Virginia Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Virginia flag

Virginia is one of the best states to live in. With its growing economy and ideal location — centrally located on the East Coast — it’s perfect for people who adore history, nature lovers, and individuals who are looking for a new career or a fresh start. Also known as “the birthplace of a nation,” Virginia has no shortage of opportunities. And for those who are getting near the retirement stage, there will always be something for them to enjoy, such as Virginia’s pristine beaches to the east, and the mountains to the west. Check out these Virginia facts to learn more about the state that has it all.

  1. Virginia became the 10th state of the United States on June 25, 1788.
  2. It is officially known as the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  3. Virginia’s population, as of 2021, is about 8.67 million.
  4. It is the 12th most populous state in the United States.
  5. Virginia’s land area is 110,786 km².
  1. The state is located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States.
  2. Virginia is between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains.
  3. The geography and climate of the state are formed by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay.
  4. Richmond is the capital of Virginia.
  5. More than 85% of the people here speak English while approximately 6% can speak Spanish.
  6. The state’s traditional abbreviation is Va.
  7. The average median household income of the state is $71,535.
  8. 95 counties divide Virginia.
  9. Its state motto is ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ or ‘thus always to tyrants.’ The state motto symbolizes victory over tyranny.
  10. Virginia’s official website is www.virginia.gov.
  1. ​​​​​Virginia Beach is its most populous city with around 450,000 residents.
  2. Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision in Virginia.
  3. Virginia’s nickname is the ‘Old Dominion’ and ‘Mother of States.’
  4. People who live in Virginia are called Virginians.
  5. Anglicanism or Protestantism is the most dominant religion of the state.
Table of Contents

Virginia’s highest point is 1,747 meters above mean sea level.

Mount Rogers is the highest natural point here in the state. Its summit is 5,731 ft or 1,747 meters above mean sea level. Mount Rogers’ name came from Virginia’s first geologist, William Barton Rogers (December 7, 1804 – May 30, 1882).

Sunset On Appalachian Trail Mount Rogers Virginia
Image from Adobe Stock

Virginia’s state legislature is one of the oldest in the U.S.

Virginia’s state legislature is the Virginia General Assembly (or the legislative body of the state). Its establishment occurred on July 1619, hence, making it one of the oldest law-making bodies in the United States and throughout North America.

The state’s economy is healthy and growing.

Similarly, the state’s economy is pretty diverse. It has thriving agriculture, ship manufacturing, seafood farming, and technology. Accordingly, the apple-growing capital of Winchester located at the northwest of the state, and wineries scattered among the countryside, are some of its most major contributors.

It collects personal income tax in different brackets.

Virginia collects personal income tax varying from 3% up to more than 5%. The tax rate on food is 1.5%. The sales and use tax rate is 4%. Moreover, there is an extra 1% local tax, for a total of 5% combined sales tax on most Virginia purchases and a combined tax rate of 2.5% on food. The local government level collects the state’s fixed property tax which differs throughout the area.

There is evidence that people lived in the land as early as 18,000 years ago.

Experts estimated that the first people who lived here arrived roughly 18,000 years ago. Thousands of years after, Native American tribes such as the Croatoan, Powhatan, Tuscarora, and the Cherokee, began to live on the land.

Pocahontas is from Virginia.

Pocahontas was a female Native American, who belonged to the Powhatan people, widely known for her affiliation with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She was the daughter of Powhatan, the highest-level political leader in the region.

Pocahontas, statue, Virginia facts
Image from Rawpixel

Virginia is named after Queen Elizabeth I of England.

The state that we now know as Virginia was home to the first English colony in North America. Thought of as one of England’s territories or dominions, it got its nickname, the Old Dominion State. Its name came from Queen Elizabeth I (also known as the Virgin Queen), who was the last of the 5 monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Virginia has 5 neighboring states.

Virginia shares its borders with 5 other states; Maryland (in the east), North Carolina (in the south), Tennessee (in the south), and finally, Kentucky and West Virginia (both in the west).

The Shenandoah National Park is a popular tourist attraction.

Established on December 26, 1935, the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia now attracts nearly 1.5 million visitors each year. Moreover, about 40% of its land is preserved as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Skyline Drive (constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps) is one of the most popular features of the national park.

There are countless different species in Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park is a refuge for various animals such as over 150 bird species, 50 mammal species, 40 fish species, 20 reptiles, and more. Hailed as one of the best sites for wildlife watching, it’s entrancing to observe the black bear population. In fact, hundreds of black bears currently reside in the national park.

Around 62.9% of Virginia’s land is forest.

One of the state’s major natural resources is its forests, which cover more than 60% of Virginia (15.9 million acres of forest). Virginia makes a lot of money by selling timber, which generates billions and billions of dollars year after year, and is also popular for mining coal.

The first U.S. President is from Virginia.

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the first US President and served the country from April 30, 1789, to  March 4, 1797. Born in Popes Creek, Virginia, he grew up in a wealthy family that made their fortune through land speculation and the cultivation of tobacco.

George Washington, US President
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

8 US Presidents came from Virginia.

There are currently 8 US presidents who were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

There are 7 US Presidents buried in Virginia.

They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler, William Howard Taft, and John F. Kennedy. Although the slain President, John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and most of his family and friends assumed he wanted to be buried there, JFK was a World War II veteran, thus, he qualified for a plot at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Some of the words we use came from Virginia.

Some of the words we use in today’s modern world came from Virginia’s Native American languages. Moccasin, moose, hickory, skunk, chipmunk, and raccoon. The English word raccoon came from the Algonquian language of the Powhatan confederacy of Indigenous tribes that settled in the Virginia area during the 16th century.

Virginia can have around 30 to 45 days of annual thunderstorms.

The state has a humid subtropical climate that transitions to humid, continental west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Seasonal extremes range from average lows of -4°C or 25°F in January to usual highs of 30°C or 86°F in July. Furthermore, Virginia can have around 30 to 45 days of annual thunderstorms, while storms are common in the late afternoon and evenings between April and September.

17% of its population is working in government agencies.

As of 2021, government agencies in Virginia directly employ roughly 700,000 Virginians, almost 17% of all employees in the state. Currently, around 12% of all US federal procurement money is spent in Virginia, the second-highest amount after California.

Virginia produced the first commercial peanut crop.

The first known mass-produced peanut crop was grown in Virginia in the year 1842, in Sussex County, near the town known today as Waverly. Before, the loose loamy soil of the region produced a perfect quality of peanuts, and over the next 40 years, the state would become the top producer of peanuts in America. As a result, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida are the leading producers of peanuts in the United States.

The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world.

Located at Richmond Highway within Arlington, Virginia, the Pentagon is the biggest office building on the planet by far. Consequently, the building has over 603,869 m² of total floor space or around 3 times the size of the Empire State Building’s floor space in New York.

the pentagon
Image from Adobe Stock

Sandra Bullock and Pharrell Williams are from Virginia.

Some of the popular celebrities and artists from Virginia are Sandra Bullock (actress and producer from Arlington), Vince Gilligan (TV writer and producer from Richmond), and Pharrell Williams (singer, songwriter, producer, and fashion designer from Virginia Beach). Additionally, Rob Lowe (actor from Charlottesville), Ella Fitzgerald (singer, actress from Newport News), and Shirley MacLaine (actress, singer, dancer, activist from Richmond/Arlington), are also from Virginia.

The state has more than 100 historical societies and museums.

The modern Virginian culture includes multiple sources and is part of the culture of the Southern United States. In fact, the Smithsonian Institution or simply the Smithsonian (a group of museums and research centers) classifies the state into 9 cultural regions. Virginians take pride in their lively cultural life, rooted mainly in the state’s colonial history and in its central role in the early development of the country.

Virginia is for oyster lovers.

Across the state, people can find inspired culinary delights highlighting Virginia’s specialties. Its cuisine is tangled with a rich history—they are known for their barbeque, country ham, peanuts, blue crabs, trout, apples, Brunswick stew, and of course peanuts and oysters. In fact, Virginia is the Oyster Capital of the East Coast.

There are more than 250 registered vineyards and wineries in Virginia.

Virginia has been producing wine since the early days of European colonization in the 17th century. An increasing number of both profit and non-profit organizations have been growing since the 1980s to help promote the wine industry of the state. 

37% of the people live in Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia, locally known as NOVA, holds several counties and independent cities of the state. It is a widespread region radiating westward and southward from Washington, D.C. with more than 3 million people based on the 2020 Census (that is representing about 37% of Virginia’s total population). It is also the most crowded region of Virginia and the Washington metropolitan area.

The state does not have a major professional sports league franchise.

Virginia is the most populous state in the United States without a major professional sports league franchise such as the NBA or MLB playing within its borders. Nonetheless, two of the major-league teams representing Washington, D.C. (the NFL’s Washington Football Team and NHL’s Washington Capitals) have their training facilities and headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Virginia is for NASCAR lovers.

NASCAR is one of Virginian’s most favorite sports. Foreign visitors can also watch live races at places like Martinsville Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, and Bristol Motor Speedway. Professional stock car racing drivers bring excitement to Virginia all year round. Meanwhile, the NASCAR Cup Series is at its highest level of professional competition.

RIR Spring NASCAR Race
Image source: Flickr

Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia.

Tennis Superstar Arthur Ashe, who started playing at age 6, was born in Richmond, Virginia on July 10, 1943. Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis championships, as well as the first African-American man to be ranked as the No. 1 tennis player on the planet.

Virginia Cavaliers represents the University of Virginia.

The intercollegiate men’s basketball program, Virginia Cavaliers, represents the University of Virginia. Moreover, the school plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. As of the moment, the “Old Dominion State” has won 1 NCAA Championship, 2 National Invitation Tournaments, and 3 ACC Tournament titles.

Mystic Falls is not really in Virginia.

During its airing from 2009 to 2017, the hit TV series, The Vampire Diaries, took place in the town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Fans who wish to visit that town in real life can travel to Covington, GA, about 30 minutes southeast of Atlanta.

Fairs and festivals are common in Virginia.

Many counties in Virginia host county fairs and festivals. For instance, they hold the Virginia State Fair at the Meadow Event Park every September. The Fair usually offers rides, carnival games, concerts, and delicious fair foods. Also in that same month is the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach (the Festival showcases an arts & crafts show, food, live music, a surfing contest, and a volleyball tournament), which celebrates the city, the waterfront, and regional artists.