Means “Penn’s woods.” from Quaker William Penn

Nickname: Keystone State

State bird: Ruffed Grouse

State flower: Mountain Laurel

Capital: Harrisburg

Time: Eastern (GMT – 5)


Pennsylvania is a region steeped in colourful history. It started out as the ‘Holy Experiment’ of Quaker activist William Penn, Jr. Granted a charter by King Charles II to develop a colony in the New World, Penn selected a lush wooded portion of the countryside, where he vowed to welcome anyone who believed in God. Less than a century later, the country’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia – now one of the largest cities in the USA – and the American nation was born.

A revolution of a very different nature soon followed – the Industrial Revolution. Rich in iron ore, coal and crude oil, Pennsylvania had all the necessary ingredients for a booming steel and iron industry. ‘Hell with the lid off’ was Charles Dickens’ description of Pittsburgh when he visited a city so polluted that street lamps had to be kept on during the day to improve visibility. Today, Pittsburgh is known as a ‘Renaissance city’; what remains of that area is a wealth of cultural and historical landmarks, and the visitor can breathe freely in bright urban landscapes, bustling city sophistication and a great outdoors.

Pennsylvania boasts 20 State and one National Forest, 116 State Parks, one Great Lake (Lake Erie), 50 other natural lakes, 2500 man-made lakes, along with thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

The state is also something of a cultural mecca, with many world-class museums, while its citizens represent a rich mix of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.