What Is the Capital of West Virginia?

The State Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia.

The capital of the US state of West Virginia (WV) is Charleston. It is the most populated city in the state, with a population size of approximately 51,400 and a metropolitan population size of 224,743. This makes Charleston the smallest capital city in the country that is the most populated city in the state.

Charleston is home to a number of cultural events including free outdoor summer concerts, the Spartan Race, which is one of the world's most difficult obstacle races, minor-league baseball and basketball teams, and Mountain Stage, a 2-hour, live music show broadcast around the world via National Public Radio. The city serves as the cultural, economic, and government center for West Virginia.

Geography of Charleston

Charleston sits within a valley on the western edge of the Appalachian mountains, which is considered one of the country's oldest mountain ranges. The city is located in Kanawha County, near the point at which the Elk and Kanawha rivers meet. This area makes up part of the Western Allegheny Plateau ecoregion, a temperate broadleaf and mixed forest biome. This location places Charleston between 2 climates: the humid subtropical climate and the humid continental climate. These climates mean that the city experiences four distinct seasons every year, with higher-than-average temperatures compared to other cities in the state.

History of Charleston

This city was established in 1787, when the area was still part of the state of Virginia. It first served as a permanent military settlement known as Fort Lee until 1793, when the Virginia General Assembly granted it official city status. At the time, it had population of 35.

Charleston began to grow economically after the discovery and development of salt brines along the Kanawha river in 1806. Salt mine operations led to the discovery of natural gas in 1815. This discovery, in turn, led to the discovery of coal deposits in 1817, which has been one of the primary economic contributors to the area for the last 200 years.

During the American Civil War, the state of Virginia joined the Confederate cause and seceded from the Union. Charleston, however, was occupied by Union forces. By 1863, the western region of Virginia became the state of West Virginia, and Charleston was named the capital. Its manufacturing industry continued to grow and progress in large part because of the rich natural resources of the area. Some of the most important industries of the time included timber, coal, natural gas, glass, chemicals, and steel.

Demographics of Charleston

The population of Charleston is approximately 51,400. This population size means the residents live with a population density of just over 1,630 individuals and 831.4 housing units per square mile.

The racial makeup of these individuals is as follows: White (78.4%), African-American (15.5%), Asian (2.3%), and Native American (0.2%). Of these races, about 1.4% of the population identify to be of Latino or Hispanic descent. Nearly half (46.3%) of all households in Charleston are made up of non-family residents, which suggests that many people live with friends or roommates. The average household size is 2.11 and slightly more than one-third (35.6%) of all households consist of married couples.


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