A general name for the coastal areas on the Atlantic coast of North America, especially in what would become the U.S. South. There the Tidewater area was usually sandy areas, were originally covered in pine forests until they were removed for agriculture. These were the first areas settled and the frontier gradually moved away from them, so that the social and political conflicts within a state often took the form of Tidewater vs. Piedmont, the newly-settled back country. The name comes from the areas which could see some fluctuation in the river water levels from the ocean's tide, but the area falling under the name often extended much farther away from the ocean, up to the fall line where the first waterfalls or shoals blocked navigation up the river.

In Virginia, the Tidewater area is generally defined as south Hampton Roads, consisting of the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk.

Some people use "Tidewater" to refer to the entire Hampton Roads area, though. I guess it's personal preference.

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