The term Hampton Roads refers to two different things located within the same area in the States: a Virginian body of water and the metropolitan area surrounding it—which encompasses parts of Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina. Hampton Roads stretches across Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC metropolitan area, and through an extension of Combined Statistical Area, which comprises NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, Kill Devil Hills, and Elizabeth City. The area of Hampton Roads is perhaps famous for the presence of military base, harbor that is free of ice, waterfront property that stretches for miles, beaches, coal piers, and shipyards. These features make up the stability and diversity of economy within the region. The body of water, which is referred to as Hampton Roads as well, is said to be one of the largest natural harbors in the world. The body of water is supplied by the Elizabeth River, James River, and Nansemond River, in addition to some rivers of smaller size. This collection of water then empties out into the Chesapeake Bay, which in turn leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Towns, counties, and cities on the Virginia Peninsula and in the South Hampton Roads make up the land area of the region.
Other areas that are further away from the harbor could or could not be said to be part of the Hampton Roads. It all goes back to the purpose. For instance, in terms of federal economic purposes, the metropolitan statistical area of Hampton Roads may include two North Carolina counties as well as another two counties within the Middle Peninsula of Virginia. The Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News of the VA-NC MSA is the 37th largest metropolitan area in the US with more than 1.7 million people it has. When the Combined Statistical Area counts another four counties in North Carolina, the number goes up to more than 1.8 million residents, making the CSA the 32nd largest in the US.
There are numerous attractions and historical sites within the area. The Hampton Roads owes its growth to the harbor. However, while the harbor holds an important role in transportation, it poses a number of obstacles when it comes to development of land-based transportation. It has been a major challenge to create and maintain sufficient infrastructure in the area. Both the HRBT (Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel) and the MMMBT (Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel) are two major harbors that cross the interstate of Hampton Roads Beltway.