/ (listen) PEN-səl-VAY-nee-ə
) (Pennsylvania German
), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
, is a state
in the Mid-Atlantic
, 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.
Interactive map of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is 170 miles (274 km) north to south and 283 miles (455 km) east to west.
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.
It is the 33rd-largest state
in the United States
Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km)
of coastline along Lake Erie
and 57 miles (92 km)
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
in the southeast, Pittsburgh
in the southwest, the tri-cities of Allentown
, and Easton
in the central east (known as the Lehigh Valley
). The northeast
includes the former anthracite coal mining cities of Scranton
, and Hazleton
is located in the northwest. State College
serves the central region while Williamsport
serves the commonwealth's north-central region as does Chambersburg
the south-central region, with York
, and the state capital Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River
in the east-central region of the Commonwealth and Altoona
in the west-central region.
Adjacent states and province
Köppen climate types of Pennsylvania
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.
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)
and the presumably Siouan Monongahela Culture
, who may have been the same as a little known tribe called the Calicua, or Cali.
Other tribes who entered the region during the colonial era were the Trockwae
Tutelo, Saponi, Shawnee, Nanticoke, Conoy Piscataway, Iroquois Confederacy—likely among others.
Other tribes, like the Erie
, may have once held land in Pennsylvania, but no longer did so by the year 1600.
Both the Dutch
and the English
claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America.
The Dutch were the first to take possession.
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
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.
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.
This conquest continued, and was completed in October 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir
in what today is New Castle, Delaware
The Peace of Breda
between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the English conquest on July 21, 1667,
although there were temporary reversions.
On September 12, 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War
, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony
, 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.
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.
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.
Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.
On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter
to William Penn
to repay a debt of £16,000
(around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation)
owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn
. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history.
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 Latinsilva
: "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.
Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission
and freedom of religious conviction
A map of Pennsylvania divided into counties, townships, and lots
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.
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.
Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty
of William Penn was never violated.
Main articles: French and Indian War
, Treaty of Paris (1763)
, Indian Reserve (1763)
, Pennsylvania in the American Revolution
, First Continental Congress
, American Revolutionary War
, Second Continental Congress
, Lee Resolution
, United States Declaration of Independence
, Philadelphia campaign
, Articles of Confederation § Ratification
, Treaty of Paris (1783)
, Constitutional Convention (United States)
, Admission to the Union
, and List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
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
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."
The ensuing hostilities became known as Pontiac's War
When the Founding Fathers of the United States
convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress
, which also met in Philadelphia (in May 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence
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
into a new union. Later, the Constitution
was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Union.
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.
Pennsylvania became the first large state, and the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution
on December 12, 1787,
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.
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.
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
and finally in 1812 to Harrisburg
The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County
Court House until December 1821,
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.
The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue
Flag of the Commonwealth 1863
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.
The new state Capitol
drew rave reviews.
Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica
in Rome and the United States Capitol.
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".
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.
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. (June 2016)
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
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.
Within the first half of 2003, the annual Tekko
commences in Pittsburgh.
As of 2019, Pennsylvania has an estimated population of 12,801,989, which is a decrease of 5,071 from the previous year and an increase of 99,610 since the year 2010. 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.
Place of origin
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.
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:
Pennsylvania Racial Breakdown of Population
As of 2011, 32.1% of Pennsylvania's population younger than age 1 were minorities.
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.
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.
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.
Most of the remaining Hispanic population is made up of Mexicans
. 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.
The Hispanic population is greatest in Bethlehem
, 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
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
, 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.
State population from 1790 to 2000
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.
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.
Population Aged 65 and Older: Top 10 States
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
Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic
origin have not been collected, but included in one Hispanic
group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in Pennsylvania
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.
Pennsylvania German language
family riding in a traditional Amish buggy
Of all the colonies, only Rhode Island
had religious freedom as secure as in Pennsylvania. 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."
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.
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.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.
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
was 232,631, about two percent of the population.
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.
As of 2014, the religious affiliations of the people of Pennsylvania are:
According to a 2016 Gallup
poll, 38% of Pennsylvanians are very religious, 29% are moderately religious, and 34% are non-religious.
Pennsylvania's 2018 total gross state product
(GSP) of $803 billion ranks the state 6th in the nation.
If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 19th-largest in the world.
On a per-capita basis, Pennsylvania's 2016 per-capita GSP of $50,665 (in chained 2009 dollars) ranks 22nd among the fifty states.
Geo map of average income by location in Pennsylvania. Data shown is from the 2014 American Community Survey five-year estimate.
Total employment 2016
Total employer establishments
As of May 2020, the state's unemployment rate is 13.1%.
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
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.
The financial impact of agriculture in Pennsylvania
includes employment of more than 66,800 people employed by the food manufacturing
industry; and over $1.7 billion in food product export
Casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004. Currently, there are nine casinos across the state with three under construction or in planning. 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.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania has had five constitutions
during its statehood:
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.
The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg
. The legislature meets in the State Capitol there.
Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts,
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.
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.
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
The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected; the chief justice
is determined by seniority.
State law enforcement
There are a total of 56 cities in Pennsylvania, which are classified, by population, as either first-, second-, or third-class cities.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, has a population of 1,526,006 and is the state's only first-class city. Pittsburgh
(305,704) and Scranton
(76,089) are second-class and second-class 'A' cities, respectively.
The rest of the cities, like the third and fourth-largest—Allentown
(120,443) and Erie
(98,593)—to the smallest—Parker
with a population of only 820—are third-class cities.
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
Boroughs are generally smaller than cities, with most Pennsylvania cities having been incorporated as a borough before being incorporated as a city.
There are 958 boroughs in Pennsylvania, all of which are governed by the "weak mayor" form of mayor-council government.
The largest borough in Pennsylvania is State College
(41,992) 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.
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.
Pennsylvania's largest township is Upper Darby Township
(82,629), 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.
In 1975, McCandless Township
adopted a home-rule charter under the name of "Town of McCandless", but is, legally, still a first-class township.
The total of 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 93 first-class townships, 1,454 second-class townships, and one town (Bloomsburg) is 2,562 municipalities.
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 (50%) to 2,793,847 (48%). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama
defeated Republican John McCain
in Pennsylvania, 3,184,778 (54%) to 2,584,088 (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.
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 (48%). The state holds 20 electoral
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 himself that an incumbent governor had been defeated for reelection.
Voter Registration Totals as of November 5, 2019
Historically, Democratic strength was concentrated in Philadelphia in the southeast, the Pittsburgh and Johnstown
areas in the southwest, and Scranton
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
, 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
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.
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.
provide 39% of the Commonwealth's revenue; personal income taxes
34%; motor vehicle taxes about 12%, and taxes on cigarettes
and alcoholic beverages 5%.
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
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).
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).
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
, and Iowa
) have been unsuccessful.
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.
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.
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:
Additionally, 27.5% have gone on to obtain a bachelor's degree or higher.
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.
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.
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.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
is the first and oldest art school
in the United States. Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
, was the first pharmacy school
in the United States.
All 121 state parks
in Pennsylvania feature free admission.
Pennsylvania offers a number of notable amusement parks, including Camel Beach
, Conneaut Lake Park
, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
, Dutch Wonderland
, DelGrosso's Amusement Park
, Idlewild Park
, 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
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.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania holds the second-highest number of Boone & Crockett-recorded record black bears at 183, second only to Wisconsin
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.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike
system is 535 miles (861 km) long, with the mainline portion stretching from Ohio to Philadelphia and New Jersey.
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".
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
, 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.
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (September 2017)
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 International League
; the Double-A
baseball Altoona Curve
, Erie SeaWolves
, Harrisburg Senators
, and Reading Fightin Phils
of the Eastern League
; the Class A-Short Season
baseball State College Spikes
and Williamsport Crosscutters
of the New York–Penn 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
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.
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.
, 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
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.
College football is popular in Pennsylvania.
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 UniversityNittany Lions
of the Big Ten Conference
and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers
of the Atlantic Coast Conference
, while the Temple UniversityOwls
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).
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)
and Washington and Jefferson College (1921).
Author Sharon Hernes Silverman calls Pennsylvania the snack food capital of the world.
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
, and Wilbur Chocolate Company
nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher's
and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
. 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.
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
Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks
, hoagie, soft pretzels
, Italian water ice
, Irish potato candy
, 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
, 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
along with pork and mashed potatoes is a common meal on New Year's Day in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has been known as the KeystoneState
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 the agriculture common to the South
(producing feed, fiber, food, and tobacco).
"The Coal State
", "The Oil State
", "The Chocolate State
", and "The Steel State
" were adopted when those were the state's greatest industries.
"The State of Independence" currently appears on many road signs entering the state.
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