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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Keystone State; [1] Quaker State
Virtue, Liberty and Independence
Anthem: "Pennsylvania"
Pennsylvania in United States.svg
Map of the United States with Pennsylvania highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehood Province of Pennsylvania
Admitted to the Union December 12, 1787 (2nd)
Capital Harrisburg
Largest city Philadelphia
Largest metro and urban areas Delaware Valley
   Governor Tom Wolf (D)
   Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D)
Legislature General Assembly
   Upper house State Senate
   Lower house House of Representatives
Judiciary Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
U.S. senators Bob Casey Jr. (D)
Pat Toomey (R)
U.S. House delegation 9 Democrats
9 Republicans (list)
  Total46,055 sq mi (119,283 km2)
  Land44,816.61 sq mi (116,074 km2)
  Water1,239 sq mi (3,208 km2)  2.7%
Area rank 33rd
  Length170 mi (273 km)
  Width283 mi (455 km)
1,100 ft (340 m)
Highest elevation3,213 ft (979 m)
Lowest elevation0 ft (0 m)
 (2020 [4] )
  Rank 5th
  Density290/sq mi (112/km2)
  Density rank 9th
   Median household income
$59,195 [5]
  Income rank
Demonym(s) Pennsylvanian
   Official language None
   Spoken language English 90.15%
Spanish 4.09%
German (Including Pennsylvania German) 0.87%
Chinese 0.47%
Italian 0.43% [6]
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 code US-PA
Traditional abbreviation Pa., Penn., Penna.
Latitude39°43′ to 42°16′ N
Longitude74°41′ to 80°31′ W
Pennsylvania state symbols
Flag of Pennsylvania.svg
Seal of Pennsylvania.svg
Living insignia
Amphibian Eastern Hellbender
Bird Ruffed grouse
Dog breed Great Dane
Fish Brook trout
Flower Mountain laurel
Insect Firefly (Colloquially "Lightning Bug") ( Photuris pensylvanica )
Mammal White-tailed deer
Tree Eastern hemlock
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Polka
Food Chocolate Chip Cookie [7]
Fossil Trilobite
Soil Hazleton
State route marker
State quarter
1999 PA Proof.png
Released in 1999
Lists of United States state symbols

Pennsylvania ( US: /ˌpɛnsəlˈvniə/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) PEN-səl-VAY-nee-ə, elsewhere /-sɪlˈ-/ -sil-; Pennsylvania German : Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked state in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Appalachian regions of the United States. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east, while the Appalachian Mountains run through its middle.


Pennsylvania is the 33rd-largest state by area, and the 5th-most populous state with a total population of 13,011,844 [4] according to the most recent official U.S. Census count in 2020. It is the 9th-most densely populated of the 50 states. Pennsylvania's two most populous metropolitan areas are the Delaware Valley, centered around the state's largest city Philadelphia (6.25 million), and Greater Pittsburgh (2.37 million). The state capital and its 15th-largest municipality is Harrisburg. Pennsylvania has 140 miles (225 km) of waterfront along Lake Erie and the Delaware River. [8]

The state is one of the Thirteen original founding states of the United States; it came into being in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, the son of the state's namesake. Part of Pennsylvania (along the Delaware River), together with the present State of Delaware, had earlier been organized as the Colony of New Sweden. It was the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, on December 12, 1787. Independence Hall, where the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were drafted, is located in Philadelphia, the state's largest city. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the south central region of the state. Valley Forge near Philadelphia was General Washington's headquarters during the bitter winter of 1777–78.


Historically, as of 1600, the tribes living in Pennsylvania were the Algonquian Lenape (also Delaware), the Iroquoian Susquehannock, and Petun (also Tionontati, Kentatentonga, Tobacco, Wenro) [9] and the presumably Siouan Monongahela Culture, who may have been the same as a little known tribe called the Calicua, or Cali. [10] Other tribes who entered the region during the colonial era were the Trockwae, [11] Tutelo, Saponi, Shawnee, Nanticoke, Conoy Piscataway, Iroquois Confederacy—likely among others. [12] [13] [14] [15]

Other tribes, like the Erie, may have once held land in Pennsylvania, but no longer did so by the year 1600. [16]

17th century

British map of Pennsylvania from 1680 (from the Darlington Collection) Darlington map of Pennsylvania 1680.png
British map of Pennsylvania from 1680 (from the Darlington Collection)

Both the Dutch and the English claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America. [17] [18] [19] The Dutch were the first to take possession. [19]

By June 3, 1631, the Dutch had begun settling the Delmarva Peninsula by establishing the Zwaanendael Colony on the site of present-day Lewes, Delaware. [20] In 1638, Sweden established the New Sweden Colony, in the region of Fort Christina, on the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. New Sweden claimed and, for the most part, controlled the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) but settled few colonists there. [21] [22]

On March 12, 1664, King Charles II of England gave James, Duke of York a grant that incorporated all lands included in the original Virginia Company of Plymouth Grant plus other lands. This grant was in conflict with the Dutch claim for New Netherland, which included parts of today's Pennsylvania. [23]

On June 24, 1664, the Duke of York sold the portion of his large grant that included present-day New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony. The land was not yet in British possession, but the sale boxed in the portion of New Netherland on the West side of the Delaware River. The British conquest of New Netherland began on August 29, 1664, when New Amsterdam was coerced to surrender while facing cannons on British ships in New York Harbor. [24] [25] This conquest continued, and was completed in October 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir in what today is New Castle, Delaware.

John Dickinson John Dickinson portrait.jpg
John Dickinson

The Peace of Breda between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the English conquest on July 21, 1667, [26] [27] although there were temporary reversions.

On September 12, 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony/New Amsterdam, establishing three County Courts, which went on to become original Counties in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania. The one that later transferred to Pennsylvania was Upland. [28] This was partially reversed on February 9, 1674, when the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and reverted all political situations to the status quo ante bellum. The British retained the Dutch Counties with their Dutch names. [29] By June 11, 1674, New York reasserted control over the outlying colonies, including Upland, but the names started to be changed to British names by November 11, 1674. [30] Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware. [31]

On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter [32] to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 [33] (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) [34] owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. [35] The King named it Pennsylvania (literally "Penn's Woods") in honor of Admiral Penn; the Admiral's son who proposed that the land be called New Wales and then, after objections, Sylvania (from the Latin silva: "forest, woods"), was embarrassed at the change from the latter proposed form, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. [36] Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction. [35]

What had been Upland on what became the Pennsylvania side of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Border was renamed as Chester County when Pennsylvania instituted their colonial governments on March 4, 1681. [37] [38] The Quaker leader William Penn had signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, beginning a long period of friendly relations between the Quakers and the Indians. [39] Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty of William Penn was never violated. [40] [41] [42]

18th century

Between 1730 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. The Colony issued "bills of credit", which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was an interest-free proposition, largely defraying the expense of the government and therefore taxation of the people. It also promoted general employment and prosperity, since the Government used discretion and did not issue too much to inflate the currency. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency, of which he said its utility was never to be disputed, and it also met with the "cautious approval" of Adam Smith. [43]

James Smith wrote that in 1763, "the Indians again commenced hostilities, and were busily engaged in killing and scalping the frontier inhabitants in various parts of Pennsylvania." Further, "This state was then a Quaker government, and at the first of this war the frontiers received no assistance from the state." [44] The ensuing hostilities became known as Pontiac's War.

After the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, Delegate John Dickinson of Philadelphia wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances . The Congress was the first meeting of the Thirteen Colonies, called at the request of the Massachusetts Assembly, but only nine colonies sent delegates. [45] Dickinson then wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies , which were published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle between December 2, 1767, and February 15, 1768. [46]

When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. [47] The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, [48] but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they and its primary author, John Dickinson, drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent States [49] into a new union. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Union. [50] The Constitution was drafted and signed at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, and the same building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. [51]

Pennsylvania became the first large state, and the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, [52] five days after Delaware became the first. At the time it was the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen States. Because one-third of Pennsylvania's population spoke German, the Constitution was presented in German to include those citizens in the discussion. Reverend Frederick Muhlenberg acted as the chairman of the state's ratifying convention. [53]

Dickinson College of Carlisle was the first college founded after the States united. Established in 1773, the college was ratified five days after the Treaty of Paris on September 9, 1783. The school was founded by Benjamin Rush and named after John Dickinson.

The "Hills Capitol", used from 1821 until it burned down in 1897 HillsCapitol.jpg
The "Hills Capitol", used from 1821 until it burned down in 1897

For half a century, the Commonwealth's General Assembly (legislature) met at various places in the general Philadelphia area before starting to meet regularly in Independence Hall in Philadelphia for 63 years. [54] But it needed a more central location, as for example the Paxton Boys massacres of 1763 had made the legislature aware. So, in 1799 the General Assembly moved to the Lancaster Courthouse, [54] and finally in 1812 to Harrisburg. [54]

19th century

The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821, [54] when the Federal-style "Hills Capitol" (named for its builder, Stephen Hills, a Lancaster architect) was constructed on a hilltop land grant of four acres set aside for a seat of state government by the prescient, entrepreneurial son and namesake of John Harris, Sr., a Yorkshire native who had founded a trading post in 1705 and ferry (1733) on the east shore of the Susquehanna River. [55] The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue. [54] The General Assembly met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street (still standing) until a new capitol could be built. Following an architectural selection contest that many alleged had been "rigged", Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was charged with designing and building a replacement building; however, the legislature had little money to allocate to the project, and a roughly finished, somewhat industrial building (the Cobb Capitol) was completed. The General Assembly refused to occupy the building. Political and popular indignation in 1901 prompted a second contest that was restricted to Pennsylvania architects, and Joseph Miller Huston of Philadelphia was chosen to design the present Pennsylvania State Capitol that incorporated Cobb's building into magnificent public work finished and dedicated in 1907. [54]

The new state Capitol drew rave reviews. [54] Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the United States Capitol. [54] President Theodore Roosevelt called it "the most beautiful state Capital in the nation" and said, "It's the handsomest building I ever saw" at the dedication. In 1989, The New York Times praised it as "grand, even awesome at moments, but it is also a working building, accessible to citizens ... a building that connects with the reality of daily life". [54]

James Buchanan, of Franklin County, the only bachelor president of the United States (1857–1861), [56] was the first president to be born in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg—the major turning point of the Civil War—took place near Gettysburg. [57] An estimated 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union Army forces including 8,600 African American military volunteers.

Pennsylvania was also the home of the first commercially drilled oil well. In 1859, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake successfully drilled the well, which led to the first major oil boom in United States history.

20th century

Franklin D. Roosevelt's FERA camp for unemployed women, 1934 Federal Emergency Relief Administration, FERA camp for unemployed women in Arcola, PA - NARA - 196583.tif
Franklin D. Roosevelt's FERA camp for unemployed women, 1934

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pennsylvania's economy centered on steel production, logging, coal mining, textile production and other forms of industrial manufacturing. A surge in immigration to the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a steady flow of cheap labor for these industries, which often employed children and people who could not speak English.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge established the Allegheny National Forest under the authority of the Weeks Act of 1911. [58] The forest is located in the northwest part of the state in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties for the purposes of timber production and watershed protection in the Allegheny River basin. The Allegheny is the state's only national forest. [59]

The Three Mile Island accident was the most significant nuclear accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. [60] [61]

21st century

United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville during the September 11th attacks, killing 44.

Within the first half of 2003, the annual Tekko commences in Pittsburgh. [62]

In October 2018, the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation experienced the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. [63]


Worlds End State Park, Sullivan County Flickr - Nicholas T - Canyon Vista.jpg
Worlds End State Park, Sullivan County

Pennsylvania is 170 miles (274 km) north to south and 283 miles (455 km) east to west. [64] Of a total 46,055 square miles (119,282 km2), 44,817 square miles (116,075 km2) are land, 490 square miles (1,269 km2) are inland waters, and 749 square miles (1,940 km2) are waters in Lake Erie. [65] It is the 33rd-largest state in the United States. [66] Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) [67] of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km) [8] of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary. Of the original Thirteen Colonies, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.

The boundaries of the state are the Mason–Dixon line (39°43' N) to the south, the Twelve-Mile Circle on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the Delaware River to the east, 80°31' W to the west and the 42° N to the north, except for a short segment on the western end, where a triangle extends north to Lake Erie.

Cities include Philadelphia, Reading, Lebanon and Lancaster in the southeast, Pittsburgh in the southwest, and the tri-cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in the central east (known as the Lehigh Valley). The northeast includes the former anthracite coal mining cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Nanticoke, and Hazleton. Erie is located in the northwest. State College serves the central region while Williamsport serves the commonwealth's north-central region as does Chambersburg in the south-central region, with York, Carlisle, and the state capital Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River in the east-central region of the Commonwealth and Altoona and Johnstown in the west-central region.

The state has five geographical regions, namely the Allegheny Plateau, Ridge and Valley, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Erie Plain.

Adjacent states and province


Koppen climate types of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Koppen.svg
Köppen climate types of Pennsylvania
Autumn in North Branch Township, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania Flickr - Nicholas T - Endless Mountains Landscape (1).jpg
Autumn in North Branch Township, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's diverse topography also produces a variety of climates, though the entire state experiences cold winters and humid summers. Straddling two major zones, the majority of the state, except for the southeastern corner, has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The southern portion of the state has a humid subtropical climate. The largest city, Philadelphia, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa).

Summers are generally hot and humid. Moving toward the mountainous interior of the state, the winter climate becomes colder, the number of cloudy days increases, and snowfall amounts are greater. Western areas of the state, particularly locations near Lake Erie, can receive over 100 inches (250 cm) of snowfall annually, and the entire state receives plentiful precipitation throughout the year. The state may be subject to severe weather from spring through summer into autumn. Tornadoes occur annually in the state, sometimes in large numbers, such as 30 recorded tornadoes in 2011; generally speaking, these tornadoes do not cause significant damage. [68]

Monthly Average High and Low Temperatures For Various Pennsylvania Cities (in °F)
Sources: [69] [70] [71] [72] [73]


Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2010 Allentown.jpg
Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2010

Pennsylvania is divided into 67  counties. [74] Counties are further subdivided into municipalities that are either incorporated as cities, boroughs, or townships. [75] One county, Philadelphia County, is coterminous with the city of Philadelphia after it was consolidated in 1854. The most populous county in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia, while the least populous is Cameron (4,547). [76]

There are a total of 56 cities in Pennsylvania, which are classified, by population, as either first-, second-, or third-class cities. [74] [77] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, has a population of 1.6 million and is the state's only first-class city. [75] Pittsburgh (303,000) and Scranton (76,000) are second-class and second-class 'A' cities, respectively. [75]

The rest of the cities, like the third and fourth-largest—Allentown (126,000) and Reading (95,000)—to the smallest—Parker with a population of only 820—are third-class cities. [78] First- and second-class cities are governed by a "strong mayor" form of mayor–council government, whereas third-class cities are governed by either a "weak mayor" form of government or a council–manager government. [75]

Boroughs are generally smaller than cities, with most Pennsylvania cities having been incorporated as a borough before being incorporated as a city. [75] There are 958  boroughs in Pennsylvania, all of which are governed by the "weak mayor" form of mayor-council government. [74] [75] The largest borough in Pennsylvania is State College (40,501) and the smallest is Centralia.

Townships are the third type of municipality in Pennsylvania and are classified as either first-class or second-class townships. There are 1,454 second-class townships and 93 first-class townships. [79] Second-class townships can become first-class townships if they have a population density greater than 300 inhabitants per square mile (120/km2) and a referendum is passed supporting the change. [79] Pennsylvania's largest township is Upper Darby Township (85,681), and the smallest is East Keating Township.

There is one exception to the types of municipalities in Pennsylvania: Bloomsburg was incorporated as a town in 1870 and is, officially, the only town in the state. [80] In 1975, McCandless Township adopted a home-rule charter under the name of "Town of McCandless", but is, legally, still a first-class township. [81]

The total of 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 93 first-class townships, 1,454 second-class townships, and one town (Bloomsburg) is 2,562 municipalities.


Historical population
1790 434,373
1800 602,36538.7%
1810 810,09134.5%
1820 1,049,45829.5%
1830 1,348,23328.5%
1840 1,724,03327.9%
1850 2,311,78634.1%
1860 2,906,21525.7%
1870 3,521,95121.2%
1880 4,282,89121.6%
1890 5,258,11322.8%
1900 6,302,11519.9%
1910 7,665,11121.6%
1920 8,720,01713.8%
1930 9,631,35010.5%
1940 9,900,1802.8%
1950 10,498,0126.0%
1960 11,319,3667.8%
1970 11,793,9094.2%
1980 11,863,8950.6%
1990 11,881,6430.1%
2000 12,281,0543.4%
2010 12,702,3793.4%
2020 13,011,8442.4%
Source: 1910–2020 [83]

As of the 2020 U.S. census, Pennsylvania had a population of 13,011,844, up from 12,702,379 in 2010. In 2019, net migration to other states resulted in a decrease of 27,718, and immigration from other countries resulted in an increase of 127,007. Net migration to the Commonwealth was 98,289. Migration of native Pennsylvanians resulted in a decrease of 100,000 people. From 2008 to 2012, 5.8% of the population was foreign-born. [84]

Place of origin

John Morton (1725-1777), a Pennsylvanian jurist and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, had Finnish roots; Morton, which was an anglicized version of the family's original Finnish name Marttinen, came to America from Rautalampi municipality of North Savonia, Finland. JohnMorton.jpg
John Morton (1725–1777), a Pennsylvanian jurist and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, had Finnish roots; Morton, which was an anglicized version of the family's original Finnish name Marttinen, came to America from Rautalampi municipality of North Savonia, Finland.

Of the people residing in Pennsylvania, 74.5% were born in Pennsylvania, 18.4% were born in a different U.S. state, 1.5% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 5.6% were foreign born. [89] Foreign-born Pennsylvanians are largely from Asia (36.0%), Europe (35.9%), and Latin America (30.6%), with the remainder from Africa (5%), North America (3.1%), and Oceania (0.4%).

The largest ancestry groups are listed below, expressed as a percentage of total people who responded with a particular ancestry for the 2010 census: [90] [91]

Racial breakdown

Pennsylvania Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition1990 [92] 2000 [93] 2010 [94]
White 88.5%85.4%81.9%
Black 9.2%10.0%10.9%
Asian 1.2%1.8%2.8%
Native 0.1%0.1%0.2%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Other race 1.0%1.5%2.4%
Two or more races 1.2%1.9%

As of 2011, 32.1% of Pennsylvania's population younger than age 1 were minorities. [95]

Pennsylvania's Hispanic population grew by 82.6% between 2000 and 2010, making it one of the largest increases in a state's Hispanic population. The significant growth of the Hispanic population is due to immigration to the state mainly from Puerto Rico, which is a US territory, but to a lesser extent from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and various Central and South American nations, as well as from the wave of Hispanics leaving New York and New Jersey for safer and more affordable living. The Asian population swelled by almost 60%, which was fueled by Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese immigration, as well the many Asian transplants moving to Philadelphia from New York. The rapid growth of this community has given Pennsylvania one of the largest Asian populations in the nation by numerical values. The Black and African American population grew by 13%, which was the largest increase in that population amongst the state's peers (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan). Twelve other states saw decreases in their White populations. [96] The state has a high in-migration of black and Hispanic people from other nearby states, with eastern and south-central portions of the state seeing the bulk of the increases. [76] [97]

The majority of Hispanics in Pennsylvania are of Puerto Rican descent, having one of the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican populations in the country. [98] [99] Most of the remaining Hispanic population is made up of Mexicans and Dominicans. Most Hispanics are concentrated in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and South Central Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania's reported population of Hispanics, especially among the Black race, has markedly increased in recent years. [100] The Hispanic population is greatest in Bethlehem, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, York, and around Philadelphia. It is not clear how much of this change reflects a changing population and how much reflects increased willingness to self-identify minority status. As of 2010, it is estimated that about 85% of all Hispanics in Pennsylvania live within a 150-mile (240 km) radius of Philadelphia, with about 20% living within the city itself.

Of the black population, the vast majority in the state are African American, being descendants of African slaves brought to the US south during the colonial era. There are also a growing number of blacks of West Indian, recent African, and Hispanic origins. [101] Most blacks live in the Philadelphia area, Pittsburgh, and South Central Pennsylvania. Whites make up the majority of Pennsylvania; they are mostly descended from German, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Italian, and English immigrants. Rural portions of South Central Pennsylvania are famous nationwide for their notable Amish communities. The Wyoming Valley, consisting of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, has the highest percentage of white residents of any metropolitan area (with a population of 500,000 or above) in the U.S., with 96.2% of its population claiming to be white with no Hispanic background.

The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Perry County, in the borough of Duncannon. [102]

State population from 1790 to 2000 PennsylvaniaDemography.svg
State population from 1790 to 2000
Pennsylvania's population distribution Pennsylvania population map 1.png
Pennsylvania's population distribution

Age and poverty

The state had the fourth-highest proportion of elderly (65+) citizens in 2010—15.4%, as compared to 13.0% nationwide. [103] According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the state's poverty rate was 12.5% in 2017, compared to 13.4% for the United States as a whole. [104]

Population Aged 65 and Older: Top 10 States [103]
State % of population
West Virginia16.0
North Dakota14.5
Rhode Island14.4

Birth data

Note: Births in table do not add up because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Race 2013 [105] 2014 [106] 2015 [107] 2016 [108] 2017 [109] 2018 [110] 2019 [111]
White 109,007 (77.3%)110,809 (77.9%)109,595 (77.7%)............
> Non-Hispanic White 98,751 (70.0%)99,306 (69.8%)97,845 (69.4%)94,520 (67.8%)92,297 (67.0%)90,862 (67.0%)88,710 (66.1%)
Black 24,770 (17.6%)24,024 (16.9%)24,100 (17.1%)18,338 (13.1%)18,400 (13.4%)17,779 (13.1%)17,585 (13.1%)
Asian 6,721 (4.7%)7,067 (5.0%)6,961 (4.9%)6,466 (4.6%)6,401 (4.6%)6,207 (4.6%)6,214 (4.6%)
American Indian 423 (0.3%)368 (0.3%)390 (0.3%)86 (0.1%)135 (0.1%)128 (0.1%)119 (0.1%)
Hispanic (of any race)14,163 (10.1%)14,496 (10.2%)14,950 (10.6%)15,348 (11.0%)15,840 (11.5%)15,826 (11.7%)16,718 (12.5%)
Total Pennsylvania140,921 (100%)142,268 (100%)141,047 (100%)139,409 (100%)137,745 (100%)135,673 (100%)134,230 (100%)


Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in Pennsylvania
LanguagePercentage of population
(as of 2010) [112]
German (including Pennsylvania German)0.9%
Chinese (including Mandarin)0.5%

As of 2010, 90.2% (10,710,239) of Pennsylvania residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 4.1% (486,058) spoke Spanish, 0.8% (103,502) German (which includes Pennsylvania Dutch) and 0.5% (56,052) Chinese (which includes Mandarin) of the population over the age of five. In total, 9.9% (1,170,628) of Pennsylvania's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English. [112]

Pennsylvania German language

Pennsylvania German is often—even though misleadingly—called "Pennsylvania Dutch". The term Dutch used to mean "German" [113] (including the Netherlands), before the Latin name for them replaced it (but stuck with the Netherlands). When referring to the language spoken by the Pennsylvania Dutch people (Pennsylvania German) it means "German" or "Teutonic" rather than "Netherlander". Germans, in their own language, call themselves "Deutsch", (Pennsylvania German: "Deitsch"). The Pennsylvania German language is a descendant of German, in the West Central German dialect family. It is closest to Palatine German. Pennsylvania German is still very vigorous as a first language among Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites (principally in the Lancaster County area), whereas it is almost extinct as an everyday language outside the plain communities, though a few words have passed into English usage.


Religion in Pennsylvania (2014) [114]
Other faiths/don't know
Jehovah's witnesses
An Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy Lancaster County Amish 03.jpg
An Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy

Of all the colonies, only Rhode Island had religious freedom as secure as in Pennsylvania. [115] Voltaire, writing of William Penn in 1733, observed: "The new sovereign also enacted several wise and wholesome laws for his colony, which have remained invariably the same to this day. The chief is, to ill-treat no person on account of religion, and to consider as brethren all those who believe in one God." [116] One result of this uncommon freedom was a wide religious diversity, which continues to the present.

Pennsylvania's population in 2010 was 12,702,379. Of these, 6,838,440 (53.8%) were estimated to belong to some sort of organized religion. According to the Association of religion data archives (ARDA) at Pennsylvania State University, the largest religions in Pennsylvania by adherents are the Roman Catholic Church with 3,503,028 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 591,734 members, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 501,974 members.

Pennsylvania, especially in the west and in the Pittsburgh area, has one of the largest communities of Presbyterians in the nation, being the third highest by percentage of population and the largest outright in membership. [117] The Presbyterian Church (USA), with about 250,000 members and 1,011 congregations, is the largest church, while the Presbyterian Church in America is also significant, with 112 congregations and 23,000 adherents; the EPC has around 50 congregations, as well as the ECO. The fourth-largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ, has 180,000 members and 627 congregations. American Baptist Churches USA (Northern Baptist Convention) is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania was the center state of the German Reformed denomination from the 1700s. [118] Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is one of the headquarters of the Moravian Church in America. Pennsylvania also has a very large Amish population, second only to Ohio among the states. [119] In the year 2000 there was a total Amish population of 47,860 in Pennsylvania and a further 146,416 Mennonites and 91,200 Brethren. The total Anabapist population including Bruderhof [120] was 232,631, about two percent of the population. [121] While Pennsylvania owes its existence to Quakers, and much of the historic character of the Commonwealth is ideologically rooted in the teachings of the Religious Society of Friends (as they are officially known), practicing Quakers are a small minority of about 10,000 adherents in 2010. [122]

As of 2014, the religious affiliations of the people of Pennsylvania are: [114]

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 38% of Pennsylvanians are very religious, 29% are moderately religious, and 34% are non-religious. [123]


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Pennsylvania unemployment rate, 1976-2021
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  Pennsylvania unemployment rate, 1976–2021
  US unemployment rate
Pennsylvania was home of two of the largest steel producers in the world; Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel and Bethlehem-based Bethlehem Steel. The former blast furnace sites have either been destroyed, preserved, or in the case of Bethlehem, became a new multi-million dollar Sands Casino Resort (now Wind Creek Bethlehem) in 2009 Bethlehem Steel.jpg
Pennsylvania was home of two of the largest steel producers in the world; Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel and Bethlehem-based Bethlehem Steel. The former blast furnace sites have either been destroyed, preserved, or in the case of Bethlehem, became a new multi-million dollar Sands Casino Resort (now Wind Creek Bethlehem) in 2009

Pennsylvania's 2018 total gross state product (GSP) of $803 billion ranks the state 6th in the nation. [124] If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 19th-largest in the world. [125] On a per-capita basis, Pennsylvania's 2016 per-capita GSP of $50,665 (in chained 2009 dollars) ranks 22nd among the fifty states. [124]

Geo map of average income by location in Pennsylvania. Data shown is from the 2014 American Community Survey five-year estimate. Geo Map of Income by Location in Pennsylvania.png
Geo map of average income by location in Pennsylvania. Data shown is from the 2014 American Community Survey five-year estimate.

As of 2016, there were 5,354,964 people in employment in Pennsylvania, with 301,484 total employer establishments. [126]

Philadelphia in the southeast corner, Pittsburgh in the southwest corner, Erie in the northwest corner, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the northeast corner, and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the east central region are urban manufacturing centers. Much of the Commonwealth is rural; this dichotomy affects state politics as well as the state economy. [127] Philadelphia is home to six Fortune 500 companies, [128] with more located in suburbs like King of Prussia; it is a leader in the financial [129] and insurance industry.

Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, including U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, and H.J. Heinz. [128] In all, Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies. [128] Hershey is home to The Hershey Company, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. Erie is also home to GE Transportation, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States.

As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Walmart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania. [130] [131] Pennsylvania is also home to the oldest investor-owned utility company in the US, The York Water Company.

As of May 2020, the state's unemployment rate is 13.1%. [132]

GDP in mil. US$ [133] 506.505525.979559.876579.432573.964596.662615.411637.896659.792684.781708.402724.936
GDP per capita in real 2009 US$ [133] 45,03545,02146,33046,86245,31246,38746,87247,54048,27849,15550,41850,997
Real growth rate in % [134] 1.3%0.5%3.3%1.5%−2.9%2.7%1.3%1.6%1.6%2.0%2.6%0.9%
unemployment rate (in July) [135] 4.9%4.7%4.4%5.2%8.2%8.3%8.0%7.9%7.3%5.8%5.3%5.5%


The first nationally chartered bank in the United States, the Bank of North America, was founded in 1781 in Philadelphia. After a series of mergers, the Bank of North America is part of Wells Fargo, which uses national charter 1.

Pennsylvania is also the home to the first nationally chartered bank under the 1863 National Banking Act. That year, the Pittsburgh Savings & Trust Company received a national charter and renamed itself the First National Bank of Pittsburgh as part of the National Banking Act. That bank is still in existence today as PNC Financial Services and remains based in Pittsburgh. PNC is the state's largest bank and the sixth-largest in the United States.


Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production. [136]

It also ranks 8th in the nation in winemaking. [137]

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture worked with private companies to establish "PA Preferred" as a way to brand agricultural products grown or made in the state to support and promote Pennsylvania products and locally grown food. [138]

The financial impact of agriculture in Pennsylvania [139] includes employment of more than 66,800 people employed by the food manufacturing industry; and over $1.7 billion in food product export (in 2011).


Casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004. Currently, there are nine casinos across the state with three under construction or in planning. At that time, only horse racing, slot machines, and electronic table games were legal in Pennsylvania, although a bill to legalize table games was being negotiated in the fall of 2009. [140] [141] Table games such as poker, roulette, blackjack, and craps were finally approved by the state legislature in January 2010, being signed into law by the Governor on January 7.

Former Governor Ed Rendell had considered legalizing video poker machines in bars and private clubs in 2009 since an estimated 17,000 operate illegally across the state. [142] Under this plan, any establishment with a liquor license would be allowed up to five machines. All machines would be connected to the state's computer system, like commercial casinos. The state would impose a 50% tax on net gambling revenues, after winning players have been paid, with the remaining 50% going to the establishment owners.


The Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit began in 2004 and stimulated the development of a film industry in the state. [143]


Tom Wolf governor portrait 2019 (cropped).jpg
Tom Wolf (D)
47th Governor
Since January 20, 2015
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Portrait (46874790005) (cropped).jpg
John Fetterman (D)
34th Lt. Governor
Since January 15, 2019
Counties of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania-counties-map.gif
Counties of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has had five constitutions during its statehood: [144] 1776, 1790, 1838, 1874, and 1968. Before that the province of Pennsylvania was governed for a century by a Frame of Government, of which there were four versions: 1682, 1683, 1696, and 1701. [144] The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg. The legislature meets in the State Capitol there.


The current Governor is Tom Wolf. The other elected officials composing the executive branch are the Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Attorney General Joshua Shapiro, Auditor General Timothy DeFoor, and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor run as a ticket in the general election and are up for re-election every four years during the midterm elections. The elections for Attorney General, Auditor General, and Treasurer are held every four years coinciding with a Presidential election. [145]


The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. Flying the Pride Flag over the Capitol (50035197647).jpg
The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania has a bicameral legislature set up by Commonwealth's constitution in 1790. The original Frame of Government of William Penn had a unicameral legislature. [146] The General Assembly includes 50 Senators and 203 Representatives. Joe Scarnati is currently President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, Jake Corman the Majority Leader, and Jay Costa the Minority Leader. [147] Bryan Cutler is Speaker of the House of Representatives, with Kerry A. Benninghoff as Majority Leader and Frank Dermody as Minority Leader. [148] As of the 2018 elections, the Republicans hold the majority in the State House and Senate.


Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts, [149] most of which (except Philadelphia) have magisterial district judges (formerly called district justices and justices of the peace), who preside mainly over preliminary hearings in felony and misdemeanor offenses, all minor (summary) criminal offenses, and small civil claims. [149] Most criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas, which also serve as appellate courts to the district judges and for local agency decisions. [149] The Superior Court hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction to review warrants for wiretap surveillance. [149] The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. [149] The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected; the chief justice is determined by seniority. [149]

State law enforcement

The Pennsylvania State Police is the chief law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia. 30th Street Station Philadelphia July 2016 002 edit.jpg
The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia.

Since the latter half of the 20th century, Pennsylvania has been a powerful swing state. It supported the losing candidate in a presidential election only twice between 1932 to 1988, faltering in 1932 and 1968 with Herbert Hoover and Hubert Humphrey, respectively. Between 1992 and 2016, Pennsylvania trended Democratic in presidential elections, voting for Bill Clinton twice by large margins, and by a slightly closer margin for Al Gore in 2000. In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John F. Kerry beat President George W. Bush in Pennsylvania, 2,938,095 (51%) to 2,793,847 (48%). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in Pennsylvania, 3,276,363 (54%) to 2,655,885 (44%). By the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump broke the Democratic streak of the state, winning by 2,970,733 (48%) votes to 2,926,441 (47%) votes. [150] The state returned to the Democratic column in 2020 by narrowly voting for Joe Biden over Trump, 3,458,229 (50%) to 3,377,674 (49%). The state holds 20 electoral votes. [151]

In recent national elections since 1992, Pennsylvania had leaned for the Democratic Party. The state voted for the Democratic ticket for president in every election between 1992 and 2012. During the 2008 election campaign, a recruitment drive saw registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 1.2 million. However, Pennsylvania has a history of electing Republican senators. From 2009 to 2011, the state was represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since 1947 after Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched party affiliation. In 2010, Republicans recaptured a U.S. Senate seat as well as a majority of the state's congressional seats, control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's mansion. Democrats won back the governor's mansion four years later in the 2014 election. It was the first time since a governor became eligible to succeed themself that an incumbent governor had been defeated for reelection.

Voter registration totals as of November 2, 2021 [152]
PartyRegistered votersPercentage
Democratic 4,059,810 (-33,078)46.14%
Republican 3,421,544 (-6,064)39.20%
Minor parties1,279,455 (-7,028)14.66%
Total8,727,731 (-32,114)100%
*Lost between May 18, 2021 and November 2, 2021.

Historically, Democratic strength was concentrated in Philadelphia in the southeast, the Pittsburgh and Johnstown areas in the southwest, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the northeast. Republican strength was concentrated in the Philadelphia suburbs, as well as the more rural areas in the central, northeastern, and western portions. The latter counties have long been among the most conservative areas in the nation. Since 1992, however, the Philadelphia suburbs have swung Democratic; the brand of Republicanism there was traditionally a moderate one. The Pittsburgh suburbs, historically a Democratic stronghold, have swung more Republican since the turn of the millennium.

Democratic political consultant James Carville once pejoratively described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in the middle". Political analysts and editorials refer to central Pennsylvania as the "T" in statewide elections. The Three Valleys (Delaware, Lehigh, and Wyoming) and greater Pittsburgh generally vote for Democratic candidates, while the majority of the counties in the central part of the state vote Republican. As a result, maps showing the results of statewide elections invariably form a "T" shape.


Pennsylvania had the 15th-highest state and local tax burden in the United States in 2012, according to the Tax Foundation. [153] Residents paid a total of $83.7 billion in state and local taxes with a per capita average of $4,589 annually. Residents share 76% of the total tax burden. Many state politicians have tried to increase the share of taxes paid by out-of-state sources. Suggested revenue sources include taxing natural gas drilling as Pennsylvania is the only state without such a tax on gas drilling. [154] Additional revenue prospects include trying to place tolls on interstate highways; specifically Interstate 80, which is used heavily by out of state commuters with high maintenance costs. [155]

Sales taxes provide 39% of the Commonwealth's revenue; personal income taxes 34%; motor vehicle taxes about 12%, and taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages 5%. [156] The personal income tax is a flat 3.07%. An individual's taxable income is based on the following eight types of income: compensation (salary); interest; dividends; net profits from the operation of a business, profession or farm; net gains or income from the dispositions of property; net gains or income from rents, royalties, patents and copyrights; income derived through estates or trusts; and gambling and lottery winnings (other than Pennsylvania Lottery winnings). [157]

Counties, municipalities, and school districts levy taxes on real estate. In addition, some local bodies assess a wage tax on personal income. Generally, the total wage tax rate is capped at 1% of income but some municipalities with home rule charters may charge more than 1%. Thirty-two of the Commonwealth's sixty-seven counties levy a personal property tax on stocks, bonds, and similar holdings.

With the exception of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, municipalities and school districts are allowed to enact a local earned income tax within the purview of Act 32. Residents of these municipalities and school districts are required to file a local income tax return in addition to federal and state returns. This local return is filed with the local income tax collector, a private collection agency appointed by a particular county to collect the local earned income and local services tax (the latter a flat fee deducted from salaried employees working within a particular municipality or school district). [158] [159] [160] [161]

The City of Philadelphia has its own local income taxation system. Philadelphia-based employers are required to withhold the Philadelphia wage tax from the salaries of their employees. Residents of Philadelphia working for an employer are not required to file a local return as long as their Philadelphia wage tax is fully withheld by their employer. If their employer does not withhold the Philadelphia wage tax, residents are required to register with the Revenue Department and file an Earnings Tax return. Residents of Philadelphia with self-employment income are required to file a Net Profits Tax (NPT) return, while those with business income from Philadelphia sources are required to obtain a Commercial Activity License (CAL) and pay the Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) and the NPT. Residents with unearned income (except for interest from checking and savings accounts) are required to file and pay the School Income-tax (SIT). [162]

The complexity of Pennsylvania's local tax filing system has been criticized by experts, who note that the outsourcing of collections to private entities is akin to tax farming and that many new residents are caught off guard and end up facing "failure to file" penalties even if they did not owe any tax. Attempts to transfer local income tax collections to the state level (i.e. by having a separate local section on the state income tax return, currently the method used to collect local income taxes in New York, Maryland, Indiana, and Iowa) have been unsuccessful. [163]

Federal representation

Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senators are Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. and Republican Pat Toomey.

Pennsylvania has 18 seats in the United States House of Representatives, as of the 2010 Census. [164]


Pennsylvania has a mixed health record, and is ranked as the 29th-overall-healthiest state according to the 2013 United Health Foundation's Health Rankings. [165]


Pennsylvania has 500 public school districts, thousands of private schools, publicly funded colleges and universities, and over 100 private institutions of higher education.

Primary and secondary education

In general, under state law, school attendance in Pennsylvania is mandatory for a child from the age of 8 until the age of 17, or until graduation from an accredited high school, whichever is earlier. [166] As of 2005, 83.8% of Pennsylvania residents age 18 to 24 have completed high school. Among residents age 25 and over, 86.7% have graduated from high school.

The following are the four-year graduation rates for students completing high school in 2016: [167]

CohortAll StudentsMaleFemaleWhiteHispanicBlackAsianSpecial Education
 % graduating86.0984.1488.1390.4872.8373.2291.2174.06

Additionally, 27.5% have gone on to obtain a bachelor's degree or higher. [168] State students consistently do well in standardized testing. In 2007, Pennsylvania ranked 14th in mathematics, 12th in reading, and 10th in writing for 8th grade students. [169]

In 1988, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 169, which allows parents or guardians to homeschool their children as an option for compulsory school attendance. This law specifies the requirements and responsibilities of the parents and the school district where the family lives. [170]

Higher education

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the Commonwealth, with 14 state-owned schools. West Chester University has by far the largest student body of the 14 universities. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is an organizing body of the four state-related schools in Pennsylvania; these schools (Pennsylvania State University, Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University) are independent institutions that receive some state funding. There are also 15 publicly funded two-year community colleges and technical schools that are separate from the PASSHE system. Additionally, there are many private two- and four-year technical schools, colleges, and universities.

Carnegie Mellon University, The Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh are members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only organization of leading research universities. Lehigh University is a private research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State University is the Commonwealth's land-grant university, Sea Grant College and, Space Grant College. The University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, is considered the first university in the United States and established the country's first medical school. The University of Pennsylvania is also the Commonwealth's only, and geographically most southern, Ivy League school. The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) is a private graduate school of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy with a main campus in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a branch campus located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (with two other campuses outside of Pennsylvania). With over 2,200 enrolled medical students, the College of Osteopathic Medicine at LECOM is the largest medical school in the United States. [171] [172] [173] [174] The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first and oldest art school in the United States. [175] Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was the first pharmacy school in the United States. [176]


Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters in Allentown Dorney Park Steel Force Thunderhawk.jpg
Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters in Allentown

Pennsylvania is home to the nation's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. [177] Other long-accredited AZA zoos include the Erie Zoo and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and ZOOAMERICA are other notable zoos. The Commonwealth boasts some of the finest museums in the country, including the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several others. One unique museum is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world devoted to the legendary magician. [178] Pennsylvania is also home to the National Aviary, located in Pittsburgh.

All 121 state parks in Pennsylvania feature free admission.

Pennsylvania offers a number of notable amusement parks, including Kalahari Resorts Poconos, Camel Beach, Conneaut Lake Park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Dutch Wonderland, DelGrosso's Amusement Park, Hersheypark, Idlewild Park, Kennywood, Knoebels, Lakemont Park, Sandcastle Waterpark, Sesame Place, Great Wolf Lodge and Waldameer Park. Pennsylvania also is home to the largest indoor waterpark resort on the East Coast, Splash Lagoon in Erie.

There are also notable music festivals that take place in Pennsylvania. These include Musikfest and NEARfest in Bethlehem, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Creation Festival, the Great Allentown Fair, and Purple Door.

There are nearly one million licensed hunters in Pennsylvania. Whitetail deer, black bear, cottontail rabbits, squirrel, turkey, and grouse are common game species. Pennsylvania is considered one of the finest wild turkey hunting states in the Union, alongside Texas and Alabama. Sport hunting in Pennsylvania provides a massive boost for the Commonwealth's economy. A report from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (a Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) reported that hunting, fishing, and furtaking generated a total of $9.6 billion statewide.

The Boone and Crockett Club shows that five of the ten largest (skull size) black bear entries came from the state. [179] The state also has a tied record for the largest hunter shot black bear in the Boone & Crockett books at 733 lb (332 kg) and a skull of 23 3/16 tied with a bear shot in California in 1993. [179] The largest bear ever found dead was in Utah in 1975, and the second-largest was shot by a poacher in the state in 1987. [179] Pennsylvania holds the second-highest number of Boone & Crockett-recorded record black bears at 183, second only to Wisconsin's 299. [179]




The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, abbreviated as PennDOT, owns 39,861 miles (64,150 km) of the 121,770 miles (195,970 km) of roadway in the state, making it the fifth-largest state highway system in the United States. [180] The Pennsylvania Turnpike system is 535 miles (861 km) long, with the mainline portion stretching from Ohio to Philadelphia and New Jersey. [180] It is overseen by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Another major east–west route is Interstate 80, which runs primarily in the northern tier of the state from Ohio to New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap. Interstate 90 travels the relatively short distance between Ohio and New York through Erie County, in the extreme northwestern part of the state.

Primary north–south highways are Interstate 79 from its terminus in Erie through Pittsburgh to West Virginia, Interstate 81 from New York through Scranton, Lackawanna County and Harrisburg to Maryland and Interstate 476, which begins 7 miles (11 km) north of the Delaware border, in Chester, Delaware County and travels 132 miles (212 km) to Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, where it joins I-81. All but 20 miles (32 km) of I-476 is the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, while the highway south of the mainline of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is officially called the "Veterans Memorial Highway", but is commonly referred to by locals as the "Blue Route".


The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth-largest transit agency in the United States and operates the commuter, heavy and light rail transit, and transit bus service in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The Port Authority of Allegheny County is the 25th-largest transit agency and provides transit bus and light rail service in and around Pittsburgh. [181]

U.S. Route 220 as it passes through Lamar Township Appalachian Throughway.jpg
U.S. Route 220 as it passes through Lamar Township

Intercity passenger rail transit is provided by Amtrak, with the majority of traffic occurring on the Keystone Service in the high-speed Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station before heading north to New York City, as well as the Northeast Regional providing frequent high-speed service up and down the Northeast Corridor. The Pennsylvanian follows the same route from New York City to Harrisburg, but extends out to Pittsburgh. The Capitol Limited also passes through Pittsburgh, as well as Connellsville, on its way from Chicago to Washington, D.C. [182] Traveling between Chicago and New York City, the Lake Shore Limited passes through Erie once in each direction. [182] There are 67  short-line, freight railroads operating in Pennsylvania, the highest number in any U.S. state. [182]

Bus and coach

Intercity bus service is provided between cities in Pennsylvania and other major points in the Northeast by Bolt Bus, Fullington Trailways, Greyhound Lines, Martz Trailways, Megabus, OurBus, Trans-Bridge Lines, as well as various Chinatown bus companies. In 2018, OurBus began offering service from West Chester, PA Malvern, PA King of Prussia, PA Fort Washington, PA New York, NY.


Pennsylvania has seven major airports: Philadelphia International, Pittsburgh International, Lehigh Valley International, Harrisburg International, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International, Erie International, and University Park Airport. A total of 134 public-use airports are located in the state. [182] The port of Pittsburgh is the second-largest inland port in the United States and the 18th-largest port overall; the Port of Philadelphia is the 24th-largest port in the United States. [183] Pennsylvania's only port on the Great Lakes is located in Erie.


The Allegheny River Lock and Dam Two is the most-used lock operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers of its 255 nationwide. [184] The dam impounds the Allegheny River near Downtown Pittsburgh.



Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park, May 2009.jpg
Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Pennsylvania is home to many major league professional sports teams: the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, and the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. Among them, these teams have accumulated 7  World Series Championships (Pirates 5, Phillies 2), 16 National League Pennants (Pirates 9, Phillies 7), 3 pre-Super Bowl era NFL Championships (Eagles), 7 Super Bowl Championships (Steelers 6, Eagles 1), 2 NBA Championships (76ers), and 7  Stanley Cups (Penguins 5, Flyers 2).

Pennsylvania also has minor league and semi-pro sports teams: the Triple-A baseball Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A East; the Double-A baseball Altoona Curve, Erie SeaWolves, Harrisburg Senators, and Reading Fightin Phils of the Double-A Northeast; the collegiate summer baseball State College Spikes and Williamsport Crosscutters of the MLB Draft League; the independent baseball Lancaster Barnstormers and York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball; the independent baseball Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League; the Erie BayHawks of the NBA G League; the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League; the Reading Royals and of the ECHL; and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. Among them, these teams have accumulated 12 triple and double-A baseball league titles (RailRiders 1, Senators 6, Fightin Phils 4 Curve 1), 3 Arena Bowl Championships (Soul), and 11 Calder Cups (Bears).

The first World Series between the Boston Americans (which became the Boston Red Sox) and Pittsburgh Pirates was played in Pittsburgh in 1903. Since 1959, the Little League World Series is held each summer in South Williamsport, near where Little League Baseball was founded in Williamsport. [185]

Soccer is gaining popularity within the state as well. With the addition of the Philadelphia Union in the MLS, the state now boasts three teams that are eligible to compete for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup annually. The other two teams are Philadelphia Union II and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. However, Penn FC (formally Harrisburg City Islanders) used to be one of these teams before they announced they'd be on hiatus in 2019; although they would be returning for the 2020 season. [186] Both of the United Soccer League (USL). Within the American Soccer Pyramid, the MLS takes the first tier, while the USL-2 claims the third tier.

NASCAR racing at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond Pocono Victory Lane.JPG
NASCAR racing at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond

Arnold Palmer, one of the 20th century's most notable pro golfers, comes from Latrobe, while Jim Furyk, a current PGA member, grew up near in Lancaster. PGA tournaments in Pennsylvania include the 84 Lumber Classic, played at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in Farmington and the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, played at Glenmaura National Golf Club, in Moosic.

Philadelphia is home to LOVE Park, once a popular spot for skateboarding, and across from City Hall, host to ESPN's X Games in 2001 and 2002. [187]


In motorsports, the Mario Andretti dynasty of race drivers hails from Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley. Notable racetracks in Pennsylvania include the Jennerstown Speedway in Jennerstown, the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, the Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, the Motordrome Speedway (closed) in Smithton, the Mountain Speedway in St. Johns, the Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth (closed); the Lernerville Speedway in Sarver and the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, which is home to two NASCAR Cup Series races and an IndyCar Series race. The state is also home to Maple Grove Raceway, near Reading, which hosts major National Hot Rod Association sanctioned drag racing events each year.

There are also two motocross race tracks that host a round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championships in Pennsylvania. High Point Raceway is located in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, and Steel City is located in Delmont, Pennsylvania.

Horse racing courses in Pennsylvania consist of The Meadows near Pittsburgh, Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, and Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester, which offer harness racing, and Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) in Bensalem, and Presque Isle Downs near Erie, which offer thoroughbred racing. Smarty Jones, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, had Philadelphia Park as his home course.

College sports

College football is popular in Pennsylvania.[ citation needed ] There are three colleges in Pennsylvania that play at the highest level of collegiate football competition, the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Two play in Power Five conferences, the Penn State University Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Temple University Owls play in the American Athletic Conference. Penn State claims two national championships (1982 & 1986) as well as seven undefeated seasons (1887, 1912, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994). Penn State plays its home games in the second-largest stadium in the United States, Beaver Stadium, which seats 106,572, and is currently led by head coach James Franklin. The University of Pittsburgh Panthers claims nine national championships (1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937 and 1976) and has played eight undefeated seasons (1904, 1910, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1937 and 1976). [188] Pitt plays its home games at Heinz Field, a facility it shares with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is led by current head football coach Pat Narduzzi. Other Pennsylvania schools that have won national titles in football include Lafayette College (1896), Villanova University (FCS 2009), the University of Pennsylvania (1895, 1897, 1904 and 1908) [189] and Washington and Jefferson College (1921).

College basketball is also popular in the state, especially in the Philadelphia area where five universities, collectively termed the Big Five, have a rich tradition in NCAA Division I basketball. National titles in college basketball have been won by La Salle University (1954), Temple University (1938), University of Pennsylvania (1920 and 1921), University of Pittsburgh (1928 and 1930), and Villanova University (1985, 2016, and 2018). [190] [191]


Hershey Chocolate Factory Hershey Pennsylvania 1976.jpg
Hershey Chocolate Factory

Author Sharon Hernes Silverman calls Pennsylvania the snack food capital of the world. [192] It leads all other states in the manufacture of pretzels and potato chips. The Sturgis Pretzel House introduced the pretzel to America, and companies like Anderson Bakery Company, Intercourse Pretzel Factory, and Snyder's of Hanover are leading manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Two of the three companies that define the U.S. potato chip industry are based in Pennsylvania: Utz Quality Foods, which started making chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania, in 1921 and Wise Foods, which started making chips in Berwick also in 1921. The third, Frito-Lay is part of PepsiCo, and is based in Plano, Texas. Other companies such as Herr's Snacks, Martin's Potato Chips, Snyder's of Berlin (not associated with Snyder's of Hanover) and Troyer Farms Potato Products are popular chip manufacturers.

The U.S. chocolate industry is centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with Mars, Godiva, and Wilbur Chocolate Company nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher's [193] in Souderton, [194] and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates of Dunmore. Other notable companies include Just Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, makers of Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, the Easter favorite marshmallow Peeps, and Boyer Brothers of Altoona, Pennsylvania, which is well known for its Mallo Cups. Auntie Anne's Pretzels began as a market-stand in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and now has corporate headquarters in Lancaster City. [195] Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods include chicken potpie, ham potpie, schnitz un knepp (dried apples, ham, and dumplings), fasnachts (raised doughnuts), scrapple, pretzels, bologna, chow-chow, and Shoofly pie. Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., headquartered in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, specializes in potato bread, another traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food. D.G. Yuengling & Son, America's oldest brewery, has been brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829.

Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, Italian water ice, Irish potato candy, scrapple, Tastykake, and strombolis. In Pittsburgh, tomato ketchup was improved by Henry John Heinz from 1876 to the early 20th century. Famous to a lesser extent than Heinz ketchup is the Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers Restaurant sandwiches, pierogies, and city chicken. Outside of Scranton, in Old Forge there are dozens of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza made unique by thick, light crust and American cheese. Erie also has its share of unique foods, including Greek sauce and sponge candy. Sauerkraut along with pork and mashed potatoes is a common meal on New Year's Day in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania has been known as the Keystone State since 1802, [196] based in part upon its central location among the original Thirteen Colonies forming the United States, and also in part because of the number of important American documents signed in the state (such as the Declaration of Independence). It was also a keystone state economically, having both the industry common to the North (making such wares as Conestoga wagons and rifles) [197] [198] and the agriculture common to the South (producing feed, fiber, food, and tobacco). [199]

Another one of Pennsylvania's nicknames is the Quaker State; in colonial times, it was known officially as the Quaker Province , [200] in recognition of Quaker [201] William Penn's First Frame of Government [202] constitution for Pennsylvania that guaranteed liberty of conscience. He knew of the hostility [203] Quakers faced when they opposed religious ritual, taking oaths, violence, war and military service, and what they viewed as ostentatious frippery. [204]

"The Coal State", "The Oil State", "The Chocolate State", and "The Steel State" were adopted when those were the state's greatest industries. [205]

"The State of Independence" currently appears on many road signs entering the state.

Notable people

Sister regions

See also

Related Research Articles

Delaware State of the United States

Delaware is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes its name from the nearby Delaware River named after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most-populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the state of Pennsylvania, with a 2020 population of 1,603,797. It is also the second-most populous city in the Northeastern United States, behind New York City. Since 1854, the city has had the same geographic boundaries as Philadelphia County, the most-populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural center of the greater Delaware Valley along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill rivers within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's 2019 estimated population of 7.21 million makes it the ninth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania County of Pennsylvania, United States

Montgomery County is the third-most populous county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the 73rd-most populous in the United States. As of the 2020 census, the population of the county was 856,553, representing a 7.1% increase from the 799,884 residents enumerated in the 2010 census. Montgomery County is located adjacent to and northwest of Philadelphia. The county seat and largest city is Norristown. Montgomery County is geographically diverse, ranging from farms and open land in the extreme north of the county to densely populated suburban neighborhoods in the southern and central portions of the county.

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Delaware County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

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Web sources


Preceded by List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Ratified Constitution on December 12, 1787 (2nd)
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 40°52′41″N77°47′59″W / 40.8781°N 77.7996°W / 40.8781; -77.7996 (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)