Pennsylvania Fast Facts

  Pennsylvania (PA) is one of the Middle Atlantic states and part of the Northeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by New Jersey across the Delaware River, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, and Lake Erie and New York.  It's southeastern portion is part of the Delaware Valley region.  

Flag of Pennsylvania (PA)

Seal of the State of Pennsylvania (PA)

Area, 45,333 sq mi (117,412 sq km).  Ranked 33rd among the states.
Highest Elevation, Mount Davis, 3,213 ft  (979 m).
Pop. (2000) 12,281,054, a 3.4% increase since the 1990 census.
Ranked 6th among states in the US.
Harrisburg (Dauphin County)
Largest city, Philadelphia(part of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley)
Nickname, Keystone State. (was geographic and financial center of original 13 colonies).  Also known as the Quaker State because of it's original Quaker settlements and the Quaker beliefs of it's original founder, William Penn.
Motto, Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.
State bird, ruffed grouse.
State flower, mountain laurel.
State tree, hemlock.

Map of Pennsylvania - thumbnail - click for full size

PA PhoneArea  Codes

Liberty Bell - Philadelphia, PAPennsylvania's economy ranks 6th in terms of GDP by state. The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, situated at opposite ends of the state and dominating the commercial and industrial life of their regions, present startling contrasts in production and culture. 

Front of Rodin Museum - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA)Agriculture is an important part of Pennsylvania's economy.  Some of the best farmland is concentrated in the fertile counties of the Southeast (specifically Chester and Lancaster counties) and in the Great Appalachian Valley, rich with limestone soils; there the Pennsylvania Dutch farmer built a culture that is identified with the bountiful agrarian life.  Statewide, there are over 58,000 farms, averaging 133 acres per farm, with over 90% family owned. 1 in 7 jobs are agriculture related.

With a growing season ranging from three to seven months, Pennsylvania can produce a wide variety of crops as well as some interesting agricultural specialties. Around the towns of Avondale and Kennett Square in the Southeast many farmers cultivate mushrooms inside sheds where light and temperatures can be controlled. Kennett Square calls itself the "Mushroom Capital of the World" and holds an annual Mushroom Festival.   Mushrooms have become an important crop for the state as a whole. They rank second in economic importance behind greenhouse and nursery items. Other principal agricultural products include dairy products, cattle, hay, corn, wheat, oats, poultry, potatoes, and fruit.  Pennsylvania also leads all states in food production.

Large areas of woodland remain and, in some isolated sections, have retained an almost primitive wildness.

Pennsylvania has enormous
coal reserves
The great forests and lush vegetation that once covered the entire state were transformed during the Carboniferous period into deposits of anthracite coal in the northeast and extensive bituminous beds in the west. For more than two centuries, Pennsylvania has produced nearly all the anthracite coal mined in the United States and far more bituminous coal than any other state. For many decades the state led the nation in total coal production, but it now ranks fourth (behind Wyoming, West Virginia, and Kentucky). It is the Industrial Age’s oldest producer of petroleum. Limestone, sand and gravel, clay, and peat are also mined or quarried in significant quantities. 

The state’s three major navigable waterways, the Delaware River, the Ohio River, and Lake Erie, have helped make Pennsylvania an important trade and transportation center since colonial times.

There are many historic sites and parks that have been preserved and are well worth the visit to see, learn and remember our history. Pennsylvania maintains many
parks and historic sites, such as Brandywine Battlefield.  Those under federal ownership include Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park, and Independence and Valley Forge national historical parks. The City of Philadelphia has a large portion of historic landmarks.


(Sources: Columbia Encyclopedia; Wikipedia; MSN Encarta.)

Geography of PA

Physical Map Of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania has a land area of 44,820 square miles and 735 square miles of the area of Lake Erie. It has an average width (east to west) of 285 miles and an average height (north to south) of 156 miles.

Pennsylvania is part of the Middle Atlantic (Mid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic) geographic region, which in turn is part of the East Coast.

MAP: Physical Landform Regions (Provinces) of Pennsylvania   (source: U.S. Gov.)   [Click for full view]There are four major sub-regions of the Mid Atlantic region that encompass Pennsylvania: Coastal (Plain), Piedmont (Plateau), Ridge and Valley (Appalachian Mountains), and (Appalachian) Plateau.    In terms of landforms, Pennsylvania may be divided into six or seven regions (or provinces).  Starting in the southeast, the landform regions are: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, the South Mountain  and the Reading Prong (New England Province), the Ridge and Valley, the Allegheny Plateaus, and the Lake Erie Lowland.

Mid-Atlantic Sub Regions
The portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain in Pennsylvania is very narrow,, encompassing just a portion of the Southeastern PA area around Philadelphia.

Immediately west of the Coastal Plain is the
Piedmont Plateau area. The Piedmont is a rolling area of foothills that is located between the flat Coastal Plain and the Ridge and Valley area (part of  the great Appalachian Mountains system that runs along the East Coast) to the west. It consists of old crystalline rocks with gently rolling surfaces. Elevations generally range from about 30 to 300 m (about 100 to 1,000 ft). Slopes are moderate, and there are few sharp breaks between hilltops and valley bottoms.

A narrow tongue of the Blue Ridge Mountains (part of the greater Appalachian Mountain system) extends into Pennsylvania. This extension is known as South Mountain in both Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Another tongue of mountains lies across the Susquehanna River valley to the northeast of South Mountain. This highland area is known as the Reading Prong. Geologically, it can be traced through the New Jersey Highlands into the mountainous portions of northern New England. Often South Mountain and the Reading Prong are considered together to be extensions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Higher points in South Mountain and the Reading Prong rise to about 450 m (about 1,500 ft) above sea level.

Quick PA Resource Links

Pennsylvania Municipalities Explained

Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley Region (Introduction)

Delaware Valley Resource Center

State of Pennsylvania official website (Portal to all other state sites)  [Kids Pages]

VisitPA  (Tourist Information, Recreation, Arts and Entertainment, Music Festivals)

PA Visitors Network  [PA Facts]

PA Department of Transportation  [Travel Information] [

PA Open For Business (state resource center for doing business in Pennsylvania)

PA Real Estate Properties and Services [Del. Va. Property Search]

PA Consumer Notice (Real Estate)

PA Arts and Music 
PA Dutch Country
PA Festivals/Shows

PA Resources (Penn State references)

Local PA Gov. Web Sites

State and Local Gov.

PA State and Local Gov.

State and Local Gov. Sites

PA Library website  (access online Databases, Power-Library and more)

PA Government Documents

Pennsylvania Department of State (Business and non-profit registrations, professional and occupational licensing, professional athletics and elections)

PA Code (Browse and Search)

PAcapitol  (All about the PA Capitol Building in Harrisburg)

PA State Facts (PDF brochure)

USDA: State Fact Sheets

Fun with PA Facts - Mr Nussbaum

Pennsylvania State Symbols

PA Facts and Trivia

More Pennsylvania Facts

An anthracite coal area, covering an area of less than 1,300 sq km (500 sq mi) contains the only anthracite deposits in the United States, with the exception of small areas in Colorado and New Mexico. This region lies in the eastern part of the Ridge and Valley. It consists of the Wyoming Basin in the north around Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, the Middle Field around Hazelton, and the Southern Field around Pottsville.

There are three major river basins in Pennsylvania: the Susquehanna, the Ohio, and the Delaware. Together they drain more than 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s land area. Most of eastern and central Pennsylvania is drained by the Susquehanna and Delaware systems. The western part of the state is drained by the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which join at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. In addition to the three major river basins, short streams flowing into Lake Erie drain the northwestern fringe of the state; a small area of Potter County, in north-central Pennsylvania, is drained by the Genesee River into Lake Ontario; and parts of south-central Pennsylvania are drained by tributaries of the Potomac River.

(Sources: MSN Encarta, Wikipedia.)

Short PA History

Pennsylvania has experienced a rich history over the last several hundred years.

Officially titling itself the "
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania", Pennsylvania is one of the 13 original states of the United States.  It was named in honor of wealthy Admiral Sir William Penn.  His son, William Penn, a free-thinking convert to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), inherited his father's fortune upon his father's death in 1870.  William Penn first used his wealth to help set up a Quaker community in what is now New Jersey and wanted to establish his own community. 

So King
Charles II, who was still in debt to Admiral Penn (subsequently is son as heir) and wanted to get rid of his debt and England's Quaker problem, signed a charter in 1681 which assigned William Penn as the proprietor of Pennsylvania (meaning "Penn's woodland", in honor of his father). William Penn founded the colony as a haven for members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and other religious minorities in 1682 as his Holy Experiment.

Penn first visited his colony in 1682. The capital originally was established at Upland, renamed Chester by Penn. He later designated newly constructed Philadelphia as his capital.  Although Penn was granted almost complete control of Pennsylvania, he gradually developed charters that allowed the locals to form representative assemblies and essentially govern themselves within their areas.

"When William Penn established his colony as a refuge for Quakers, he promised complete religious freedom to other oppressed minorities. As a result, the colony’s English Quakers were soon joined by such diverse groups as German Mennonites, French Huguenots, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Ever since, Pennsylvania has been home to an exceptional variety of nationalities and religions.   The Pennsylvania Germans are often called the Pennsylvania Dutch, a corruption of Deutsch, which means “German.” Probably the state’s best-known ethnic group, they are descended from German farmers who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania beginning in the 17th century."

Before the European settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, the area was inhabited or passed through by several major Native American groups, including the Delaware (calling themselves the Lenni
Lenape, meaning original people), the Susquehannock, the Tuscarora , the Nanticoke and the Shawnee.  The Iroquois in the north also had some influences.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PAPennsylvania, and with it's City of Philadelphia, was central to the development of the
Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War and the U.S. Constitution.   It entered the Union on December 12, 1787, making it second after Delaware. Philadelphia was our nation's first capital until it was moved to Washington, DC.   Philadelphia was also first home to the First and Second U.S. Banks and the U.S. Mint (1792).  Philadelphia was and still is home to a major seaport and shipyards on the Delaware River.

"Pennsylvania was the site of a major turning point of the Civil War during the Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863. The battle, which left more than 23,000 Union casualties and at least 25,000 Confederate casualties, halted the Southern army’s invasion of the North and put it on the defensive. On November 19, Lincoln delivered his famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery near the battlefield."

(Sources: Wikipedia; MSN Encarta.)

More PA History:
History of PA
Explore PA History
Pennsylvania Document Heritage
Historical Museum Guide
Pennsylvania Historical Association - PA History
References for Historical Maps of Pennsylvania
PA Government Documents


Pennsylvania State Symbols - Past and Present: Commonwealth, Keystone State, State Seal, State Coat of Arms, State Flag, State Bird, ... Song, etc.    [More about PA State Symbols]

More Pennsylvania Facts

Famous Pennsylvanians:

Punxsutawney Phil - Seer and Prognosticator   [Wikipedia]
Famous Pennsylvanians  [More Famous Bios]
Famous Pennsylvanians List
More Famous People
PA Biography Project
People of PA
Who's Who WebQuest



Hospital, Library, Zoo, Newspaper, Nation's Capitol, All Motion-Picture Theater, Television Broadcast, Radio Broadcast, Educational Public Television Station, Cable Television, Paper Mill, Druggist, High-Speed Multi-lane Highway (PA Turnpike), Banana Split.

Pennsylvania MAPS

Map of Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania  (Source: -


Map of Pennsylvania Counties  (U.S. Census Bureau)


PA Physical Regions (Provinces) Map
MAP: Physical Landform Regions (Provinces) of Pennsylvania   (source: U.S. Gov.)