How Big Is Pennsylvania? See Its Size in Miles, Acres, and How It Compares to Other States

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: August 16, 2023
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Pennsylvania is located in the northeast United States. Here’s a look at how the total area of Pennsylvania breaks down into square miles and other measurements, along with how the size of the Keystone State compares with other U.S. states.

Length and Width of Pennsylvania

The state has somewhat of a rectangular shape. It measures roughly 283 miles from west to east. That is slightly further than the distance from New Haven, Connecticut, to Washington, DC, as the crow flies.

Pennsylvania measures approximately 170 miles from north to south. That is roughly the same distance from Detroit, Michigan, to Columbus, Ohio.

Pennsylvania location map

Pennsylvania is largely rectangular, with a width that is 113 miles greater than its north-to-south measurement.

©National Atlas of the United States, Niagara / Public domain – License

Square Miles and Kilometers

Pennsylvania’s total area covers 46,054 square miles or just over 119,279 square kilometers.

Of the state’s total area, around 97% of it is land. About two percent of Pennsylvania’s area is found in the waters of Lake Erie and just over one percent comprises inland lakes and waterways.


The Keystone State covers 29,474,560 acres. One acre is equivalent to 43,560 square feet. That is a bit smaller than a football field (excluding the end zones). 

Comparisons with Other States

Pennsylvania ranks 33rd out of the 50 U.S. states in terms of total area. The smallest state in the U.S. is Rhode Island. Pennsylvania is about 40 times larger than Rhode Island.

Rhode Island on United States map

It would take 40 Rhode Islands to cover the land area of Pennsylvania.

©TUBS / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Pennsylvania is roughly the same size as the seven smallest U.S. states combined. From largest to smallest, those states are Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Alaska is the largest state by a wide margin. You could fit 14.5 Pennsylvanias inside of Alaska!

Texas is close to six times the size of Pennsylvania. You would need 3.5 Pennsylvanias to cover the land mass of California.

Other states of comparable size to Pennsylvania include Mississippi (around 2,400 square miles larger) and Ohio (about 1,200 square miles smaller).

Pennsylvania occupies about 1.2 percent of the total land area of the United States. Rhode Island only accounts for 0.04 percent of U.S. land, while 17.48 percent of American land is found in Alaska.

State Borders

Six states border Pennsylvania. New York borders the state to the north and east, New Jersey to the east, Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the south and west, and Ohio to the west. Lake Erie forms an international boundary with Canada in the northwest corner of the state.

Pennsylvania, United States map

Six states border Pennsylvania.

©TUBS / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License


While Pennsylvania comes in 33rd among all U.S. states in terms of land area, it ranks far higher in population. It is the fifth most populous state in the nation, with 12,972,008 residents (2022 estimate). 

The only states with higher populations than Pennsylvania are California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Pennsylvania and Illinois have a very similar population, with Pennsylvania edging ahead of Illinois by only around 390,000 people.

Harrisburg is Pennsylvania’s capital. The city has a population of just over 50,000 and a metro area with nearly 600,00 people. Philadelphia is the largest city in the state, with over 1.5 million residents and a metro population of over 6.2 million.

Drone view of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of Pennsylvania

Harrisburg is Pennsylvania’s capital city.


Pennsylvania’s Prominence in American History

Pennsylvania was only the second state admitted to the Union. It became a state on December 12, 1787. Delaware was the first state, but its statehood was ratified just five days before Pennsylvania’s. 

Pennsylvania’s name comes from William Penn, who founded a British colony known as the Province of Pennsylvania in 1681. The state’s name roughly translates to “Penn’s Woods.” 

Independence Hall in Philadelphia is where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted.

Pennsylvania saw numerous Civil War battles within its borders, but none more famous or consequential than the Battle of Gettysburg.

James Buchanan and Joe Biden are the only U.S. presidents born in Pennsylvania. Biden moved to Delaware at ten years old and represented that state prior to his election to the presidency. The White House’s official website names James Buchanan as the only President from Pennsylvania. Buchanan was also the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor.

Gettysburg National Military Park commemorates one of the Civil War’s most critical battles.

© Lehman

State Animals

The white-tailed deer is Pennsylvania’s official state animal. Other official animals of the Keystone State include the eastern hellbender (state amphibian), ruffed grouse (state bird), Great Dane (state dog), brook trout (state fish), and the Pennsylvania firefly (state insect). The trilobite is the state fossil.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alexrk2 / CC BY 3.0 – License / Original

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About the Author

Mike is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on geography, agriculture, and marine life. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and a resident of Cincinnati, OH, Mike is deeply passionate about the natural world. In his free time, he, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks.

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