On the territory of the modern state of West Virginia lived Indians belonging to the culture of "mound builders". Their main occupation was agriculture, they grew corn, sunflowers, beans, pumpkins and bred turkeys. By the time the first Europeans appeared on the lands of West Virginia, the Indians of the Canova, Shawney, Susquehannocks and others lived here.
After the founding of the English colony of Virginia at the beginning of the 17th century, hunters and traders gradually climbed further and further into the Appalachians. The first organized expedition to explore the western regions of Virginia was sent in 1671 at the direction of the governor of the colony, William Berkeley, its participants reached the Canova River. At the same time, the mountainous terrain greatly complicated the development of new lands by Europeans; the first permanent settlement in West Virginia appeared only a few decades later.
In February 1861, after the secession of the seven southern states and the formation of the Confederate States of America, the government of Virginia convened a meeting in Richmond, whose delegates were to work out the attitude of the state to the question of secession. In April, after the shelling of Fort Sumter, this convention decided to withdraw Virginia from the United States.
In May 1861, representatives of forty-eight western counties of Virginia gathered in Wheeling, disagreeing with the decision to secede. In June, the meeting participants reaffirmed their allegiance to the Union, invalidated the Richmond ordinances of secession, and elected a new government and governor of Virginia. In October, residents of the western regions supported the decision to secede from Virginia in a referendum, in November the Constitutional Convention of West Virginia began to work (by the way, the new state was proposed to be called differently: "New Virginia", "Kenova", "Vandalia", "Allegheny"). In May 1862, state legislators petitioned the U.S. Congress for admission to the Union, and in June 1863, West Virginia became the thirty-fifth U.S. state.
National parks in West Virginia
- New River Gorge National Park and Preserve ("New River Gorge") is located in southern West Virginia near the city of Beckley. It stretches for eighty-five kilometers in the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachians, formed by the New River, a tributary of the Canova River.
- The unusual relief, peculiarities of geology, rich flora and fauna, as well as picturesque landscapes attract many tourists to the reserve. New River Gorge is one of the most popular places in the United States for rock climbing and rafting. Other activities available in the park are hiking (more than eighty kilometers of trails are laid here) and fishing.
- The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve was created in 2020, prior to (since 1978) the state protected area had the status of a "National River".
State symbols of West Virginia
Tree - sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
Flower - rhododendron (Rhododendron)
Beast - black bear (Baribal, Ursus americanus)
Bird - red cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Fish - American char (Palia, Salvelinus fontinalis)
Reptile - striped rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
Insect - honey bee (Apis mellifera)
Butterfly - Monarch Danaid (Danaus plexippus)
Food product (fruit) - apple variety "Golden Delicious" (Golden Delicious)
Precious (ornamental) stone - petrified (chalcedony) coral
Rock - coal
Fossil - megalonix (Megalonyx)
Color - "old gold" and blue
Song - "West Virginia My Home Sweet Home" (West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home, music and lyrics by Julian Hearn) and three others
West Virginia's main economic sectors are industry, mining, logging, tourism, and agriculture.
West Virginia ranks second in the United States (after Wyoming) in terms of coal reserves and production. A significant part of it is used for the production of electricity at thermal power plants, as well as for processing into liquid fuels. In addition to coal, large deposits of natural gas have been explored in the state and, on a smaller scale, oil is being produced.
In West Virginia, industry is very well developed, primarily chemical. Plants of BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemicals, DuPont produce dyes, acids, polymers, herbicides - hundreds of different types of chemicals, providing more than 40% of the state's GDP. Also in West Virginia there are metallurgical plants (in the northern counties, in the Wheeling area), aerospace enterprises (including the production units of Pratt and Whitney in Bridgeport and Lockheed Martin in Clarksburg), factories for the production of automobile parts.
West Virginia's largest city is its capital, Charleston, which is home to over 50,000 people. Other major cities in the state are Huntington (about 50,000 people), Parkersburg (over 30,000 people), Morgantown (about 30,000 people) and Wheeling (about 30,000 people).
The largest ethnic (national) groups among the population of the state of West Virginia:
English - 35.2%
Germans - 17.2%
Irish - 8%
Scots - Irish (Ulster Scots) - 5%
Italians - 4.8%
Among West Virginians, only about 1.1% are not natives of the United States of America, the lowest percentage of any US state. The state also has the fewest people for whom English is not their native language - only 2.7%.