Arlington County is 26 square mile county and census-designated place in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The land that became Arlington was originally donated by Virginia to the United States government to form part of the new federal capital district. In 1801, the United States Congress organized the area as a subdivision of the District of Columbia named Alexandria County. In 1846, Congress returned the land donated by Virginia due to issues involving Congressional representation and the abolition of slavery. The General Assembly of Virginia changed the county's name to Arlington in 1920 to avoid confusion with the adjacent City of Alexandria. Arlington County shares with a portion of the independent City of Alexandria (including the former town of Potomac) the distinction of being once in Virginia, then ceded to the U.S. government to form the District of Columbia, and later retroceded to Virginia.
The county is situated on the South bank of the Potomac River directly across from Washington, D.C. Arlington is also bordered by Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church to the southwest, and the City of Alexandria to the southeast.
Due to the county's proximity to Washington, D.C., Arlington is headquarters to many departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States, including the Department of Defense, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The many federal agencies, government contractors, and service industries contribute to Arlington's stable economy, which has made it one of the highest-income counties in the United States. Arlington is also the location of national memorials and museums, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon Memorial, the Marine Corps War Memorial, and the United States Air Force Memorial.
There are a number of unincorporated neighborhoods within Arlington that are commonly referred to by name as if they were distinct towns. For over 30 years, the government has pursued a development strategy of concentrating much of its new development near transit facilities, such as Metrorail stations and the high-volume bus lines of Columbia Pike.Within the transit areas, the government has a policy of encouraging mixed-use and pedestrian- and transit-oriented development. Some of these "urban village" communities include Ballston, Clarendon, Courthouse, Crystal City, Lyon Village, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Shirlington, Virginia Square, Westover, Williamsburg Circle, Palisades, Aurora Heights, Penrose and Barcroft
In 2002, Arlington received the EPA's National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for "Overall Excellence in Smart Growth."
A number of the county's residential neighborhoods and larger garden-style apartment complexes are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and/or designated under the County government's zoning ordinance as local Historic Preservation Districts. These include Arlington Village, Arlington Forest, Ashton Heights, Buckingham, Cherrydale, Claremont, Colonial Village, Fairlington, Lyon Park, Lyon Village, Maywood, Penrose, Waverly Hills and Westover.
Companies headquartered in Arlington include AES, Allbritton Communications Company, Alcalde and Fay, Arlington Asset Investment, CACI, Corporate Executive Board, ENVIRON International Corporation, ESI International, FBR Capital Markets, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Rosetta Stone and Strayer Education.
Organizations located here include Associated General Contractors, The Conservation Fund, Conservation International, the Consumer Electronics Association, The Fellowship, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, The Nature Conservancy, the Public Broadcasting Service, United Service Organizations and the US-Taiwan Business Council.
Artisphere is Arlington’s cultural center has four performance venues, plus a Wi-Fi café, three visual art galleries, and a 4,000 square foot ballroom.
Arlington's Mount Vernon recreation Trail is nearly 18 miles long providing wonderful views of the Potomac River and Washington DC’s famous landmarks.
Arlington's Theodore Roosevelt Island is a 91-acre wilderness preserve serves as a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt and has 2.5 miles of foot trails. A good place to get away from the busy pace of downtown and enjoy nature.
Arlington's Concert at the Birchmere is a 500-seat dinner-theater style Music Hall offering a variety of musical performances.