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45 Interesting Facts About Virginia

Virginia is the 12th most populous and the 35th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The state attained statehood on June 25, 1788, becoming the 10th state to join the union. Its five bordering states are Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Virginia (nicknamed: Mother of Presidents, Old Dominion) has 95 counties. The state’s capital is Richmond. The abbreviation for Virginia is VA. With these facts about Virginia, let us learn about its history, geography, people, culture, economy, and more.

By Sriram NadarajanPublished about a year ago 7 min read
45 Interesting Facts About Virginia
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Interesting facts about Virginia

1. Virginia was named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was called the Virgin Queen.

2. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution.

3. The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. And it prohibits the governors from serving two consecutive terms.[1]

4. Earthquakes in Virginia are rarely devastating because of their weak magnitude. The state experienced its largest earthquake of 5.9 magnitude in 1897 near Blacksburg.[1]

5. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia in 2011 was felt by the almost 1/3rd of the population of the U.S. The Earthquake also did shake some neighboring Canadian provinces to some extent. The effect of the quake was so prominent that it cracked the Washington Monument.[16,17]

6. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Virginia ranks at the second spot in the list of the states for total defense spending, followed by Texas, Maryland, and Florida. California tops the list with an expenditure of $49 billion.[2]

7. Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk Virginia, is the world’s largest naval base. The base is classified as America’s fifth most endangered military base. The base also serves as a major naval air center. It is estimated that the rise in sea level could be a potential threat to the base.[3,4]

8. After California, Virginia has the second highest concentration of tech workers of any state in the U.S.[5]

9. In the early days, Virginia was also known as the “Birthplace of Presidents.”

10. Did you know that before the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia has had the most number of slaves, followed by Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina? Each of these states has had more than 400,000 slaves.[6]

11. In some terms, Virginia can also be given the title of the “Home of the Internet.” Loudoun County hosts data centers that are responsible to cater to almost 3 quarters of the web’s traffic. The County has more than 10 million square feet of building space and more than 100 massive data centers. And there is no sign of this growth abating.[7]

12. Virginia is home to the largest office building in the world – the Pentagon. The Pentagon serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense including all three military services—Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Pentagon, however, has a Washington, D.C. mailing address. The building was designed by American architect George Bergstrom and built by contractor John McShain.

13. Did you know that the Pentagon has three times the floor space as the Empire State Building?[22]

14. The tourism industry plays a significant role in the state’s economy.

15. In 1607, Jamestown–the first English colony in what would become the United States–was founded in Virginia. Jamestown was also Virginia’s first capital. The town was established on the bank of the James River.[23]

16. Did you know that eight U.S. presidents (more than any other state) were born in Virginia? Interestingly, four of the first five presidents were Virginians.

17. The American Revolution ended in Yorktown and so did the Civil War in Appomattox.[13,14]

18. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, with 17.6 miles span (shore to shore), is the world’s largest bridge-tunnel complex. Its official name is Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge-Tunnel.[12]

19. The Chesapeake Bay is one of the world’s richest marine-life estuaries. Finfish, blue crabs, oysters, and clams can be found here.

20. Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia. He was the first black man to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis championships. He is also the first African-American man to be ranked as the No. 1 tennis player in the world.[18]

21. Virginia is also called the “Mother of the states“ because of its role in being carved into other states such as Kentucky.

22. In the Civil War, more battles were fought on Virginia soil than in any other state.[21]

23. The first iron furnace was built in 1619 in Virginia.

24. The first peanuts grown in America were from Virginia. Did you know that peanut butter was first introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and became a source of delicious protein during the first two world wars?[19]

25. The state on average gets affected by 7 tornadoes a year.[1]

26. Local tax collection per capita in Virginia in 2016 was $4,560, which puts it at 23rd overall of all the states.[24]

27. According to the CDC, the average life expectancy in Virginia is 77.6 years (est. 2020).

28. “Virginia Is For Lovers” is one of the most well-known tourism campaigns ever. It was created by David N. Martin and George Woltz of Martin and Woltz Inc. in 1968. They created the slogan after winning the Virginia State Travel account in 1968. In 1969, when the agency unveiled the slogan, visitors to Virginia generated about $800 million.

29. According to Insure.com, an insurance information website, Virginia and Iowa has the 8th cheapest average car insurance premium ($1,321) in the country. States with the cheapest average insurance are Ohio ($1023), Maine ($1,116), Idaho ($1,121), Vermont ($1,158), Oregon ($1,244), Hawaii ($1,306), and New Hampshire ($1,307). In 2022, Florida is the state with the most expensive auto insurance.

30. A Museum Where Airplanes Actually Fly: Virginia Beach introduces you to the Military Aviation Museum. Here, guests get an up-close experience with German, British, and American aircrafts that used to fly during World Wars I and II. Surprisingly, they still operate to date. Moreover, there are opportunities for visitors to ride with local pilots.

31. A True Path to History in Portsmouth: the old town of Portsmouth is a must-visit for history buffs. The Path to History takes you through the first naval hospital in America all the way to the oldest naval shipyard where USS Langley, the first aircraft carrier, was engineered. The path meanders through the Scenic Seawall, Naval Shipyard Museum, Hill House Museum, among other attractions.

32. Downtown Piers for Sea Lovers: a stroll through Downtown Hampton Public Piers links to the Maritime Center where a wide range of water activities happen. There are harbor tours that expose tourists to fishing at the Chesapeake Bay. The amenities at the marina include outdoor pools, boats, clean showers, and fitness centers.

33. Aerial Forest Park: still at Virginia Beach, there is an innovative garden- the Adventure Park that offers zip-lining through hop bridges, trees, and aerial trails. There are various levels of parkour to choose from. The best fun happens during the twilight hours. Often, the park hosts glow lights or stranded lights, making it a spectacularly lit sanctuary.

34. The Great Dismal Swamp: close to the border of North Carolina in Chesapeake, you will find a wildlife refuge known as the Great Dismal Swamp. It is the biggest remaining habitat that once occupied a million acres of land. Today, it is a nature conservancy of 112,000 acres and home to hundreds of bird species, butterflies, and mammals. Within the premises is Lake Drummond, Virginia’s biggest natural lake that has been around for 4,000 years.

35. The Mermaids of Norfolk: scattered around Norfolk city are references to mermaids. Even the symbol of the city is this mythical siren of the ocean. Legends have it that the mermaids would entertain soldiers after battling on harsh seas. And so they became symbols of commemorating the maritime roots of Norfolk. People pose for photos at the 100 statues scattered across the city.

36. First Electric Street Cars In United States: the first city to successfully incorporate an electric street car into the transport industry was Richmond. The Richmond Union Passenger Railway is a reliable street car system that is still used today by members of the public.

37. The Home of US football Heroes: a lot of football champions hail from Newport News. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Al Toon (New York Jets), Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), and Larry Bethea (Dallas Cowboys) are just to mention a few.

38. The Crater, Chesapeake: scientists discovered a massive crater at the Chesapeake Bay in 1983. The 53-mile wide crater is estimated to be 35 million years old. If it were to have an impact, the phenomenon would bring mass extinction of animal and plant life. It would destroy every living thing within a radius of 100 miles.

39. Hamn’s Favorite Ham: according to Virginal law, anything labelled Smithfield ham must be produced through a dry-salt method and aged for at least 6 months. The cured ham was among the first exports of the U.S.A that sold in Bermuda during the late 16th Century.

40. Dirty Dancing!: the state of Virginia is for lovers and so you can expect a lot of fun. At Pembroke town, which is referred to as the gateway to cascades, is a site where the classic movie “Dirty Dancing” was shot. There is a monumental stone that was erected in remembrance of the late actor Patrick Swayze.

41. A City for Ice Cream Aficionados: Alexandria is the place to be if you are an ice cream lover. The Forbes magazine named Alexandria the Ice Cream Cone Capital in 2019. People love taking ice cream strolls along the city’s cobblestone streets with beautiful riverfront rambles.

42. A City Named After George Washington’s Adopted Son’s House: George Washington Parke Custis lived in Arlington House. He owned a plantation in the estate and lived in the Arlington House till his death. His daughter inherited the house but the property was later converted into a national cemetery. Arlington House is a museum today.

43. A River That’s Ironic to its Name: the New River, one of the oldest rivers on the planet flows from the south to the north. Its formation happened before the mountains. The ancient river is the oldest in North America despite its name ‘New River’.

44. A Distinct Accent on Virginia Island: there is a wide variety of English accents in Virginia. But in Tangier Island, you will find a peculiar dialect that is not found elsewhere. This small island was initially occupied by early British colonies in the late 17th Century. Most residents today speak in the unique accent that is closer to British than American English.

45. Pony swim: the Pony Swim at Chincoteague is a celebrated event where saltwater cowboys swim with wild horses. Ponies are paraded for auction to raise cash for the local fire department.

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Sriram Nadarajan

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    Sriram NadarajanWritten by Sriram Nadarajan

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