ABOUT VIRGINIA COUNTIES
The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into 95 counties, along with 38 independent cities that are considered county-equivalents for census purposes. Note that the map in this article, taken from the official United States Census Bureau site, includes Clifton Forge and Bedford as independent cities. This reflected the political reality at the time of the 2000 Census. However, both have since chosen to “revert” to towns. In Virginia, cities are co-equal levels of government to counties, but towns are part of counties. For some counties, for statistical purposes, the Bureau of Economic Analysis combines any independent cities with the county that it was once part of (before the legislation creating independent cities took place in 1871).
Many county seats are politically not a part of the counties they serve; under Virginia law, all municipalities incorporated as cities are independent cities and are not part of any county. Some of the cities in the Hampton Roads area (Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, and Suffolk) were formed from an entire county. These cities are no longer county seats, since the counties ceased to exist once the cities were completely formed, but are functionally equivalent to counties.
It is also worthy of note that there are several counties and cities which have the same name, but are separate politically. These currently include Fairfax, Franklin, Richmond, and Roanoke. In the past they also included Norfolk and Alexandria, whose counties changed their names, ostensibly to end some of the confusion; as well as Bedford, where a city was surrounded by a county of the same name from 1968 until 2013, when the city reverted to town status. A city and county that share a name may be completely unrelated in geography. For example, Richmond County is nowhere near the City of Richmond, and Franklin County is even farther from the City of Franklin.
More Virginia counties are named for women than in any other state.