West Virginia

state of the United States of America

West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian region of the United States. Its capital and largest city is Charleston. It is often abbreviated W. Va. or simply WV. About 1,800,000 people live in the state.

West Virginia
State of West Virginia
Mountain State
Montani semper liberi
(English: Mountaineers Are Always Free)
Anthem: 4 songs
Map of the United States with West Virginia highlighted
Map of the United States with West Virginia highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodPart of Virginia
Admitted to the UnionJune 20, 1863 (35th)
(and largest city)
Largest metro and urban areasHuntington-Ashland Tri-State Area
 • GovernorJim Justice (R)
 • Lieutenant GovernorMitch Carmichael (R)
LegislatureWest Virginia Legislature
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Delegates
U.S. senatorsJoe Manchin (I)
Shelley Moore Capito (R)
U.S. House delegation1: David McKinley (R)
2: Alex Mooney (R)
3: Carol Miller (R) (list)
 • Total24,230 sq mi (62,755 km2)
 • Land24,078 sq mi (62,361 km2)
 • Water152 sq mi (394 km2)  0.6%
 • Rank41st
 • Length240 mi (385 km)
 • Width130 mi (210 km)
1,513 ft (461 m)
Highest elevation4,863 ft (1,482 m)
Lowest elevation240 ft (73 m)
 • Total1,792,147
 • Rank38th
 • Density77.1/sq mi (29.8/km2)
  • Rank29th
 • Median household income
 • Income rank
DemonymsWest Virginian
 • Official languageDe jure: English[5]
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 codeUS-WV
Traditional abbreviationW.Va.
Latitude37°12′ N to 40°39′ N
Longitude77°43′ W to 82°39′ W
West Virginia state symbols
Living insignia
BirdNorthern cardinal
(Cardinalis cardinalis)
ButterflyMonarch butterfly
(Danaus plexippus)
FishBrook trout
(Salvelinus fontinalis)
(Rhododendron maximum)
InsectWestern honey bee
(Apis mellifera)
MammalBlack bear
(Ursus americanus)
ReptileTimber rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus)
TreeSugar maple
(Acer saccharum)
Inanimate insignia
ColorsOld gold and blue
FoodGolden Delicious apple
(Malus domestica)
FossilJefferson's ground sloth
(Megalonyx jeffersonii)
GemstoneSilicified Mississippian fossil coral
Slogan"Wild and Wonderful"
"Open for Business" (former)
"Almost Heaven" (former)
SoilMonongahela Silt Loam
TartanWest Virginia Shawl
State route marker
West Virginia state route marker
State quarter
West Virginia quarter dollar coin
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

West Virginia is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north, by Ohio to the north and west, by Kentucky to the west, by Maryland to the north and east, and by Virginia to the east and south. The Ohio and Potomac Rivers form parts of the boundaries.

Before the American Civil War, West Virginia practiced slavery as part of the state of Virginia. Slaves, at first Native American but increasingly brought from Africa in the slave trade, were forced to grow tobacco, mine coal, and be personal servants. Many slaves were rented from owners in other parts of the state to work in the mines. In the 19th century, white people kept slaves in order to earn money by selling them south to states like Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.[6]

Statehood Of West Virginia


West Virginia was admitted into the union as a slave state in 1863. Slavery was abolished after the war, and Confederate veterans voted the politicians who passed the laws out of office.[6]

West Virginia was once a part of Virginia. At the beginning of the American Civil War, Virginia and the other southern states seceded from the United States, which means they chose to not be a part of it anymore.[7] Slaves were fewer in the west than in other parts, and those in West Virginia who were against slavery were not objecting on moral grounds.[7] They saw it as bad for free labor.[7] While slavery was an issue in other parts of Virginia, in the western counties the issues were taxation and being governed from a state capital that was far away.[7] The people in Western Virginia had far more in common with their neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Ohio than with the Commonwealth of Virginia.[7] So this was an area of Union support.[7]

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state of the United States.[8] But it was not an easy process. There had been some discussion of the area becoming a state since the early 1800s.[9] It took three conventions at Wheeling from 1861 to 1863.[9] The process divided friends and communities.[9]

Statehood was not universally accepted in West Virginia. While there were no large scale battles, there was a good deal of guerilla warfare in attempts to undermine the new government.[9] Confederates raided into West Virginia trying to terrorize the citizens. Despite Confederate efforts to topple the state government, Washington provided both economic and political support. Union military successes outside the state helped keep the state government in power. After the war there were bitter resentments between those for and against statehood.[9] Virginia even tried to force West Virginia back into becoming a part of Virginia again in 1871.[source?] But West Virginia remained a sovereign state despite the efforts.[9]



West Virginia is often called the "Mountain State" because it is entirely within the Appalachian Mountain Range, and there are many hills and mountains throughout the state. The highest one is Spruce Knob, which is 4,863 feet above sea level. There are many rivers, including the Ohio, the Potomac, the Kanawha, and the Monongahela.



  1. "Spruce Knob Cairn 1956". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Elevations and Distances in the United States". United States Geological Survey. 2001. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  4. "Median Annual Household Income". The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  5. "West Virginia is the 32nd State to pass Official English". Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Carroll, Greg (2015-01-06). Slavery and Free People of Color in Virginia (Speech). West Virginia Archives & History. Charleston, West Virginia. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Mark A. Snell. "Toward Statehood, West Virginia on the Eve of War". Civil War Trust. Retrieved 28 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  8. "1863 West Virginia enters the Union". This Day in History. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Kevin T. Barksdale. "Creation of West Virginia". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 28 October 2016.