About West Virginia:West Virginia’s shares much of its early history with Virginia. The two states were a single territory until Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861. The delegates of 40 western counties opposed secession and formed their own government, which was granted statehood in 1863. In 1731, Morgan Morgan established the first permanent settlement near Mill Creek in present-day Berkeley County.
Coal, a mineral asset that would figure significantly in West Virginia’s history, was discovered in 1742. Other important natural resources are oil, natural gas, and hardwood forests, which cover about 75% of the state’s area.
West Virginia’s rapid industrial expansion began in the 1870s, drawing thousands of European immigrants and African Americans into the region. A gold rush between 1912 and 1921 required the intervention of state and federal troops to quell disputes over land and stake ownership.
Today, the state ranks second in total coal production, with about 15% of the U.S. total. It is also a leader in steel, glass, aluminum, and chemical manufacturing. Major agricultural commodities are poultry, eggs, dairy products, and apples.
West Virginia is a popular tourist resort for naturalist owing to the state’s million plus acres of national forest including 37 state parks and recreation areas, 9 state forests and 2 national forests. Popular places to visit include Harpers Ferry, New River Gorge National River, The Greenbrier and Berkeley Springs resorts, the scenic railroad at Cass, and the historic homes in the Eastern Panhandle.
A few facts about West Virginia:
• The population of West Virginia is approximately 1,815,354 people.
• Land size, 24,078 square miles.
• Persons per square mile is 75.1
• 5.6% are kids under the age of 5 years old.
• 22.3% persons under the age of 18 years old.
• 15.3% of people are over the age of 65 years old.
• 51.4% female persons.
• The median household income is $29,696.
• The average per capita money income is $16,477.
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