A southeastern state, Virginia spans from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, with a lengthy Atlantic coastline. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson‘s iconic Charlottesville plantation, is one of the 13 original colonies. In addition, the Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement are living history museums that recreate Colonial and Revolutionary-era life.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT VIRGINIA
- Capital City: Richmond
- Largest City: Virginia Beach
- Nickname: Old Dominion, Mother of Presidents
- Statehood: June 25, 1788; 10th state
- Population (as of 2020): 8,654,542
- Abbreviation: V.A.
- State bird: northern cardinal
- State flower: American dogwood
- Total Size Of The State: 42,774.2 sq mi (110,785.67 km2)
Researchers believe that the first people to settle in what is now Virginia arrived as many as 18,000 years ago. The land was occupied by Native American tribes such as the Powhatan, Cherokee, Croatoan, and Tuscarora thousands of years ago.
Jamestown, the first English settlement in what would become the United States, was founded in Virginia in 1607. Powhatans captured John Smith, one of Jamestown’s settlers. According to Smith, Pocahontas, the chief’s daughter, threw herself in front of Smith when he was about to be killed. History does not support this claim, however.
Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, 1776 wrote the Declaration of Independence. Virginia became the tenth state of the Union in 1788, following the Revolutionary War. However, Virginia seceded from the U.S., or the Union, in 1861. During the Civil War, Southern states, including Virginia, sought to withdraw from the Union. The north fought back. Following the Civil War, Virginia rejoined the Union in 1870.
Why Does It Have That Name?
The state was named after Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.
Virginia was once the first English colony in North America, and it was considered one of England’s dominions. Its nickname is the Old Dominion State because of this.
Geographic Features and Landforms
To the north are West Virginia and Maryland; to the east are Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are North Carolina and Tennessee; and to the west are Kentucky and West Virginia.
You will pass through five different geographical areas as you travel from west to east in the state. The Appalachian Plateau, with its forests, mountainous terrain, and winding rivers, is the farthest west.
You’ll see the Appalachian Ridge and Valley in the east, full of sinkholes, caverns, and natural bridges. Shenandoah National Park is also located here.
The Blue Ridge is also a steep part of the Appalachian Mountains with craggy peaks and deep gorges. Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia.
Across most of central Virginia is Piedmont, a plain. A lowland with salt marshes and swamps, the Atlantic Coastal Plain runs from Piedmont to the ocean.
The Natural World
This state is home to black bears, Virginia opossums, Virginia northern flying squirrels, and Appalachian cottontails. Peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and bald eagles soar above the area’s mountains while piping plovers and seagulls nest along the coast. Virginia has 28 species of frogs, including green tree frogs, mountain chorus frogs, and southern leopard frogs. Reptiles found in the state include:
- The poisonous northern copperhead.
- Bright red northern scarlet snake.
- The legless eastern glass lizard.
The state has many trees, including hickory, oak, maple, pine, and magnolia. You can also see a dwarf pawpaw tree with fruit that tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango. Wild columbine, purple milkweed, wild geraniums, and coneflowers are among the native species.
Sixty-two percent of Virginia is covered by forests, making them one of the state’s top natural resources. Approximately $17 billion of Virginia’s revenue comes from selling timber. Coal is also mined in the region.
Some Fun Facts About Virginia
The state’s Native American languages influenced many words we use today. These words include raccoon, moose, hickory, moccasin, skunk, and chipmunk.
In Colonial Williamsburg, actors recreate life in an 18th-century village, complete with blacksmiths and colonial meals. Several buildings have been preserved.
Visitors may visit Washington’s Mount Vernon, Jefferson’s Monticello, Madison’s Montpelier, Monroe’s Highland, Harrison’s Berkeley Plantation, and Tyler’s Sherwood Forest Plantation. The presidents’ homes are open to the public.