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Virginia, US (Population: 7,642,884)

State Capitol: Richmond

Major Cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesaeake, Newport News, Arlington, Hampton, Alexandria, Portsmouth, Roanoke

State Nickname/Motto: Old Dominion State – Sic Semper Tyrannis: Thus Always to Tyrants

Statehood Granted: June 25, 1788

History: At the time of the English colonization of Virginia, American Indian people living in what now is Virginia were the Cherokee, Chesapeake, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Meherrin, Moobs, Nansemond, Nottaway, Pamunkey, Povic, Powhatan, Occoneechees, Rappahannock, Saponites and others. A Spanish exploration party had come to the lower Chesapeake Bay region of Virginia 1565 and met the Native Americans living on the Virginia Peninsula. A 17-year old teenage Powhatan boy from the village of Chiskiack (located on the lands of the present-day U.S. Naval Weapons Station Yorktown), who was the son of a chief, agreed to leave with them. He was baptized and renamed Don Luis, in honor of his sponsor, Luis de Velasco. Don Luis was educated in Mexico and Madrid, Spain.

In the fall of 1570, the native-convert Don Luis returned to Virginia to help as a guide and translator in the establishment of the Jesuit's planned Ajacan Mission to be named for St. Mary on the lower peninsula. Shortly after they were dropped off by a Spanish ship, Don Luis abandoned the group, returning to his people, where he became a Weroance. The following February, Don Luis and a group of Powhatans returned and killed the 8 Jesuit missionaries, stealing their clothes and possessions, sparing only the life of a Spanish servant boy named Alonzo. This young boy escaped and made his way to a rival tribe, where he stayed until later rescued by another Spanish ship bringing supplies.

Geography: Highest point: Mt. Rogers 5,729 feet. Virginia is bordered by West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia across the Potomac River to the north; by Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east; by North Carolina and Tennessee to the south; and by Kentucky and West Virginia to the west. The Chesapeake Bay divides the commonwealth, with Virginia's Eastern Shore, a part of the Delmarva Peninsula, completely separate by an exclave from the rest of the Commonwealth. Geographically, Virginia is divided into the following six regions: 1. Ridge and Valley—between the Appalachian Plateau and Allegheny Plateau to the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east. Sometimes referred to as Valley and Ridge; 2. Shenandoah Valley—located within the Ridge and Valley Region; it is referred to geographically—and culturally— as its own region; 3. Blue Ridge Mountains—between the Ridge and Valley Region to the west and the Piedmont region to the east; 4.Foothills—area now recognized directly between the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains; 5.Piedmont—between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the Tidewater region to the east; and Tidewater—between the fall line to the west and the Atlantic coast to the east; it includes the Eastern Shore.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (98.2%), White (71.7%), Black or African American (19.18%), American Indian and Alaska Native (0.3%), Asian (4.7%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.1%), Some other race (2.3%), Two or more races (1.8%), Hispanic or Latino (6.0%)*

Famous State People:

  • Meriwether Lewis (1774 - 1809) and William Clark (1770 - 1838) Led a famous expedition to the Pacific ocean; both born in Virginia.
  • Edgar Allen Poe (1809 - 1849) Author of works such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher; lived in Richmond.
  • Warren Beatty (1937 - ) Director, actor, producer, writer; born in Richmond.
  • Roy Clark (1933 - ) Country music artist; born in Meherrin.
  • James E. West (1931 - ) Inventor of the Foil Electret Microphone; born in Prince Edward County.
  • Arthur Ashe (1943 - 1993) Famous tennis player; born in Richmond.
  • Ella Fitzgerald (1917 - 1996) Jazz singer; born in Newport News.
  • Booker T. Washington (1856 - 1915) African-American educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute; born on a small farm in the Virginia backcountry.
  • George Washington (1732 - 1799) First president of the U.S.; born in Westmoreland county.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) Third president of the U.S.; born in Albermarle County.
  • James Madison (1751 - 1836) Fourth president of the U.S.; born in Orange County.
  • James Monroe (1758 - 1831) Fifth president of the U.S.; born in Westmoreland County.
  • William Henry Harrison (1773 - 1841) Ninth president of the U.S.; born in Berkeley.
  • John Tyler (1790 - 1862) Tenth president of the U.S.; born in Charles City County.
  • Zachary Taylor (1784 - 1850) 12th president of the U.S.; born in Orange County.
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924) 28th president of the U.S.; born in Stauton.
  • Admiral Richard E. Byrd (1888 - 1957) Explorer and first man to fly over North and South poles; born in Winchester.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: Christopher Newport University, College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Marine Corps University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, University of Virginia's College at Wise, Virginia Community College System, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia State University, Appalachian School of Law, Averett University, Bluefield College, Bridgewater College, Christendom College, Eastern Mennonite University

    State and National Parks: Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Assateague Island National Seashore, Blue Ridge Parkway, Booker T. Washington National Monument, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, Colonial National Historical Park, Cape Henry Memorial, Jamestown National Historic Site, Yorktown National Cemetery and Battlefield, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Turkey Run Park, United States Marine Corps War Memorial, Women in Military Service for America Memorial, George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, Petersburg National Battlefield, Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, Prince William Forest Park, Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Shenandoah National Park, Bear Creek Lake State Park, Belle Isle State Park, Breaks Interstate Park, Chippokes Plantation State Park, Douthat State Park, Fairy Stone State Park, False Cape State Park, George Washington Grist Mill State Park, Holliday Lake State Park, Hungry Mother State Park, James River State Park, Kiptopeke State Park, Lake Anna State Park, Leesylvania State Park, Mason Neck State Park, Natural Tunnel State Park, New River Trail State Park, Occoneechee State Park, Pocahontas State Park, Shenandoah River State Park Smith Mountain State Park, Twin Lakes State Park, Westmoreland State Park, Wilderness Road State Park

    Misc: Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents" because it is the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson, and is exceeded by no other state. Most of the United States' early presidents were from the state. Virginia has also been known as the "Mother of States" (sometimes "Mother States and Statesmen"), because portions of the original Colony subsequently became Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia as well as some portions of Ohio. Additionally, most of what is now Wisconsin and Michigan was also briefly claimed by Virginia during the Revolutionary War.

    *U.S. Census - 2005