Virginia location
Nickname The Old Dominion
Largest city
Virginia Beach
Demonym Virginian
Governor Bob McDonnell
Area 40,000 sq. mi.
Population 7,000,000
State Symbols
State tree/flower dogwood
State bird cardinal

Virginia is a U.S. state in the Mid-Atlantic. Virginia borders Maryland and the District of Columbia to the north, across the Potomac River. A small portion of Virginia lies on the Delmarva Peninsula, and shares a border with Delaware and Maryland. To the west lies West Virginia, and to the south Tennessee and North Carolina.


Before the arrival of Europeans, Virginia was inhabited by many Native American tribes, most notably the Powhatan. Virginia was sighted in the 16th century, but it was not settled until 1607, when the colony of Jamestown was established by John Smith. Jamestown was the first permanent English colony on the mainland of the United States. Jamestown was eclipsed in importance by Williamsburg in the late 17th century.

Virginia participated in the American Revolutionary War as one of the Thirteen Colonies. The culminating battle, the Battle of Yorktown, took place in Virginia. During the antebellum period, Virginia aligned itself with the South due to its large slave population. Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in 1861, although the western part of the state, West Virginia stayed in the Union. Richmond was made the capital of the Confederacy.

Many battles of the American Civil War occurred in Virginia, including the first major one, the First Battle of Bull Run. The Shenandoah Campaign, the Second Battle of Bull Run, and the Battle of Petersburg all took place in Virginia. The surrender of the Confederacy in 1865 happened at Appomattox Court House, in southern Virginia.

Although Virginia was devastated by the war, it recovered better than many other Southern states. Virginia grew less reliant on its tobacco industry, and diversified its economy. Norfolk grew as a major shipbuilding yard and naval base. Coal mining began in the Shenandoah Mountains. Northern Virginia benefited from the prosperity and jobs of Washington, D.C..

Virginia desegregated in the 1970s and 1980s after decades of discrimination against its large African-American population. The technology industry sprung up in Northern Virginia, and Virginia became one of the wealthiest U.S. states.


Virginia has a long coastline with the Chesapeake Bay to the east, which provides much of Virginia's seafood. The eastern part of the state contains many coastal lowlands and swamps, in particular the Great Dismal Swamp in the south. The middle region, known as the Piedmont, has fertile soil and a robust farming industry. The western part of the state is dominated by the Appalachian Mountains and its subranges, including the Shenandoah Mountains, the Allegheny Mountains, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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