Map of West Virginia, major cities, states and capitals

West Virginia state flag
West Virginia State Flag

West Virginia state flower
Rhododendron — State Flower

West Virginia

West Virginia is a landlocked state in the Appalachian region, and is in the Southern United States.

Date first visited by Europeans: Probably in 1671, when the explorers Thomas Batts and Robert Fallum were sent by General Abraham Wood into the land that would become West Virginia.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent an expedition to the coast of Virginia. Spanish Jesuits may have landed on the coast prior to Raleigh’s. (Dates refer to Virginia, which what is now West Virginia broke off from.)

Date admitted to US: 1863, during the American Civil War.

Capital: Charleston

Largest City: Charleston

Terrain: Much of West Virginia is covered by the Appalachian Mountains. About three quarters of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau or the Allegheny Plateau, both of which regions are a part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Area: 23,230 square miles

Area Rank: 41st

Population: 1, 850,326

Population rank: 38th

Electoral Votes: 5

West Virginia is one of two states formed during the American Civil War, with the other being Nevada, which did not separate from a Confederate State. After Virginia had voted to secede from the Union, delegates from what was then the northwestern part of Virginia formed their own government for that part of Virginia that was loyal to the Union. President Abraham Lincoln granted the area statehood on the condition that there was abolition of slavery, and West Virginia became a state in 1863.

West Virginia is also known for being the site of radical abolitionist John Brown’s raid on the town of Harpers Ferry. Aided by several fugitive slaves and freed African-Americans as well as white men, he sought to seize weapons from the armory to equip an uprising of slaves. His plan failed; there was no uprising and he was executed for treason. He was considered a traitor in the South where white slave owners feared revolt. However, he was often considered a martyr in the North, is referenced in the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

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