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Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America [8] and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond ; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision.

The Commonwealth's estimated population as of [update] is over 8. The area's history begins with several indigenous groups , including the Powhatan. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction , both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.

Virginia's economy has many sectors: Virginia has a total area of 42, Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D. The Chesapeake Bay 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 valleys of the Susquehanna River and the James River. The Tidewater is a coastal plain between the Atlantic coast and the fall line.

It includes the Eastern Shore and major estuaries of Chesapeake Bay. The Piedmont is a series of sedimentary and igneous rock -based foothills east of the mountains which were formed in the Mesozoic era. The region is carbonate rock based and includes Massanutten Mountain. In this region, rivers flow northwest, with a dendritic drainage system , into the Ohio River basin. The Virginia Seismic Zone has not had a history of regular earthquake activity.

Earthquakes are rarely above 4. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5. The earthquake was reportedly felt as far away as Toronto , Atlanta and Florida. Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins.

The resulting crater may explain sinking and earthquakes in the region. The climate of Virginia is humid subtropical and becomes increasingly warmer and more humid farther south and east.

The Atlantic Ocean has a strong effect on eastern and southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the Gulf Stream , coastal weather is subject to hurricanes , most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Virginia has an annual average of 35—45 days of thunderstorm activity, particularly in the western part of the state, [35] and an average annual precipitation of The interaction of these elements with the state's topography creates distinct microclimates in the Shenandoah Valley, the mountainous southwest, and the coastal plains.

In recent years, the expansion of the southern suburbs of Washington, D. Other common trees and plants include red bay, wax myrtle, dwarf palmetto, tulip poplar , mountain laurel , milkweed , daisies, and many species of ferns. The largest areas of wilderness are along the Atlantic coast and in the western mountains, where the largest populations of trillium wildflowers in North America are found.

Mammals include white-tailed deer , black bear , beaver , bobcat , coyote , raccoon , skunk , groundhog , Virginia opossum , gray fox , red fox , and eastern cottontail rabbit. Birds include cardinals the state bird , barred owls, Carolina chickadees, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, brown pelicans, quail, seagulls, bald eagles, and wild turkeys.

Virginia is also home to the pileated woodpecker as well as the red-bellied woodpecker. The peregrine falcon was reintroduced into Shenandoah National Park in the mids. The celebrations highlighted contributions from Native Americans , Africans, and Europeans, each of which had a significant part in shaping Virginia's history.

By , the Algonquian peoples had founded towns such as Werowocomoco in the Tidewater region , which they referred to as Tsenacommacah. The other major language groups in the area were the Siouan to the west, and the Iroquoians , who included the Nottoway and Meherrin , to the north and south. After , the Algonquians consolidated under Chief Powhatan in response to threats from these other groups on their trade network.

In , the native Tidewater population was between 13, and 14, Several European expeditions, including a group of Spanish Jesuits , explored the Chesapeake Bay during the 16th century. The London Company was incorporated as a joint stock company by the proprietary Charter of , which granted land rights to this area. The company financed the first permanent English settlement in the " New World ", Jamestown.

With the bankruptcy of the London Company in , the settlement was taken into royal authority as an English crown colony. Life in the colony was perilous, and many died during the Starving Time in and the Anglo-Powhatan Wars , including the Indian massacre of , which fostered the colonists' negative view of all tribes.

The shift to a system of African slavery in Virginia was propelled by the legal cases of John Punch , who was sentenced to lifetime slavery in for attempting to run away, [72] and of John Casor , who was claimed by Anthony Johnson as his servant for life in The 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 taxation without representation was led by Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee , among others.

On May 15, , 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. During the war, the capital was moved to Richmond at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's coastal location would make it vulnerable to British attack. His surrender on October 19, led to peace negotiations in Paris and secured the independence of the colonies.

Virginians were instrumental in writing the United States Constitution. The three-fifths compromise ensured that Virginia, with its large number of slaves, initially had the largest bloc in the House of Representatives.

Together with the Virginia dynasty of presidents, this gave the Commonwealth national importance. In , both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form the new District of Columbia , though the Virginian area was retroceded in In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries.

Virginian general Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in , and led invasions into Union territory, ultimately becoming commander of all Confederate forces. During the post-war Reconstruction era , Virginia adopted a constitution which provided for free public schools, and guaranteed political, civil, and voting rights. New economic forces also changed the Commonwealth.

Virginian James Albert Bonsack invented the tobacco cigarette rolling machine in leading to new industrial scale production centered on Richmond. Navy from to Goodwin , rector of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Church , began restoration of colonial-era buildings in the historic district with financial backing of John D. Protests started by Barbara Rose Johns in in Farmville against segregated schools led to the lawsuit Davis v. Board of Education , which rejected the segregationist doctrine of " separate but equal ".

But, in , under the policy of " massive resistance " led by the influential segregationist Senator Harry F. Byrd and his Byrd Organization , the Commonwealth prohibited desegregated local schools from receiving state funding. The civil rights movement gained many participants in the s. It achieved the moral force and support to gain passage of national legislation with the Civil Rights Act of and the Voting Rights Act of From to , state legislators under Governor Mills Godwin rewrote the constitution, after goals such as the repeal of Jim Crow laws had been achieved.

The Cold War led to the expansion of national defense government programs housed in offices in Northern Virginia near Washington, D. It was one of the targets of the September 11 attacks ; people died at the site when a jet passenger plane was crashed into the building. Virginia is divided into 95 counties and 38 independent cities , the latter acting in many ways as county-equivalents.

Finally there are hundreds of unincorporated communities within the counties. Virginia does not have any further political subdivisions, such as villages or townships. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, and its metropolitan area has a population of over 1. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 8,, on July 1, , a 5. Aside from Virginia, the top birth state for Virginians is New York , having overtaken North Carolina in the s, with the Northeast accounting for the largest number of migrants into the state by region.

The largest minority group in Virginia is African American, at The first generations of enslaved men, women and children were brought from West and West-Central Africa, primarily from Angola and the Bight of Biafra.

The Igbo ethnic group of what is now southern Nigeria were the single largest African group among slaves in Virginia. Though the black population was reduced by the Great Migration to northern industrial cities in the first half of the 20th century, since there has been a reverse migration of blacks returning south. More recent immigration in the late 20th century and early 21st century has resulted in new communities of Hispanics and Asians.

As of [update] , 9. Navy and armed forces. Most Native American groups are located in the Tidewater region. As of , As of [update] , The 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 Elizabethan of Tangier Island.

The Virginia Synod is responsible for the congregations of the Lutheran Church. In November , 15 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 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.

While the state's Jewish population is small, organized Jewish sites date to with Congregation Beth Ahabah. Virginia is an employment-at-will state; [] its economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and business.

Virginia has the highest defense spending of any state per capita, providing the Commonwealth with around , jobs. Many others work for government contractors , including defense and security firms, which hold more than 15, federal contracts.

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Virginia - Wikipedia

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Virginia (/ v ər ˈ dʒ ɪ n i ə / (listen)), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the . About Home Loans. VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a . VA provides benefits and services to improve the lives of Veterans and their families. Visit Explore VA to learn about VA benefits and apply today.