TIn the 2000 census, Pennsylvania ranked sixth in the nation after California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois with a population of 12,448,279. This represented a population increase of 3.4 percent from 1990. The state had a population density of 107 persons per sq km (278 per sq mi) in 2006.
When William Penn established his colony as a refuge for Quakers, he promised complete religious freedom to other oppressed minorities. As a result, the colony’s English Quakers were soon joined by such diverse groups as German Mennonites, French Huguenots, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Ever since, Pennsylvania has been home to an exceptional variety of nationalities and religions.
During the early decades of the 19th century the increase of factories and mines in the state attracted large numbers of immigrants from the British Isles and northern Europe. They were followed later in the century by equally large numbers of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. During the 20th century, many blacks from the South migrated to Pennsylvania.
According to the 2000 census, whites constitute 85.4 percent of the state’s population, blacks 10 percent, Asians 1.8 percent, and Native Americans 0.1 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 3,417. People of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 2.7 percent of all inhabitants. Hispanics, who may be of any race, made up 3.2 percent of the population.
In 2000, 77 percent of Pennsylvania’s population lived in urban areas. More than three-fifths of all Pennsylvanians lived in the metropolitan areas of the state’s two largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Philadelphia has been Pennsylvania’s leading city since it was founded three centuries ago. With a population of 1,448,394 (2006), it ranked fifth after New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. Its metropolitan area, which had a population of 6,188,500 in 2000, sprawls over a large area of southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Recent renewal in Philadelphia has done much to restore that city’s historic grandeur. In addition to its importance as a seaport, commercial hub, and manufacturing center, Philadelphia is noted for its outstanding cultural and educational facilities. It has several colleges and universities, a renowned symphony orchestra, and numerous art galleries, museums, and historic sites.
Pittsburgh had a population of 312,819 (2006), and its metropolitan area was home to 2,370,800 people. Urban development stretches from the city out across the region’s river valleys and over adjacent hills. An urban redevelopment program, including strict smoke-control measures, transformed the city’s central business district in the second half of the 20th century. Besides its history as a center of iron and steel manufacturing and other industries, the city is notable today for its health care, higher education, and scientific research. Pennsylvania’s other large cities, according to 2006 population figures, are Allentown (107,294), Erie (102,036), Reading (81,183), Scranton (72,861), Bethlehem (72,704), Lancaster (54,779), Altoona (46,954), and Harrisburg (47,164). "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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