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Capital: Richmond
State motto: Sic semper tyrannis
(This is how the tyrants always go)
Official language : English
Surface: 110,785 km²
Residents: 8,470,020 (estimate 2017) (76.5 U / km²)
Member since: June 25, 1788
Time zone: Eastern: UTC − 5 / −4
The highest point: 1,746 m ( Mount Rogers )
Average Height: 290 m
Deepest point: 0 m Atlantic Ocean
Governor : Ralph Northam ( D )
Post  / Office /  ISO VA / / US VA
Map of Virginia
Map of Virginia
Virginia Geographical Map
Virginia Geographical Map

Virginia ( English pronunciation  [ vɚˈd͡ʒɪnjə ] ), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia , is a state of the United States of America , which includes parts of the South Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont and the Southern Appalachians . After more than 150 years as an Anglo-British colony, the Colony of Virginia gained independence along with twelve other colonies. In 1788, Virginia was the tenth state to ratify the US Constitution. During the American Civil War , the northwestern counties split off and became an independent state of West Virginia in 1862 . Please click to listen!Play

The nickname of the state is Old Dominion ("Old Dominion"). He is also called the Mother of the Presidents because eight US presidents came from here. The capital of Virginia is Richmond .


Geographical location

Virginia is located on the Atlantic coast of the United States about midway between the northern ( Maine ) and southern ( Florida ) extension of the US coast. From the Atlantic coastal plain along Chesapeake Bay to the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian Mountains in the west of the state, the state has a topographical diversity. The southern border with North Carolina and Tennessee is an almost straight east-west line, while the northern border with Maryland and the District of Columbia is formed by the Potomac River . Kentucky and West Virginia are also direct neighbors on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains.

Virginia shares with the neighboring state of Maryland just under one half of the vast urban conurbation around the Federal District Washington, DC This includes besides the airport Dulles International also Arlington County in which a variety of American federal agencies, including, Pentagon , are located. In the western part of the country is the highest mountain in Virginia, Mount Rogers , which is 1,746 meters high . Shenandoah National Park is also located in the Appalachian Mountains .

Center of Richmond


The Eastern North American Divide runs through Virginia . The major rivers in the eastern part of the state drain to Chesapeake Bay, and in the southeast to Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Major rivers in Virginia are the Potomac River with Shenandoah River and the Rappahannock River in the north , the James River in the center and the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers in the southeast . The west of the country across the watershed is part of the Mississippi River basin . The main rivers are the New River and the Clinch River .

Virginia has no natural lakes other than Mountain Lake and Lake Drummond . The country's most stately lakes have been artificially created. The largest reservoir in Virginia is the nearly 200 km² John H. Kerr Reservoir , which extends to North Carolina. Smith Mountain Lake (83 km²) is completely in the Virginia area , both reservoirs are on the Roanoke River.



The climate is mild compared to other US states. Most of the state east of the Blue Ridge Mountains is determined by a warm temperate rainy climate (class Cfa ) according to the effective climate classification . In the mountain regions west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the climate is humid continental (class Dfa ).

Due to the different types of landscape relief, however, there are some regional differences. The greatest differences occur on the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Piedmont and in the mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains . The usually moderate influence of the ocean from the east, caused by the Gulf Stream , alternates with brief storms caused by hurricanes at the opening of the Chesapeake Bay . On the other hand, especially in winter, cold air masses from the mountains reach the state and carry heavy snowfalls with them. The interaction of these climatic extremes and the topographical diversity in the Shenandoah Valley , which forms the mountainous southwest, as well as on the coastal prairies, create microclimates that differ slightly but to a significant extent from the other regions. A climate element in recent years is the creation of a heat island in northern Virginia, caused by the expansion of the metropolitan area around Washington DC and the resulting increased heat emissions. Despite this, Virginia's weather stations have so far not found any influence from global warming, except in the metropolitan areas .

Climatic natural disasters are at times a serious problem. As mentioned above, hurricanes make the coast of Virginia very vulnerable, although severe hurricanes rarely hit the region and then arrive only weakly. The state is far more often affected by other weather systems from the south, the foothills of which bring torrential rainfall into the state. Thunderstorms are at times worrying and occur 30 to 50 days a year depending on the region, with the frequency increasing towards the west. Conversely Ostvirginia has a higher Tornado rate ; the national average is 10 tornadoes annually.


Population density in 2010
Population development
Census Residents ± in%
1790 691.737 -
1800 807.557 16.7%
1810 877.683 8.7%
1820 938.261 6.9%
1830 1,044,054 11.3%
1840 1,025,227 -1.8%
1850 1,119,348 9.2%
1860 1,219,630 9%
1870 1,225,163 0.5%
1880 1,512,565 23.5%
1890 1,655,980 9.5%
1900 1,854,184 12%
1910 2,061,612 11.2%
1920 2,309,187 12%
1930 2,421,851 4.9%
1940 2,677,773 10.6%
1950 3,318,680 23.9%
1960 3,966,949 19.5%
1970 4,648,494 17.2%
1980 5,346,818 15%
1990 6,187,358 15.7%
2000 7,078,515 14.4%
2010 8.001.024 13%
2017 estimate 8,470,020 5.9%
Sources: before 1900; 1900-1990; 2000; 2010.

Ethnicities and descent

Of the predominantly white population of Virginia, around 11.7% come from German-speaking countries, 11.1% from Great Britain (predominantly England) and 9.8% from Ireland; 11.4% of the whites gave no information about their ancestors. Afro-Americans make up 19.6%, Hispanics (Latinos) around 6% and Asians, including many Vietnamese and Filipinos, around 5% of the total population.

Population development

In 2005, the updated population was 7,567,465, which represented an increase of 86,133 inhabitants or 1.2% compared to the previous year and an increase of 488,435 inhabitants or 6.9% compared to 2000. The natural growth compared to the 2000 census was 231,055 people; 531,476 live births were compared to 300,421 deaths. In 2017 the population was estimated at 8.4 million people.

The immigration surplus was 243,498, of which 139,977 were from outside the United States and 103,521 from within the country. In 2006, 940,899 people (8.14% of the total population) were born abroad while 99,104 were born in another state.


Of every 100,000 children in Virginia, 53 die (US average: 62). For every 1,000 live births there are 7.3 dead infants (US average: 6.8). In Virginia, out of 100,000 residents, 8.2 have AIDS, well below the US mean (12.3). 31% (US average: 31.6%) of the children are overweight, 10.7% (US average: 12.1% *) of the adults suffer from diabetes. Life expectancy at birth was 79.01 years in 2009, slightly above the American average of 78.86 years.

Biggest cities

Portsmouth (Virginia) Roanoke (Virginia) Hampton (Virginia) Alexandria (Virginia) Newport News Richmond (Virginia) Arlington (Virginia) Chesapeake (Virginia) Norfolk (Virginia) Virginia Beach


In addition to numerous other, mainly Protestant denominations, the most important religious communities in 2010, sorted by number of members:


Virginia was given the name in honor of Queen Elizabeth I of England by Walter Raleigh during his 1584 expedition when he founded the first settlement on Roanoke Island . Since the unmarried queen had the nickname "Virgin Queen" ( Virgin Queen ) and it was from the point of view of the colonialists ultimately about the settlement and reclamation of such a land, this name was chosen. However, it was used to refer to an area that later included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina , Kentucky , Tennessee and Ohio .

Of the indigenous people of Virginia to the are best Virginia Algonquian belonging Powhatan known who lived near the coast. Other groups were the Iroquois- speaking family Nottaway and Meherrin southwest of these, the Sioux- speaking Monacan and Saponi who lived in the foothills of the Appalachians, and the Cherokee in the far west of the state.

The English made their first attempts at settlement in Virginia. However, these first attempts were not made by the English government, but by a company called the Virginia Company , which founded the Jamestown settlement in 1607 . At that time the English government did not have the money to finance such expensive and unsafe expeditions. Initially, the colonization attempts had only moderate success. Of the 144 men who started in England in December 1606, only 38 were alive nine months later; 39 had died during the crossing, 67 in the first nine months after arriving at the coast. Famine was also not uncommon, but more and more English people took the opportunity and emigrated to Virginia.

In the English Powhatan Wars , the colony was in dire straits. The year 1612 is an economically very important year. John Rolfe planted the first tobacco plant , which he probably brought with him from Trinidad , in Virginia. Due to the hot and humid climate and the help of the indigenous population, the tobacco plants thrived. Rolfe, who married a native woman named Pocahontas in 1614 , set off for England in 1616 with the first batch of tobacco, where he experienced a resounding success. In 1617 he returned to Virginia to continue growing tobacco, but without Pocahontas, who had died in England. Rolfe had triggered the first boom in the new English world. In 1618 20,000 pounds of tobacco were exported, in 1638 the total of exports was already three million pounds. In 1706, Grace Sherwood was the last known person in Virginia to be convicted of a witch.

The second governor of the colony became Lord De La Warr . German immigrants from Siegerland founded the Germanna colony in 1714 . Germanna was to Germany ( Germany and the then British Queen) Anne named.

Home to many of the founding fathers , notably Patrick Henry , Thomas Jefferson , Richard Henry Lee , James Madison , George Mason, and George Washington , Virginia played a prominent role in the American independence movement . The British colonizers were finally expelled from Virginia after the lost Battle of Great Bridge on December 9, 1775. The Convention of Virginia , which met in Williamsburg , declared Virginia independent on May 15, 1776. As part of the work on a constitution, on June 12, 1776, he unanimously passed a fundamental rights declaration largely formulated by George Mason - the Virginia Declaration of Rights . A few weeks later, the convention finally elected Patrick Henry as the first governor of Virginia. With the adoption of the United States' Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4th of that year, Virginia became one of the thirteen founding states of the United States .

Reenactment of the Battle of Petersburg

In the conflict between the southern and northern states that led to the American Civil War in 1861 , Virginia was part of the Confederation . On April 17, 1861, the State Convention convened in February passed the "secession ordinance" (secession order). This was preceded by long and intense debates on the pros and cons of secession. The conscription of Abraham Lincoln's troops after the attack from South Carolina on Fort Sumter played a key role in the decision to secession , which aroused fears that the North would use military means to force the states that had left the Union to remain in the Union. Under these circumstances, a majority in the state convention, which supported secession, emerged. With 88 to 55 votes, the result of the vote was not as clear as in most other secession states. However, that did not change the fact that Virginia would become one of the most important theaters of the civil war in the following four years, especially since it was the Confederate capital along with Richmond .

The slave-free north - western counties , on the other hand, declared on April 27, 1861, the secession from the state and remaining in the Union. This part of Virginia became West Virginia as the 35th member state of the United States during the war in 1863 .

On January 26, 1870, Virginia was re-admitted to the Union after a new constitution was drawn up. However, it was not until after the First World War that the effects of the civil war were completely overcome by implementing many comprehensive reforms. The appropriate measures were ordered by the Democratic Governor Harry F. Byrd Sr. in the 1920s and revived Virginia's economy, which had been struggling for decades. However, racial conflicts persisted.

Patrick Henry in front of the town house on a picture painted by Peter F. Rothermel in 1851

Community center

In colonial times, the government's lower house was called the House of Burgesses . Together with the board of governors, the community center held the general assembly . The Board of Governors consisted of twelve men appointed by the British monarch to appoint and advise the governor. He also served as the Colony's highest court, a colonial institution comparable to the British Supreme Court . Members of the community center were chosen by all eligible voters in the colony. Each county elected two citizens to represent them; the College of William & Mary  - after Harvard the second oldest university in America - and the cities of Norfolk, Williamsburg and Jamestown each elected one citizen.

The citizens came together to pass laws for the colony and set the direction for the colony's future growth. The council examined the bills and approved or disapproved of them. Citizens, council and governor approval were required to pass a law. The idea of ​​the elected citizens was important and new. It first gave Virginia voters a chance to control their government.

Initially the citizens were elected by all free men in the colony, while women, domestic servants and Indians were not eligible to vote. Electoral laws were later tightened; it was now necessary to own at least 20 hectares of land. Founded in 1619, the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest surviving system of government in the New World . Nowadays it is made up of the Senate and the House of Delegates. The term community center is now used for the entire government of that time.


As a federal state of the United States , Virginia is a partially sovereign member state with its own institutions at the state level on the one hand and participation in the institutions of the entire state on the other.

National level

Former Governor Bob McDonnell (left) and Senator Mark Warner

The executive branch consists of the Governor of Virginia , since January 2018 the Democrat Ralph Northam ( see also: List of Governors of Virginia ), the Lieutenant Governor ( lieutenant governor ) and the Attorney General , all elected at the same time for four years directly by the people become.

The Virginia Parliament, the General Assembly , consists of two chambers . The first chamber, the House of Delegates , consists of 100 members elected for two years, each representing around 80,000 eligible voters. The second chamber, the Senate , consists of 40 members elected for four years. The Republicans have a majority in the House of Delegates and the Democrats in the State Senate .

Under the Virginia Constitution, a bill must pass through both houses of the legislature - only when both houses have passed the same version of the bill is it presented to the governor. Should this veto be vetoed, it can be overruled by a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

Federal level

Due to its size and population, Virginia was the leading political state in the United States in the 18th and early 19th centuries. A total of eight presidents came from Virginia. This high number is usually only reached in Ohio , which was also home to eight presidents. With industrialization in the 19th century, Virginia's influence declined noticeably, as immigration to the cities of the north and the new states of the Northwest Territory was greater than that of the long-established agricultural country of Virginia. In addition, there was the defeat in the Civil War , in which Virginia stood on the side of the southern states and West Virginia split off as a separate state. Within the Confederation , the "Old Dominion State" was once again the most populous state with the largest Electoral College , a rank that had already overtaken it within the New York Union in 1812.

Presidential election results
year Democrats republican
2016 49.8% 1,981,473 44.4% 1,769,443
2012 51.2% 1,971,820 47.3% 1,822,522
2008 52.6% 1,959,532 46.3% 1,725,005
2004 45.5% 1,454,742 53.7% 1,716,959
2000 44.4% 1,217,290 52.5% 1,437,490
1996 45.2% 1,091,060 47.1% 1,138,350
1992 40.6% 1,038,650 45.0% 1,150,517
1988 39.2% 859,799 59.7% 1,309,162
1984 37.1% 796,250 62.3% 1,337,078
1980 40.3% 752,174 53.0% 989,609
1976 48.0% 813,896 49.3% 836,554
1972 30.1% 438,887 67.8% 988,493
1968 32.5% 442,387 43.4% 590,319
1964 53.5% 558,038 46.2% 481,334
1960 47.0% 362,327 52.4% 404,521

After returning to the Union, Virginia voted Republican only twice between 1872 and 1948 . As in almost all countries in the South, the Republicans were considered a party to oppose the civil war. Due to the post-war policy of Reconstruction , which restricted the electoral rights of leading Confederate politicians and strengthened those of the freed slaves, the Republican Ulysses S. Grant was able to win the votes of Virginia in the presidential election in 1872 . After changes in the electoral law, the leadership went back to the Democrats. The old Confederate spirit played a major role in this, as the Lincoln Republicans, by abolishing slavery , had significantly changed the landlord society that dominated the southern United States. The Democrats stood up for the self-determination rights of the individual states against the power struggles of the federal government and were therefore the party of the South. Herbert Hoover was the only Republican to win an election here in the 1928 election up until the 1950s.

From 1952 until today, however, Virginia only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1964 with Lyndon B. Johnson and only again in 2008 and 2012 with Barack Obama and 2016 with Hillary Clinton . Virginia became one of the strongest Red States at the time of the Jim Crow Laws, much earlier than many other southern states , as is now typical for the area of ​​the old Confederation. However, the Democrats are very strong in the Washington, DC area and neighboring counties of Richmond. In Electoral College, Virginia has had 13 electors since the 1990 census, due to its slightly above-average population growth; before that there were twelve.

death penalty

Virginia is among the states with the highest number of executions in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. As of September 2010, 107 people had been executed.

Culture and sights

National parks

National park location view
Shenandoah National Park
  • Virginia
  • 1,511,016 visitors (2004)
  • founded December 26, 1935
Shenandoah National Park
United States map
Skyline drive 20050521 123518 2.jpg

National Monuments

There are also several National Monument- type memorials :


Virginia is one of the most economically successful states in the USA. The real gross domestic product per capita (per capita real GDP) was USD 58,768 in 2016 (national average of the 50 US states: USD 57,118; national ranking: 15).

The cultivation of tobacco, cotton, peanuts, maize and wheat is important. Livestock farming is also of great importance, especially dairy farming, a lot of hay is produced in Virginia for this purpose. In addition, the oyster fishery and rich natural resources. Mainly the coal, natural stone, iron, wood, paper, glass and tobacco processing are of great importance in addition to shipbuilding. The civil and military authorities in Arlington (Pentagon) and Hampton are important economic factors. Tourism is also important.

Poverty and unemployment

According to official figures, around 1.04 million poor people live in Virginia, which corresponds to a percentage of 14.1. The unemployment rate corresponds to a rate of 3.8%. In comparison, the US average was 4.1% (as of November 2017). In June 2010, food stamps were issued to approximately 802,400 residents of the state.


The major state universities are the University of Virginia , the College of William & Mary , George Mason University , James Madison University , Norfolk State University , Old Dominion University , Virginia Commonwealth University , Christopher Newport University , and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University . Liberty University is an important private university . Other colleges are included in the list of universities in Virginia .


State bird: Red Cardinal
  • Motto: Sic semper tyrannis means "So [shall it] always be the case with the tyrant" (To be seen on the national flag with a thrown tyrant)
  • The coat of arms was designed by George Wythe , who also signed the Declaration of Independence . The national symbol, already widely used in 1776, was slightly modified in 1930.
  • State bird: Red Cardinal
  • The first elected African-American governor of a US state, Douglas Wilder , took office in Virginia in 1990.


  • Louis Decimus Rubin: Virginia. A bicentennial history. Norton et al. a., New York NY 1977, ISBN 0-393-05630-9 .
  • A. Aubrey Bodine: Face of Virginia. 2nd Edition. Bodine, Baltimore MD 1971.

Individual evidence

  1. Watersheds of Virginia (English)
  2. ^ US Census Bureau _ Census of Population and Housing . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  3. Extract from . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  4. Excerpt from February 28, 2011
  5. 2010 US census website (multilingual)
  6. ^ A b Virginia - Kaiser State Health Facts
  7. ^ Kristen Lewis, Sarah Burd-Sharps: The Measure of America 2013–2014. (PDF) In: Measure of America of the Social Science Research Council, July 24, 2014, accessed June 17, 2018 .
  9. See Visitor's Guide ( Memento June 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) and Delegates on the Virginia Generaly Assembly website .
  10. See Senators on the Virginia Generaly Assembly website
  11. Cf. ARTICLE IV Section 11. Enactment of laws ( Memento of December 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) and ARTICLE V Section 6. Presentation of bills; powers of governor; vetoes and amendments. ( Memento from December 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ^ David Leip: Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved November 28, 2018 .
  14. ^ US Bureau of Economic Analysis: Regional Economic Accounts
  15. ^ Unemployment Rates for States. Retrieved January 17, 2018 .

Web links

Commons : Virginia  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wikivoyage: Virginia  Travel Guide

Coordinates: 37 ° 30 ′  N , 78 ° 40 ′  W