is an independent city forming an enclave within the confines of Fairfax County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although politically independent of the surrounding county, the City is nevertheless the county seat.
Situated in the Northern Virginia region, Fairfax forms part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines Fairfax and the city of Falls Church with Fairfax County for statistical purposes.
The population was 21,498 at the 2000 census. Many surrounding communities and developments have a Fairfax postal mailing address.
While the city is an enclave within the County of Fairfax, a small unincorporated portion of the County comprising the courthouse complex, the jail, and a small area nearby is itself an enclave within the city. Fairfax County's Government Center is west of the City of Fairfax in an unincorporated area.
The city gets its name from Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who was awarded five million acres (20,000 km²) in land located in Northern Virginia by King Charles.
The area the City of Fairfax now encompasses was settled in the early 1700s by farmers from Virginia's Tidewater region. The Fairfax County courthouse was established at the corner of Old Little River Turnpike (now Main Street) and Ox Road (now Chain Bridge Road) on land donated by town founder Richard Ratcliffe. The small town in the vicinity of the courthouse was then known as ''Earp's Corner
On June 1, 1861 John Quincy Marr, a CS Officer of American Civil War, was killed in Fairfax, Virginia.
In a celebrated incident in the town in March 1863, Mosby's 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, better known as ''Mosby's Rangers