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Virginia Counties

The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

City of Chesapeake, Virginia

City of Chesapeake Education, Geography, and HistoryChesapeake, Virginia Courthouse

Chesapeake is an independent city located in the state of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 222,209,in 2013, the population was estimated to be 232,977, making it the third-most populous city in Virginia.

Chesapeake is included in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA.

Etymology - Origin of City of Chesapeake Name

Chesapeake, which was named for the Chesapeake Bay, comprises the former Norfolk County and the former city of South Norfolk.


County QuickFacts: City of Chesapeake

Chesapeake City History

Chesapeake is an independent city located in the South Hampton Roads portion of the Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia in the United States. One of the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads, Chesapeake was formed in 1963 by a political consolidation of the City of South Norfolk with the former Norfolk County, which dated to 1691.

During the 1950s, both Norfolk County and South Norfolk fell victim to annexation suits filed by neighboring cities. Between 1950 and 1960, the country lost nearly 50,000 residents and 30 square miles of land area. Under these circumstances, both Norfolk County and South Norfolk officials found it difficult to plan for the future.

In the fall of 1961, city and county officials met to discuss the feasibility of a merger. After several weeks of negotiations, both governing bodies approved a merger agreement on December 22, 1961. On February 13, 1962, citizens of both communities turned out in near-record numbers for a special election and approved the merger. Later that year, in June, the citizens voted again and selected the name "Chesapeake" for the new city.

Chesapeake, Virginia chartered as independent city in 1962. Organized 1 January 1963. Formed from Norfolk County and independent city of South Norfolk, Virginia. Adjacent to the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. [County Courthouse Book, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1990.] [Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.]

South Norfolk, Virginia was incorporated as a town in 1919 and incorporated as a city in 1921. Extinguished on 1 January 1963 when Norfolk County, Virginia and it merged to form the independent city of Chesapeake, Virginia. [Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.]

South Norfolk, Virginia chartered as an independent city in 1921. Merged with Norfolk County in 1962 to form the city of Chesapeake, Virginia. [County Courthouse Book, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1990.]

In 1963, the new independent city of Chesapeake was created when the former independent city of South Norfolk consolidated with Norfolk County. The consolidation, authorized by the Virginia General Assembly, was approved and the new name selected by the voters of each communities by referendum. The new city joined the ranks of the current Seven Cities of Hampton Roads which are linked by the circumferential Hampton Roads Beltway.

Formed in 1691 in the Virginia Colony, Norfolk County had originally included essentially all the area which became the towns and later cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and South Norfolk, but had seen its area frequently reduced as these cities added territory through annexations after 1871. Becoming an independent city was a method for the former county to stabilize borders with neighbors, as cities could not annex territory from each other.

The relatively small City of South Norfolk had become an incorporated town within Norfolk County in 1919, and became an independent city in 1922. It was also motivated to make a change which would put it on a more equal footing in other aspects with the much larger cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. By the late 1950s, although immune from annexation by the bigger cities, the most recent suit by the City of Norfolk against Norfolk County would have taken all of the county land adjoining South Norfolk.

The changes which created Chesapeake were part of a wave of changes in the structure of local government in southeastern Virginia which took place between 1952 and 1976.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 350.9 square miles (908.8 km2), of which, 340.7 square miles (882.5 km2) of it is land and 10.2 square miles (26.4 km2) of it (2.90%) is water.

The northeastern part of the Great Dismal Swamp is located in Chesapeake.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Portsmouth, Virginia (north)
  • Norfolk, Virginia (north)
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia (east)
  • Currituck County, North Carolina (south)
  • Camden County, North Carolina (south)
  • Suffolk, Virginia (west)


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