Virginia was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago by prehistoric nomads who hunted big game. After the big game disappeared from the area, these early Indians turned to fishing, gathering edible plants, and hunting smaller animals. About 2,000 years ago, they began practicing agriculture. At the time of European colonization in the 17th century, the region was inhabited by some 17,000 Indians—mainly Siouan, Algonquian, and Iroquoian.

The Powhatan Confederacy, composed of Algonquian tribes, lived on the Eastern Shore and in the Tidewater area, where the first white settlements were made. Siouan tribes inhabited the area from the headwaters of the James, Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers to the mountains. Iroquoian tribes were scattered throughout the southeast and southwest.

Important dates in Virginia
1607 The Virginia Company of London established the colony of Jamestown.
1612 John Rolfe helped save the colony by introducing tobacco growing and exporting.
1619 America's first representative legislature, the House of Burgesses, met in Jamestown. Dutch traders brought the first blacks to Jamestown.
1624 Virginia became a royal colony.
1676 Nathaniel Bacon led a rebellion against the government.
1693 The College of William and Mary was founded.
1775 George Washington, a Virginian, became commander in chief of the Continental Army.
1776 Virginia declared its independence and adopted its first constitution, which included a declaration of rights. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia wrote the Declaration of Independence.
1781 Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown in the last major battle of the Revolutionary War in America.
1788 Virginia became the 10th state on June 25.
1789 George Washington became the first president of the United States.
1792 Kentucky was formed from Virginia's westernmost counties.
1801-1825 Three Virginians served as president: Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), and James Monroe (1817-1825).
1831 Nat Turner led a famous slave revolt.
1841 William Henry Harrison, born in Virginia, became president. Harrison died a month later. Vice president John Tyler, also a Virginian, became president.
1849 Zachary Taylor, another Virginian, became president.
1861-1865 Virginia seceded from the Union and became the major battleground of the Civil War.
1863 West Virginia was formed from northwestern Virginia.
1870 Virginia was readmitted to the Union.
1912 Woodrow Wilson became the eighth Virginian to be elected president.
1940-1945 New industries opened during World War II.
1969 A. Linwood Holton, Jr., became the first Republican to be elected Virginia's governor since 1869.
1971 A new state constitution went into effect.
1990-1994 L. Douglas Wilder served as Virginia's governor. Wilder was the first African American ever elected governor of a U.S. state.