Chesapeake, with an estimated population of 214,725 (2004), is one of the larger cities in Virginia as well as the nation in terms of land size. City leaders are challenged to manage this expanse of area and find themselves having to balance the development of commercial and residential areas with preservation efforts of virgin forest, wetlands, and historical landmarks. The city joined the ranks of the current Seven Cities of Hampton Roads in 1963.
Many intracoastal waterways pass through Chesapeake, making it a favorable spot for waterfront homes, marinas and water sport companies. The city's downtown and surrounding neighborhoods consist of a network of historic areas with numerous museums, as well as homes of past notable residents and contributors to the rich history of the city. Chesapeake is also one of the locations for a new high speed passenger rail service to supplement the existing station in Norfolk. The city was named one of the best cities in America in 2006 by Money magazine.
The city offers a great location for conferences and trade shows. The Chesapeake Conference Center is conveniently located in the center of the Mid-Atlantic region in the heart of Hampton Roads. Points of interest in the area include the Chesapeake Arboretum, the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canals, and the Dismal Swamp Canal.