The City of Fairfax, colloquially known as Fairfax City, Downtown Fairfax, Old Town Fairfax, or Fairfax Courthouse, is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The City of Fairfax is an enclave surrounded by the separate political entity Fairfax County. Fairfax City also contains an exclave of Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Court Complex. The City of Fairfax and the area immediately surrounding the historical border of the City of Fairfax, collectively designated by Fairfax County as “Fairfax”, comprise the county seat of Fairfax County. In May 2009, Fairfax was rated as No. 3 in the “Top 25 Places to Live Well” by Forbes Magazine. Forbes commended Fairfax for its strong public school system, high median salary, and a rate of sole proprietors per capita that ranks it in the top 1 percent nationwide.
The public schools in the City of Fairfax are owned by the city, but administered by the Fairfax County Public Schools system under contractual agreement with Fairfax County. U.S. News & World Report often ranks Fairfax County schools among the best in the country. George Mason University, the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is located just to the south of the Fairfax city limits. Mason began as an extension of the University of Virginia in 1949 named the Northern Virginia University Center of the University of Virginia. Mason is most known for its programs in economics, law, creative writing, computer science, and business. In recent years, George Mason faculty have twice won the Nobel Prize in Economics.