How was life in the Tidewater different from life in the backcountry South?
There is less farming, and the culture is largely a maritime one.
The back country South was historically given over to farming and plantations. Virginia's Tidewater region clusters around Norfolk and Newport News, two of the best natural ports on the East coast and a major Navy presence.
It's the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, James River and Elizabeth River. The culture is maritime and the population is more transient, in contrast to the planters farther inland, who would typically spend their whole lives within a couple miles of where they were born.
The sandy, salty soil does lend itself to tobacco farming, and the general swampiness of the Tidewater region facilitates rice cultivation.