Arlington is a world-class community and tourist destination located just five miles from the heart of the nation’s capital. It’s the geographically smallest self-governing county in the U.S., occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest award for Smart Growth in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America’s preeminent places to live, visit and do business. For current demographic information, see the Arlington County Profile.
- March 13, 1847: Established as Alexandria County.
- March 16, 1920: The name was changed to Arlington County.
- In 1791, Arlington was originally part of a 10-mile square surveyed for the nation’s capital.
- In 1846, the U.S. Congress returned a portion of the District of Columbia on the west bank of the Potomac River to the Commonwealth of Virginia, in response to requests from local residents.
- In 1922, a decision by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals declared Arlington a “continuous, contiguous and homogeneous community.” As a result, there are no incorporated towns or cities within Arlington’s boundaries.
- The County was named for the estate where George Washington Parke Custis lived before he built the house currently known as Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery. The estate had been named to honor the Earl of Arlington.
Location and Highlights
- Arlington, Virginia is an urban county located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
- Land area: 25.8 square miles
- Highest point: 461 feet above sea level
- Eleven of the 86 stations in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metrorail system are located in Arlington.
- The Rosslyn Metro station in Arlington features one of the longest continuous escalators in the world (194 feet, 8 inches). It takes 140 seconds to ride from top to bottom.
- Arlington’s 2018 property tax base is approximately divided between 48 percent commercial and 52 percent residential properties.
Population and Demographics
- Estimated population as of January 1, 2020: 228,400 (CPHD estimate)
- Population increase since 2010: 10.0 percent
- Population forecast for 2045: 301,200
- Population Density: 8,853 persons per square mile
- About 15 percent of Arlington’s population is Hispanic or Latino — the third highest percentage (after Prince William County and Loudoun County) in the Washington metropolitan area.
- About 27 percent of Arlington residents speak a language other than English at home.
Community Resources and Amenities
- Arlington has 62 registered civic and citizen associations, dozens of commissions, and more than 178 community service organizations.
- Arlington is home to the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
- Arlington has many recreational and other community amenities including:
- 52 miles of multi-use off -street trails
- 149 county owned parks
- 12 community centers (Lubber Run currently under construction)
- 88 basketball courts, 92 tennis courts, and 13 volleyball courts
- Eight libraries
- 471 restaurants
- 75% of Arlington’s population 25+ has a bachelor’s degree or higher, making it #1 among counties in the US
- About 90 percent of all graduating high school seniors in Arlington go on to attend college.
- 28,020 students are enrolled in Arlington County Public Schools (September 2019).
- County Vision: Arlington will be a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with secure, attractive residential and commercial neighborhoods where people unite to form a caring, learning, participating, sustainable community in which each person is important.
- In 1932, Arlington became the first County in the U.S. to operate under the “manager” form of government, which continues today.
- The County Board, Arlington’s legislative body, is composed of five members elected at large. The Board appoints the County Manager and a variety of citizen boards, commissions and advisory groups to help develop and implement County policies.
- The County Board encourages a high level of citizen involvement in local government, especially in developing planning policy.