Urban Population Growth

Population centers in Virginia are not fixed and immutable, and some of the new urbanized areas (such as Tysons Corner and Reston in Fairfax County) are not even organized as cities/towns.

Some areas of high population density (especially Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach) are also the areas of high population growth, while some urban areas (Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk, Roanoke) have been stable or lost population to the surrounding suburbs since Federal funding for highways spurred suburban development in the 1950's.

While Virginia was the state with the greatest population in 1790, urban development was slow to occur. Only once has a Virginia city made the list of the "top 10" of populated areas in the United States - in 1800, Norfolk was the tenth-largest city in the country.1

Richmond/Norfolk Population - National Rank

You can see the relative populations of Norfolk and Richmond are shown in the table below - obviously the capital of the state was not always the most populated area:

1790
Richmond - #18 (national ranking in population by size)
Norfolk - #20
Petersburg - #21
Alexandria - #22
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
Norfolk - #10
Richmond - #13
Petersburg - #30
Richmond - #12
Norfolk - #13
Petersburg - #25
Richmond - #12
Norfolk - #16
Petersburg - #28
Richmond - #13
Norfolk - #24
Petersburg - #30
Lynchburg - #59
Fredericksburg - #79
Richmond - #20
Petersburg - #34
Norfolk - #36
Wheeling - #51
Portsmouth - #62
Lynchburg - #65
Richmond - #26
Norfolk - #47
Petersburg - #50
Wheeling - #59
Portsmouth - #76
Lynchburg - #88
Richmond - #25
Petersburg - #50
Norfolk - #61
Wheeling - #63
Richmond - #24
Norfolk - #75
Petersburg - #77
Richmond - #25
Norfolk - #83
Petersburg - #89
Richmond - #35
Norfolk - #88
1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
Richmond - #46
Norfolk - #80
Richmond - #39
Norfolk - #82
Richmond - #38
Norfolk - #59
Richmond - #44
Norfolk - #62
Richmond - #45
Norfolk - #60
Richmond - #46
Norfolk - #48
Arlington - #68
Norfolk - #41
Richmond - #52
Arlington - #77
Norfolk - #47
Richmond - #57
Arlington - #77
Virginia Beach - #79
Norfolk - #55
Virginia Beach - #56
Richmond - #64
Virginia Beach - #37
Norfolk - #62
Richmond - #76
Arlington - #100

Three Virginia counties earned a place on a different "top 10" list at the start of the 21st Century. Between 2000-2005, Loudoun, King George, and Caroline counties were in the top 10 of the fastest growing counties in the country - based on the rate of population increase.

The growth of those counties reflected the continued expansion of the metro DC region to create "exurbs" to the west and south. As population growth continues, development of additional suburban housing subdivisions will transform those exurbs into "suburbs" and ultimately into the metropolitan urban core.

Table with row headers in column A and column headers in rows 3 through 5. Table with row headers in column A and column headers in rows 3 through 5. (leading dots indicate sub-parts)          
Cumulative Estimates of Population Change for the United States, States and Counties, and for Puerto Rico - April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005
FIPS Code .Geographic area Population estimates Change, 2004 to 2005 Change, 2000 to 2005  
July 1, 2005 July 1, 2004 April 1, 2000 estimates base Number Percent Number Percent Population Density Area (Square Miles)
United States 296,410,404 293,656,842 281,424,602 2,753,562 0.9 14,985,802 5.3 83.9 3,534,631.6
51 Virginia 7,567,465 7,481,332 7,079,030 86,133 1.2 488,435 6.9 191.3 39,558.4
51001 Accomack County 39,424 39,270 38,305 154 0.4 1,119 2.9 86.6 455.1
51003 Albemarle County 90,717 89,017 84,197 1,700 1.9 6,520 7.7 125.5 722.6
51005 Alleghany County 16,715 16,717 17,215 -2 0.0 -500 -2.9 37.5 445.4
51007 Amelia County 12,273 11,941 11,400 332 2.8 873 7.7 34.4 356.8
51009 Amherst County 32,134 31,912 31,894 222 0.7 240 0.8 67.6 475.2
51011 Appomattox County 13,967 13,936 13,705 31 0.2 262 1.9 41.9 333.7
51013 Arlington County 195,965 197,955 189,453 -1,990 -1.0 6,512 3.4 7560.8 25.9
51015 Augusta County 69,725 68,713 65,615 1,012 1.5 4,110 6.3 72.1 967.1
51017 Bath County 4,937 4,961 5,048 -24 -0.5 -111 -2.2 9.3 529.3
51019 Bedford County 65,286 63,919 60,385 1,367 2.1 4,901 8.1 86.5 754.6
51021 Bland County 6,943 7,010 6,871 -67 -1.0 72 1.0 19.4 358.7
51023 Botetourt County 32,027 31,747 30,496 280 0.9 1,531 5.0 59.2 541.2
51025 Brunswick County 17,920 18,048 18,419 -128 -0.7 -499 -2.7 31.7 566.1
51027 Buchanan County 24,755 25,143 26,978 -388 -1.5 -2,223 -8.2 49.1 503.8
51029 Buckingham County 16,058 15,912 15,623 146 0.9 435 2.8 27.6 580.8
51031 Campbell County 52,339 51,619 51,105 720 1.4 1,234 2.4 103.7 504.5
51033 Caroline County 25,563 24,000 22,121 1,563 6.5 3,442 15.6 48.0 532.5
51035 Carroll County 29,438 29,471 29,245 -33 -0.1 193 0.7 61.8 476.3
51036 Charles City County 7,119 7,117 6,926 2 0.0 193 2.8 39.0 182.8
51037 Charlotte County 12,404 12,348 12,471 56 0.5 -67 -0.5 26.1 475.0
51041 Chesterfield County 288,876 282,470 259,848 6,406 2.3 29,028 11.2 678.9 425.5
51043 Clarke County 14,205 13,840 12,652 365 2.6 1,553 12.3 80.4 176.6
51045 Craig County 5,154 5,173 5,091 -19 -0.4 63 1.2 15.6 329.5
51047 Culpeper County 42,530 40,151 34,262 2,379 5.9 8,268 24.1 111.6 381.3
51049 Cumberland County 9,378 9,171 9,017 207 2.3 361 4.0 31.4 298.5
51051 Dickenson County 16,243 16,212 16,395 31 0.2 -152 -0.9 49.1 330.5
51053 Dinwiddie County 25,391 25,111 24,533 280 1.1 858 3.5 50.4 503.7
51057 Essex County 10,492 10,330 9,989 162 1.6 503 5.0 40.8 257.1
51059 Fairfax County 1,006,529 1,002,488 969,749 4,041 0.4 36,780 3.8 2572.7 391.2
51061 Fauquier County 64,997 63,049 55,145 1,948 3.1 9,852 17.9 100.1 649.6
51063 Floyd County 14,649 14,433 13,874 216 1.5 775 5.6 38.4 381.2
51065 Fluvanna County 24,751 23,835 20,047 916 3.8 4,704 23.5 85.9 288.1
51067 Franklin County 50,345 49,669 47,283 676 1.4 3,062 6.5 72.7 692.1
51069 Frederick County 69,123 66,696 59,209 2,427 3.6 9,914 16.7 166.7 414.6
51071 Giles County 17,098 16,925 16,657 173 1.0 441 2.6 47.8 357.3
51073 Gloucester County 37,787 37,118 34,780 669 1.8 3,007 8.6 173.5 217.8
51075 Goochland County 19,360 18,676 16,863 684 3.7 2,497 14.8 69.0 280.5
51077 Grayson County 16,366 16,446 16,881 -80 -0.5 -515 -3.1 37.0 442.7
51079 Greene County 17,418 17,007 15,244 411 2.4 2,174 14.3 111.2 156.6
51081 Greensville County 11,088 11,015 11,560 73 0.7 -472 -4.1 37.6 295.2
51083 Halifax County 36,284 36,378 37,350 -94 -0.3 -1,066 -2.9 44.3 819.3
51085 Hanover County 97,426 96,019 86,320 1,407 1.5 11,106 12.9 206.2 472.5
51087 Henrico County 280,581 275,962 262,193 4,619 1.7 18,388 7.0 1176.7 238.5
51089 Henry County 56,501 56,875 57,981 -374 -0.7 -1,480 -2.6 147.8 382.3
51091 Highland County 2,475 2,463 2,536 12 0.5 -61 -2.4 6.0 415.2
51093 Isle of Wight County 33,417 32,635 29,728 782 2.4 3,689 12.4 105.8 315.9
51095 James City County 57,525 55,500 48,102 2,025 3.6 9,423 19.6 402.5 142.9
51097 King and Queen Count 6,796 6,757 6,630 39 0.6 166 2.5 21.6 315.2
51099 King George County 20,637 19,342 16,803 1,295 6.7 3,834 22.8 114.7 180.0
51101 King William County 14,732 14,331 13,146 401 2.8 1,586 12.1 53.8 273.9
51103 Lancaster County 11,593 11,561 11,567 32 0.3 26 0.2 87.0 133.3
51105 Lee County 23,686 23,760 23,589 -74 -0.3 97 0.4 54.2 437.1
51107 Loudoun County 255,518 239,325 169,599 16,193 6.8 85,919 50.7 495.6 515.6
51109 Louisa County 30,020 28,797 25,627 1,223 4.2 4,393 17.1 60.4 497.3
51111 Lunenburg County 13,194 13,118 13,146 76 0.6 48 0.4 30.6 431.7
51113 Madison County 13,398 13,115 12,520 283 2.2 878 7.0 41.7 321.4
51115 Mathews County 9,194 9,158 9,207 36 0.4 -13 -0.1 107.0 85.9
51117 Mecklenburg County 32,529 32,462 32,380 67 0.2 149 0.5 52.1 623.9
51119 Middlesex County 10,493 10,442 9,932 51 0.5 561 5.6 80.5 130.3
51121 Montgomery County 84,303 83,901 83,681 402 0.5 622 0.7 217.2 388.2
51125 Nelson County 15,101 14,950 14,445 151 1.0 656 4.5 32.0 472.3
51127 New Kent County 16,107 15,500 13,462 607 3.9 2,645 19.6 76.9 209.5
51131 Northampton County 13,548 13,337 13,093 211 1.6 455 3.5 65.3 207.4
51133 Northumberland Count 12,874 12,801 12,268 73 0.6 606 4.9 67.3 191.3
51135 Nottoway County 15,560 15,550 15,725 10 0.1 -165 -1.0 49.5 314.6
51137 Orange County 30,246 28,838 25,881 1,408 4.9 4,365 16.9 88.8 340.5
51139 Page County 23,831 23,649 23,177 182 0.8 654 2.8 76.6 311.1
51141 Patrick County 19,209 19,202 19,407 7 0.0 -198 -1.0 39.8 483.1
51143 Pittsylvania County 61,854 61,790 61,745 64 0.1 109 0.2 63.7 970.8
51145 Powhatan County 26,598 25,823 22,377 775 3.0 4,221 18.9 102.2 260.2
51147 Prince Edward County 20,455 20,202 19,720 253 1.3 735 3.7 58.0 352.8
51149 Prince George County 36,725 36,462 33,108 263 0.7 3,617 10.9 138.5 265.1
51153 Prince William Count 348,588 336,525 280,813 12,063 3.6 67,775 24.1 1032.4 337.6
51155 Pulaski County 35,081 35,104 35,127 -23 -0.1 -46 -0.1 109.4 320.6
51157 Rappahannock County 7,271 7,155 6,983 116 1.6 288 4.1 27.3 266.7
51159 Richmond County 9,114 9,093 8,800 21 0.2 314 3.6 47.6 191.5
51161 Roanoke County 88,172 87,511 85,726 661 0.8 2,446 2.9 352.1 250.4
51163 Rockbridge County 21,242 21,078 20,808 164 0.8 434 2.1 35.5 597.6
51165 Rockingham County 71,251 70,151 67,714 1,100 1.6 3,537 5.2 83.9 849.0
51167 Russell County 28,949 28,857 29,258 92 0.3 -309 -1.1 61.0 474.7
51169 Scott County 22,962 23,000 23,403 -38 -0.2 -441 -1.9 42.8 536.6
51171 Shenandoah County 39,184 38,070 35,075 1,114 2.9 4,109 11.7 76.5 512.2
51173 Smyth County 32,640 32,531 33,081 109 0.3 -441 -1.3 72.2 452.1
51175 Southampton County 17,585 17,397 17,482 188 1.1 103 0.6 29.3 599.6
51177 Spotsylvania County 116,549 111,805 90,395 4,744 4.2 26,154 28.9 290.8 400.9
51179 Stafford County 117,874 114,513 92,446 3,361 2.9 25,428 27.5 436.0 270.4
51181 Surry County 7,013 6,990 6,829 23 0.3 184 2.7 25.1 278.9
51183 Sussex County 12,071 12,167 12,504 -96 -0.8 -433 -3.5 24.6 490.2
51185 Tazewell County 44,795 44,634 44,598 161 0.4 197 0.4 86.2 519.7
51187 Warren County 35,556 34,494 31,578 1,062 3.1 3,978 12.6 166.4 213.7
51191 Washington County 52,085 51,786 51,103 299 0.6 982 1.9 92.5 562.9
51193 Westmoreland County 17,227 16,987 16,718 240 1.4 509 3.0 75.1 229.3
51195 Wise County 41,997 41,840 42,195 157 0.4 -198 -0.5 103.9 404.0
51197 Wythe County 28,421 28,090 27,599 331 1.2 822 3.0 61.4 463.2
51199 York County 61,758 60,804 56,297 954 1.6 5,461 9.7 584.6 105.6
51510 Alexandria city 135,337 136,635 128,283 -1,298 -0.9 7,054 5.5 9008.6 15.0
51515 Bedford city 6,211 6,222 6,299 -11 -0.2 -88 -1.4 902.4 6.9
51520 Bristol city 17,335 17,345 17,367 -10 -0.1 -32 -0.2 1343.9 12.9
51530 Buena Vista city 6,437 6,506 6,349 -69 -1.1 88 1.4 960.2 6.7
51540 Charlottesville city 40,437 40,745 40,088 -308 -0.8 349 0.9 3940.3 10.3
51550 Chesapeake city 218,968 214,830 199,184 4,138 1.9 19,784 9.9 642.5 340.8
51570 Colonial Heights cit 17,567 17,465 16,897 102 0.6 670 4.0 2336.2 7.5
51580 Covington city 6,205 6,277 6,303 -72 -1.1 -98 -1.6 1134.7 5.5
51590 Danville city 46,143 46,473 48,411 -330 -0.7 -2,268 -4.7 1071.6 43.1
51595 Emporia city 5,587 5,585 5,665 2 0.0 -78 -1.4 810.4 6.9
51600 Fairfax city 21,963 21,989 21,498 -26 -0.1 465 2.2 3522.8 6.2
51610 Falls Church city 10,781 10,574 10,377 207 2.0 404 3.9 5384.0 2.0
51620 Franklin city 8,594 8,450 8,346 144 1.7 248 3.0 1028.9 8.4
51630 Fredericksburg city 20,732 20,776 19,279 -44 -0.2 1,453 7.5 1971.1 10.5
51640 Galax city 6,676 6,628 6,837 48 0.7 -161 -2.4 811.3 8.2
51650 Hampton city 145,579 145,001 146,437 578 0.4 -858 -0.6 2811.4 51.8
51660 Harrisonburg city 40,438 40,645 40,453 -207 -0.5 -15 0.0 2315.1 17.5
51670 Hopewell city 22,690 22,401 22,277 289 1.3 413 1.9 2207.6 10.3
51678 Lexington city 6,776 6,800 6,867 -24 -0.4 -91 -1.3 2713.8 2.5
51680 Lynchburg city 66,973 66,268 65,228 705 1.1 1,745 2.7 1356.0 49.4
51683 Manassas city 37,569 37,626 35,135 -57 -0.2 2,434 6.9 3780.1 9.9
51685 Manassas Park city 11,622 11,469 10,290 153 1.3 1,332 12.9 4716.9 2.5
51690 Martinsville city 14,925 14,911 15,368 14 0.1 -443 -2.9 1362.3 11.0
51700 Newport News city 179,899 181,917 180,697 -2,018 -1.1 -798 -0.4 2634.2 68.3
51710 Norfolk city 231,954 237,347 234,403 -5,393 -2.3 -2,449 -1.0 4317.5 53.7
51720 Norton city 3,677 3,797 3,918 -120 -3.2 -241 -6.2 487.9 7.5
51730 Petersburg city 32,604 32,764 33,756 -160 -0.5 -1,152 -3.4 1422.0 22.9
51735 Poquoson city 11,811 11,673 11,566 138 1.2 245 2.1 761.2 15.5
51740 Portsmouth city 100,169 99,404 100,565 765 0.8 -396 -0.4 3020.7 33.2
51750 Radford city 14,575 14,667 15,859 -92 -0.6 -1,284 -8.1 1484.5 9.8
51760 Richmond city 193,777 193,915 197,952 -138 -0.1 -4,175 -2.1 3225.8 60.1
51770 Roanoke city 92,631 92,570 94,911 61 0.1 -2,280 -2.4 2176.2 42.6
51775 Salem city 24,654 24,507 24,747 147 0.6 -93 -0.4 1707.6 14.4
51790 Staunton city 23,337 23,065 23,853 272 1.2 -516 -2.2 1186.0 19.7
51800 Suffolk city 78,994 76,529 63,677 2,465 3.2 15,317 24.1 197.5 400.0
51810 Virginia Beach city 438,415 439,224 425,257 -809 -0.2 13,158 3.1 1765.9 248.3
51820 Waynesboro city 21,269 20,826 19,520 443 2.1 1,749 9.0 1397.6 15.2
51830 Williamsburg city 11,751 11,486 11,998 265 2.3 -247 -2.1 1371.6 8.6
51840 Winchester city 25,119 24,862 23,585 257 1.0 1,534 6.5 2691.0 9.3

In 2000-2005, the population of Virginia increased 6.9%, up 488,435 people to 7,567,465 total population in the state. However, population growth was not consistent across the state - and 20 counties in Virginia (21% of the counties in the state, out of 95 total) actually lost population.

The Virginia counties with declining populations between 2000-2005 were far from the metro areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads:

- Alleghany County (-2.9%)
- Bath County (-2.2%)
- Brunswick County (-2.7%)
- Buchanan County (-8.2%)
- Charlotte County (-0.5%)
- Dickenson County (-0.9%)
- Grayson County (-3.1%)
- Greensville County (-4.1%)
- Halifax County (-2.9%)
- Henry County (-2.6%)
- Highland County (-2.4%)
- Mathews County (-0.1%)
- Nottoway County (-1.0%)
- Patrick County (-1.0%)
- Pulaski County (-0.1%)
- Russell County (-1.1%)
- Scott County (-1.9%)
- Smyth County (-1.3%)
- Sussex County (-3.5%)
- Wise County (-0.5%)

total population growth/decline in Virginia, 2000-2005
total population growth/decline in Virginia 2000-2005

rate of population growth/decline in Virginia, 2000-2005
rate of population growth/decline in Virginia 2000-2005

Before you decide that everyone is migrating from the rural areas to the cities, however, note that more than 50% of the cities in Virginia (20 out of 39) also lost population between 2000-2005. The cities losing population were located all across the state... except in Northern Virginia:

- Bedford city (-2.9%)
- Bristol city (-0.2%)
- Covington city (-1.6%)
- Danville city (-4.7%)
- Emporia city (-1.4%)
- Galax city (-2.4%)
- Hampton city (-0.6%)
- Lexington city (-1.3%)
- Martinsville city (-2.9%)
- Newport News city (-0.4%)
- Norfolk city (-1.0%)
- Norton city (-6.2%)
- Petersburg city (-3.4%)
- Portsmouth city (-0.4%)
- Radford city (-8.1%)
- Richmond city (-2.1%)
- Roanoke city (-2.4%)
- Salem city (-0.4%)
- Staunton city (-2.2%)
- Williamsburg city (-2.1%)

total population growth/decline in United States, 2000-2005
total population growth/decline in United States, 2000-2005

rate of population growth/decline in United States, 2000-2005
rate of population growth/decline in United States, 2000-2005

Source: Bureau of Census, Cumulative Estimates of Population Change
for the United States, States and Counties, and for Puerto Rico - April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005

Urban Areas of Virginia

References

1. "Rank by Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places, Listed Alphabetically by State: 1790-1990," Population Division Working Paper No. 27, Bureau of Census, June 1998, http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0027/twps0027.html (last checked March 10, 2014)


Population of Virginia
Virginia Places