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. 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 2018 is over 8.5 million. Virginia is divided into 95 counties and 38 independent cities, the latter acting in many ways as county-equivalents. This general method of treating cities and counties on par with each other is unique to Virginia; only three other independent cities exist elsewhere in the United States, each in a different state.
Virginia is an employment-at-will state; its economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and business. The unemployment rate in Virginia as of 2018 is 2.9%, which is below the national average. 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. Forbes magazine has named Virginia the best state in the nation for business five times, and included it in their top five in 2018, as did CNBC in their America's Top States For Business 2018 rankings.
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 commonwealth. Many counties and localities host county fairs and festivals.
Virginia's educational system consistently ranks in the top five states on the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, with Virginia students outperforming the average in all subject areas and grade levels tested. The 2019 Quality Counts report ranked Virginia's K–12 education third best in the country, with a letter grade of B-. As of 2019, there are 169 colleges and universities in Virginia. In the 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranking of national public universities, the University of Virginia is ranked No. 3, the College of William and Mary is No. 10, Virginia Tech is No. 30, George Mason University is No. 67, and Virginia Commonwealth University is No. 80. James Madison University is ranked the No. 6 regional university in The South.