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The Commonwealth of Virginia or simply Virginia (named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the Virgin Queen), is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States and Mid-Atlantic States. It is one of four states that use the name commonwealth. It is the 12th most populous state.

The Colony of Virginia was the first part of the Americas to be colonized permanently by England—laying the foundation for the British Empire—and was nicknamed the Old Dominion by King Charles II. It is one of the original thirteen colonies of the United States and was the tenth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. In 1861, Virginia was the eighth state to secede from the Union and its capital, Richmond, became the national capital of the Confederate States of America.

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), more than any other state, including four out of the first five, six out of the first ten, seven out of the first twelve, and eight of the first twenty-eight. Virginia has also been known as the "Mother of States", because portions of the original Colony subsequently became Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia as well as some portions of Ohio.

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Downtown Norfolk waterfront
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 245,803 as of the 2012 Cooper Center population estimates, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach.

Norfolk is located at the core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, named for the large natural harbor of the same name located at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It is one of nine cities and seven counties that constitute the Hampton Roads metro area, officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. The city is bordered to the west by the Elizabeth River and to the north by the Chesapeake Bay. It also shares land borders with the independent cities of Chesapeake to its south and Virginia Beach to its east. One of the oldest of the cities in Hampton Roads, Norfolk is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural center of the region.

The city has a long history as a strategic military and transportation point. Norfolk Naval Base is the world's largest such base, and the world's largest military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has one of its two Strategic Command headquarters here. The city also has the corporate headquarters of Norfolk Southern Railway, one of North America's principal Class I railroads, and Maersk Line, Limited, who manages the world's largest fleet of US-flag vessels. As the city is bordered by multiple bodies of water, Norfolk has many miles of riverfront and bayfront property. It is linked to its neighbors by an extensive network of Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and three bridge-tunnel complexes—the only bridge-tunnels in the United States.

Selected biography

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 O.S.) – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the third President of the United States. Jefferson served in the Continental Congress representing Virginia, then as a wartime Governor of Virginia. After the war ended, Jefferson served as a diplomat stationed in Paris, and later United States Minister to France. Elected president in the Revolution of 1800, he oversaw the purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory, and sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the new west.

A leader in the Enlightenment, Jefferson was a polymath who spoke five languages fluently and was deeply interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy, interests that led him to the founding of the University of Virginia. He designed his own mansion on a 5,000 acre plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia, which he named Monticello. Jefferson was a skilled writer and corresponded with many influential people in America and Europe throughout his adult life. Though Jefferson has been criticized by many modern day scholars over the issue of slavery, he remains rated as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.

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Lithograph depicting the Battle of Hampton Roads

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Mount Vernon Estate Mansion 2.JPG
Credit: Martin Falbisoner

Mount Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington in Fairfax County, Virginia.

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Virginia House front.jpg

Fact sheet

  • Capital: Richmond, Virginia
  • Total area: 110,862 sq.mi
  • Highest elevation: 5,729 ft (Mount Rogers)
  • Population (2010 census) 8,001,024
  • Date Virginia joined the united States: June 25, 1788

State symbols:

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