Virginia has a total area of 42,774.2 square miles (110,784.7 km2), including 3,180.13 square miles (8,236.5 km2) of water, making it the 35th-
largest state by area.
 Virginia is bordered by
Washington, D.C. to the north and east; by the
Atlantic Ocean to the east; by
North Carolina to the south; by
Tennessee to the southwest; by
Kentucky to the west; and by
West Virginia to the north and west. Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D.C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the
 The southern border is defined as the
36° 30′ parallel north, though surveyor error led to deviations of as much as three
arcminutes. The border with Tennessee was not settled until 1893, when
their dispute was brought to the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Geology and terrain
Chesapeake Bay separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's
Eastern Shore. The bay was formed from the drowned river valleys of the
Susquehanna River and the
 Many of
Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the
York, and James, which create three peninsulas in the bay.
Tidewater is a
coastal plain between the Atlantic coast and the
fall line. It includes the Eastern Shore and major
estuaries of Chesapeake Bay. The Piedmont is a series of
east of the mountains which were formed in the
Mesozoic era. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the
Southwest Mountains around
 The Blue Ridge Mountains are a
physiographic province of the
Appalachian Mountains with the highest points in the state, the tallest being
Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet (1,746 m). The Ridge and Valley region is west of the mountains and includes the
Great Appalachian Valley. The region is
carbonate rock based and includes
 The Cumberland Plateau and the
Cumberland Mountains are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the
Allegheny Plateau. In this region, rivers flow northwest, with a
dendritic drainage system, into the
Ohio River basin.
Virginia Seismic Zone has not had a history of regular
earthquake activity. Earthquakes are rarely above 4.5 in
magnitude, because Virginia is located away from the edges of the
North American Plate. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5.9 magnitude, was in 1897 near
5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia on August 23, 2011, near
Mineral. The earthquake was reportedly felt as far away as
Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins.
 Over 62 million tons of other non-fuel resources, such as
kyanite, sand, or gravel, were also mined in Virginia in 2012.
 The state's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000 caves, ten of which are open for tourism.
 35 million years ago, a
bolide impacted what is now eastern Virginia. The
resulting crater may explain
earthquakes in the region.
|Virginia state-wide averages
|Climate chart (
|Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
|Precipitation totals in inches
University of Virginia data 1895–1998
|Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
|Precipitation totals in mm
The climate of Virginia is
humid subtropical and becomes increasingly warmer and more humid farther south and east.
 Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 26 °F (−3 °C) in January to average highs of 86 °F (30 °C) in July. The Atlantic Ocean has a strong effect on eastern and southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the
Gulf Stream, coastal weather is subject to
hurricanes, most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
 In spite of its position adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, even the coastal areas have a significant continental influence with quite large temperature differences between summer and winter, particularly given the state climate's subtropical classification, which is typical of states in the
Virginia has an annual average of 35–45 days of thunderstorm activity, particularly in the western part of the state,
 and an average annual precipitation of 42.7 inches (108 cm).
 Cold air masses arriving over the mountains in winter can lead to significant snowfalls, such as the
Blizzard of 1996 and
winter storms of 2009–2010. The interaction of these elements with the state's topography creates distinct
microclimates in the Shenandoah Valley, the mountainous southwest, and the coastal plains.
 Virginia averages seven
tornadoes annually, most F2 or lower on the
In recent years, the expansion of the southern suburbs of
Washington, D.C. into
Northern Virginia has introduced an
urban heat island primarily caused by increased absorption of solar radiation in more densely populated areas.
 In the
American Lung Association's 2011 report, 11 counties received failing grades for air quality, with
Fairfax County having the worst in the state, due to automobile pollution.
 Haze in the mountains is caused in part by coal power plants.
Forests cover 65% of the state, primarily with deciduous, broad leaf trees in the western part of the state and evergreens and conifers dominant the central and eastern part of Virginia.
 Lower altitudes are more likely to have small but dense stands of moisture-loving hemlocks and mosses in abundance, with hickory and oak in the Blue Ridge.
 However, since the early 1990s,
Gypsy moth infestations have eroded the dominance of oak forests.
 In the lowland tidewater and piedmont, yellow pines tend to dominate, with bald cypress wetland forests in the Great Dismal and Nottoway swamps. Other common trees and plants include red bay, wax myrtle, dwarf palmetto,
milkweed, daisies, and many species of ferns. The largest areas of wilderness are along the Atlantic coast and in the western mountains, where the largest populations of
trillium wildflowers in North America are found.
 The Atlantic coast regions are host to flora commonly associated with the South Atlantic pine forests and lower Southeast Coastal Plain maritime flora, the latter found primarily in eastern and central Virginia.
red fox, and
eastern cottontail rabbit.
 Other mammals include: nutria, fox squirrel, gray squirrel, flying squirrel, chipmunk, brown bat, and weasel. Birds include
cardinals (the state bird), barred owls, Carolina chickadees, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, brown pelicans, quail, seagulls, bald eagles, and wild turkeys. Virginia is also home to the pileated woodpecker as well as the red-bellied woodpecker. The
peregrine falcon was reintroduced into Shenandoah National Park in the mid-1990s.
 Walleye, brook trout, Roanoke bass, and blue catfish are among the 210 known species of freshwater fish.
 Running brooks with rocky bottoms are often inhabited by plentiful amounts of crayfish and salamanders.
Chesapeake Bay is host to many species, including
blue crabs, clams, oysters, and rockfish (also known as striped bass).
Virginia has 30
National Park Service units, such as
Great Falls Park and the
Appalachian Trail, and one national park, the
Shenandoah National Park.
 Shenandoah was established in 1935 and encompasses the scenic
Skyline Drive. Almost 40% of the park's area (79,579 acres/322 km2) has been designated as wilderness under the
National Wilderness Preservation System. Additionally, there are 34
Virginia state parks and 17
state forests, run by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Forestry.
 The Chesapeake Bay, while not a national park, is protected by both state and federal legislation, and the jointly run
Chesapeake Bay Program which conducts restoration on the bay and its watershed. The
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge extends into North Carolina, as does the
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which marks the beginning of the