Virginia covers an area of 40,600 sq mi; its capital is Richmond. The coastal plain, also known as the Tidewater, lies in the east; the Piedmont province, a region of rolling hills, is in the middle of the state; and the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains lie to the west. The Potomac, Shenandoah, James, and Roanoke rivers flow through the state. Virginia was inhabited by American Indians when England's first American colony was founded there in 1607 at Jamestown. Virginia's citizens were among the leaders of the American Revolution, and the state later contributed four of the country's first five presidents. In 1788 it became the 10th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was an important part of Virginia's economy; Nat Turner's slave insurrection occurred there in 1831. In 1861, soon after the start of the American Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union. Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy, and Virginia was the chief battleground throughout the war. The western part of the state refused to secede; it split off to become West Virginia in 1863. Virginia was readmitted to the Union in 1870. Strife over state debt took over political life for the next decades, but after World War I the state's prosperity increased. World War II brought thousands to Virginia's military camps and caused the Norfolk area to experience rapid growth. The federal government is the state's largest employer, while manufacturing is the second largest. Hampton Roads is one of the nation's leading ports. Tourism is important. The College of William and Mary (founded 1693) is the country's second oldest college; the University of Virginia was largely the creation of Thomas Jefferson.
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