West Virginia 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 41st largest by area and the 38th most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and largest city isCharleston.
West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, in which 50 northwestern counties of Virginia decided to break away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The new state 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 seceding from a Confederate state and was one of two states formed during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada, which separated from Utah Territory).
The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the South. The northern panhandle extends adjacent to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with the West Virginia cities of Wheeling and Weirton just across the border from the Pittsburghmetropolitan 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, includingskiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, 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 andVirginia claiming territorial rights before the American Revolutionary War. Some speculative land companies, such as the Vandalia Company, 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 prior to 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.
Several surveys have been made in recent years, in 2008 by the American Religion Identity Survey, in 2010 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Pew survey results admit to a 6.5% margin of error plus or minus, while the ARIS survey states that "estimates are subject to larger sampling errors in states with small populations." A characteristic of religion in Appalachian communities is the abundance of independent, non-affiliated churches, which "remain unnoted and uncounted in any census of church life in the United States." This sometimes leads to the belief that these communities are "unchurched".
The largest denomination as of 2010 was the United Methodist Church with 136,000 members in 1,200 congregations. The second largest Protestant Church was the American Baptist churches in the USA with 88,000 members and 381 congregations. The Southern Baptist church had 44,000 members and 287 congregations. The Churches of Christ had 22,000 members. The Presbyterian Church had 200 congregations and 20,000 members.
The state has an environment reflecting its temperate topography. Tourist sites include the New River Gorge Bridge, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and many state parks. The Greenbrier hotel and resort, originally built in 1778, has long been considered a premier hotel frequented by numerous world leaders and U.S. Presidents over the years. West Virginia is also home to the Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The main building of Weston State Hospital, the largest hand-cut sandstone building in North America, second worldwide only to the Kremlin in Moscow, is also located in West Virginia. Tours of the building, which is a National Historic Landmark and member of the National Civil War Trail, are offered seasonally and by appointment year round.
Originally, the state capital was in Wheeling (1863 to 1870). It was then moved to Charleston, a more central city (1870 to 1875). However it was returned to Wheeling in 1875, until the capitol burned down in 1885. It was moved back to Charleston in 1885, and it has been there since.