Map of Pennsylvania, major cities, states and capitals

Pennsylvania state flag
Pennsylvania State Flag

Pennsylvania state flower
Mountain laurel — State Flower


Pennsylvania is a state that lies in the northeastern potion of the United States, and is also in the mid-Atlantic region. The southern border of Pennsylvania is the Mason-Dixon Line.

Date first discovered by Europeans: While both the Dutch and the English would come to claim the region, Pennslyvania’s first exploration by Europeans is accredited to Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. He was an Italian explorer in the service of King Francis I of France.

Both the Dutch and the English claimed the area. The Dutch began settling the area in 1631.

Date admitted to US: 1787, as one of thirteen original colonies

Capital: Harrisburg

Largest City: Philadelphia

Terrain: The Appalachian Mountains run through the middle of Pennsylvania. The Alleghany Plateau is in the western portion of the state, and extends into New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Despite not being on the Atlantic Coast, it is a part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain region, a very flat section of land.

Area rank: 33rd

Area: 46,055

Population rank: 6th

Population: 12,803,503

Electoral votes: 20

Pennsylvania was originally founded by William Penn, from a land grant given by King Charles II. Pennsylvania was founded on the principles of freedom of religious belief and as a safe haven for the Quaker faith.

Pennsylvania has coastline along Lake Erie and shoreline along the Delaware Estuary, thus access to the Atlantic Ocean. Only New York State also has water access to both the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. Pennsylvania is the only one of the thirteen original colonies that does not directly border the Atlantic Ocean.

The Pennsylvania state insect is the firefly. In 1974 a group of students from Highland Park Elementary School petitioned to have the firefly that shared a name with their state become the state insect. Not only are fireflies abundant in the state, but no other state at that time had the firefly for the state insect. In 1975, Tennessee made another species of firefly their state insect.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania served as the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800 while Washington D.C. was under construction. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed in Philadelphia.

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