Northern Virginia is an area is the northern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It consists of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Together with Washington D.C. and parts of Maryland and West Virginia, it makes up the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country.
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1.9 million people (about 1/4th of Virginia's total population) live in Northern Virginia.
The racial breakdown of the population of Northern Virginia is as follows:
Northern Virginia is known for being a lot more liberal in its voting patterns than the rest of Virginia.
In the 2004 general elections, 53% of Northern Virginia voters voted for John Kerry, the Democrat, and 46% voted for George W. Bush, the Republican, whereas in the rest of Virginia, only 43% of voters voted for John Kerry and 56% voted for George Bush. The strongest support for the Democrats lies inside the Beltway, in Arlington, Alexandria, and parts of Fairfax county. The more distant areas generally favor the Republicans.
The 8th, the 10th, and the 11th congressional districts lie within Northern Virginia. The 8th district overwhelmingly votes Democrat, but the other two districts usually elect Republican congressmen. The current congressman from the 8th district is Jim Moran (D), the current congressman from the 10th district is Frank Wolf (R), and the current congressman from the 11th district is Tom Davis (R).
Northern Virginia is very diverse with significant Pakistani, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, El Salvadorian, Peruvian, Bolivian, Somali and Ethiopian populations. People seem to get along well. The Pakistani, Indian and other Asian population are very integrated to the main stream society. However, Hispanics still tend to concentrate in their own communities/areas. There are large numbers of restaurants, and it is very easy to find ethnic food.
Tysons Corner Center ("Tysons I") is one of the largest malls in the country and is a hub for shopping in the area. Tysons Galleria ("Tysons II"), its high-class counterpart located a few blocks away, carries more higher-end stores. Potomac Mills is also one of the largest malls in the region.
Fairfax County is the second richest county in the nation with an outstanding public school system, including Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, an award-winning magnet school. Loudoun County is America's fastest-growing county.
The area has two major airports, Washington Reagan National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. While flights from the older National Airport are restricted for distance, frequency, and flight paths due to the proximity to federal facilities, Dulles is the fastest-growing airport in the world, as of this writing number five in terms of aircraft movement. As it serves the nation's capital, it is no surprise that it is one of the biggest gateways into the country.
Commuters are served by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (commonly known as the "Metro") and the Virginia Railway Express, a commuter railroad. Metro is widely recognized as the best subway system in the United States. Its futuristic stations give it a very unique look. It is extremely clean compared to other subways as eating and drinking is strictly prohibited, and advertising is kept to minimal. It is the second busiest subway system in the nation, only New York City's subway system carries more passengers. A project underway will expand the system in the direction of Dulles Airport.
Major highways include interstates 495 (Capital Beltway), 95, and 66; US routes 1, 29, and 50; and local routes Fairfax County Parkway and Franconia-Springfield Parkway. High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are used for commuters and buses in I-66 and I-95.
Northern Virginia has severe road congestion. The congestion consistently ranks in the top 3 in the nation. To assuage the conditions local government encourages using Metro, HOV, carpooling etc. However, the condition are only getting worse as the population continues to skyrocket. The roads are one of the biggest local issues. A major reconstruction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Alexandria on the portion of the Capital Beltway which also carries Interstate 95 into Maryland which is now underway will double the traffic lanes at that particular bottleneck area. Several public-private partnership proposals to increase capacities of the Beltway and Interstate 95 south of Springfield to be funded through collection of tolls are under consideration by VDOT. On November 5, 2002, voters rejected a referendum to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The measure was criticized as a subsidy for developers, who would merely build more houses along the new roads and add to the congestion.
In recent years, Northern Virginia has become so filled with technology companies that it is often referred to as the "Silicon Valley of the East." The best-known of these technology companies is AOL. This economic boom has attracted many people from outside the region, from all over the country and throughout the world.
It also is a desirable spot for defense contractors because of the proximity to the national capital.
- Melton, R.H.: Voters Reject Roads Tax: Defeat Is a Major Loss for Gov. Warner, The Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2002.