Hampton Roads is situated in the middle of the Eastern seaboard where the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth rivers pour into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and meet the Atlantic Ocean to the region's east. It is recognized as the 33rd largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the United States, the eighth-largest metro area in the Southeast United States, and the second-largest between Atlanta and Washington, DC. Six of the 10 largest population centers in the United States are located within 750 miles of Hampton Roads.
Home to more than 1.8 million people, the Hampton Roads region includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg and the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Southampton, Surry*, and York.
The name "Hampton Roads" is a centuries-old reference that originated when the region was struggling as a British outpost 400 years ago. The word "Hampton" honors one of the founders of the Virginia Company, Henry Wriothesley - 3rd Earl of Southampton KG. Signifying the safety of a port, "Roads", short for roadstead, in nautical terminology means "a place less sheltered than a harbor where ships may ride at anchor."
Hampton Roads is the birthplace of Colonial America. It is home to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, and to Colonial Williamsburg. Its rich history, thriving maritime industry, and beautiful waterfront landscapes merge with livable communities, modern technology, economic prosperity, and a strong military presence to create a unique and welcoming place in which to live and conduct business.
In 1983, "Hampton Roads" became the official name for the region as recognized by the United States, unifying the Southside with the Peninsula, although the first recorded mention of "Hampton Roads" in the Virginia General Assembly was in 1755 (21 years before the founding of the United States) as the channel linking the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond Rivers with the Chesapeake Bay.