Virginia, which was home to the first permanently settled English colony in the New World, has remained a guardian of tradition and history on the Eastern coast of the United States. From 1607, when the colony of Jamestown was first established, until the American Revolution, Virginia was the key territory for England, especially as it had developed an extensive tobacco industry for exportation. Throughout the American Revolution and the Civil War, Virginia was torn apart as the scene of many decisive battles, such as at Yorktown and Fredericksburg. Today, the state proudly displays both the scars and glories from its past in such historic sites as the town of Colonial Williamsburg and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s elegant estate that took over forty years to perfect. Virginia is equally known for its natural wonders, such as the spectacular fall foliage that lights up the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley and the complex ecosystems lining the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US. On the coast, tiny Assateague Island has become world-renowned for its herds of wild ponies, a fitting symbol of freedom and survival in a land that is known as the « Birthplace of American Democracy. »