Virginia (abbr.: VA or Va.) state of the United States of America, 105,716 km2, with 6.1 million inhabitants. (48 inhabitants per km2); capital city: Richmond.
The eastern part consists of a 100 km wide and sandy coastal plain with many lagoons and in the south on the border of North Carolina a large swamp, Great Dismal Swamp. The length of the coastline is 5334 km, while the coast is only 180 km as the crow flies. The Potomac, Rappahannock, York and James rivers divide the coastal plain into large peninsulas with their 5 to 10 km wide mouths and gather in the 30 to 50 km wide Chesapeake Bay. The Delmarva Peninsula, which belongs to Virginia but is attached to Maryland, largely closes off Chesapeake Bay, the southern part of which belongs to Virginia. Off the ocean coast are numerous islets; in the Chesapeake Bay, Tangier, Watts, and Fox Islands belong to Virginia. The coastal plain ends at the Fall Line, the rift-defined transition to the Piedmont, the eastern fringe. It is an undulating landscape, consisting of an old crystalline subsoil, covered with layers of clay. The Blue Ridge (1200–1500 m high), which rises with an 800 m sheer ridge above the Piedmont, is strongly folded and consists of crystalline rock. West of the Blue Ridge is the Ridge and Valley area; broad valleys are separated here by sharp ridges. The valleys are on average 300 m high, the ridges rise above 1200 m. To the south is Mount Rogers (1746 m), the highest point in Virginia. This is where the Shenandoah National Park is located. To the west, this area is closed off by the 500 m high escarpment of the Allegheny Mountains. In the extreme southwest, part of Virginia belongs to the 1600 m high Appalachian Plateau. Except for the coastal plain, all the areas mentioned belong to the Appalachians. The Great Valley drainage goes north through the Shenandoah; it empties into the northern border river, the Potomac. The Jackson and Cowpasture flow south to the James River, which meets the North and Appomattox east of the Blue Ridge. In the south, the Roanoke also breaks through the Blue Ridge, but flows south of Virginia. A large dam has been built in this river on the border with North Carolina, creating a reservoir (John H. Kerr Reservoir, 200 km2). The Rappahannock and its tributary the Rapidan rise on the east side of the Blue Ridge. The Pamunkey and its tributaries rise on the Piedmont. The rivers are navigable up to the Fall Line, where the rapids begin. Virginia has many hot springs. Virginia has a maritime climate in the east; to the west the temperature differences become greater. Precipitation is distributed throughout the year, with a maximum in the summer months; in the Great Valley precipitation is significantly less than elsewhere. At Richmond, the average monthly temperatures in January are 2.5 °C and in July 25.5°C; the annual precipitation is 106 cm.
The average population density is 56 inhabitants. per km2. About 69% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News. See top cities in Virginia.
The main sectors of the economy are services, industry and trade. Public service (local, state, and national) employs a large proportion of the workforce; about half of these are in federal (military or civilian) service. Besides the Pentagon (at Arlington, opposite Washington) there are a large number of other military institutions in the state. The Port of Hampton Roads (Norfolk) is one of the major ports of the United States. The industry produces chemical products, cigars and cigarettes, food and transport equipment, plastics (especially synthetic fibres), also textiles, paper and furniture. Agriculture mainly produces tobacco, maize, hay, fruit (apples) and groundnuts; the livestock includes cattle (dairy production), poultry and pigs. The main mineral is coal; furthermore, there are o.
Tourism is of great significance, with attractions such as the Arlington National Cemetery, the Colonial National Historical Park with the restored town of Williamsburg, and the Jamestown Settlement, Shenandoah National Park (782 km2), from which the Blue Ridge National Parkway towers over the ridge of the Blue Ridge leads southwest into North Carolina, and the Civil War battlefields of Manassas, Fredericksburg, Richmond, and Petersburg.
Virginia, named after the English ‘virgin queen’ Elizabeth I, is the oldest English colony in North America. It is therefore nicknamed The Old Dominion. The first settlement of settlers took place in 1607 under Captain John Smith. The hardships were initially great. The situation improved, however, when a good economic basis was found in the cultivation of tobacco in 1614. In 1619 Virginia already got its own parliament (‘House of Burgesses’). In the same year the first slaves were imported. In 1622 the Indians in the area revolted in vain. In 1624, King James I revoked the charter of the Virginia Company. Virginia became a crown colony and the colony flourished, especially under the governorship of Sir William Berkeley (1642–1652; 1660–1672).
Virginia flourished in the 18th century. The western boundary of the state was unclear; settlers who penetrated into the Ohio Valley area clashed with the French there. The French threat disappeared after the ‘French and Indian war’ (1755–1762) and after that the Indians could also be defeated in 1774 (Battle of Point Pleasant). With Massachusetts, Virginia played a leading role in the American Revolutionary War.
Conventions, meeting in 1774–1776, assumed sovereignty. In 1776, a Bill of Rights was passed, which would serve as an example throughout America. There was fierce fighting on the territory of the state; at Yorktown the final capitulation of the English troops took place (1781). Virginia also played a large part in the further development of the new Union. Jefferson (designer of the Declaration of Independence), Madison (Father of the Constitution), and Washington (first president) were from Virginia, as were all presidents between 1801 and 1825. Virginia joined the Union in 1788 as the tenth of the original 13 colonies.
The backlash came through the slavery issue. As early as the 18th century, the contradiction between the coastal area floating on slavery on the one hand and the western mountainous region rejecting the slavery system on the other had already become apparent in the state. In 1831, the last open debates on the issue of slavery took place in the Legislative Assembly. In the same year, Nat Turner’s failed slave revolt took place. After that, there was no longer any freedom and Virginia became the heart of the slave region. It joined the Confederate States in April 1861. The Capital (since 1779) Richmond now became the capital of the entire South. Virginia suffered greatly during the American Civil War. The western highlands remained loyal to the Union and seceded as the separate state of West Virginia. After the Civil War, the occupation by the North and the Reconstruction followed. In 1870, Virginia was readmitted to the Union. It has remained an extremely conservative state ever since, ruled by a white oligarchy, which eliminated not only the Negroes, but also most of the poor whites in the political process. The state’s foremost leader of the 20th century, Governor (1926–1930) and Senator (1933–1965) Harry Byrd, had long reigned supreme through his political “machine,” a tight-knit organization. When the racial problem became urgent in the 1950s, Virginia, led by Byrd, embarked on a policy of massive resistance, which had to be abandoned in 1959. In the 1960s, the Byrd machine came crashing down as a result of the massive extension of suffrage through the new 1965 electoral law, which opened the way for democratic development. Since then, both Democrats and Republicans have been in power. In 1989, L. Douglas Wilder won the gubernatorial election. He became the first black governor in United States history.
Virginia National Parks
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in northwestern Virginia. In the park you can enjoy the beautiful hilly landscape, the many rivers and the huge waterfalls. The Shenadouh River flows through the Shenadouh Valley, giving the park its name.
The climate in the park is very rough and rain often falls despite the hot summers. The winters, on the other hand, are harsh and there is always a chance of snow. Lodging can be found in Stanley, Luray, New Market, Elkton or Waynesboro.