The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of two counties (Accomack and Northampton) on the Atlantic coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The 70-mile (110 km)–long region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Its population was 45,553 as of 2010.
The terrain is overall very flat, ranging from sea level to just 50 feet (15 m) above sea level. The rural area has been devoted to cotton, soybean, vegetable and truck farming, and large-scale chicken farms. Since the late 20th century, vineyards have been developed in both counties, and the Eastern Shore has received recognition as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). It is characterized by sandy and deep soil. The weather in the area has temperate summers and winters, significantly affected by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The area includes barrier islands. At the northern end of the Atlantic side is the beach community of Chincoteague, famous for its annual wild pony roundup, gathered from Assateague Island. Wallops Flight Facility, a NASA space launch base, is located near Chincoteague. Tangier Island, off the western shore in the Chesapeake Bay, is another day-tourist destination.
The Eastern Shore, geographically removed from the rest of Virginia, has had a unique history of settlement and development influenced by agriculture, fishing, tourism, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. William G. Thomas describes the Eastern Shore during the late 19th and early 20th century as “a highly complex and interdependent landscape”.
The 23-mile (37 km) long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which is part of U.S. Route 13, spans the mouth of the Bay and connects the Eastern Shore to South Hampton Roads and the rest of Virginia. Before the Bridge-Tunnel was built in 1964, a ferry provided the continuation of U.S. 13 across this stretch of water.