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West Virginia

West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north (and, slightly, east), and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia is the 9th smallest by area, is ranked 38th in population, and has the second lowest household income of the 50 United States. The capital and largest city is Charleston.
West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, in which delegates from some Unionist counties of northwestern Virginia decided to break away from Virginia during the American Civil War, although they included many secessionist counties in the new state. West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, and was a key Civil War border state. West Virginia was the only state to form by separating from a Confederate state, the first to separate from any state since Maine separated from Massachusetts, and was one of two states formed during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada).
The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the Southern United States. The northern panhandle extends adjacent to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with the West Virginia cities of Wheeling and Weirton just across the border from the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, while Bluefield is less than 70 miles (110 km) from North Carolina. Huntington in the southwest is close to the states of Ohio and Kentucky, while Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle region are considered part of the Washington metropolitan area, in between the states of Maryland and Virginia. The unique position of West Virginia means that it is often included in several geographical regions, including the Mid-Atlantic, the Upland South, and the Southeastern United States. It is the only state that is entirely within the area served by the Appalachian Regional Commission; the area is commonly defined as “Appalachia”.
The state is noted for its mountains and rolling hills, its historically significant logging and coal mining industries, and its political and labor history. It is one of the most densely karstic areas in the world, making it a choice area for recreational caving and scientific research. The karst lands contribute to much of the state’s cool trout waters. It is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and hunting.
Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various prehistoric mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. The artifacts uncovered in these give evidence of village societies. They had a tribal trade system culture that crafted cold-worked copper pieces.
The Iroquois drove out other American Indian tribes from the region to reserve the upper Ohio Valley as a hunting ground in the 1670s, during the Beaver Wars. Siouan language tribes such as the Moneton had also been recorded in the area previously.
The area now occupied by West Virginia was contested territory among European Americans as well, with the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia claiming territorial rights before the American Revolutionary War. Some speculative land companies, such as the Vandalia Company,[14] and later the Ohio Company and Indiana Company, tried to legitimize their claims to land in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, but failed. With the settlement of the Pennsylvania and Virginia border dispute, which resulted in the creation of Kentucky, Kentuckians “were satisfied […], and the inhabitants of a large part of West Virginia were grateful.”
West Virginia was originally part of the British Virginia Colony from 1607 to 1776 and the western part of the state of Virginia (which was commonly referred as Trans-Allegheny Virginia before the formation of West Virginia) from 1776 to 1863. Long discontented with electoral malapportionment and underrepresentation in the state legislature, its residents became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union during the Civil War. Residents of the western and northern counties set up a separate government under Francis Pierpont in 1861, which they called the “restored” government. Most voted to separate from Virginia and the new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. In 1864 a state constitutional convention drafted a constitution, which was ratified by the legislature without putting it to popular vote. West Virginia abolished slavery and temporarily disfranchised men who had held Confederate office or fought for the Confederacy.
West Virginia’s history has been profoundly affected by its mountainous terrain, numerous and vast river valleys, and rich natural resources. These were all factors driving its economy and the lifestyles of its residents, and remain so today.
Located in the Appalachian Mountain range, West Virginia covers an area of 24,229.76 square miles (62,754.8 km2), with 24,077.73 square miles (62,361.0 km2) of land and 152.03 square miles (393.8 km2) of water, making it the 41st-largest state in the United States. West Virginia borders Pennsylvania and Maryland in the northeast, Virginia in the southeast, Ohio in the northwest, and Kentucky in the southwest. Its longest border is with Virginia at 381 miles, followed by Ohio at 243 miles, Maryland at 174 miles, Pennsylvania at 118 miles, and Kentucky at 79 miles.

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