To best define what Hampton Roads is, the definition used by the US Census Bureau can be referred to. The Bureau determines that the area consists of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Newport News within the VA—NC MSA. This region comprises of 16 jurisdictions of county-level. In Virginia, there are 5 counties and nine independent cities while in North Carolina, there are two counties included in the MSA. However, the definition that the locals use to determine the borders of this region does not truly in line with what the Bureau defines. The metropolitan areas within the region are what commonly and collectively referred to as Hampton Roads.
The VA-NC MSA comprises of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Newport News. This statistical area has a population of 1,676,822 according to a 2010 census. The population number is expected to rise to 1,716,624 in 2014. A constitutional change was implemented in 1871 and stated that all Virginian cities are independent, placing all of them outside counties. These independent cities are to be regarded as the equivalent of counties in order that the definition of MSA can be best determined. Areas constituting the VA—NC MSA is shared between Virginia and North Carolina.
The areas in Virginia consist of 5 counties and 9 cities namely Gloucester County, Isle of Wight County, James City County, Mathews County, York County, City of Chesapeake, City of Hampton, City of Newport News, City of Norfolk, City of Poquoson, City of Portsmouth, City of Suffolk, City of Virginia Beach, and City of Williamsburg. The other areas in North Carolina consist of two counties namely Currituck County and Gates County. Towns or other areas surrounding these MSAs are still colloquially referred to as part of Hampton Roads—especially by locals, but legally they do not count as such.