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The Commonwealth of Virginia is split into 95 counties and 38 independent cities, which are considered to be equivalents in terms of the census. This article uses the official United States Census Bureau map. It includes Clifton Forge as well as Bedford as independent cities. This was the political reality as of the 2000 Census. Both have since opted to return to town status. Virginia has cities that are equal in government power to counties. However, towns can be considered part of counties. The Bureau of Economic Analysis merges any cities that are not part of a county with those of other counties for statistical purposes.
Many county seats are not politically part of the counties they serve. Virginia law states that all cities incorporated as cities are separate cities and not part of any county. Many of the Hampton Roads cities were created from entire counties. These cities are not county seats as the counties ceased to exist after the cities were formed. However, they are functionally equivalent to counties. A county seat in Virginia may also be an independent city that is surrounded by but not part of the county. Fairfax City, for example, is the county seat and is completely surrounded by Fairfax County, but is still politically independent.