Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania

All the Information You Need to Know About the Keystone State

Fall foliage in Pennsylvania

Deb Snelson / Getty Images

Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our nation, was settled in 1643. It is a state full of rolling hills, lush forests and millions of acres of farmland. Home to the major metropolitan cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as well as the state capital of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania still has many counties which are decidedly rural and pristine, including two areas, Forest County, and Perry County, that do not have traffic lights.

Several of our country's most important documents were written in Pennsylvania including the Constitution of the United States, the American Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Pennsylvania leads the nation in rural population, the number of licensed hunters, State Game Lands, covered bridges, meatpacking plants, mushroom production, potato chip production, pretzel bakeries, and sausage/scrapple production.

Pennsylvania State Facts

  • Nickname: Keystone State
    • During colonial times Pennsylvania was the middle colony of the original 13 colonies (there are six states above it and six states below it). It held the colonies together like the "keystone" in a window or door arch.
  • Origin of the Name Pennsylvania: Penn's Woods
    • Named after the father of Admiral William Penn.
  • Motto: Virtue, Liberty and Independence
  • Entered the Union: December 12, 1787
  • State Animal: Whitetail Deer
    • Enacted by the General Assembly on October 2, 1959
  • State Beverage: Milk
    • Enacted by the General Assembly on April 29, 1982
  • State Bird: Ruffed Grouse
    • The Pennsylvania ruffled grouse, sometimes called the partridge, was declared the state bird by the PA General Assembly on June 22, 1931.
  • State Dog: Great Dane
    • Enacted by the General Assembly on August 15, 1965
  • State Fish: Brook Trout
  • State Flower: Mountain Laurel
  • State Fossil: Phacops Rana
    • A small water animal - enacted by the PA General Assembly on December 5, 1988
  • State Insect: Firefly
  • State Ship: United States Brig Niagara
    • The restored Niagra serves as the Flagship of Pennsylvania, as enacted by the General Assembly on May 26, 1988. It was the flagship of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and was decisive in defeating a British squadron at the Battle of Lake Erie, on September 10, 1813. Its home port is Erie.
  • State Song: Pennsylvania
  • State Tree: Hemlock
    • Enacted by the General Assembly on June 23, 1931
  • Christmas Tree Capital of the World: Indiana County

Geographical Information

  • Area: 45,888 square miles
  • Rank: 32nd in nation
  • Width: 310 miles (east to west) 180 miles (N to S)
  • Geographic Center: Centre County, home of Penn State University
  • Highest Point: Mt. Davis, Somerset County 3,213 feet
  • Lowest Point: Delaware River
  • Capital: Harrisburg in Dauphin County
  • Number of Counties: 67
  • Largest County: Lycoming County is larger than the State of Rhode Island. Bradford County is second in size.
  • Population: 12,009,000
  • Lakes: 50 natural lakes (over 20 acres wide) and 2,500 man-made lakes
  • Rivers and streams: 45,000 miles
  • State Parks: 116 Acreage: 282,500
  • State Forest Districts: 20 Acreage: 2,200,000
  • State Game Lands: 294 Acreage: 1,379,002
  • Bordering States: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio.
  • Largest Cities: Philadelphia (1,436,287), Pittsburgh (340,520), Erie (102,640), Allentown (100,757), Reading (74,762), Scranton (74,683), Lancaster (52,951), Bethlehem (51,053), Harrisburg (49,502), Altoona (49,226)

Government Information

  • State Representatives: 203
  • State Senators: 50
  • U.S Representatives: 21
  • U.S. Senators: 2

Notable Pennsylvania "Firsts"

  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Zoos
  • Newspapers
  • 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
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