West Virginia

  • Population- 1,808,344
  • Capital- Charleston
  • Largest cities– Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg
  • Time zone- Eastern
  • Date of Admission to the Union- June 20, 1863
  • Slogan- “Wild and Wonderful”
  • State website URL- www.wv.gov

West Virginia, one of the smallest states in the United States, is also one of the hilliest and most scenic. Most of the state is marked by the highlands and rolling hills of the west, and Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region located in the eastern one-sixth of the state.

Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges and rugged terrain earn West Virginia the nickname The Mountain State; flat lands can be found along major rivers of the state. Distinguished by two panhandles, one in the north, the other the east, much of West Virginia falls below the Mason-Dixon Line, and considered part of the South.

Paleo-Indians are the first known native inhabitants of the region (a nomadic culture that existed some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago). The Grave Creek Mound and the Ben Run earthworks are the most complete and impressive remnants of Mound Builders (native groups that built large earthen mounds as ceremonial or burial grounds) found in the country and date back to 500 BC to about 800 AD.

Part of Virginia until 1863, the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain Ranges acted as a natural barrier to exploration. British settled the fertile valleys in the 1730, providing a natural buffer to Native Americans and French to the west.

Attacks during the French and Indian War forced many settlers back over the Blue Ridge Mountains, but by the 1860s the area known as Trans-Allegheny Virginia, geographically isolated from the eastern Virginia, and economically poorer, began to talk of secession. West Virginia became the 35 th state in the nation on June 20, 1863.

West Virginia’s economy today is coal and manufacturing based. One of the nation’s biggest producers of bituminous coal, manufacturing grew in importance in the early 20 th century, spurred on by WWI and WWII. Natural gas, stone, cement, salt and oil also contribute to the state economy; agriculture activity is limited by the mountainous terrain.