About Suffolk, Virginia
Suffolk is located in the South Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia. It's part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which encompasses six other cities – Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, Hampton and Virginia Beach. Although it has the smallest population of these cities, it is the largest in terms of area, as well as the largest of all independent cities in Virginia. The most recent census shows Suffolk's population at 81,332 people and has a total area of 429.1 square miles.
Of Suffolk's area, 400 square miles is land and twenty-nine square miles is water. Part of the Dismal Swamp also lays within its borders. The cities of Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News and the counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Camden, and Gates are adjacent to Suffolk. The city doesn't experience climatic extremes, but rather four moderate seasons. It has an annual average of almost forty-nine inches of rainfall with a snowfall of seven inches and an annual average temperature of about sixty degrees Fahrenheit.
As early as 1584, the area around Suffolk was first inhabited by the Nansemonds, a Native American tribe. They had four villages of 1,200 people along the waterway now known as the Nansemond River. English settlers first explored Suffolk after arriving in Jamestown. After fighting over the land, the English eventually drove the Nansemonds out of the area. The town was officially named Suffolk in 1742 after Royal Governor William Gooch's home county of Suffolk in England. Almost forty years later, the entire town was burnt down during the American Revolutionary War by the British
Through the Civil War, Suffolk became an incorporated town in Nansemond County. It sided with the Confederacy as part of Virginia, but the town was occupied by 25,000 Union troops under Major General John J. Peck for over a year. In 1910, Suffolk became independent of the surrounding county, Nansemond. In 1974, the two joined back together and became the largest city in Virginia and the eleventh largest in the nation. As of 2008, Suffolk is the fastest growing city in the state.
Suffolk is full of attractions for both locals and visitors to enjoy. There's a plethora of outdoor activities such as: camping, fishing, golf, horseback riding, scuba diving, kayaking, fishing, nature trails, tennis, baseball, narrated tours and even skydiving. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is one of Suffolk's most popular visited spots. With 111,000 acres of untouched wilderness and forested wetlands. Visitors to the refuge can hike or bicycle on many miles of trails.
Another popular Suffolk attraction is the Civil War reenactments. There is an annual Civil War Weekend in April where Confederate and Union re-enactors bring the city's history to life. Additionally, there are family-friendly events and festivals each year. These include the Suffolk Peanut Festival, Nansemond Indian Tribal Pow Wow, Taste of Sufolk Downtown Street Festival, Great Dismal Birding Festival and more. For more relaxing options, one can enjoy a show, a quiet walk along the riverfront or the opening of an art exhibit.
The Suffolk public school system has an enrollment of over 14,000 students. The city operates thirteen elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools and one alternative school and has a budget of over 150 million dollars. The overall student-teacher ratio is twenty-five to one and in 2008 seventy-six percent of graduates enrolled in post-secondary education. There are also two private schools in the city – Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and First Baptist Christian School.
Suffolk Beauty Academy is the only college in the city, but there are many other universities and community colleges nearby. Some of these include: Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, Hampton University, Virginia Wesleyan College, and multiple Tidewater Community College campuses in Hampton Roads.