A part of the Southeastern and Appalachian region of USA, West Virginia shares borders with its parent state Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland and Ohio. It has tremendous historic significance having played critical roles during both the American Civil War and American Revolutionary War.
Area24,230 sq mi (62,755 km2)
Population1,850,326 (2014 est)
Official LanguagesDe jure: none ,English (de facto)
Time ZoneEastern: UTC -5/-4
Lt. GovernorBill Cole
U.S. SenatorJoe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito
Joined the UnionJune 20, 1863
Highest PointSpruce Knob
Lowest PointPotomac River at Virginia border
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Location and Geography: West Virginia is a bag-shaped state that is located directly to the north and west of Virginia, the original colony from which it was formed. It is the only state in America that is located entirely within the Appalachian Mountain Range, and this landscape has created the basis for much of its traditional culture.
Counties and Regions: West Virginia is split up into 55 counties, in addition to these basic regions:
North-Central West Virginia
Southern West Virginia
Population: Well over 1.8 million people live in West Virginia, which is a large number considering the state’s size and the rugged nature of its landscape. It ranks 27th in the United States for population density.
Major Cities: West Virginia’s largest city is also its capital, Charleston, which has more than 50,000 residents and greater than 300,000 people in its metropolitan area. Other major cities include Huntington, Parkersburg, and the historically important Wheeling.
Story Behind the Name: West Virginia’s name is fairly self-explanatory, as it was formed by splitting off the state of Virginia’s western counties. Proposed names for the area in earlier history were “Westsylvania” and “Vandalia.”
History and Colonization: The land that now constitutes West Virginia was once a part of the
original colony of Virginia, although its rugged terrain had always set it apart from the culture and way of life in the eastern part of the state. The mountainous land was not amicable to an agrarian society, and so it was settled by more adventurous trappers, miners, and prospectors. No Native American tribe had permanent settlements in the area, but it was a popular hunting ground that local tribes fought to control up to and during the early years of the American Revolution.
Much of current West Virginia was fought over by the original colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania in the the mid-eighteenth century. Both colonial governments attempted to exert their authority in the area, along with a couple of powerful corporations (the Ohio Company and the Indiana Land Company) who wanted to create a new colony there under their own control. The settlers of the region simply wanted to control the area themselves without being subject to either Virginia or Pennsylvania, as they felt that their values were not fully represented in either government. Right after the end of the American Revolution, citizens of this area proposed that a 14th state, “Westsylvania,” be created. However, the United States thought it would be more beneficial to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia without appealing to the separatists.
West Virginia got another chance to secede at the beginning of the American Civil War, and this time, it would be more successful. Like many things related to the Civil War, the decision was complicated and controversial. After the state of Virginia made the decision to join the Confederacy, several of its western counties organized under a provisional government and declared their secession from Virginia. The Wheeling Conventions, two meetings that took place in 1861, formally established that the western counties would break away and form a Union state called West Virginia. In the following years, there was much debate as to the legality and constitutionality of what took place, but West Virginia’s status as a separate state has long been cemented by time.
West Virginia’s economy has historically been heavily reliant on logging and mining, as practically the entire state is made up of thick forests growing atop ancient rock formations. Within the last several decades, the state has also attracted a healthy tourist industry centered around its scenic beauty and the many opportunities for sports and other outdoor activities that it provides.
More West Virginia Facts & Trivia
1.On 20th June 1863 the then President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation. As per this document West Virginia became a part of USA.
2.West Virginia's boundary continues for 1365 miles.
3.West Virginia is the sole state that has been formed by taking away territory from a state. This was done without obtaining the allowance of that particular state.
4.The earliest permanent colony by Caucasians in the Mill Creek area was built by Morgan Morgan. It is situated in what is now known as Berkeley County and was established in 1731.
5.Oakhurst Links was set up in White Sulphur Springs in 1884. It was the earliest organized club for playing golf in the country.
6.Cardinals are the official birds of this state.
7.Majority of earliest indigenous residents of West Virginia had lost their lives during the later part of 1500s thanks diseases or wars fought between tribes. Later on only the Cherokee, Shawnee and Delaware people inhabited the state.
8.At the time of American War of Independence the West Virginian region started to create an economy by developing its abundant resources of minerals. It also took part in an active manner at the war.
9.Black Bear is the officially accepted animal of West Virginia.
10.Sugar maple is the officially recognized tree in the state.
11.Adena Indians were the earliest residents of West Virginia.
12.The officially approved flower of West Virginia is rhododendron.
13.The discovery of the West Virginia's coal resources was made in 1742. Coal later on became an integral part of the southern state's history.
14.During American Civil War, Virginia defected from the Union. This happened in 1861 - till then West Virginia was a part of this state.
15.Justice John Marshall was from 1801-1835 the Chief Justice. He was also the main judicial authority when Aaron Burr was tried for treason in 1807. The Marshall University that is situated in Huntington, has received its name from him.
16.Earlier in the state's history the prominent industry of West Virginia was coal. Its place has now been taken by tourism.
17.Wheeling was the earliest capital of West Virginia. It was replaced in 1870 by Charleston. In 1875 again Wheeling was promoted to being the capital but Charleston got its position back in 1885.
18.In a public voting held on 24th October 1861 participants largely favored a fresh state that was to be named Kanawha. In November a meeting was held at Wheeling, whereby the name West Virginia replaced Kanawha. The same advice was given in 1961 by a newspaper based in Beckley. They opined that the state should either be named Lincoln or Kanawha as many people thought that the state was not an independent entity but the western region of Virginia.
19.Memorial Tunnel in West Virginia was inaugurated on 8th November 1954. It was the earliest passageway to have been watched over by television.
20.It is the sole American state to have been anointed by a declaration that had Presidential sanction.