Richmond is less than 160 km/100 mi from Washington, D.C. The capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is an independent city - not part of any county. The James River, around which Richmond is situated, contributes both to the city's landscape and its identity. Known as the River City, Richmond makes good use of its waterway, with Riverwalk and Canal Walk neighborhoods. The former features its own blend of commercial space, dining, and festival areas, while the latter guides visitors through four centuries of history through statues and exhibits.
Richmond's location at the midpoint of the east coast makes it easy to access - and be accessed from - other major cities and points of interest. Its temperate climate has four distinct seasons. In addition to a tradition of international business dating back 400 years, more than 100 foreign-affiliated companies have come to Richmond in the past 20 years. Businesses in this city of international commerce represent 28 countries.
The capital of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, Richmond is steeped in history and takes pride in its many sites honoring its rich past.
The city's recorded history dates back to 1607, when Captain John Smith is reported to have settled an area near the James River which is now downtown Richmond. Tobacco was introduced as a crop shortly thereafter. Henrico County was established in 1634; this county would eventually evolve to include present-day Chesterfield, Charles City, Powhatan and Goochland counties.
Richmond was named by William Byrd II in 1671, incorporated as a city in 1782, and became the capital of Virginia in 1780 when the capital was moved from Williamsburg. By 1800 the city's population was about 200. This number would swell - as would Richmond's historical importance - with the advent of the Civil War. The Capital of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865, Richmond - along with the rest of Virginia - was readmitted to the Union in 1870.
During those years, and in the many that followed, Richmond was the site of many firsts: the 1807 Midlothian Turnpike was the state's first paved road; in 1879, Richmond's telephone service was the first in a southern city; the country's first electric streetcar system ran in Richmond in 1888; in 1903 Maggie L. Walker became the first woman to serve as president of a bank; and in 1948, Channel 6 (WTVR) became the first television station in the south.
Richmond continues to innovate, even while it maintains strong ties to its roots as an historic place of national importance.
While the city itself has about 200,000 residents, the metropolitan area is home to nearly 1.2 million. RVA, as Richmond is also known, is a comfortable place for both its residents and the five million yearly visitors. The latter come for the history, the gardens, and the universities. The former take advantage of all that, and enjoy a diversified employment base that includes chemicals, food and tobacco manufacturing, biotechnology, semiconductors and high-tech fibers. More than 40 percent of the workforce have commutes of 15 to 24 minutes. Less than five percent of the working population have commutes of an hour or more.
Diverse neighborhoods display a variety of architecture, from historic, stately homes to quirky bistros. An active cultural scene provides options like the city's own symphony, professional ballet and opera, as well as theater companies and art galleries. There are excellent opportunities for higher education; associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees offered at 25 institutions. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), University of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union Univeristy are among the local choices.
From a business perspective, the Richmond area is vibrant. Companies from around the world have operations in the area, including Koenig Technology of Austria, Gerdau Ameristeel US of Brazil, General Gene of China, General Cigar Company of Denmark, Alstom Power of France, Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals of Germany, Sabra of Israel, Honda of Japan, and Reynolds Packaging of New Zealand.
Richmond's largest employer is the government, with nearly 27 percent of the workforce - not surprising, considering it is the state capital. The next largest industries in terms of employment are health care and social assistance (14.7 percent), professional scientific and technical services (7.4 percent), and accommodation and food services (6.8 percent).