There are more than 30 types of frogs in the US and 28 are in Virginia! They include green tree frogs, mountain chorus frogs, and southern leopard frogs.
Not to mention, there are other species of wildlife like Virginia northern flying squirrels and bald eagles. Oh, don’t forget about reptiles! The poisonous northern copperhead, bright red northern scarlet snake, and eastern glass lizard (a legless lizard that looks like a snake) also call the state their home.
Virginia shares a border with five different states: West Virginia and Maryland to the north; Maryland, Washington D.C. and the Atlantic Ocean to the east; North Carolina and Tennessee to the south; and Kentucky and West Virginia to the west.
Besides unique wildlife, the state is steeped in history and is home to many firsts. The site of the first permanent English settlement in this country was in Jamestown in 1607 in the eastern part of the state. That’s why Virginia is sometimes called “the birthplace of a nation”. Peanuts were first grown here, mainly for oil, food and as a cocoa substitute. The first electric streetcar was invented in the state; as was Chapstick in the early 1880s. Likewise, the country’s first public theater was built here in 1716.
The state has five geographical areas:
- Appalachian Plateau: This western region is covered in forests, rivers and flat-topped rocks.
- Appalachian Ridge and Valley: This area consists of caverns, sinkholes, natural bridges, and is the home of Shenandoah National Park.
- Blue Ridge: Further east, this area is a steep part of the Appalachian Mountains with craggy peaks and deep ravines. Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak, is located here.
- Piedmont: This plain spreads across most of the central part of the state.
- Atlantic Coastal Plain: This area includes swamps and salt marshes that stretch to the Atlantic Ocean.
Can you now find Virginia on a US map?
What really happened
- Experts believe that people lived in the area we now call Virginia as far back as 18,000 years ago. Thousands of years later, the Cherokee, Powhatan and other Native American tribes lived here.
- A Thanksgiving-type ceremony took place in 1619, two years before the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. After a ship arrived from Bristol, England, its crew conducted a ceremony of thanks.
- Due to financial problems and politics, Virginia became a royal colony in 1624. That meant it would be administered by a governor appointed by the King of England.
- In 1737, a young George Washington was hired to survey lands to the west, which included Frederick Town, which is now the city of Winchester.
- In 1775, an American politician named Patrick Henry said these famous words in a speech at St John’s Church in the city of Richmond: “Give me liberty or give me death”. He was trying to encourage the residents of Virginia to form their own militia (or army) to fight against the British government, which ruled the colonies. (The American Revolution against the British occurred between 1775 and 1783.)
- In 1776, Thomas Jefferson, a Virginia native, wrote the Declaration of Independence. (The colonies’ declaration of independence from British rule.)
- In 1788, Virginia became the tenth US state. The following year, George Washington was elected as the first US president.
- In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third US president.
- In 1861, Virginia split or seceded from the Union or United States to join the Confederate States in the Civil War.
- West Virginia, which was part of the state back then, formed its own state in 1863, partially because it was against slavery.
- Virginia rejoined the Union in 1870, about five years after the Civil War ended.
Stuff you should know
- Eight US presidents were born here, including four of the first five presidents. Besides Washington and Jefferson, can you name any others? The answer is at the end of this blog.
- The states of Kentucky and West Virginia were formed from sections of Virginia.
- 5% of people who work in the state are government employees — either at the state, local, or federal level — this is the 13th highest percentage of all states.
- Virginia has been called the “Home of the Internet” and also “Silicon Valley of the East”. Over half (approximately 75 percent) of the world’s internet traffic goes through data centers in just one county (Loudoun County).
- Thomas Jefferson designed his own home, a plantation called Monticello, near the city of Charlottesville. George Washington’s home is located a couple of hours east in Mount Vernon. Both are popular tourist attractions.
- Two places in Virginia were the sites of surrenders that ended both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. In 1781, British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered his army of some 8,000 men to General George Washington at Yorktown. In 1886, Robert E. Lee, General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, surrendered to the Union Army at Appomattox.
- More Civil War battles were fought on Virginia soil than in any other state. More than 120 major battles were fought here, which is an average of one major battle every 12 days throughout the war.
- The state has had three capital cities: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and now Richmond.
Crazy, funny or just plain weird
- There are nearly 68,000 miles of telephone lines inside the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. That’s enough line to stretch from Florida to Washington state more than 22 times!
- It has the most personalized (car) license plates of any US state. If you could customize your license plate, what would it say?
- Millions of years ago, parts of Virginia were under the Atlantic Ocean. A new whale species that was about 14 million years old was found in a cave there.
Tell me more
- Forests cover more than half of the state while the Appalachian Mountains run diagonally across it.
- Many words come from Virginia’s Native American languages, including: racoon, moccasin, hickory, moose, skunk and chipmunk.
- Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia in 1989. He was the first black governor in the country.
- The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Arlington National Cemetery.
The other six US presidents who were from the state were: James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson.
Would you like to share something about Virginia’s history or geography that’s not mentioned in this blog post? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it along with your first name, age, and state on Mo’s social media pages!