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Fairfax County is a county in Northern Virginiamarker, in the United Statesmarker. , the estimated population of the county is 1,015,302, making it by far the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the most populous jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Fairfax was the first county to reach a six-figure median household income, and has the second-highest median household income of any jurisdiction in the United States after neighboring Loudoun Countymarker. As of 2007, 14% of Virginia's population was located in Fairfax County, making it the most populous county in Virginia.


Fairfax County was formed in 1742 from the northern part of Prince William Countymarker. It was named for Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693–1781), proprietor of the Northern Neck.

The oldest settlements in Fairfax County were located along the Potomac River.George Washington settled in Fairfax County and built his home, Mount Vernonmarker, facing the river. Gunston Hallmarker, the home of George Mason is located nearby. Modern Fort Belvoirmarker is partly located on the estate of Belvoir Manor, built along the Potomac by William Fairfax in 1741. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, the only member of the British nobility ever to reside in the colonies, lived at Belvoir before he moved to the Shenandoah Valleymarker. The Belvoir mansion and several of its outbuildings were destroyed by fire immediately after the Revolutionary War in 1783, and George Washington noted the plantation complex gradually deteriorated into ruins.

In 1757, the northwestern two-thirds of Fairfax County became Loudoun Countymarker. In 1789, part of Fairfax County was ceded to the federal government to form Alexandria Countymarker of the District of Columbiamarker. Alexandria County was returned to Virginia in 1846, reduced in size by the secession of the independent city of Alexandriamarker in 1870, and renamed Arlington Countymarker in 1920. The Fairfax County town of Falls Churchmarker became an independent city in 1948. The Fairfax County town of Fairfaxmarker became an independent city in 1961.

Located near Washington, D.C., Fairfax County was an important region in the Civil War. The Battle of Chantillymarker or Ox Hill, during the same campaign as the second Battle of Bull Runmarker, was fought within the county; Bull Run straddles the border between Fairfax and Prince William County. For most of the Civil War, Union troops occupied the county, though the population remained sympathetic to the Confederacy.

The growth of the federal government in the years during and after World War II spurred rapid growth in the county. As a result, the once rural county began to become increasingly suburban. Other large businesses continued to settle in Fairfax County and the opening of Tysons Corner Centermarker spurred the rise of Tysons Cornermarker itself. The technology boom and a steady government-driven economy also created rapid growth and an increasingly growing and diverse population. The economy has also made Fairfax County one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.


Map of Fairfax County and neighboring jurisdictions

Fairfax County is bounded on the north and southeast by the Potomac River. Across the river to the northeast is Washington, D.C.marker, across the river to the north is Montgomery County, Marylandmarker, and across the river to the southeast are Prince George's County, Marylandmarker and Charles County, Marylandmarker. The county is partially bounded on the north and east by Arlington Countymarker and the independent cities of Alexandriamarker and Falls Churchmarker. It is bounded on the west by Loudoun Countymarker, and on the south by Prince William Countymarker.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 407 square miles (1,053 km²), of which, 395 square miles (1,023 km²) of it is land and 12 square miles (30 km²) of it (2.85%) is water.

Adjacent jurisdictions

National protected areas


Eleven square miles of the county are known to be underlain with natural asbestos. Much of the asbestos is known to emanate from fibrous tremolite or actinolite. Approximately 20 years ago, when the threat was discovered, the county established laws to monitor air quality at construction sites, control soil taken from affected areas, and require freshly developed sites to lay of clean, stable material over the ground.For instance, during the construction of Centreville High Schoolmarker a large amount of asbestos-laden soil was removed and then trucked to Vienna for the construction of the I-66/Nutley Street interchange. Fill dirt then had to be trucked in to make the site level. Marine clays can be found in widespread areas of the county east of Interstate 95, mostly in the Lee and Mount Vernon districts. These clays contribute to soil instability, leading to significant construction challenges for builders.

Government and politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democrat
2008 38.9% 200,914 60.1% 310,359
2004 45.9% 211,980 53.3% 245,671
2000 48.9% 202,181 47.5% 196,501
1996 48.2% 176,033 46.6% 170,150
1992 44.3% 170,488 41.6% 160,186
1988 61.1% 200,641 38.3% 125,711
1984 62.9% 183,181 36.8% 107,295
1980 57.4% 137,620 30.8% 73,734
1976 53.6% 110,424 44.7% 92,037
1972 66.3% 112,135 32.4% 54,844
1968 49.0% 57,462 38.2% 44,796
1964 38.7% 30,755 61.2% 48,680
1960 51.7% 26,064 48.1% 28,006

The county is governed by a Board of Supervisors, composed of nine members elected from single-member districts and a chairman elected at-large. The districts are named Braddock, Dranesville, Hunter Mill, Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Providence, Springfield, and Sully.

Fairfax County's Government Center is west of the City of Fairfax in an unincorporated area. Fairfax County contains an exclave unincorporated area located in the central business district of the City of Fairfax, in which many county facilities (including the courthouses and jail) are located.

Fairfax County was once considered a strong Republican bastion in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.marker However, Democrats have in the past decade made significant inroads, gaining control of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board (officially nonpartisan) as well as the offices of Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney. Democrats also control the majority of Fairfax seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.

Following the election of November 2008, Republicans hold just one of the three congressional seats that include parts of Fairfax County. Communities closer to Washington, D.C. generally favor Democrats by a larger margin than do the outlying communities. In elections in 2000, 2001, and 2005, Fairfax County supported Democrats for U.S. Senate and governor. In 2004, John Kerry won the county, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 landslide (the last time Democrats carried the state until 2008). Kerry defeated George W. Bush in the county 53% to 46%.

Democratic Governor Tim Kaine carried Fairfax County with over 60% of the vote in 2005, leading him to win 51.7% of votes statewide. On November 7, 2006, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D) carried the county with about 58.9% of the votes.

In the state and local elections of November 2007, Fairfax Democrats picked up one seat in the House of Delegates, two seats in the Senate, and one seat on the Board of Supervisors, making their majority there 8-2.

On November 4, 2008, Fairfax County continued its shift towards the Democrats, with Barack Obama and Mark Warner each garnering over 60% of the vote for president and U.S. Senate, respectively. Also, the Fairfax-anchored 11th District United States House of Representatives seat held by Thomas M. Davis for 14 years was won by Gerry Connolly, the Democratic Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Braddock supervisor Sharon Bulova won a special election on February 3, 2009 to succeed Gerry Connolly as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, continuing a Democratic hold on the office of chairman that dates back to 1995. In November, 2009, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell won Fairfax County with 51% of the vote.

Position Name Party First Election District
  Chairman Sharon Bulova Democratic Party 2009 At-Large
  Member John Cook Republican Party 2009 Braddock
  Member John Foust Democratic Party 2007 Dranesville
  Member Cathy Hudgins Democratic Party 1999 Hunter Mill
  Member Jeff McKay Democratic Party 2007 Lee
  Member Penelope Gross Democratic Party 1995 Mason
  Member Gerald Hyland Democratic Party 1988 Mount Vernon
  Member Linda Smyth Democratic Party 2003 Providence
  Member Pat Herrity Republican Party 2007 Springfield
  Member Michael Frey Republican Party 1991 Sully

Office Name Party and District First Election Next Election
Delegate Barbara Comstock Republican Party (34) 2009 2011
  Delegate Mark Keam Democratic Party (35) 2009 2011
  Delegate Ken Plum Democratic Party (36) 1977 2011
  Delegate David Bulova Democratic Party (37) 2005 2011
  Delegate Kaye Kory Democratic Party (38) 2009 2011
  Delegate Vivian Watts Democratic Party (39) 1995 2011
  Delegate Tim Hugo Republican Party (40) 2001 2011
  Delegate Dave Marsden Democratic Party (41) 2005 2011
  Delegate Dave Albo Republican Party (42) 1993 2011
  Delegate Mark Sickles Democratic Party (43) 2003 2011
  Delegate Scott Surovell Democratic Party (44) 2009 2011
  Delegate David Englin Democratic Party (45) 2005 2011
  Delegate Charniele Herring Democratic Party (46) 2009 2011
  Delegate Adam Ebbin Democratic Party (49) 2003 2011
  Delegate Jim Scott Democratic Party (53) 1991 2011
  Delegate Jim LeMunyon Republican Party (67) 2009 2011
  Delegate Tom Rust Republican Party (86) 2001 2011


As of the census of 2000, there were 969,749 people, 350,714 households, and 250,409 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,455 people per square mile (948/km²). There were 359,411 housing units at an average density of 910 per square mile (351/km²). The racial makeup of the county was:

11.03% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. Like many of the most affluent areas of the U.S. in the 21st century, Fairfax County is home to people from diverse backgrounds, including significant numbers of people of Korean, Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese and Jewish ancestry.

In 2000 there are 350,714 households, of which 36.30% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.40% were married couples living together, 8.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.20.

The age distribution was 25.40% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 33.90% from 25 to 44, 25.30% from 45 to 64, and 7.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $81,050, and the median income for a family was $92,146; in a 2007 estimate, these figures rose to $102,460 and $120,804, respectively. Males had a median income of $60,503 versus $41,802 for females. The per capita income for the county was $36,888. About 3.00% of families and 4.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.20% of those under age 18 and 4.00% of those age 65 or over. A more recent report from the 2007 American Community Survey indicated that poverty in Fairfax County, Virginia had risen to 4.9%.

Judged by household median income, Fairfax County is among the highest-income counties in the country, and was first on that list for many years. However, in the 2000 census it was overtaken by Douglas County, Coloradomarker. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2005, it had the second-highest median household income behind neighboring Loudoun County, at $94,610. In 2007, Fairfax County reclaimed its position as the richest county in America, in addition to becoming the first jurisdiction in American history to have a median household income in excess of $100,000. In 2008, Loudoun County reclaimed the first position, with Fairfax County a close second (although the U.S. Census Bureau notes that the difference is statistically insignificant).


The county is served by the Fairfax County Public Schoolsmarker system, to which the county government allocates 52.2% of its fiscal budget. Including state and federal government contributions, along with citizen and corporate contributions, this brings the 2008 fiscal budget for the school system to $2.2 billion. The school system has estimated that, based on the 2008 fiscal year budget, the county will be spending $13,407 on each student.

The Fairfax County Public School system contains the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technologymarker, a Virginia Governor's School. TJHSST consistently ranks at or near the top of all United States high schools due to the extraordinary number of National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists, the high average SAT scores of its students, and the number of students who annually perform nationally recognized research in the sciences and engineering.

George Mason Universitymarker is located just outside the city of Fairfaxmarker, near the geographic center of Fairfax County. Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) serves Fairfax County with campuses in Annandalemarker and Springfieldmarker a center in Restonmarker which is a satellite branch of the Loudoun campus. The NVCC Alexandriamarker campus borders Fairfax County. The University of Fairfax is also headquartered in Vienna, Virginiamarker.


The economy of Fairfax County is a robust service economy. Many residents work for the government or for contractors of the federal government. The government is the largest employer, with Fort Belvoirmarker in southern Fairfax being the county's single largest employer. The economy of Fairfax County is larger than that of Vietnammarker.

The top five largest private employers are the Inova Health System, Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) and Freddie Mac. Fairfax County also is home to large companies such as CSC (formerly Computer Sciences Corporation), Gannett, Capital One, General Dynamics, and NVR. The county has five Fortune 500 company headquarters, more than the rest of Northern Virginia. The county is also home to 11 Hispanic 500 companies, a ninth of the number found in the state of Californiamarker. Volkswagen Group of America, CSC, and Hilton Hotels Corporation have announced plans to move to Fairfax County after the county lost homegrown company headquarters AOL and Nextel. Volkswagen of America is headquartered in an unincorporated area in the county. ExxonMobil has various industry operations in Annandale, at a site that was formerly the headquarters of Mobil Oil. Compass Airlines has its headquarters in unincorporated Fairfax; in late 2009 the airline plans to relocate to Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker.

The economy of the county is supported by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authoritymarker, which provides services and information designed to promote Fairfax County as a leading business and technology center. The FCEDA is the largest non-state economic development authority in the nation. Fairfax County is also home to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, a trade association for local technology companies. It is the largest technology council in the nation, with technology industry figures such as Bill Gates and Meg Whitman speaking at various local banquets. Fairfax County has a higher concentration of high-tech workers than the Silicon Valleymarker.

Tysons Corner

The Tysons Corner CDPmarker of Fairfax County is Virginia's largest office market and the largest suburban business district in the nation with of office space. It is the country's 12th-largest business district, and is expected to grow substantially in the decades to come. It contains a quarter of county's total office space inventory, which totaled at year-end 2006, which is about the size of Lower Manhattan.

Every weekday, Tysons Corner draws over 100,000 workers from around the region. It also draws 55,000 shoppers every weekday as it is home to neighboring super-regional malls Tysons Corner Centermarker and Tysons Galleriamarker. In comparison, Washington, D.C. draws 15 million visitors annually, or the equivalent of 62,500 per weekday.

After years of stalling and controversy, the $5.2 billion expansion of Washington Metromarker in Virginia from Washington, D.C. to Dulles International Airportmarker received funding approval from the Federal Transit Administration in December 2008. The new line, informally dubbed the Silver Line, will add four stations in Tysons Corner, including a stationmarker between Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria.


The average weekly wage in Fairfax County during the first quarter of 2005 was $1,181, 52% more than the national average. By comparison, the average weekly wage was $1,286 for Arlingtonmarker – the Washington metropolitan area's highest – $1,277 for Washington, D.C.marker, and $775 for the United Statesmarker as a whole. The types of jobs available in the area make it very attractive to highly-educated workers. The relatively high wages may be partially due to the high cost of living in the area.

In early 2005, Fairfax County had 553,107 total jobs, up from 372,792 in 1990. In the area, this is second to Washington's 658,505 jobs in 2005 (down from 668,532 in 1990).

As of the 2002 Economic Census, Fairfax County has the largest professional, scientific, and technical service sector in the Washington, D.C. area – in terms of the number of business establishments; total sales, shipments, and receipts; payrolls; and number of employees – exceeding the next largest, Washington, D.C., by roughly a quarter overall, and double that of neighboring Montgomery County.

Arts and culture

The annual "Celebrate Fairfax!" festival is held in June at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax City.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Artsmarker features a performing arts center situated outside the town of Vienna.

Fairfax County supports a summer concert series held in multiple venues throughout the county on various nights. The concert series are calledArts in the Parks, Braddock Nights, Lee District Nights, Mt. Vernon Nights, Nottoway Nights, Spotlight by Starlight, Sounds of Summer andStarlight Cinema.



Several major highways run through Fairfax County, including the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495), Interstate 66, Interstate 95, and Interstate 395. The American Legion Bridge connects Fairfax to Montgomery County, Maryland. The George Washington Memorial Parkwaymarker, Dulles Toll Road, and Fairfax County Parkway are also major arteries. Other notable roads include Braddock Road, Old Keene Mill Road, Little River Turnpike, State Routes 7, 28, and 123, and US Routes 1, 29, and 50.

The county is in the Washington D.C. metro area, the nation's third most congested area.
Northern Virginia, includingFairfax County, is the third worstcongested traffic area in thenation, in terms of percentage ofcongested roadways and timespent in traffic. Of the lane milesin the region, 44 percent arerated “F” or worst for congestion.Northern Virginia residents spendan average of 46 hours a yearstuck in traffic.

Major highways


Washington Dulles International Airportmarker lies partly within Fairfax County and provides most air service to the county. Fairfax is also served by two other airports in the Washington area, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airportmarker and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airportmarker.

Manassas Regional Airportmarker, in neighboring Prince William County, is also used for regional cargo and private jet service.

Public transportation

Fairfax County contracts its bus service called the Fairfax Connector to Veolia Transportation. It is also served by WMATA's metrobus service. Fairfax County is served by the Washington Metromarker trains. The Orange, Blue, Yellow and the planned Silver lines all serve Fairfax County. In addition, VRE (Virginia Railway Express) provides commuter rail service with stations in Lortonmarker and Franconia-Springfieldmarker. VRE's Fairfax County stations are Lortonmarker and Franconia/Springfieldmarker on the Fredericksburgmarker line, and Burke Centremarker, Rolling Roadmarker, and Backlick Roadmarker on the Manassasmarker line.

Biking and walking

The county maintains many miles of bike trails running through parks, adjacent to roads and through towns such as Vienna and Herndon. The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail runs through Fairfax County, offering one of the region's best, and safest, routes for recreational walking and biking. In addition, nine miles (14 km) of the Mount Vernon Trail runs through Fairfax County along the Potomac River.

However, compared to other regions of the Washington area, Fairfax County has a dearth of designated bike lanes for cyclists wishing to commute in the region. On May 16, 2008, Bike-to-Work Day, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation released the first countywide bicycle route map.

The Fairfax Cross County Trail runs from Great Falls National Park in the northern end of the county to Occoquan Regional Park in the southern end. Consisting of mostly dirt paths and short asphalt sections, the trail is used mostly by recreational mountain bikers, hikers, and horse riders.

Parks and recreation

In addition to the Fairfax County Park Authority, Fairfax County is part of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Fairfax County contains large amounts of park land, a total of over 390 parks on more than .

The Reston Zoo is in the Reston CDPmarker in an unincorporated area.

Towns, independent cities, and other localities


Three incorporated towns, Cliftonmarker, Herndonmarker, and Viennamarker, are located entirely within Fairfax County.

The independent cities of Falls Churchmarker and Fairfaxmarker were formed out of areas formerly under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County, but are politically separate, despite the status of the City of Fairfax as county seat.

It has been proposed to convert the entire county into a single independent city, primarily to gain more control over taxes and roads. The most recent such proposal was made June 30, 2009.

Other communities within Fairfax County are unincorporated areas. Virginia law dictates that at least 100 members of the proposed municipality must sign a petition, the population of the proposed town must be at least 1,000 persons, and the population density of the affected county does not exceed 200 persons per square mile to begin the incorporation process. As of the 2000 census the thirteen largest communities of Fairfax County are all unincorporated CDP, the largest of which are Burkemarker, Restonmarker, and Annandalemarker, each with a population exceeding 50,000. (The largest incorporated place in the county is the town of Herndonmarker, its fourteenth-largest community.)

Unincorporated Census Designated Places

The following localities within Fairfax County are identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as (unincorporated) Census-Designated Places:

Other localities

Notable people from Fairfax County

Historic figures


  • Katherine Hanley - Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth and former County Board Chair
  • Jim Webb - U.S. Senator (D)
  • Tom Davis - Former U.S. Congressman (VA-11)
  • John Warner - Former U.S. Senator (R)
  • Sharon Bulova - Current chairman of the board of supervisors
  • Gerry Connolly - U.S. Congressman (VA-11) and former Chairman of the Fairfax County board of supervisors


Sports figures



See also



External links

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