military college. Virginia also operates Virginia Community College System, 23 community colleges on 40 campuses which enrolled 218,985 degree-seeking students during the 2020–2021 school year. In 2021, the state made community college free for most low- and middle-income students. George Mason University had the largest on-campus enrollment at 38,542 students , though the private Liberty University had the largest total enrollment in the state, with 88,283 online and 15,105 on-campus students in Lynchburg, Virginia, Lynchburg .


Health

Virginia has a mixed health record, and was ranked as the 21st for both overall health outcomes and healthy behaviors in the state according to the 2020 United Health Foundation's Health Rankings. Among U.S. states, Virginia has the nineteenth lowest rate of both premature deaths, with 6,863 per 100,000, and infant mortality, with 5.61 per 1,000 live births. The rate of uninsured Virginians dropped to 7.9% in 2020, following an expansion of Medicare (United States), Medicare the year before. Falls Church, Virginia, Falls Church and Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun County were both ranked in the top ten healthiest communities in 2020 by ''U.S. News & World Report''. There are however racial and social health disparities. With high rates of heart disease and diabetes, African Americans in Virginia had an average life expectancy four years lower than whites and twelve years lower than Asian Americans and Latinos in 2017, and were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia, coronavirus pandemic. African-American mothers are also three times more likely to Maternal mortality in the United States, die while giving birth in the state. Mortality rates among white middle-class Virginians have also been rising, with drug overdose, alcohol poisoning, and suicide as leading causes. Suicides in the state increased by 21% between 2009 and 2018. Weight is an issue for many Virginians, and 31.9% of adults and 13% of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese . Additionally, 35% of adults are overweight and 23.3% do not exercise regularly. Virginia banned smoking in bars and restaurants in January 2010, and the percent of tobacco smokers in the state has declined from nineteen percent in that year to fourteen percent in 2020. Virginia does have above average rates of immunization nationwide, ranking eighteenth for Childhood immunizations in the United States, childhood immunization and eleventh for flu vaccinations. In 2008, Virginia became the first U.S. state to mandate the HPV vaccine for girls for school attendance, and 55.2% of adolescents have the vaccine. The Virginia Board of Health regulates health care facilities, and there are ninety List of hospitals in Virginia, hospitals in Virginia with a combined 17,706 hospital beds . Notable examples include Inova Fairfax Hospital, the largest hospital in the Washington Metropolitan Area, and the VCU Medical Center, located on the medical campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The University of Virginia Medical Center, part of the University of Virginia Health System, is highly ranked in endocrinology according to ''U.S. News & World Report''. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, a teaching institution of Eastern Virginia Medical School, was the site of the first successful in-vitro fertilization program. Virginia has a ratio of 230.3 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, the fifteenth worst rate nationally, and only 193.2 mental health providers per that number, the eleventh worst nationwide. , the state's eight public mental health care facilities were 96% full, causing delays in admissions.


Transportation

Because of the 1932 Byrd Road Act, 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 (VDOT) owns and operates of the total of roads in the state, making it the third largest state highway system in the United States. Traffic on Virginia's roads is among the worst in the nation according to the 2019 American Community Survey. The average commute time of 28.7 minutes is the eighth longest among U.S. states, and the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
, has the second worst rate of traffic congestion among U.S. cities. About 9.2% of workers in Virginia reported carpooling to work in 2019, and Virginia hit peak car usage before the year 2000, making it one of the first such states. About 4.4% of Virginians commute on public transit, and there were over 171.9 million public transit trips in Virginia in 2019, over 62% of which were done on the Washington Metro transit system, which serves Arlington County, Virginia, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, Alexandria, and extends into Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun and Fairfax County, Virginia, Fairfax Counties. Virginia has Amtrak passenger rail service along several corridors, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) maintains two commuter lines into Washington, D.C. from Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fredericksburg and Manassas, Virginia, Manassas. VRE averaged over 90,000 weekly riders in 2019, but saw a dramatic 90% decline in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia, COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Major freight railroads in Virginia include Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation, and in 2021 the state finalized a deal to purchase of track and over of right of way from CSX for future passenger rail service. Commuter buses include the Fairfax Connector, Fredericksburg Regional Transit, FRED buses in Fredericksburg, and Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, OmniRide in Prince William County, Virginia, Prince William County. VDOT operates several free ferries throughout Virginia, the most notable being the Jamestown Ferry which connects Jamestown, Virginia, Jamestown to Scotland, Virginia, Scotland Wharf across the James River, Virginia, James River. Virginia has five major airports: Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Reagan Washington National in Northern Virginia, both of which handle more than twenty million passengers a year, Richmond International Airport, Richmond International southeast of the state capital, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and Norfolk International Airport, Norfolk International in
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
. Several other airports offer limited commercial passenger service, and sixty-six public airports serve the state's aviation needs. The Virginia Port Authority's main seaports are those in Hampton Roads, which carried of total cargo , the seventh most of United States ports. The Eastern Shore of Virginia is the site of Wallops Flight Facility, a rocket launch center owned by NASA, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial spaceport. Space tourism is also offered through Vienna, Virginia, Vienna-based Space Adventures.


Law and government

In 1619, the first
Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) wh ...
met at Jamestown Church, and included 22 locally elected representatives, making Virginia's legislature the oldest in the North America. The elected members became the House of Burgesses in 1642, and governed with the Virginia Governor's Council, Governor's Council, which was appointed by the British monarchy, until Virginia declared independence from Britain in 1776. The 161st Virginia General Assembly, current General Assembly is the 161st since that year. The government today functions under the seventh Constitution of Virginia, which was 1970 Virginia ballot measures, approved by voters in 1970 went into effect in July 1971. It is similar to the federal government of the United States, federal structure in that it provides for Separation of powers, three branches: a strong legislature, an executive, and a unified judicial system. Virginia's legislature is bicameral with a 100-member House of Delegates and 40-member
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, who together write the laws for the Commonwealth. Delegates serve two-year terms, while senators serve four-year terms, with 2023 Virginia elections, the next elections for both taking place in November 2023. The executive department includes the Governor of Virginia, governor, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, lieutenant governor, and Attorney General of Virginia, attorney general, who are elected every four years in separate elections, with the most recent taking place in 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, November 2021. The governor must be at least thirty years old and List of Virginia Governors, incumbent governors cannot run for re-election, however the lieutenant governor and attorney general can, and governors can and have served non-consecutive terms. The lieutenant governor is the official head of the Senate, and is responsible for breaking ties. The House elects a List of Speakers of the Virginia House of Delegates, Speaker of the House and the Senate elects a President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, President pro tempore, who presides when the lieutenant governor isn't present, and both houses elect a clerk and majority and minority leaders. The governor also nominates their eleven Virginia Governor's Cabinet, cabinet members and others who head various state departments. State budgets are biannual and proposed by the governor in even years. Based on data through 2018, the Pew Research Center, Pew Center on the States found Virginia's government to be above average in running surpluses, and ''U.S. News and World Report'' ranked the state eighteenth in Fiscal sustainability, fiscal stability. The legislature starts on the second Wednesday of every year, and meets for up to 48 days in odd years and 60 days in even years to allow more time for the state budget. Special sessions can be called either by the governor or with agreement of two-thirds of both houses, and eighteen special sessions have been called since 2000, typically for legislation on preselected issues. Though not a full-time legislature, the Assembly is classified as a hybrid because special sessions are not limited by the state constitution and often last several months.


Judicial system

The judges and justices who make up Judiciary of Virginia, Virginia's judicial system, also the oldest in America, are elected by a majority vote in both the House and Senate without input from the governor, one way Virginia's legislature is stronger than its executive. The system consists of a hierarchy from the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals of Virginia to the Virginia Circuit Court, Circuit Courts, the trial courts of general jurisdiction, and the lower Virginia General District Court, General District Courts and Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts. The Supreme Court has seven justices who serve twelve-year terms, with a mandatory retirement age of 73. The Supreme Court selects its own Chief Justice from among their seven members, who is informally limited to two four-year terms. Virginia was the last state to guarantee an automatic right of appeal for all civil and criminal cases, and their Court of Appeals increased from eleven to seventeen judges in 2021. The Code of Virginia is the statutory law, and consists of the codified legislation of the General Assembly. Virginia has no "pocket veto," and bills will become law if the governor chooses to neither approve nor veto legislation. The largest List of law enforcement agencies in Virginia, law enforcement agency in Virginia is the Virginia State Police, with 3,022 sworn and civilian members . The Virginia Marine Police patrol coastal areas, and were founded as the "Oyster Navy" in 1864 in response to Oyster pirate, oyster bed poaching. The Virginia Division of Capitol Police, Virginia Capitol Police protect the legislature and executive department, and are the oldest police department in the United States, dating to the guards who protected the colonial leadership. The governor can also call upon the Virginia National Guard, which consists of approximately Virginia Army National Guard, 7,200 army soldiers, Virginia Air National Guard, 1,200 airmen, Virginia Defense Force, 300 Defense Force members, and 400 civilians. Virginia abolished the capital punishment in Virginia, death penalty in 2021. Over 1,300 people have been executed by the state since 1608, including List of people executed in Virginia, 113 following the resumption of capital punishment in 1982. Virginia's prison system incarcerates 30,936 people , 53% of whom are Black, and the state has the sixteenth-highest List of U.S. states and territories by incarceration and correctional supervision rate, rate of incarceration in the country, at 422 per 100,000 residents. Virginia ended prisoner parole in 1995. Virginia's rate of recidivism of released felons who are re-convicted within three years and sentenced to a year or more is 23.1%, the lowest in the country . Virginia has the fourth lowest violent crime rate and thirteenth lowest property crime rate . Between 2008 and 2017, arrests for drug-related crimes rose 38%, with 71% of those related to Cannabis in Virginia, marijuana, which Virginia Decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States, decriminalized in July 2020 and Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction, legalized in July 2021.


Politics

Over the past century, Virginia shifted from a largely rural, Politics of the Southern United States, politically Southern and conservative state to a more urbanized, pluralistic, and politically moderate environment as both greater enfranchisement and demographic shifts have changed the electorate. Up until the 1970s, Virginia was a racially divided Solid South, one-party state dominated by the Byrd Organization. They sought to stymie the political power of Northern Virginia, perpetuate Segregation in the United States, segregation, and successfully restricted voter registration such that between 1905 and 1948, roughly one-third of votes in the state were cast by state employees and officeholders themselves, and voter turnout was regularly below ten percent. The organization used malapportionment to manipulate what areas were over-represented in the Virginia General Assembly, General Assembly and the U.S. Congress until ordered to end the practice by the 1964 Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court decision in ''Davis v. Mann'' and the 1965 Virginia Supreme Court decision in ''Wilkins v. Davis'' respectively. Enforcement of federal civil rights legislation passed in the mid-1960s helped overturn the state's Jim Crow laws that effectively disfranchisement, disfranchised African Americans, who have since become the most reliable bloc of Democratic voters. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made Virginia one of nine states that were required to receive federal approval for changes to voting laws, until the system for including states was Shelby County v. Holder, struck down in 2013. A strict Voter identification laws in the United States, photo identification requirement, added under Governor Bob McDonnell in 2014, was repealed in 2020, and the Voting Rights Act of Virginia was passed in 2021, requiring preclearance from the Attorney General of Virginia, state Attorney General for local election changes that could result in disenfranchisement, including closing or moving polling sites. Though many Jim Crow provisions were removed in Virginia's 1971 constitution, a lifetime Felony disenfranchisement in Virginia, ban on voting for felony convictions was unchanged, and by 2016, up to twenty percent of African Americans in Virginia were disenfranchised because of prior felonies. That year, Governor Terry McAuliffe ended the lifetime ban and individually restored voting rights to over 200,000 ex-felons. Regional differences also play a large part in Virginia politics. While urban and expanding suburban areas, including much of
Northern Virginia Northern Virginia, locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA, comprises several County (United States), counties and independent city (United States), independent cities in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It ...

Northern Virginia
, form the modern Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party base (politics), base, rural southern and western areas moved to support the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party in response to its "southern strategy" starting around 1970. Rural Democratic support has nevertheless persisted in union-influenced Roanoke, Virginia, Roanoke in Southwest Virginia, college towns such as
Charlottesville Charlottesville, colloquially known as C'ville, is an independent city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is th ...
and Blacksburg, Virginia, Blacksburg, and the southeastern Black Belt in the American South, Black Belt Region. Educational attainment and gender have become strong indicators of political alignment, with the majority of women in Virginia supporting Democratic presidential candidates since 1980. International immigration and domestic migration into Virginia have also increased the proportion of eligible voters born outside the state from 44% in 1980 to 55% in 2019.


State elections

State elections in Virginia occur in odd-numbered years, with executive department elections occurring in years following U.S. presidential elections and
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elections occurring in the years prior to presidential elections, as both have four-year terms. House of Delegates elections take place concurrent with each of those elections as members have two-year terms. National politics often play a role in state election outcomes, and Virginia has elected governors of the party opposite the U.S. president in ten of the last eleven contests, with only Terry McAuliffe beating the trend. McAuliffe, a Democrat, was Virginia elections, 2013, elected in 2013 during Barack Obama's second presidential term. Republicans at that time held a supermajority of seats in the House of Delegates, which they had first gained in 2011 Virginia elections, the 2011 state elections, and a one-vote majority the state senate, both of which they maintained 2015 Virginia elections, in the 2015 elections. The 2011 and 2015 elections also had the lowest voter turnout in recent history, with just 28.6% and 29.1% of registered voters participating respectively. The Virginia elections, 2017, 2017 state elections resulted in Democrats holding the three executive offices, with outgoing lieutenant governor Ralph Northam 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election, winning the governorship, Justin Fairfax 2017 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election, elected lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring 2017 Virginia Attorney General election, continuing as attorney general. In concurrent Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2017, House of Delegates elections, Democrats flipped fifteen of the Republicans' previous sixteen-seat majority. Control of the House came down to a tied election in the Virginia's 94th House of Delegates district, 94th district, which the Republican won by a drawing of lots, giving his party a slim 51–49 majority in the 160th Virginia General Assembly, 2018–19 legislative sessions. At this time, Virginia was ranked as having the most Gerrymandering in the United States, gerrymandered state legislature, as Republicans controlled the House with only 44.5% of the total vote. In 2019, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, federal courts found that eleven House district lines, including the 94th, were unconstitutionally drawn to discriminate against African Americans. Adjusted districts were used in the Virginia elections, 2019, 2019 elections, when Democrats won full control of the General Assembly, despite 2019 Virginia political crisis, a political crisis earlier that year. Voters in 2020 then 2020 Virginia Question 1, passed a referendum to give Redistricting in Virginia, control of drawing both state and congressional districts to a commission of eight citizens and four legislators from each of the two major parties, rather than the legislature. In 2021, for the first time since 2009, a Republican, Glenn Youngkin, 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, won the governor's race. This also comes as Republicans 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election, won the lieutenant governor's race and the 2021 Virginia Attorney General election, race for attorney general.


Federal elections

Though Virginia was considered a "swing state" in the 2008 United States presidential election, 2008 presidential election, Virginia's thirteen Electoral College (United States), electoral votes were carried in that election and the three since by Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden, who won by over ten percent 2020 United States presidential election, in 2020, suggesting the state has shifted to being reliably Democratic in presidential elections. Virginia had previously voted for Republican presidential candidates in thirteen out of fourteen United States presidential election, presidential elections from 1952 to 2004, including ten in a row from 1968 to 2004, but hasn't voted for a Republican candidate statewide since 2009. Virginia currently holds its presidential primary election on Super Tuesday, the same day as thirteen other states, with the most recent held on March 3, 2020. List of United States senators from Virginia, Virginia's two U.S. Senators are in Classes of United States senators, classes 1 and 2. In class 1, Republican incumbent George Allen (U.S. politician), George Allen lost races Virginia United States Senate election, 2006, in 2006 to Democratic newcomer Jim Webb, and again United States Senate election in Virginia, 2012, in 2012 to Webb's successor, former Governor Tim Kaine. United States Senate election in Virginia, 2008, In 2008, Democrats also won the class 2 seat when former Governor Mark Warner was elected to replace retiring Republican John Warner. Virginia has had United States congressional delegations from Virginia, eleven U.S. House of Representatives seats since 1993, and control of the majority has flipped four times since then, often as part of "Wave elections in the United States, wave elections". In the 2010 United States House of Representatives elections in Virginia, 2010 mid-term elections, the first under President Obama, Republicans flipped the Virginia's 2nd congressional district, 2nd and Virginia's 5th congressional district, 5th seats from the Democrats, who had flipped both in the previous election, as well as the Virginia's 9th congressional district, 9th. In the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections in Virginia, 2018 mid-terms, the first under President Trump, Democrats took back the 2nd, as well as the Virginia's 7th congressional district, 7th and Virginia's 10th congressional district, 10th, giving them currently seven seats to the Republicans' four.


Sports

Virginia is the most populous U.S. state without a Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, major professional sports league franchise. The reasons for this include the lack of any dominant city or market within the state, a reluctance to publicly finance stadiums, and the proximity of Sports in Washington, D.C., teams in Washington, D.C., Sports in Baltimore, Baltimore, Sports in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte, and Raleigh, North Carolina, Raleigh. A Virginia Beach Arena, proposed arena in Virginia Beach designed for an NBA franchise became the latest unsuccessful sports initiative when the city council there ended support in 2017. Virginia Beach had previously been considered for an NBA franchise in 1987, which ultimately became the Charlotte Hornets. The Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association, ABA started in Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk in 1970, but lost momentum after trading Julius Erving, "Dr. J" Julius Erving and folded just one month before the ABA–NBA merger in 1976. Five minor league baseball and two mid-level hockey teams play in Virginia. Norfolk is host to two: The Triple-A (baseball), Triple-A Norfolk Tides and the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals (ECHL), Norfolk Admirals. The Double-A (baseball), Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels began playing at The Diamond (Richmond, Virginia), The Diamond in 2010, while the Fredericksburg Nationals, Lynchburg Hillcats, and Salem Red Sox play in the Low-A East league. Loudoun United FC, the reserve team of D.C. United, debuted in the USL Championship in 2019, while the Richmond Kickers of the USL League One have operated since 1993 and are the only team in their league to win both the league championship and the U.S. Open Cup in the same year. The Washington Football Team also have their headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, Ashburn and their training facility in Richmond, and the Washington Capitals practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, Arlington, Virginia, Ballston. Virginia has many professional caliber golf courses including Kingsmill Resort outside Williamsburg, Virginia, Williamsburg, which hosts Pure Silk Championship, an LPGA Tour tournament in May, and the Country Club of Virginia outside
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
, which hosts Dominion Energy Charity Classic, a charity classic on the PGA Tour Champions, men's senior tour in October. NASCAR currently schedules NASCAR Cup Series, Cup Series races on two tracks in Virginia: Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway. Virginia natives currently competing in the series include Denny Hamlin and Elliott Sadler.
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the , and rivers between and where the flows into the , and the surrounding metropolitan region located in the southeastern and northeastern portions of ...
has produced several Olympic gold medalists, including Gabby Douglas, the first African American to win Gymnastics at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Women's artistic individual all-around, gymnastics individual all-around gold, and LaShawn Merritt, Francena McCorory, and Michael Cherry (athlete), Michael Cherry, who have all won gold in the 4 × 400 metres relay. Major long-distance races in the state include the Richmond Marathon, the Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway, and the Monument Avenue 10K.


College sports

In the absence of professional sports, several of Virginia's collegiate sports programs have attracted strong followings, with a 2015 poll showing that 34% of Virginians were fans of the Virginia Cavaliers and 28% were fans of the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry, rival Virginia Tech Hokies, making both more popular than the surveyed regional professional teams.Virginians Favor Background Checks, Paid Sick Days
. Public Policy Polling, July 21, 2015. Accessed April 17, 2021.
The men's and women's college basketball programs of the Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball, Cavaliers, VCU Rams men's basketball, VCU Rams, and Old Dominion Monarchs basketball, Old Dominion Monarchs have combined for 63 regular season conference championships and 48 conference tournament championships between them . The Virginia Tech Hokies football, Hokies football team sustained a 27-year bowl streak between 1993 and 2019; James Madison Dukes football, James Madison Dukes football won NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, FCS NCAA Championships in both 2004 and 2016. The overall UVA men's athletics programs won the national Capital One Cup (college sports), Capital One Cup in Capital One Cup (college sports)#Champions, both 2015 and 2019, and lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in Atlantic Coast Conference#NCAA team championships, NCAA championships. List of college athletic programs in Virginia#Division I, Fourteen universities in total compete in NCAA Division I, with multiple programs each in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, Big South Conference, and Colonial Athletic Association. Three historically black colleges and universities, historically Black schools compete in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and two others (Hampton Pirates and Lady Pirates, Hampton and Norfolk State Spartans, Norfolk State) compete in Division I. 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 (NCAA), Division III NCAA Division III national football championship, championships in football, men's basketball, volleyball, and softball in Salem, Virginia, Salem. Virginia does not allow state appropriated funds to be used for either operational or capital expenses for intercollegiate athletics.


High school sports

Virginia is also home to several of the nation's top high school basketball programs, including Paul VI Catholic High School and Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia), Oak Hill Academy, the latter of which has won nine national championships. In the 2018–2019 school year, 174,224 high school students participated in fourteen girls sports and thirteen boys sports managed by the Virginia High School League, with the most popular sports being High school football, football, outdoor track and cross country, High school soccer, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball, and volleyball. Youth soccer leagues outside of the high school system are also popular in the state, and 18 teams from Virginia have won national championships, seventh-most among U.S. states. Access to youth soccer in Virginia however has been found to be highly correlated to race and median household income, with opportunities almost completely disappearing in areas where the non-white population exceeded 90%, particularly in the Southwest Virginia, Southwest and Southside (Virginia), Southside regions of the Commonwealth.


State symbols

Virginia has several nicknames, the oldest of which is the "Old Dominion." King Charles II of England first referred to "our auntient dominion of Virginia" in 1660, the year of Stuart Restoration, his restoration, perhaps because Virginia was home to many of his supporters during the English Civil War. These supporters were called Cavaliers, and the nickname "The Cavalier State" was popularized after the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and sout ...
. Students at the University of Virginia began using The Cavalier Song as their school fight song in 1925, and the school's sports teams were named Virginia Cavaliers, Cavaliers after the song. Virginia has also been called the "Mother of Presidents", as eight Virginians have served as Lists of United States Presidents by place of birth#By state of birth, President of the United States, including four of the first five. The state's motto, ''Sic semper tyrannis, Sic Semper Tyrannis'', 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 (dance), Virginia reel is among the square dances classified as the List of U.S. state dances, state dance. In 1940, Virginia made "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" the List of U.S. state songs, state song, but it was retired in 1997 due to its references to slavery. In March 2015, Virginia named "Our Great Virginia", which uses the tune of "Oh Shenandoah", as the traditional state song and "Sweet Virginia Breeze" as the popular state song.


See also

* Index of Virginia-related articles * Outline of Virginia


References


Bibliography

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External links


Government


State Government website

Virginia General Assembly

Virginia's Judicial system


Tourism and recreation


Virginia Tourism Website

Virginia State Parks

Virginia Wildlife Management Areas


Culture and history


Library of Virginia

Virginia Museum of Culture and History

Encyclopedia Virginia


Maps and demographics


USGS geographic resources of Virginia

Virginia State Climatology Office

Virginia State Facts from USDA, Economic Research Service
* {{coord, 37.5215, -78.8537, dim:300000_region:US-VA_type:adm1st, name=Commonwealth of Virginia, display=title Virginia, 1788 establishments in the United States Former British colonies Mid-Atlantic states Southern United States States and territories established in 1788 States of the Confederate States States of the East Coast of the United States States of the United States Contiguous United States