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Virginia (VA): State Guide and Fun Facts

When was Virginia Founded?1607

Who Founded Virginia? Captain John Smith

First settlers: Ancestors of the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Monocan Indian Nation, Nansemond, Pamunkey and Rappahannock Tribes

Square Miles: 42,769

US Rank: 35th

State Flower: American Dogwood

State Bird: Cardinal

State Motto
Latin: “Sic Semper Tyrannis”
Translation: Thus always to tyrants

Capital City

Richmond – Virginia’s capital is the fifth largest city in the state. The area was first settled by the English in 1609, but the city itself was not established until over 100 years later, in 1737. In 1780, the city was designated as the state’s capital. The economy of Richmond is based on service industries and governmental happenings. Legal and financial institutions account for some of the main revenue drivers in the city.

What is Virginia famous for?

1. Jamestown (first English settlement) – Jamestown lays claim to being the first colony settled by the English in the United States. It is strategically located on a very small island located on the James River. With its easy access to water, the settlement was able to carefully defend themselves again other European settlers that wish to inhabit the area. In Jamestown in 1614, John Rolfe, a colonist, married Pocahontas. This ceremony allowed the natives and the settles to live in peace for the first time since the area was explored in 1607. Jamestown was the capital of the colony of Virginia, until it was moved in 1699 to nearby Williamsburg.

2. Birthplace of eight US Presidents – Virginia is known fondly as the Mother of Presidents.

Eight of the country’s presidents call the state their birthplace and home:

1. George Washington
Born: 1731
Birthplace: Westmoreland County

2. Thomas Jefferson
Born: 1743
Birthplace: Albermarle County

3. James Madison
Born: 1751
Birthplace: Port Conway

4. James Monroe
Born: 1758
Birthplace: Westmoreland County

5. William Henry Harrison
Born: 1773
Birthplace: 1841

6. John Tyler
Born: 1790
Birthplace: Greenway

7. Zachary Taylor
Born: 1784
Birthplace: Orange County

8. Woodrow Wilson
Born: 1856
Birthplace: Staunton

3. The Pentagon – The United States Department of Defense runs their operations from an enormous 5-sided building located in Arlington, Virginia on the Potomac River, just across from Washington, DC. The complex was designed by architect George Bergstrom, and was completed on January 15, 1943. Although the structure only stands five stories above the ground, it is the world’s largest office building, measured by interior square footage.

What is Virginia’s economy?

1. Services Industry – Throughout the state’s history, and especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, the service industry, which includes healthcare, hotels, computer technology and engineering, consulting businesses and internet service providers, has grown to become the states largest income generator.

2. Agriculture – Virginia’s main source of income from agriculture is currently livestock and products generated from livestock such as milk and cheese. These animals include young chickens, beef cattle and turkeys. The state also grows a handful of cash crops such as greenhouse and nursery products, soybeans, tobacco, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, snap beans, cucumbers, apples and grapes.

3. Manufacturing – The main manufacturing industry in Virginia is the processing of tobacco products. Growing tobacco crops used to contribute to a large percentage of the state’s economy, however today the plant only contributes to 4% of the total crops grown in Virginia annually. In addition to tobacco products, the state processes soft drinks and beer. Other importing manufacturers in the state produce chemicals, pharmaceuticals, boats, automobile parts and trucks.

Virginia Historical Landmarks

1. Montpelier – Located in Orange, Virginia, Montpelier became home to the grandfather of future president James Madison in 1723. The house today was built ½ mile away from the original estate by James’ father, James Madison, Sr. Construction was completed in 1764, and after James Sr.’s death in 1801, the house was handed over to James Madison, Jr. The president lived at Montpelier after his retirement from politics in 1817 until his death in 1836.

2. Monticello – Perhaps one of the country’s best known residences, Monticello was designed for Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Jefferson. The house is Neoclassical in style, and sits atop the Southwest Mountains in Albemarle County, Virginia. Before he became president, Jefferson served as the Minister of the United States to France. While overseas, the presidentbecame captivated by the architecture of Paris and brought his ideas for a home back to the United States. He continuously updated and remodeled Monticello while he was in office, and after his term ended in 1809, Jefferson returned to live at the estate.

3. Five Forks Battlefield – This area was the site of one of the most important battles of the American Civil War. The battle itself took place on April 1, 1865, and marked a decisive Union victory by General Grant and his troops. After the crushing defeat, the Confederate forces retreated and surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9.

4. Burial Place of James Monroe – The fifth president of the United States lies in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia among other notables such as John Tyler, Jefferson Davis and first lady Elizabeth Monroe. The president was originally buried in New York City after his death in 1831, however he was moved to Virginia in 1858. His tomb in Virginia is a towering gothic cast iron cage that encloses a modest stone marker, noting the resting place of President Monroe.