Pennsylvania (abbr.: PA or Penn.), state of the United States of America, 117,412 km2, with 11.9 million inhabitants; capital city: Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania belongs entirely to the Appalachians. A high, steep ridge runs through the middle of Pennsylvania, the beginning of the Allegheny Plateau, which forms the western part of the state. The Eastern Boundary River, the Delaware, has some major western tributaries, the Schuylkill and the Lehigh. West of the Alleghenyfront, the Monongahela, Youghiogheny, and Allegheny rivers converge at Pittsburgh to the Ohio. The center of the state drains into the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. The more than 300 lakes are mostly small in size. Larger reservoirs include Pymatuning Reservoir, Lake Wallenpaupack, and the Allegheny Reservoir. The state borders Lake Erie to the northwest. Pennsylvania has a continental climate; however, due to the influence of the ocean, the winters are not very severe.
The average population density is 100 inhabitants. per km2. About 69% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. See top cities in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is one of the major industrial and mining states. Traditionally, the industry mainly produces iron and steel. Recently, the emergence of the production of high-tech equipment; furthermore, production of electrical appliances, foodstuffs and machines. The state is one of the largest anthracite producers and the second largest coal producer in the United States; there is also, among other things, oil and natural gas extraction. The main arable crops are tobacco, mushrooms, winter wheat, oats, buckwheat, maize, potatoes and fruit (peaches, cherries, grapes). Livestock farming mainly concerns cattle and poultry.
In Pennsylvania, tourists mainly visit the Pocono Mountains, the Alleghenies and Lake Erie in the northwest. Of historical interest are the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Valley Forge National Historical Park and Gettysburg National Military Park. Also worth seeing are the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where descendants of German and Swiss immigrants (particularly the Amish) maintain the way of life of their ancestors.
Swedes and the Dutch were the first to settle on the west side of the Delaware (Fort Christina 1638, captured by the Dutch 1655). In 1664 the area became British. In 1681 William Penn obtained a charter for the area. The Constitution drafted by Penn (Charter of Privileges, 1701) remained the official foundation of government until the American Revolutionary War. The colony flourished due to the immigration of Germans and Scottish-Irish. The policy of peacefulness towards the Indians advocated by Penn and other Quakers was not shared by all migrants. The Indians then sought support from the French. However, these were driven out and the Indians suffered a bloody defeat when they revolted under Pontiac in 1763 (Battle of Bushy Run). Many conflicts arose over the boundaries of Penn’s land, especially with Maryland. In the American Revolutionary War, Pennsylvania initially played a minor role due to the influence of the Quaker pacifists, although there were also prominent supporters of the rebellion in the colony, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Dickinson. In 1776, the meeting of the Continental Congress declaring independence was held in Philadelphia. Several battles were fought in Pennsylvania in 1777 (Brandywine, Paoli, Fort Mifflin, Germantown). Independence marked the end of the Penn family’s property rights. Pennsylvania became the second state to join the Union in 1787. In Pennsylvania, sentiment against slavery was generally very strong, and the state played an important part in the northern effort in the American Civil War.
After the Civil War, the rise of the iron and steel industry made Pennsylvania a very important industrial state, which also attracted many migrants. In politics, these changes have led to the disappearance of the republican predominance that has existed since the Civil War.