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Norfolk ( (listen) NOR-fuuk) is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2020 census, the population was 238,005, making it the third-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, and the 91st-largest city in the nation. The city was incorporated in 1705 and is one of the oldest cities in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, and is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural center of the region. Norfolk is at the core of the metropolitan area, surrounding the Hampton Roads natural harbor at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It is one of nine cities and seven counties that constitute the Hampton Roads metro area, officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. The city is bordered to the west by the Elizabeth River and to the north by the Chesapeake Bay. It also shares land borders with the independent cities of Chesapeake to its south and Virginia Beach to its east. As the city is bordered by multiple bodies of water, Norfolk has many miles of riverfront and bayfront property, including beaches on the Chesapeake Bay. The coastal zones are important for the economy. The largest naval base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk, is located in Norfolk along with one of NATO's two Strategic Command headquarters. Additionally Norfolk is an important contributor to the Port of Virginia. It is home to Maersk Line, Limited, which manages the world's largest fleet of US-flag vessels. However, this low-lying coastal infrastructure is also very vulnerable to sea level rise, with water levels expected to rise by more than 5.5 feet by the end of the 21st century. The city has a long history as a strategic military and transportation point, where many railroad lines started. It is linked to its neighbors by an extensive network of interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and three bridge-tunnel complexes.
Portsmouth is an independent city in Virginia southwest and across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. As of the 2010 census, the population was 95,535. It is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth are historic and active U.S. Navy facilities located in Portsmouth.
Chesapeake is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 222,209; in 2019, the population was estimated to be 244,835, making it the second-most populous city in Virginia. Chesapeake is included in the Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC, MSA. One of the cities in the South Hampton Roads, Chesapeake was organized in 1963 by voter referendums approving the political consolidation of the city of South Norfolk with the remnants of the former Norfolk County, which dated to 1691. (Much of the territory of the county had been annexed by other cities.) Chesapeake is the second-largest city by land area in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the 17th-largest in the United States. Chesapeake is a diverse city in which a few urban areas are located; it also has many square miles of protected farmland, forests, and wetlands, including a substantial portion of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Extending from the rural border with North Carolina to the harbor area of Hampton Roads adjacent to the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, Chesapeake is located on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It has miles of waterfront industrial, commercial and residential property. In 2011, Chesapeake was named the 21st best city in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek. Chesapeake is home to the international Headquarters for Dollar Tree.
Hampton () is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 137,438; in 2019, it was estimated to be 134,510. Hampton is included in the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC MSA) which is the 37th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,729,114. This area, known as "America's First Region", also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties, and towns of Hampton Roads. Hampton traces its history to the city's Old Point Comfort, the home of Fort Monroe for almost 400 years, which was named by the 1607 voyagers, led by Captain Christopher Newport, who first established Jamestown as an English colonial settlement. Since consolidation in 1952, Hampton has included the former Elizabeth City County and the incorporated town of Phoebus, consolidated by a mutual agreement. After the end of the American Civil War, historic Hampton University was established opposite from the town on the Hampton River, providing an education for many newly-freed former slaves and for area Native Americans. In the 20th century, the area became the location of Langley Air Force Base, NASA Langley Research Center, and the Virginia Air and Space Center. Hampton features many miles of waterfront and beaches. The city features a wide array of business and industrial enterprises, retail and residential areas, historical sites, and other points of interest, such a NASCAR short track, the oldest Anglican parish in the Americas (1610), and a moated, six-sided, historical bastion fort.