Early development of the northern portion of Virginia was in the easternmost area of that early land grant, which encompasses modern Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland counties. The invasion of the region by the three large and nearby urban concentrations of Richmond, Hampton Roads and northern Virginia seems inevitable. Recently, however, growth across the Washington metropolitan area has slowed, although Northern Virginia continues to grow much faster than the area as a whole. Alfalfa and grain for livestock are the main crops, and the northern counties of the region, especially Frederick and Clarke, also specialize in apples and apple products.
The population of Northern Virginia will continue to grow, although most likely not as fast as during the period 1980-1988.Northern Piedmont accounted for significantly more than 88% of all non-metropolitan population growth in the state between 1980 and 1988.This industrial zone, a dynamic belt of small and medium-sized manufacturing cities, extends across Piedmont from North Georgia to Lynchburg. Instead, Northern Virginia is more geared towards both government employment and indirect government-related employment with concerns such as consulting firms, law offices, public interest groups, trade associations, and firms specializing in government contracts. Per capita income is slightly below the state average in the North Valley, while population growth has been slightly above average. Harry White has called Northern Virginia home for the past twenty years and is currently taking up residence in Fairfax.
The importance of these activities can be seen, for example, in Accomack's rank as the state's third largest county in agricultural production, measured in terms of sales value; in the role of Northern Neck as a vacation and retirement residence area; in the many coastal cities that rely on fishing and oysters; and in the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula's fairly high dependence on the forest products industry. Mobil Oil, American Telephone and Telegraph and Time-Life are examples of corporate offices that have moved to Northern Virginia in recent years. Despite its proximity to Northern Virginia, the Virginia part of the Chesapeake Fringe of Megalopolis (Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Eastern Shore) is a very different area. The southwestern Piedmont area of Virginia is the northernmost extension of the Piedmont Manufacturing Belt.
While those in Loudoun County are more willing to include themselves in Northern Virginia, they don't tend to extend the same courtesy to those in Prince William County (and vice versa). Northern Virginia is an integral part of Megalopolis, a region first analyzed by internationally known geographer Jean Gottman. But how should someone break, or put together, the pieces? Does Southwest Virginia start in Roanoke or Bristol? Do Richmond suburbs include Goochland? Is Fredericksburg in Northern Virginia?.