Virginia Counties
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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.

Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County Education, Geography, and History

Arlington County, Virginia Courthouse

Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is coterminous with the US Census Bureau-census-designated place of Arlington, which is the second-largest principal city of the Washington metropolitan area. As a result, the county is often referred to in the region simply as "Arlington" or "Arlington, Virginia". In 2014, the county's population was estimated to be 229,302

Etymology - Origin of Arlington County Name

Arlington is named for the Arlington estate associated with the Washington, Custis and Lee families. The estate, in turn, was named for the original Arlington estate in Northampton County, Virginia established sometime before 1680, which was, in turn again, named for the Baron Arlington.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of Arlington County (old Alexandria County)

Alexandria County, Virginia formed from the District of Columbia (that part which was formerly a part of Fairfax County and Alexandria City, Virginia). Extinguished in 1920 with formation of Arlington County. On Dec. 3, 1789, the Virginia Assembly passed 'An Act for the cession of ten miles square, or any lesser quantity of territory within this State, to the United States, in Congress assembled, for the permanent seat of the general government' ... By act of Congress of Feb. 27, 1801 (U. S. Stats. 2, pp. 103, 115), the United States took over exclusive jurisdiction of that portion of Fairfax County, therein named Alexandria County. By Act of Congress of July 9, 1846 (US Stats. 9, p. 35), the United States retroceded to Virginia the territory comprising the County of Alexandria, and by Act of Assembly of Mar. 13, 1847... Virginia extended her jursidiction over the retroceded territory.

[Virginia Counties: Those Resulting from Virginia Legislation, by Morgan Poitiaux Robinson, originally published as Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Volume 9, January, April, July 1916, reprinted 1992 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD, p. 74]

Arlington County was originally named Alexandria County. It was formed from a part of Fairfax County that was ceded to the US government in 1789 but was returned to Virginia in 1846. The county name was changed in 1920 to Arlington, the name of the Custis family mansion (former home of Robert E. Lee), which is located in the county. Its area is 25 square miles, and the county seat is Arlington. The population is 189,453 according to the 2000 census. Pre-1920 records belong to Alexandria and Fairfax Counties and the District of Columbia.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 26.1 square miles (67.6 km2), of which 26.0 square miles (67.3 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2) (0.4%) is water. It is the smallest county by area in Virginia and among the smallest by land area in the United States. About 4.6 square miles (11.9 km2) of the county is federal property. The county is roughly in the shape of a rectangle 4 miles (6.4 km) by 6 miles (9.7 km), with the small end slanting in a northwest-southeast direction. It has no incorporated areas. Its county seat is the census-designated place (CDP) of Arlington, which is coterminous with the boundaries of the county; however, the county courthouse and most government offices are located in the Courthouse neighborhood.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

Arlington County is surrounded by Fairfax County and the Falls Church to the southwest, the City of Alexandria to the southeast, and Washington, D.C. to the northeast directly across the Potomac River, which forms the county's northern border. Other landforms also form county borders, particularly Minor's Hill and Upton's Hill on the west.

Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the United States (the largest county-level jurisdiction being North Slope Borough, Alaska).


Arlington Public Schools operates the county's public K-12 education system of 22 elementary schools, 5 middle schools including schools of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Gunston Middle School, Kenmore Middle School, Swanson Middle School, and Williamsburg Middle School, and 4 public high schools in Arlington County including Wakefield High School, Washington-Lee High School, Yorktown High School and the H-B Woodlawn alternative school.

Marymount University is the only university with its main campus located in Arlington. Founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary as Marymount College of Virginia, both its main campus and its Ballston Center are located on North Glebe Road, with a shuttle service connecting the two.

George Mason University operates an Arlington campus in the Virginia Square area between Clarendon and Ballston. The campus houses the George Mason University School of Law, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs and the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution.

In June 2011, Virginia Tech opened the Virginia Tech Research Center - Arlington in Ballston, providing a teaching and research base for graduate students in computer research and engineering to interact with organizations and research agencies in the National Capital area.

Other private and technical schools maintain a campus in Arlington, including the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, the University of Management and Technology, The Art Institute of Washington, DeVry University. Strayer University has a campus in Arlington as well as its corporate headquarters.

In addition, Argosy University, Banner College, Everest College, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Northern Virginia Community College, Troy University, the University of New Haven, the University of Oklahoma, and Westwood College all have campuses in Arlington.

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