The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to more U.S. Presidents (eight) than any other state, though only one in the twentieth century (Woodrow Wilson). One of the thirteen original colonies, Virginia was home to Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in the Americas by the British; Yorktown, the last battle of the American War for Independence; and more battles during the Civil War than any other state. It was during the latter war that northern counties of Virginia decided against seceding from the Union, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court, thus laying the groundwork for the state of West Virginia. Geographically, the Blue Ridge Mountains dissect Virginia from north to south. The fertile and historic Shenandoah Valley follows the spine of the Blue Ridge to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west. A narrow slice of land on the Delmarva Peninsula is composed of two Virginia counties and is known as the 'Eastern Shore of Virginia'.
The population of Virginia is concentrated in the eastern half of the state: in the north around Alexandria and Arlington; in the east-central region around the capital Richmond; and in the extreme southeast around the cities of Norfolk and, the state's largest city, Virginia Beach. The largest reported ancestry in the 2000 Census was African-American at around 20% of the population (during slavery, the African-American population was around 50%). There are rapidly growing populations of Asian-Americans and Hispanics around the northern suburbs of Washington DC. It is in this area where a significant number of governmental professionals and diplomats reside and maintain offices. Virginia's economy is well diversified and includes tobacco farming and machine manufacturing, as well as defense contracting and computer technology in the north. The headquarters of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, known to some as 'Langley', is also located in Northern Virginia.