Officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, this is a state in the south-eastern mid-Atlantic region of the USA, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains.
Virginia is affectionately nicknamed as “Old Dominion” due to its standing as the first possession established in North America by the English. The area is also known as “Mother of Presidents”. This is chiefly because eight American presidents were born there. The area’s geography is shaped by the famous Blue Ridge Mountains and Chesapeake Bay. The capital city is Richmond, but Virginia Beach claims to be the most populated city. Fairfax County is the most populated subdivision. The total estimated population of Virginia is over 8.4 million.
In 1607, the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Both the use of slave labour and the land taken from displaced Native American tribes played a significant part in the colony’s early politics.
The General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The Pew Centre ranked the State Government as ¨Most effective in the USA¨, in both 2005 and 2008. The state is unique for equal treatment of cities and counties. It also prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. The management of roads and infrastructure in the region is exceptional. The local economy has many sectors including agriculture, mostly in the Shenandoah Valley. Additionally, federal agencies based in North Virginia, include the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defence and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at Langley. Besides these, there are military facilities in Hampton Roads which is also the site of the region’s leading seaport.
The Atlantic Ocean is over to the east, and North Carolina is to the south. Tennessee is to the southwest and Kentucky to the west. Virginia’s waterside boundary with Maryland and Washington, D.C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River.
Geology and terrain
The Chesapeake Bay separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The flooded valleys of both the Susquehanna River and the James River formed this famous bay. Many rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James, creating three peninsulas within the bay.
The Cumberland Plateau and the magnificent Cumberland Mountains are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the Allegheny Plateau. In this region, rivers flow northwest with a dendritic drainage system into the Ohio River basin. Furthermore, legendary sunsets grace the region. The sun’s rays light up the mountain ridges and turn from green to purple to blue as they progress toward the horizon.
The climate of Virginia is humid and sub-tropical. Consequently, it becomes increasingly warmer and more humid the farther south and east one travels. Despite its position next to the Atlantic, the coastal areas have a significant influence on the considerable temperature difference between summer and winter. Seasonal extremes vary from very low temperatures in January to average highs of at least 30°C in July. The Atlantic Ocean, however, does have a substantial effect on the eastern coastal areas of the state. The warming influence of the Gulf Stream together with coastal weather creates the possibility of hurricanes, often occurring near to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
Chesapeake Bay is not a national park, but federal legislation protects it. The government-run ¨Chesapeake Bay Program¨ provides protection and restoration of the bay and its watershed to maintain water quality and preserve local wildlife.