Virginia General Information

Virginia

 

Abbreviation: VA

Population: 8,260,405

Land Area: 39,594
(sq. mi.)

Virginia (Listeni/vərˈɪnjə/), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state located in the South Atlantic region of the United States. Virginia is nicknamed the “Old Dominion” and the “Mother of Presidents” after the eight U.S. presidents born there. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, though Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth’s estimated population is 8,260,405 as of 2013.[2]

The area’s history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony’s early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution and joined the Confederacy in the American Civil War, during which Richmond was made the Confederate capital and Virginia’s northwestern counties seceded to form the state of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under single-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.[5]

The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World.[6] The state government has been repeatedly ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States.[7] It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia’s economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the Department of Defense and CIA; and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region’s main seaport. Virginia’s public schools and many colleges and universities have contributed to growing media and technology sectors. As a result, computer chips have become the state’s leading export.[8]

 

Vermont General Information

Vermont

 

Abbreviation: VT

Population: 626,630

Land Area: 9,250
(sq. mi.)

Vermont (Listeni/vɜrˈmɒnt/,[5] [vɚːˈmɑːn(ʔ)] or [vɚˈmɑ̃(ʔ)][6]) is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Vermont is the 6th least extensive and the 2nd least populous of the 50 United States. It is the only New England state not bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont’s western border, which it shares with the state of New York. The Green Mountains are within the state. Vermont is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the province of Quebec to the north.

Originally inhabited by two major Native American tribes (the Algonquian-speaking Abenaki and the Iroquois), much of the territory that is now Vermont was claimed by France during its early colonial period. France ceded the territory to the Kingdom of Great Britain after being defeated in 1763 in the Seven Years’ War (in the United States locally referred to as the French and Indian War). For many years, the nearby colonies, especially New Hampshire and New York, disputed control of the area (then called the New Hampshire Grants).

Settlers who held land titles granted by these colonies were opposed by the Green Mountain Boys militia, which eventually prevailed in creating an independent state, the Vermont Republic. Founded in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, the republic lasted for fourteen years. Aside from the Thirteen Colonies, Vermont is one of only four U.S. states (along with Texas, Hawaii, and California) to have been a sovereign state in its past. In 1791, Vermont joined the United States as the 14th state, the first in addition to the original 13 Colonies. It abolished slavery while still independent, and upon joining the Union became the first state to have done so.

Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States.[7] The state capital is Montpelier, which has a population of 7,855 and is the least populous state capital in the country.[8] Vermont’s most populous city is Burlington, with a 2010 population of 42,417,[9] which makes it the least populous city in the United States to be the largest city within a state. Burlington’s metropolitan area has a population of 211,261.[10]

 

Utah General Information

Utah

 

Abbreviation: UT

Population: 2,900,872

Land Area: 82,144
(sq. mi.)

Utah (/ˈjuːtɔː/ or Listeni/ˈjuːtɑː/; Arapaho: Wo’tééneihí [7]) is a state in the United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest, the 33rd-most populous, and the 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of about 2.9 million, approximately 80% of whom live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City, leaving vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited.[8] Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Utah is the most religiously homogeneous state in the Union. Approximately 62% of Utahns are reported to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS (Mormons), which greatly influences Utah culture and daily life.[9] The world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is located in Utah’s state capital, Salt Lake City.[10][11]

The state is a center of transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. According to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, Utah is the second fastest-growing state in the United States as of 2013.[12] St. George was the fastest–growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005.[13] A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the “best state to live in” based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.[14]

 

Texas General Information

Texas

 

Abbreviation: TX

Population: 26,448,193

Land Area: 261,797
(sq. mi.)

 

Texas is the second most populous (after California) and the second-largest of the 50 states (after Alaska) in the United States of America, and the largest state in the 48 contiguous United States. Geographically located in the South Central part of the country, Texas shares an international border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and borders the U.S. states of New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east. Texas has an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2) and a growing population of over 26.4 million residents (July 2013) [8]

Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while San Antonio is the second largest in the state and seventh largest in the United States. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest United States metropolitan areas, respectively. Other major cities include El Paso and Austin—the state capital. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as a former independent republic and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal today.[9] The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language.[10]

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the American South and Southwest.[11] Although Texas is popularly associated with the Southwestern deserts, less than 10 percent of the land area is desert.[12] Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.

The term “six flags over Texas“, as can be seen in the Grand Prairie-based large national and international amusement park operator Six Flags, came from the several nations that had ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony in Texas. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state, Texas declared its secession from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. After the war and its restoration to the Union, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

One Texas industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57.[13] With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the nation in export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highest gross state product.

Tennessee General Information

Tennessee

 

Abbreviation: TN

Population: 6,495,978

Land Area: 41,217
(sq. mi.)

Tennessee (Listeni/tɛnɨˈs/) (Cherokee: ᏔᎾᏏ) is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. Tennessee is the 36th most extensive and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state’s western border. Tennessee’s capital and second largest city is Nashville, which has a population of 624,496. Memphis is the state’s largest city, with a population of 655,155.[4]

The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians.[5] What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 and the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.[6]

Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state, and more soldiers for the Union Army than any other Southern state.[6] In the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from an agrarian economy to a more diversified economy, aided at times by federal entities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. In the early 1940s, the city of Oak Ridge was established to house the Manhattan Project‘s uranium enrichment facilities, helping to build the world’s first atomic bomb.

Tennessee has played a critical role in the development of many forms of American popular music, including rock and roll, blues, country, and rockabilly. Beale Street in Memphis is considered by many to be the birthplace of the blues, with musicians such as W.C. Handy performing in its clubs as early as 1909.[7] Memphis was also home to Sun Records, where musicians such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Charlie Rich began their recording careers, and where rock and roll took shape in the 1950s.[8] The 1927 Victor recording sessions in Bristol generally mark the beginning of the country music genre and the rise of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930s helped make Nashville the center of the country music recording industry.[9][10] Three brick-and-mortar museums recognize Tennessee’s role in nurturing various forms of popular music: the Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, and the International Rock-A-Billy Museum in Jackson. In addition, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, an online site recognizing the development of rockabilly in which Tennessee played a crucial role, is based in Nashville.

Tennessee’s major industries include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Poultry, soybeans, and cattle are the state’s primary agricultural products,[11] and major manufacturing exports include chemicals, transportation equipment, and electrical equipment.[12] The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border.[13] Other major tourist attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, the Sunsphere in Knoxville, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and Elvis Presley’s Graceland residence and tomb in Memphis.

 

South Dakota General Information

South Dakota

 

Abbreviation: SD

Population: 844,877

Land Area: 75,885
(sq. mi.)

South Dakota Listeni/ˌsθ dəˈktə/ is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. South Dakota is the 17th most extensive, but the 5th least populous and the 5th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Once the southern portion of the Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of about 159,000, is South Dakota’s largest city.

South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halfs, known to residents as “East River” and “West River“.[7] Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state’s population, and fertile soil in this area is used to grow a variety of crops. West of the Missouri, ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on tourism and defense spending. The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains, are located in the southwest part of the state. The Black Hills are sacred to the Sioux. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is located there. Other attractions in the southwest include Badlands and Wind Cave national parks, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and historic Deadwood. South Dakota experiences a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west. The ecology of the state features species typical of a North American grassland biome.

Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Encroaching miners and settlers caused conflict that triggered a number of Indian wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Key events in the 20th century included the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, increased federal spending during the 1940s and 50s for agriculture and defense, and an industrialization of agriculture which has much reduced family farming.

While several Democratic senators have represented South Dakota for multiple terms at the federal level, the state government is largely dominated by the Republican Party, whose nominees have carried South Dakota in each of the most recent 12 presidential elections. Historically dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently sought to diversify its economy in areas, including biomedical research and alternative energy fuels, to attract and retain residents. South Dakota’s history and rural character still strongly influence the culture of the state.

 

South Carolina General Information

South Carolina

 

Abbreviation: SC

Population: 4,774,839

Land Area: 30,109
(sq. mi.)

South Carolina Listeni/ˌsθ kærəˈlnə/ is a state in the Southeastern United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina; to the south and west by Georgia, located across the Savannah River; and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was the first of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British Crown during the American Revolution.

South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, and the 8th state to ratify the US Constitution on May 23, 1788. South Carolina later became the first state to vote to secede from the Union which it did on December 20, 1860. It was readmitted to the United States on June 25, 1868.[note 1]

South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and the 24th most populous of the 50 United States. South Carolina comprises 46 counties. The capital and largest city of the state is Columbia, while the largest MSA is Greenville.

 

Rhode Island General Information

Rhode Island

 

Abbreviation: RI

Population: 1,051,511

Land Area: 1,045
(sq. mi.)

 

Rhode Island (Listeni/ˌrd ˈlɨnd/ or /rɵˈdlɨnd/), officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,[6] is a state in the New England region of the United States. Rhode Island is the smallest in area, the eighth least populous, but the second most densely populated of the 50 US states behind New Jersey. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west and Massachusetts to the north and east, and it shares a water boundary with New York’s Long Island to the southwest.

Rhode Island was the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule, declaring itself independent on May 4, 1776, two months before any other colony. The State was also the last of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution.[7][8]

Rhode Island’s official nickname is “The Ocean State”, a reference to the State’s geography, since Rhode Island has several large bays and inlets that amount to about 14% of its total area. Its land area is 1,045 square miles (2,710 km2), but its total area is significantly larger.

Pennsylvania General Information

Pennsylvania

 

Abbreviation: PA

Population: 12,773,801

Land Area: 44,817
(sq. mi.)

 

Pennsylvania Listeni/ˌpɛnsɨlˈvnjə/, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, and the Great Lakes region. The state borders Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and Ontario, Canada to the northwest, New York to the north and New Jersey to the east. The Appalachian Mountains run through the middle of the state.

Pennsylvania is the 33rd most extensive, the 6th most populous, and the 9th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state’s four most populous cities are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie. The state capital is Harrisburg. Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km)[5] of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary. The state is one of the 13 original founding states of the U.S.

Oregon General Information

Oregon

 

Abbreviation: OR

Population: 3,930,065

Land Area: 95,997
(sq. mi.)

 

Oregon (Listeni/ˈɒrɨɡən/ ORR-ə-gən)[7] is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon’s northern and eastern boundaries, respectively. The area was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before the arrival of traders, explorers, and settlers who formed an autonomous government in Oregon Country in 1843. The Oregon Territory was created in 1848, and Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.

Oregon is the 9th most expansive and the 27th most populous of the 50 United States. Salem is the state’s capital and third-most-populous city; Portland is the most populous. Portland is the 28th largest U.S. city, with a population of 603,106 (2012 estimate) and a metro population of 2,262,605 (2011 estimate), the 23rd largest U.S. metro area. The valley of the Willamette River in western Oregon is the state’s most densely populated area and is home to eight of the 10 most populous cities.

Oregon contains a diverse landscape including the windswept Pacific coastline, the volcanoes of the rugged and glaciated Cascade Mountain Range, many waterfalls (including Multnomah Falls), dense evergreen forests, mixed forests and deciduous forests at lower elevations, and high desert across much of the eastern portion of the state, extending into the Great Basin. The tall Douglas firs and redwoods along the rainy Western Oregon coast contrast with the lower density and fire-prone pine tree and juniper forests covering portions of the eastern half of the state. Alder trees are common in the west and fix nitrogen for the conifers; aspen groves are common in eastern Oregon. Stretching east from Central Oregon, the state also includes semi-arid shrublands, prairies, deserts, steppes, and meadows. Mount Hood is the highest point in the state at 11,249 feet (3,429 m). Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon.