West Virginia (abbr.: WV or W.Va.), state of the United States of America, 62,629 km2, with 1.7 million inhabitants; capital city: Charleston.
The state is predominantly closed in shape with narrow panhandles to the north and east. Located in the Valley and Ridge Region of the Appalachian Mountains, the eastern spur has sharp ridges and broad valleys. This area is closed to the west by the Alleghenies, which reach their highest point here (Spruce Knob, 1482 m). From this ridge, the undulating Cumberland Plateau extends westwards beyond the border. Only the rivers in the northeast find outflow into the Atlantic through the Potomac; While the Cheat, Tygart, and West Fork flow north through the Monongahela, the latter bends beyond West Virginia to the Ohio, which forms the state’s northwest border and is also where the rivers of the southwest portion flow: the Kanawha, the Guyandot and the Big Sandy River. The climate is quite rough; the average January temperature is 0 °C, the average July temperature is 24 °C, but the maximum and minimum temperatures are respectively. +41 °C and –33 °C. The precipitation amounts to about 1000 mm in the west and about 1250 mm in the Alleghenies. In the mountains, a large part of the precipitation falls in the form of snow.
The average population density is 29 inhabitants. per km2. About 36% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Huntington and Charleston. See top cities in West Virginia.
Industry, which is the main sector of the state’s economy, primarily produces all kinds of chemical products. In second place comes the metal industry, furthermore for glass, wood products, textiles and machines. Mining mainly includes the extraction of coal (under about 55% of the surface of the state, the soil contains coal); the state is also a major producer of natural gas, petroleum, salt, sand, gravel and clay. Agriculture is of little importance (varied livestock, hay, grain and fruit production). Forestry is important.
Tourist attractions include: the Monongahela National Forest; a prehistoric landmark, the Grave Creek Mound, in Moundsville in the northern panhandle near the Ohio border; the Blackwater Falls State Park; the Hawks Nest State Park. The Civil War is commemorated in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, among others.
Originally, West Virginia was part of Virginia. In the 18th century a socio-economic contradiction emerged in Virginia between the coastal area, which was based on slavery, and the western mountain area. When Virginia joined the Confederate States in 1861, the mountain residents convened a constitutional convention and seceded. In 1862 Congress recognized this secession and in 1863 the state of West Virginia was incorporated into the Union, making it 35 states. Charleston became the capital in 1885. The coal mines initially brought prosperity; later they became the cause of serious economic problems.