About Virginia Beach

​​​​Located in the southeastern corner of Virginia, where the state meets the sea, the Virginia Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) , also known as Hampton Roads and Coastal Virginia, is the 36th largest in the United States. The MSA encompasses 15 cities and counties with a population of more than 1.7 million and a workforce of more than 850,000.


​Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia and the 39th largest city in the United States, with approximately 450,000 residents. The City encompasses 307 miles: Land 248 miles, 59 square miles of water and 38 miles of beaches.
Virginia Beach has a unique environment. Within minutes, residents and visitors have access to the popular oceanfront resort area, bountiful wildlife preserves and parks, a vibrant financial district, urban amenities, pastoral rural areas, distinctive cultural centers and museums, a variety of military facilities, and neighborhoods as diverse as the people who call the city home.
To learn more about Virginia Beach, check out the Virginia Beach​ Community Profile. It provides a summary overview of the place, people, demographics and economy of Virginia Beach. 

Located in the Southeastern corner of the state, Virginia Beach is about a 3.5 hour car ride to Washington, D.C., and within a day’s drive or less from two-thirds of the U.S. population. It’s strategic mid-Atlantic location along the ocean and Chesapeake Bay is strengthened by a superior multimodal transportation network through which both U.S and international markets are easily accessed. 

With its 38-plus miles of beaches and almost 80 miles of scenic waterways, Virginia Beach is a vibrant East Coast city that nurtures a healthy mix of industry, attractions and people.​​​


​​​​The largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the 39th largest city in the U.S., Virginia Beach's population was estimated to be 450,980 in 2014. The Virginia Beach MSA population is more than 1,714,475.

Median Age 36.6 37.1
Male 49.1% 49.2%
Female 51.1% 50.8%
White 68.9% 72.7%
African-American 19.3% 13.2%
Asian/Pacific Islander 6.6% 0.2%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 0.4% 1.2%
Two or more races 4.4% 2.4%
Other 2.2% 5.4%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 7.7% 17.1%
Source: US Census Bureau


​Chesepians, a Native American tribe, were the first inhabitants of the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia. The Algonquian word "Chesepioc" means "Great Shellfish Bay", a reference to the Chesapeake Bay. They occupied an area which is now the independent cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake andVirginia Beach.

On April 26, 1607, after a long journey across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, the famous pioneer John Smith and his crew stepped ashore the sands of Virginia Beach and spent several days scouting the area before heading north to colonize Jamestown. Their landing site – where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic – was claimed for England, named Cape Henry in honor of the Prince of Wales and marked with what is now known as the First Landing Cross.

As more people left Europe in search of new opportunities, America and its new inhabitants began to prosper. In 1635, a former indentured servant named Adam Thoroughgood petitioned for a grant of more than 5,300 acres based on a 50-acre "headright" for transporting 105 men and women from England. His sprawling farm became an inspiration to other hard-working colonists and today, his h​ouse still stands on land that was part of the original grant. Other historic homes constructed later during the Colonial period also still stand, including the Lynnhaven House (1725) and the Francis Land House (late 1700's), and offer a variety of special programs and events that allow visitors to experience life as an early colonist.

In 1691, Princess Anne County was created, named for Princess Anne of England. Less than a century later, in 1781, Cape Henry once again made history during the Revolutionary War when a French fleet of 24 ships staved off an attack by 19 British ships. The victory ensured the capture of General Cornwallis and 7,500 troops at Yorktown, thereby ending the war. Today, the Battle off the Capes Monument marks this great feat.

Shortly thereafter, the Cape Henry Lighthouse was built, making it the first federally-funded lighthouse under the constitutional government. Serving as a beacon for ships bound for northern ports, the structure was operated until 1881 when its cast-iron replacement was built a mere stone's throw away. The "new" Cape Henry lighthouse is still in use today by the U.S. Coast Guard, while the "old" lighthouse is open for public tours.

Perhaps the most famous and enduring symbol of Virginia Beach is the Oceanfront Boardwalk. Originally constructed from wooden planks in 1888, the bustling thoroughfare has seen it all – Prohibition and German U-boats, big bands and surfer girls, presidents and actors. From the late 1930s, through the 40s and 50s, some of the biggest names in show business took the bandstand facing the boardwalk to perform at the Cavalier Beach Club, still in existence today -- Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway, Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, just to name a few. Even today, the promenade continues to serve as the focal point of this booming tourist destination.

Virginia Beach continued to grow in popularity as a seasonal vacation spot, and casinos gave way to amusement parks and family-oriented attractions. Virginia Beach became a tiny independent city, politically independent from Princess Anne County in 1952, although the numerous ties between Virginia Beach and Princess Anne remained. In 1963, the City of Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County were consolidated as a new, much larger independent city, retaining the better-known name of the Virginia Beach resort. The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world and is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.
The Virginia Beach Department of Museums is extensively involved in the conservation of the natural environment and the preservation of historic resources. In addition, residents and visitors can visit a variety of historic attractions, including the Adam Thoroughgood House, Francis Land House, the Cape Henry Lighthouses and the First Landing site. For more information on the city’s historic sites, visit www.m​useumsvb.org.​


​The climate of Virginia Beach is humid subtropical, a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. The mean annual temperature is 59.6 °F (15.3 °C), with an average annual snowfall of 8.1 inches (210 mm) and an average annual rainfall of 45 inches (1,100 mm). The wettest seasons are the spring and summer, although rainfall is fairly constant all year round. Virginia Beach's geographic location, with respect to the principal storm tracks, is especially favorable. It is south of the average path of storms originating in the higher latitudes, and north of the usual tracks of hurricanes and other major tropical storms.


More than a quarter million active duty military, retirees, dependents, and civilian military employees reside in the Hampton Roads region:
Active Duty (Navy & United States​ Marine Corps): 86,377
Retired & Survivors (estimated): 46,786
Military Family Members (estimated): 97,724
Civilian/Civil Service Employees: 35,987
Total Navy "Family": 266,874
Information & Resources for Military Personnel
 Military Facilities in Virginia Beach

 City Symbols

​Virginia Beach has a rich and vibrant his​tory, so when symbols were chosen to represent the city, elements were chosen that represented the area’s natural beauty, native plant life and s​easide environment. Virginia Beach was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest pleasure beach in the world.

City of Virginia Beach Flag

City Flag​ 

Council​ accepted the design for a new city flag on Jan. 11, 1965. The design was chosen by a three-member flag committee. The flag design was modeled after the state flag, solid blue background with the official city seal placed in the center.​

Lotus blossom

City Flower

Native American Lotus, officially called the Neiumbo Lutea - Native to the Sandbridge area (Lotus Garden Park) of Virginia Beach, this yellow wildflower bloomed profusely during the early and mid-20th century. The tubers, leaves and seeds served as an important food source for Native Americans. The Lotus is protected and is illegal to tamper with or pick the flowers or plants.​

City Motto

"Landmarks of our Nation’s Beginnings" - Element in the City Seal.​

City Seal

City Seal

The City Seal, designed by Mrs. H. Ashton Williamson, Jr. of Oak Grove, bears the motto, “Landmarks of Our Nation’s Beginning.” The Seal is comprised of leaping marlins which form its outer edge and represent sport fishing, boating and other water activities. Strawberry leaves create an inner circle representing the importance of agriculture. In the center of the Seal, the Cape Henry Lighthouse and Cross mark the first landing of settlers on this nation's soil, and the bright sun and blue water join the beach to indicate the importance of tourism as well as the pleasures of nature available to Virginia Beach residents and visitors.​

This design is the official seal for the city. Papers issued with municipal authority and requiring the seal of the city must use this seal to be valid.

City Tree​​

The Live Oak was officially designated and adopted as the city's tree on March 2, 2004. The species, Quercus virginiana, is native to Virginia Beach, but is considered rare and uncommon in Virginia. Live Oaks are found naturally in maritime forests.

The Live Oak is recognized as a tree with many exemplary characteristics, including tenacity and survivability in harsh conditions, resilience to wind and saltwater spray, durability and strength of its wood, dense foliage and bountiful shade, high value acorn crop as food for many wildlife species, noble and evergreen appearance with massive horizontal branches and spreading shape, and a lifespan average several hundred years.   ​​​