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West Virginia State Guide

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West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian area of the Southern United States. It is also fondly called  the "Mountain State." It is the 41st largest US state in area. West Virginia is bordered on its southeast by Virginia, on its southwest by Kentucky, Ohio on its northwest, on its north by Maryland. Charleston is its capital and largest. West Virginia attained statehood in 1861 [1].

West Virginia Fast Facts:

Nickname: Mountain State
State Flower: Big Laurel
State Tree: Sugar Maple
State Animal: Black Bear
State Bird: Cardinal
State Fish: Brook Trout
State Fruit: Apple

History of West Virgina

Prehistoric mound builder cultures was prevalent in the early 17th century in West Virgina. Tribes such as the Moneton were recorded in the area previously. Originally, from 1607 to 1776, the state was part of the British Virginia Colony. In the late 1600s, General Abraham Wood led by Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam discovered Kanawha Falls. In 1829, a convention met to form a new constitution for Virginia.  

West Virginia History Timeline

  • 1607 - England established Virginia Colony by England
  • 1670's - Began exploration of West Virginia.
  • 1750 - Built Fort Ohio at Ridgeley, which is now Mineral County.
  • 1754 - 1763 - French and Indian War
  • 1758 - Morgantown settled
  • 1775 - Gas was discovered near Charleston
  • 1777 -Indian warfare began
  • 1788 - Federal Constitution ratified by Virginia
  • 1803 - Morgantown Advertiser and Monongalia Gazette were the first newspapers in the state.
  • 1815 - Natural gas was discovered in Charleston
  • 1836 - First railroad reached West Virginia at Harpers Ferry.
  • 1861 - West Virginia became a state
  • 1875 - State capital shifted to Wheeling
  • 1910 - Weirton Steel Company began

Geography of West Virginia

West Virginia is located in the Appalachian Mountain range covering an area of 24,229.76 square miles, making it the 41st largest US state [2]. West Virginia is bordered on its southeast by Virginia, on its southwest by Kentucky, Ohio on its northwest, on its north by Maryland. The highest point in West Virginia is Spruce Knob at 4863 ft.

West Virginia Geography Fast Facts

  • Total Area: 24,230 sq mi
  • Latitude: 37� 12′ N to 40� 39′ N
  • Longitude: 77� 43′ W to 82� 39′ W
  • Highest point: Spruce Knob at 4863 ft
  • Lowest point: Potomac River at Virginia border at 240 ft
  • Central Point: 1,513 ft
  • Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone.

Topography of West Virginia

The Mountain State was given to West Virginia because of its mountainous topography. The state encompasses lots of the country's most rugged land. The level land areas in the state are flat strips that mostly concentrates along the major rivers.

The northern West Virginia has two interesting land extensions, one is the Eastern Panhandle that extends eastward between Maryland and Virginia and the Northern Panhandle extends north between Ohio and Pennsylvania. West Virginia's land areas are characterized by the Appalachian Plateau and the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region.

Some of the major rivers in the state are Ohio River, Greenbrier River and Guyandotte River. Braxton County is the geographic center of West Virginia.

Climate of West Virginia

The state of West Virginia experiences humid subtropical climate with summers being warm to hot and humid and chilly winters. The state's southern highland areas experience a mountain temperate climate with cooler summer temperatures and moderate winter temperatures.

High Cascades recorded the  heaviest snowfalls in the state. Each year West Virginia has hailstorms but are generally moderate. Annual rainfall in the state ranges from below 81 cm to over 140 cm in higher regions of the Allegheny Front.

Forests in West Virginia

The West Virginia Division of Forestry is responsible to protect, manage and promote stewardship of forests in the state to enhance economic, environmental and community sustainability. The state forest lands are managed under adopted forest management plans to provide environmental, economic and social benefits to the people of the state. The federal government is the largest owner of forestland, with 59 percent while private ownership forestaccounts for 35 percent.

Contact Details
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305-0180
Phone: (304) 558-2788
Fax: (304) 558-0143
Website: http://www.wvforestry.com/

State forests of West Virginia managed by the Division of Forestry
  • Camp Creek Falls
  • Calvin Price State Forest
  • Cabwaylingo State Forest
  • Coopers Rock State Forest
  • Camp Creek State Forest
  • Kumbrabow State Forest
  • Greenbrier State Forest
  • Seneca State Forest
Learn more about West Virginia State Forest

Demographics of West Virginia

West Virginia had an estimated population 1,844,128 as of 2015 estimation by the U.S Census Bureau, which reflected an decrease of 0.1% since the year 2014. The population density of the state was 77.1 persons per square mile. The center of population of the state is situated in Brax County. The 5 largest ancestry groups in West Virginia include German, American, Irish, English and Italian.

Major racial ethnic groups in West Virginia
  • White alone: 93.7%
  • Black or African American: 3.6%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.2%
  • Asian: 0.8%
  • Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islander: 0.0%
  • Two or More Races: 1.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 1.5%
West Virginia population quick facts [3]
  • Population, 2015: 1,844,128
  • Population, 2014: 1,850,326
  • Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014: -0.1%
  • Persons under 5 years, percent, 2014: 20.5%
  • Persons under 18 years, percent, 2013: 5.5%
  • Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2013: 17.8%
  • Female persons, percent, 2014: 50.6%

Economy of West Virginia

The economy of West Virginia is supported by agriculture, industries and service sectors like the community, business, personal services, wholesale trade and the government services. an estimation reflected that the economy of West Virginia is nominally the 62nd largest economy in the world. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis report, in 2009 the state has a projected nominal GSP of $63.34 billion.

Economy Fast Facts in 2014 [4]

  • Median household income - $41,576
  • Per capita income - $23,237
  • Total employment, 2013 - 575,987

Agriculture in West Virginia

  • The state's top five agricultural products are broilers, chicken eggs, cattle and calves, dairy products, and turkeys.

  • Beef cattle and calves generates about 21% of the total agricultural receipts in the state.

  • West Virginian's top ranked crop is hay.

  • West Virginia's top agricultural produce is broiler.

  • Other major crops of the state include apples, soybeans, corn for grain and tobacco.

Industry in West Virginia

  • The leading manufactured products in West Virginia are chemicals adhesives, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and plastics.

  • The second manufacturing products are primary metals.

  • The state's  3rd ranking manufacturing activity is lumber production.

Tourism in West Virginia

Tourism also plays a predominant role in the West Virginia's economy. Tourism and its related industries serve as one of the largest employers of the state. Some of the major tourist attractions in the state include are:
  • West Virginia Penitentiary
  • Winterplace Ski Resort
  • Snowshoe Mountain Resort
  • West Virginia Adventures
  • Adventures On the Gorge
  • Teter Creek Lake
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
  • Seneca Caverns

Education in West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Education supervises and manages the education system of the state. The department also sets up rules and regulations with respect to public education in the state. The state provides some excellent choices for higher education. Listed below are the top colleges and universities in West Virginia.

Universities in West Virginia

  • Alderson Broaddus University
  • American Public University System
  • Appalachian Bible College
  • Bethany College
  • Bluefield State College
  • Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
  • BridgeValley Community and Technical College
  • Concord University
  • Fairmont State University
  • Marshall University
  • Ohio Valley University
  • Pierpont Community and Technical College
  • Salem International University
  • Shepherd University
  • Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
  • University of Charleston

Transportation in West Virginia

West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) manages roads, mass transit systems, ports, waterways and airways in the state. The department administers and manages the state’s highways, freeways, railways, airports. West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) has come up with many effective ways to improve the road transportation. The department uses a versatile approach to deal with travel needs and assists protect the security and well-organized movement of people and goods on highway system. The road transportation in West Virginia comprises of several interstate highways, state routes, bridges and tunnels.

There are 12 railroads which provide services through-out the state and from state to every part of the nation. The West Virginia Commerce Department cooperates with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to ensure the safety of rail roads.

West Virginia Air Transportation is a major mode that offers all round efficient and easy intercity and interstate connectivity. Airports are a vital key to West Virginia's transportation system. West Virginia's airports play a significant role in the state's economy and the communities.

Learn more about West Virginia Transportation

Healthcare in West Virginia

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) believes in taking major health initiatives to protect the general health of people and countless visitors to the state. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is comprised of five bureaus: Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities; Bureau for Child Support Enforcement; Bureau for Public Health; Bureau for Children and Families and Bureau for Medical Services. The Health Department of West Virginia has taken up different health care programs for the benefit of the people of West Virginia.

Learn more about West Virginia Healthcare

Government of West Virginia

West Virginia Government has three branches of government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial and other state agencies. The Executive Branch consists of the Governor, the Secretary of State, the State Auditor, the Treasurer, the Commissioner of Agriculture and the Attorney General. The Governor of the State of West Virginia is the head of the executive branch of Government. The Governor is elected every four years by a plurality. There is no limit to the number of terms that can be served. The governor is also given the veto privilege.

The legislative branch is the branch of government that makes the laws. West Virginia's Legislature is a bicameral legislature, that is there are two houses of the legislature and is divided into House of Delegates, with 100 members and a Senate, with 34 members.

The third branch of government is the Judicial branch. The Judiciary is made up of courts, namely the Supreme, Circuit, the magistrate (local) and municipal (city) courts. The duties of the judicial branch include protecting individual rights granted by the state constitution, settling legal disputes, punishing violators of the law, hearing civil cases and determining the guilt or innocence of those accused of violating the criminal laws of the state.

Learn more about West Virginia Government

West Virginia Interesting Facts

  • West Virginia is regarded as the northern most southern state and southern most northern state.

  • West Virginia holds the state's oldest population.

  • The largest sycamore tree in the world is located in Webster Springs on the Back Fork of the Elk River.

  • In 1926, the first federal prison only for women in the US was established in West Virginia.

  • Forests cover 75% of West Virginia.

  • The first state to have a sales tax is West Virginia.

  • Chalcedony is West Virginia state gem.

  • John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads," is its state song.


  1. West Virginia statehood
  2. West Virginia area
  3. West Virginia population
  4. West Virginia employment
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