Types of Virginia Recreational Facilities
Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia; officially the Commonwealth of Virginia) is a state in the Southeastern] and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America, and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2017 is over 8.4 million.
The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution and joined the Confederacy in the American Civil War, during which Richmond was made the Confederate capital and Virginia's northwestern counties seceded to form the state of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.
The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region's main seaport.
In recent years, the expansion of the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C. into Northern Virginia has introduced an urban heat island primarily caused by increased absorption of solar radiation in more densely populated areas. In the American Lung Association's 2011 report, 11 counties received failing grades for air quality, with Fairfax County having the worst in the state, due to automobile pollution. Haze in the mountains is caused in part by coal power plants.
"Jamestown 2007" marked Virginia's quadricentennial year, celebrating 400 years since the establishment of the Jamestown Colony. The celebrations highlighted contributions from Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans, each of which had a significant part in shaping Virginia's history. Warfare, including among these groups, has also had an important role. Virginia was a focal point in conflicts from the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the Civil War, to the Cold War and the War on Terrorism. Stories about historic figures, such as those surrounding Pocahontas and John Smith, George Washington's childhood, or the plantation elite in the slave society of the antebellum period, have also created potent myths of state history, and have served as rationales for Virginia's ideology.
In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries. The execution of Gabriel Prosser in 1800, Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831 and John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 marked the growing social discontent over slavery and its role in the plantation economy. By 1860, almost half a million people, roughly 31% of the total population of Virginia, were enslaved. This division contributed to the start of the American Civil War.
During the post-war Reconstruction era, Virginia adopted a constitution which provided for free public schools, and guaranteed political, civil, and voting rights. The populist Readjuster Party ran an inclusive coalition until the conservative white Democratic Party gained power after 1883. It passed segregationist Jim Crow laws and in 1902 rewrote the Constitution of Virginia to include a poll tax and other voter registration measures that effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor European Americans. Though their schools and public services were segregated and underfunded due to a lack of political representation, African Americans were able to unite in communities and take a greater role in Virginia society.
The largest minority group in Virginia is African American, at 19.7% as of 2015. Most African-American Virginians have been descendants of enslaved Africans who worked on tobacco, cotton, and hemp plantations. The first generations of enslaved men, women and children were brought from West and West-Central Africa, primarily from Angola and the Bight of Biafra. The Igbo ethnic group of what is now southern Nigeria were the single largest African group among slaves in Virginia. Many African Americans also have European and Native American ancestry. Though the black population was reduced by the Great Migration to northern industrial cities in the first half of the 20th century, since 1965 there has been a reverse migration of blacks returning south. According to the Pew Research Center, the state has the highest number of black-white interracial marriages in the US.
Additionally, 0.5% of Virginians are American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Virginia has extended state recognition to eight Native American tribes resident in the state; six of these gained federal recognition as tribes in 2018, and two were already recognized. Most Native American groups are located in the Tidewater region.
Virginia has the highest defense spending of any state per capita, providing the Commonwealth with around 900,000 jobs. Approximately 12% of all U.S. federal procurement money is spent in Virginia, the second-highest amount after California. Many Virginians work for federal agencies in Northern Virginia, which include the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation, the United States Geological Survey and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Many others work for government contractors, including defense and security firms, which hold more than 15,000 federal contracts.
Virginia has one of the highest concentrations of veterans of any state, and is second to California in total Department of Defense employees. The Hampton Roads area has the largest concentration of military personnel and assets of any metropolitan area in the world, including the largest naval base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk. In its state government, Virginia employs 106,143 public employees, who combined have a median income of $44,656 as of 2013.[
Virginia has the highest concentration of technology workers of any state, and the fourth-highest number of technology workers after California, Texas, and New York. Computer chips became the state's highest-grossing export in 2006, surpassing its traditional top exports of coal and tobacco combined, reaching a total export value of $717 million in 2015. Northern Virginia, once considered the state's dairy capital, now hosts software, communication technology, defense contracting companies, particularly in the Dulles Technology Corridor.
The state has the highest average and peak Internet speeds in the United States, with the third-highest worldwide. Northern Virginia's data centers can carry up to 70% of the nation's internet traffic, and in 2015 the region was the largest and fastest growing data center market in the nation.
In 2009, Forbes magazine named Virginia the best state in the nation for business for the fourth year in a row, while CNBC named it the top state for business in 2007, 2009, and 2011. Additionally, in 2014 a survey of 12,000 small business owners found Virginia to be one of the most friendly states for small businesses. Virginia has 20 Fortune 500 companies, ranking the state eighth nationwide. Tysons Corner is one of the largest business districts in the nation.
Tourism in Virginia supported an estimated 210,000 jobs and generated $21.2 billion in 2012. Arlington County is the top tourist destination in the state by domestic spending, followed by Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Virginia Beach.
Virginia's culture was popularized and spread across America and the South by figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee. Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South. Modern Virginia culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States.
Besides the general cuisine of the Southern United States, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions. Virginia wine is made in many parts of the state. Smithfield ham, sometimes called "Virginia ham", is a type of country ham which is protected by state law, and can only be produced in the town of Smithfield. Virginia furniture and architecture are typical of American colonial architecture. Thomas Jefferson and many of the state's early leaders favored the Neoclassical architecture style, leading to its use for important state buildings. The Pennsylvania Dutch and their style can also be found in parts of the state.
Many counties and localities host county fairs and festivals. The Virginia State Fair is held at the Meadow Event Park every September. Also in September is the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, which celebrates the city, the waterfront, and regional artists. Norfolk's Harborfest, in June, features boat racing and air shows. Fairfax County also sponsors Celebrate Fairfax! with popular and traditional music performances. The Virginia Lake Festival is held during the third weekend in July in Clarksville. Wolf Trap hosts the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which produces an opera festival every summer. Each September, Bay Days celebrates the Chesapeake Bay as well as Hampton's 400-year history since 1610, and Isle of Wight County holds a County Fair on the second week of September as well. Both feature live music performances, and other unique events.
On the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague the annual Pony Swim & Auction of feral Chincoteague ponies at the end of July is a unique local tradition expanded into a week-long carnival. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a six-day festival held annually in Winchester that includes parades and bluegrass concerts. The Old Time Fiddlers' Convention in Galax, begun in 1935, is one of the oldest and largest such events worldwide. Two important film festivals, the Virginia Film Festival and the VCU French Film Festival, are held annually in Charlottesville and Richmond, respectively.
Assessment of Educational Progress, with Virginia students outperforming the average in all subject areas and grade levels tested. The 2011 Quality Counts report ranked Virginia's K–12 education fourth best in the country. All school divisions must adhere to educational standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Education, which maintains an assessment and accreditation regime known as the Standards of Learning to ensure accountability. In 2010, 85% of high school students graduated on-time after four years. Between 2000 and 2008, school enrollment increased 5%, the number of teachers 21%.
Other Sites of Interest
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Lake San Marcos—Listing of Vendors and Other Items of Interest to LSM residents
Silly Service—38 years of Federal Civil Service Overview(A book in progress)