Pennsylvania facts for kids
|Commonwealth of Pennsylvania|
|Nickname(s): Keystone State; Quaker State|
|Motto(s): Virtue, Liberty and Independence|
|State anthem: Pennsylvania|
|Spoken languages||English 90.1%
Pennsylvania German 0.40%
|Largest metro||Delaware Valley|
|- Total||46,055 sq mi
|- Width||280 miles (455 km)|
|- Length||160 miles (255 km)|
|- % water||2.7|
|- Latitude||39° 43′ to 42° 16′ N|
|- Longitude||74° 41′ to 80° 31′ W|
|Number of people||Ranked 5th|
|- Total||12,802,503 (2015 est)|
|- Density||284/sq mi (110/km2)
|- Average income||$60,389 (20th)|
|Height above sea level|
|- Highest point||Mount Davis
3,213 ft (979 m)
|- Average||1,100 ft (340 m)|
|- Lowest point||Delaware River at Delaware border
|Before statehood||Province of Pennsylvania|
|Became part of the U.S.||December 12, 1787 (2nd)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC −5/−4|
|Abbreviations||PA, Pa., Penn., Penna. US-PA|
|The Flag of Pennsylvania.|
|The Seal of Pennsylvania.|
|Food||Chocolate Chip Cookie|
|Released in 1999|
|Lists of United States state insignia|
Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The commonwealth borders Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.
The state capital, and its ninth-largest city, is Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania has 140 miles (225 km) of shoreline along Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary.
The state is one of the 13 original founding states of the United States; it came into being in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, the son of the state's namesake. It was the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, on December 12, 1787. Independence Hall, where the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were drafted, is located in the state's largest city of Philadelphia.
During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, was fought in the south central region of the state. Valley Forge near Philadelphia was General Washington's headquarters during the bitter winter of 1777–78.
Pennsylvania is 170 miles (274 km) north to south and 283 miles (455 km) east to west. Of a total 46,055 square miles (119,282 km2), 44,817 square miles (116,075 km2) are land, 490 square miles (1,269 km2) are inland waters, and 749 square miles (1,940 km2) are waters in Lake Erie. It is the 33rd largest state in the United States. Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km) of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary.
The boundaries of the state are the Mason–Dixon line (39° 43' N) to the south, the Twelve-Mile Circle on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the Delaware River to the east, 80° 31' W to the west and the 42° N to the north, with the exception of a short segment on the western end, where a triangle extends north to Lake Erie.
Cities include Philadelphia, Reading, Lebanon and Lancaster in the southeast, Pittsburgh in the southwest, the tri-cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in the central east (known as the Lehigh Valley). The northeast includes the former anthracite coal mining communities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston City (Greater Pittston), and Hazleton. Erie is located in the northwest. Williamsport serves as the commonwealth's north-central region, with York and the state capital Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River in the east-central region of the Commonwealth and Altoona and Johnstown in the west-central region.
The state has 5 regions, namely the Allegheny Plateau, Ridge and Valley, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Erie Plain.
- New York (North)
- Ontario, Canada (Northwest)
- Maryland (South)
- Delaware (Southeast)
- West Virginia (Southwest)
- New Jersey (East)
- Ohio (West)
Pennsylvania's diverse topography also produces a variety of climates, though the entire state experiences cold winters and humid summers. Straddling two major zones, the majority of the state, with the exception of the southeastern corner, has a humid continental climate. The largest city, Philadelphia, has some characteristics of the humid subtropical climate that covers much of Delaware and Maryland to the south.
Moving toward the mountainous interior of the state, the winter climate becomes colder, the number of cloudy days increase, and snowfall amounts are greater.
Western areas of the state, particularly locations near Lake Erie, can receive over 100 inches (250 cm) of snowfall annually, and the entire state receives plentiful precipitation throughout the year.
The state may be subject to severe weather from spring through summer into fall. Tornadoes occur annually in the state, sometimes in large numbers, such as 30 recorded tornadoes in 2011.
Long before the Commonwealth was visited and later settled by Europeans, the area was home to subgroups of the Delaware (also known as Lenni Lenape), Susquehannock, Iroquois, Eriez, Shawnee, and still other American Indian Nations of uncertain designation. The Tuscarora Nation took up temporary residence in the central portion of Pennsylvania ca. 1715–55.
Both the Dutch and the English claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America. The Dutch were the first to take possession.
By June 3, 1631, the Dutch had begun settling the Delmarva Peninsula by establishing the Zwaanendael Colony on the site of present-day Lewes, Delaware. In 1638, Sweden established the New Sweden Colony, in the region of Fort Christina, on the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. New Sweden claimed and, for the most part, controlled the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) but settled few colonists there.
On March 12, 1664, King Charles II of England gave James, Duke of York a grant that incorporated all lands included in the original Virginia Company of Plymouth Grant plus other lands. This grant was in conflict with the Dutch claim for New Netherland, which included parts of today's Pennsylvania.
On June 24, 1664, The Duke of York sold the portion of his large grant that included present-day New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony. The land was not yet in British possession, but the sale boxed in the portion of New Netherland on the West side of the Delaware River. The British conquest of New Netherland began on August 29, 1664, when New Amsterdam was coerced to surrender while facing cannons on British ships in New York Harbor. This conquest continued, and was completed in October 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir in what today is New Castle, Delaware.
The Peace of Breda between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the English conquest on July 21, 1667, although there were temporary reversions.
On September 12, 1672, as part of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony/New Amsterdam, the Dutch established three County Courts which went on to become original Counties in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania. The one that later transferred to Pennsylvania was Upland. This was partially reversed on February 9, 1674, when the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and reverted all political situations to the status quo ante bellum. The British retained the Dutch Counties with their Dutch names. By June 11, 1674, New York reasserted control over the outlying colonies, including Upland, but the names started to be changed to British names by November 11, 1674. Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.
On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. The King named it Pennsylvania (literally "Penn's Woods") in honor of the Admiral. Penn, the son, who wanted it to be called New Wales, and then Sylvania (from the Latin silva: "forest, woods"), was embarrassed at the change, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction.
What had been Upland on what became the Pennsylvania side of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Border was renamed as Chester County when Pennsylvania instituted their colonial governments on March 4, 1681. The Quaker leader William Penn had signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, beginning a long period of friendly relations between the Quakers and the Indians. Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty of William Penn was never violated.
Between 1730 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. The Colony issued "bills of credit", which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was interest-free. It also promoted general employment and prosperity. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency.
When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they and its primary author, John Dickinson, drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent colonies into a new nation. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Nation. The Constitution was drafted and signed at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, and the same building where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821, when the Federal-style "Hills Capitol" (named for its builder, Stephen Hills, a Lancaster architect) was constructed on a hilltop land grant. The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue. The General Assembly met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street (still standing) until a new capitol could be built.
Following an architectural selection contest, Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was charged with designing and building a replacement building; however, the legislature had little money to allocate to the project, and a roughly finished, somewhat industrial building (the Cobb Capitol) was completed. The General Assembly refused to occupy the building. Political and popular indignation in 1901 prompted a second contest that was restricted to Pennsylvania architects, and Joseph Miller Huston of Philadelphia was chosen to design the present Pennsylvania State Capitol that incorporated Cobb's building into magnificent public work finished and dedicated in 1907.
The new state Capitol drew rave reviews. Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the United States Capitol. President Theodore Roosevelt called it "the most beautiful state Capital in the nation" and said, "It's the handsomest building I ever saw" at the dedication. In 1989, The New York Times praised it as "grand, even awesome at moments, but it is also a working building, accessible to citizens ... a building that connects with the reality of daily life".
The Battle of Gettysburg—the major turning point of the Civil War—took place near Gettysburg. An estimated 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union Army forces including 8,600 African American military volunteers.
Pennsylvania was also the home of the first commercially drilled oil well. In 1859, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake successfully drilled the well, which led to the first major oil boom in United States history.
At the beginning of the 20th century Pennsylvania's economy was centered around steel production, logging, coal mining, textile production and other forms of industrial manufacturing.
A surge in immigration to the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a steady flow of cheap labor for these industries which often employed children and people who could not speak English.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Pennsylvania was 12,802,503 on July 1, 2015.
Of the people residing in Pennsylvania, 74.5% were born in Pennsylvania, 18.4% were born in a different US state, 1.5% were born Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 5.6% were foreign born.
According to the 2010 Census, 81.9% of the population was White (79.2% non-Hispanic white), 11.3% was Black or African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.9% Asian, 1.9% from two or more races. 5.9% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).
Foreign born Pennsylvanians are largely from Asia (36.0%), Europe (35.9%), and Latin America (30.6%), with the remainder from Africa (5%), North America (3.1%), and Oceania (0.4%).
The majority of Hispanics in Pennsylvania are of Puerto Rican descent, having one of the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican populations in the country. Most of the remaining Hispanic population is made up of Mexicans and Dominicans.
Of the black population, the vast majority in the state are African American, being descendants of African slaves brought to the US south during the colonial era.
Whites make-up the majority of Pennsylvania, they are mostly descended from German, Irish, Italian, and English immigrants, among others.
Rural portions of South Central Pennsylvania are famous nationwide for its notable Amish communities.
As of 2010, 90.15% (10,710,239) of Pennsylvania residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 4.09% (486,058) spoke Spanish, 0.87% (103,502) German (which includes Pennsylvania Dutch) and by 0.47% (56,052) Chinese (which includes Mandarin) of the population over the age of five. In total, 9.85% (1,170,628) of Pennsylvania's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.
Pennsylvania German language
Pennsylvania German is still very popular as a first language among Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites (principally in the Lancaster County area), whereas it is almost extinct as an everyday language outside the plain communities, though a few words have passed into English usage.
The largest religions in Pennsylvania by adherents are the Roman Catholic Church with 3,503,028 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 591,734 members, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 501,974 members.
Pennsylvania also has a very large Amish population, second only to Ohio among the states. In the year 2000 there was a total Amish population of 47,860 in Pennsylvania and a further 146,416 Mennonites and 91,200 Brethren.
Pennsylvania is divided into 67 counties. Counties are further subdivided into municipalities that are either incorporated as cities, boroughs, or townships.
The most populous county in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia, while the least populous is Cameron (5,085).
The total of 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 93 first-class townships, 1,454 second-class townships, and one town (Bloomsburg) is 2,562 municipalities.
- See also: List of municipalities in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's largest cities
- Philadelphia - population 1,567,872
- Pittsburgh - population 303,625
- Allentown - population 120,443
- Erie - population 98,593
- Reading - population 87,575
- Scranton - population 77,291
- Bethlehem - population 75,293
- Lancaster - population 59,218
- Levittown - population 52,400
- Harrisburg - population 48,904
The first nationally chartered bank in the United States, the Bank of North America, was founded in 1781 in Philadelphia. After a series of mergers, the Bank of North America is part of Wells Fargo, which uses national charter 1.
PNC Financial Services is the state's largest bank, and the sixth-largest in the United States.
Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production.
- The 1st is mushroom production,
- The 2nd is apples,
- The 3rd is Christmas trees and layer chickens,
- The 4th is nursery and sod, milk, corn for silage, grapes grown (including juice grapes), and horses production.
Kennett Square is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World because mushroom farming in the region produces over a million pounds of mushrooms a day.
It also ranks 8th in the nation in Winemaking.
Pennsylvania is home to the nation's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. Other long-accredited AZA zoos include the Erie Zoo and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and ZOOAMERICA are other notable zoos. The Commonwealth boasts some of the finest museums in the country, including the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several others. One unique museum is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world devoted to the legendary magician. Pennsylvania is also home to the National Aviary, located in Pittsburgh.
All 121 state parks in Pennsylvania feature free admission.
Pennsylvania offers a number of notable amusement parks, including Camel Beach, Conneaut Lake Park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Dutch Wonderland, DelGrosso Amusement Park, Hersheypark, Idlewild Park, Kennywood, Knoebels, Lakemont Park, Sandcastle Waterpark, Sesame Place, Great Wolf Lodge and Waldameer Park. Pennsylvania also is home to the largest indoor waterpark resort on the East Coast, Splash Lagoon in Erie.
There are also notable music festivals that take place in Pennsylvania. These include Musikfest and NEARfest in Bethlehem, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Creation Festival, the Great Allentown Fair, and Purple Door.
There are nearly one million licensed hunters in Pennsylvania. Whitetail deer, black bear, cottontail rabbits, squirrel, turkey, and grouse are common game species. Pennsylvania is considered one of the finest wild turkey hunting states in the Union, alongside Texas and Alabama. Sport hunting in Pennsylvania provides a massive boost for the Commonwealth's economy.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, abbreviated as PennDOT, owns 39,861 miles (64,150 km) of the 121,770 miles (195,970 km) of roadway in the state, making it the fifth largest state highway system in the United States. The Pennsylvania Turnpike system is 535 miles (861 km) long, with the mainline portion stretching from Ohio to Philadelphia and New Jersey.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth largest transit agency in the United States and operates the commuter, heavy and light rail transit, and transit bus service in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
Intercity passenger rail transit is provided by Amtrak, with the majority of traffic occurring on the Keystone Service in the high-speed Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station before heading north to New York City; the Pennsylvanian follows the same route from New York City to Harrisburg, but extends out to Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania has seven major airports.
Pennsylvania leads all other states in the manufacture of pretzels and potato chips. The Sturgis Pretzel House introduced the pretzel to America, and companies like Anderson Bakery Company, Intercourse Pretzel Factory, and Snyder's of Hanover are leading manufacturers in the Commonwealth.
Two of the three companies that define the U.S. potato chip industry are based in Pennsylvania: Utz Quality Foods, which started making chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1921, and Wise Foods which started making chips in Berwick in 1921 (the third, Lay's Potato Chips, is a Texas company). Other companies such as Herr's Snacks, Martin's Potato Chips, Snyder's of Berlin (not associated with Snyder's of Hanover) and Troyer Farms Potato Products are popular chip manufacturers.
The U.S. chocolate industry is centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with Mars, Godiva, and Wilbur Chocolate Company nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher's in Souderton, and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates of Dunmore.
Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods include chicken potpie, ham potpie, schnitz un knepp (dried apples, ham, and dumplings), fasnachts (raised doughnuts), scrapple, pretzels, bologna, chow-chow, and Shoofly pie.
D.G. Yuengling & Son, America's oldest brewery, has been brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829.
Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks, hoagie, soft pretzels, Italian water ice, Irish potato candy, scrapple, Tastykake, Wawa, and strombolis.
In Pittsburgh, tomato ketchup was improved by Henry John Heinz from 1876 to the early 20th century.
- Motto: "Virtue, liberty, and independence"
- Tree: Eastern hemlock
- State bird: Ruffed grouse
- Flower: Mountain laurel
- Insect: Pennsylvania firefly
- Animal: White-tailed deer
- Dog: Great Dane
- Fish: Brook trout
- Fossil: Phacops rana
- Beverage: Milk
- Song: "Pennsylvania"
- Ship: US Brig Niagara
- Electric locomotive: GG1 4859
- Steam locomotive: K4s 1361 and K4s 3750
- Beautification and conservation plant: Penngift crown vetch
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Pennsylvania Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.