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Virginia State Guide

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Virginia is commonly known as the “Commonwealth of Virginia” which is located in the southern Atlantic part of the country. The state is nicknamed as the "Old Dominion State" and the “Mother State”. Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth and Virginia Beach is the most populated city. Virginia became the 10th state of the United States on June 25, 1788 [1]. Richmond is the capital of Virginia.

Virginia Fast Facts:

  • Capital city: Richmond
  • Largest city: Virginia Beach
  • State Dog: American Foxhound
  • State Bird: Cardinal
  • State Tree: Flowering Dogwood
  • State Flower: American Dogwood
  • State Song: Carry Me Back to Old Virginia"
  • Official Language: English


History of Virginia

Prior to the European settlements, many Native American tribes settled in Virginia. The Werowocomoco town was founded by the Algonquian peoples, which was commonly known to those people as Tsenacommacah. There were many major language groups that settled around the region, such as to the west by the Siouan and to the northern and southern part by the Iroquoians, including the Meherrin and Nottoway. Several smaller tribes and settlements were controlled by the Powhatan.

The 16th century marked the arrival of several European explorers along with Spanish Jesuits group who discovered the Chesapeake Bay. The London Company, a joint stock company, funded the 1st permanent English settlement in the "New World", Jamestown. Later, London Company suffered bankruptcy, and as a result the royal authority tool control of the settlement as an English crown colony. Many people suffered and died in the colony during the 1609 Starving time and as a result of the Anglo-Powhatan Wars. Slavery in Virginia was prominent during the century and many African workers taken as slaves. Additionally a law on slavery was enacted in which slavery was made hereditary depending on the status of the mother. The first state house was built in Jamestown in the mid 17th century. In the later half of the century, the Bacon rebellion fights broke out in western Virginia. The Bacon war broke out due to the clashes and the geographic differences between the ruling and working classes.


In the 18th century, 5th State House, the first Williamsburg Capitol which is H shaped brick building was built. Unfortunately, later the Williamsburg Capitol was destroyed by fire and the 6th State House, 2nd Williamsburg Capitol was constructed between 1753 and 1780. In 1776, Virginia adopted its first constitution and declared independence. In June 25, 1788, Virginia was granted Statehood and became the 10th state of the United States.

In the 19th century, Virginia underwent many legislative changes. In 1861, state flag of Virginia was adopted. In Southwestern Virginia, coal was discovered. In 1920, the 19th amendment brought in the state the women rights to vote. In the later years, due to the Great Depression, many people became jobless. As the World War II ended in 1945, Virginia regained its economy.

Virgina History Timeline

  • 1602 - Samuel Mace of Weymouth came on a voyage to Virginia
  • 1619-1632 - Held first Legislative meeting at Jamestown Virginia.
  • 1699-1704 - Established Williamsburg town and was designated as the capital of the colony.
  • 1732 - George Washington was born in Westmoreland County on and he was the first President of United States of America.
  • 1776 - The first constitution was adopted by the state and declared independence
  • 1780-1788 - Richmond was designated the new capital
  • 1788 - June 25 - Virginia obtained Statehood and became the 10th state.
  • 1789-1797 - George Washington was elected and served as President of the United States
  • 1831 - Slave revolt led by Nat Turner led
  • 1861 - Virginia's state flag adopted
  • 1876 - Coal discovered in Southwestern Virginia
  • 1914 - 1918 - World War I began in Europe and Virginia's Woodrow Wilson served as the president of the United States at that time
  • 1920 - 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote
  • 1981 - December 28 - The 1st American test tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr was born in Norfolk.
  • 2003 - Electricity not available to over 1 million customers due to Hurricane Isabel

Geography of Virginia

Total Area: 42,774.2 sq mi (110,785.67 km2)
Longitude: 75o15′ W to 83o41′ W
Latitude: 36o32′ N to 39o28′ N
Highest point: Mount Rogers: 5,729 ft (1746 m)
Mean point: Mean 950 ft (290 m)
Lowest point: Lowest point Atlantic Ocean - sea level
Area Under Forest: 65%
Time Zone: Eastern: UTC −5/−4
Virginia is the southern Atlantic state covering a total land area of 39,490.09 square miles [2]. The State is classified into 95 counties and 38 independent cities. Virginia is bordered to the east and north by Washington, D.C and Maryland; to the east by the Atlantic Ocean; to the south by Tennessee and North Carolina; to the west by Kentucky; and to the west and north by West Virginia. Virginia Beach is the largest city and Washington metropolitan area is the largest metro.

Topography of Virginia

Virginia's climate, topography and geography are shaped by the Chesapeake Bay and Blue Ridge Mountains. The Susquehanna River and the James River collectively form the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay distinguishes the state's contiguous regions from the eastern shore two-county peninsula. Some of the major rivers that empty into the bay include the Potomac, York, Rappahannock and James.

Virginia may be divided into 5 geographical regions, namely the Atlantic Coastal Plain; the Blue Ridge; the Piedmont; the Appalachian Plateau; and the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region.

Atlantic Coastal Plain

The Atlantic Coastal Plain extends north-south around the Atlantic Ocean. Salt marshes and swamps are abundantly found in this region. The Chesapeake Bay divides the Atlantic Coastal Plain into a western mainland region and a peninsula known as the East Shore.


The Piedmont lies in the western part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is the largest geographical land areas in Virginia. As the elevation increases, the region become gradually steeper and almost the entire central Virginia is covered with the rolling plain of the Piedmont. The Piedmont's rivers and streams usually follow a south-easterly flow pattern and form low waterfalls.

Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge lie in the western side of the Piedmont and is the significant eastern mountain range of the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia's highest peak, Mount Rogers, is located in the Blue Ridge.

Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region

The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region extend southwest to northeast around the western border of Virginia. In the east, lies the Great Valley which is a series of valleys segregated by mountains. The Shenandoah Valley is the famous and largest among these valleys. Limestone is found in this region.

Appalachian Plateau

The Appalachian Plateau lies in the extreme south-western part of Virginia and further reaches to Kentucky to form the Cumberland Plateau. The Appalachian Plateau is home to numerous streams, rivers and forests.

Climate in Virginia

Virginia has a milder climate compared to all other states that lie in the eastern coast of the country. Humid subtropical climate is reported in eastern regions of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the regions south of the Roanoke Valley and Shenandoah Valley. Extreme temperatures are recorded at Balcony Falls and at Mountain Lake. Severe weather such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy rain, and thunderstorms frequently occur in Virginia. Precipitation in the state is frequent.

Forests in Virginia

Virginia Department of Forestry manages 22 state forests lands and also protects many acres of forests from wildfire, disease and insects. The forests occupy 65% of the state’s total land area. The forests in Virginia comprise of mainly deciduous broad leaf trees. Forests and their multiple resources are important for the economic growth of the state. Additionally, apart from being a home to varied flora and fauna, forests enhance the people's quality of life by clearing the pollutants and providing cleaner, clearer air to breathe in and also preserve drinking water resources. The forests of the state are the important source of timber, bio fuel and bio energy resources.

Contact Virginia Department of Forestry
900 Natural Resources Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Phone: 434.977.6555
Fax: 434.296.2369

National forest in Virginia are-Forest

  • George Washington
  • Jefferson National Forests

Given below is the list of state forests in Virginia

  • Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest
  • Big Woods State Forest
  • Bourassa State Forest
  • Browne State Forest
  • Channels State Forest
  • Chilton Woods State Forest
  • Conway Robinson State Forest
  • Crawfords State Forest
  • Cumberland State Forest
  • Devil's Backbone State Forest
  • Dragon Run State Forest
  • Hawks State Forest
  • Lesesne State Forest
  • Matthews State Forest
  • Moore's Creek State Forest
  • Niday Place State Forest
  • Old Flat State Forest
  • Paul State Forest
  • Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest
  • Sandy Point State Forest
  • Whitney State Forest
  • Zoar State Forest

Learn more: State Forests

Virginia Flora and Fauna

The forests are also the main habitat of many flora and fauna and also are home to many rare and unique species.

Some of the major plants and trees found in the state are-

  • Hemlocks and mosses - in lower altitudes

  • Hickory and oak - in Blue Ridge

  • Yellow pines - in the lowland tidewater

  • Cypress - in the Great Dismal and Nottoway swamps

  • Trillium wildflowers - along the Atlantic coast and in the western mountains

  • Other plants and trees include chestnut, tulip poplar, maple, mountain laurel, daisies, milkweed and many species of ferns.

Some of the main animal species found in the forests of the state are –

  • Mammals include white-tailed deer, beaver, black bear, bobcat, raccoon, coyote, skunk, Virginia opossum, groundhog, gray fox, eastern cottontail rabbit and red fox.

  • Birds include cardinals (the state bird), Carolina chickadees, barred owls, red-tailed hawks, brown pelicans, ospreys, quail, bald eagles, seagulls and wild turkeys.

  • Main species of freshwater fish are Walleye, Roanoke bass, brook trout, crayfish, blue catfish and salamanders.

Demographics of Virginia

Virginia had an estimated population 8,326,289 as of 2014 estimation by the U.S Census Bureau, which reflected an increase of 4.1% since the year 2010. The population density of the state is 202.6 person per square mile [3]. Virginia’s center of population is situated in Louisa County. Some of the major ancestral groups in Virginia include German, Irish, English, Subsaharan African and American

Major racial ethnic groups in Virginia-[3]

  • White alone: 70.8%
  • Black or African American: 19.7%
  • Asian: 6.1%
  • Native American or Alaska Native: 0.5%
  • Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Two or More Races: 2.7%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 8.6%

The common languages spoken in the state are English, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Chinese (including Mandarin). The common religious groups in Virginia are Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam.

Virginia Population Quick Facts: [3]

  • Population, 2014: 8,326,289
  • Population, 2013: 8,270,345
  • Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014: 4.1%
  • Persons under 5 years, percent, 2013: 6.2%
  • Persons under 18 years, percent, 2013: 22.6%
  • Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2013: 13.4%
  • Female persons, percent, 2013: 50.8%

Economy of Virginia

Virginia is referred to as an employment-at-will state. The state's economy is supported by varied sources of income from federal and local government, farming, military and business. The service sector is the leading job generator in the state. Virginia is among the nation's states with the lowest unemployment rate. Virginia's counties and towns has been ranked among the wealthiest states of the United States by many renowned sources in many occasions.


Economy Fast Facts - [4]

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) in millions of current dollars of all industry total in 2013 - $452,585

  • Virginia Per capita real GDP in 2013 - $51,623

Agriculture in Virginia

  • The top 5 agricultural products based on revenue generated include broilers (young chickens), dairy products, beef cattle and calves, turkeys and greenhouse and nursery products.

  • Virginia’s most important agricultural income is generated from greenhouse and nursery products.

  • The largest crops of the state are soyabeans, tobacco, tomatoes and corn.

  • Apples and grapes are the major fruits grown in the state

  • The state's major livestock products are broilers, beef cattle, turkeys, milk and horses/mules. The state is one of the nation's largest providers of turkey.

Industry in Virginia

  • Virginia’s top manufacturing activity is the production of tobacco products followed by beverages.

  • The 2nd ranked in the state manufacturing sector are the manufacturing of chemicals and transportation equipment manufacturing ranked 3rd in Virginia.

  • Service industry is Virginia’s largest job generator. Technology is the largest growth sector of the state. Virgina's highest-grossing export item in 2006 was computer chips. The state also is home to the world's largest internet service provider.

  • The state's top mined product is coal. Sand and gravel, crushed stone, clay and kyanite are also important mined products of the state.

Tourism in Virginia

Tourism is also a principal part of Virginia’s. Many plans and programs are implemented to improve Virginia’s transportation network and accordingly enhance the tourism sector.

Some of the major tourist attractions in Virgina include-

Education in Virginia

Virginia has a very well functioning education system. According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, Virginia has been consistently ranked among the top 10 states. The K-12 education of the state is also highly recognized. The Virginia Department of Education manages and supervises the state's education and also set out the required rules and regulations for all school divisions to follow.education

Contact Details:
James Monroe Building
101 N. 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Website: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/

Complete Phone Directory

Transportation in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) overviews the entire transportation network of the state to ensure safe and easy commuting of people and goods. The important Interstate Highways in Virginia are Interstate 95, Interstate 85, Interstate 81, Interstate 77, Interstate 66, and Interstate 64. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Program has its mission to protect and improve safety and comfort of the bicyclists and pedestrians through the department’s practical policy, funding, and technical resources in bicycle transportation.

Air transport is an essential gateway of Virginia that serves the locals and tourists from all over the world. It is the major mode that offers all round efficient and easy connectivity. The Federal Aviation Administration authorizes and oversees all flight operations in Virginia.

Passenger rail service in Virginia is mainly provided by Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak. The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is a commuter rail serving regionally.

The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) owns the Port of Virginia. The Port of Virginia is a group of facilities and its main affairs are localized on Virginia's harbor of Hampton Roads. The Port of Virginia encompasses 4 marine terminals and 1 inter-modal container transfer facility.

Learn more: Transportation in Virginia

Government of Virginia

The Government of Virginia is guarded and established by the Virginia State Constitution. Virginia became a 10th state of the United States on June 25, 1788. The government of Virginia is divided into three distinct branches, namely the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judicial branch. Virginia is nicknamed as the "Old Dominion State".

The Virginia Executive Branch is a well functioning body of the state government and several state government departments work under the executive branch. The Governor of Virginia leads the executive branch of the government as the chief executive head.

The Virginia Legislature is the law making and supervising body of the state government of Virginia. Virginia General Assembly is divided into the Senate and the House of Delegates. Virginia state capitol is located in Richmond.

The Judiciary is the system that employs and applies law and regulates any disputes ensuring justice in the state. The Judiciary has the authority to review the legislative and the executive actions. Virginia's court system encompasses -Judicial

  • The Supreme Court of Virginia
  • The Court of Appeals of Virginia
  • Circuit courts in 31 judicial circuits
  • General district court
  • Juvenile and domestic relations district courts in 32 districts
  • Magistrate's offices in 32 districts

Learn more: Government of Virginia

Interesting Facts about Virginia

  • Virginia is home to some prominent United States President such as George Washington from  Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson.

  • The famous speech of Patrick Henry "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" was delivered for the first time in St. John's Church in Richmond.

  • Virgina has the world's only oyster museum on Chincoteague Island.

  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex.

  • Virginia is often referred as the "Internet Capital of the world".

  • Virginia's Dulles International Airport is one of the world's busiest airports.

  • The Pentagon building in Arlington is the world's largest office building.

  • Virginia state motto is "Sic Semper Tyrannis", translated as "Thus always to tyrants".

  • Virginia is also known as "the birthplace of a nation".

  • Virginia State song is "Carry Me Back To Old Virginia".


  1. Virginia Statehood
  2. Total Land Area
  3. Virginia Demographics
  4. Economy Fast Facts
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