Charleston is the capital and most populous city of West Virginia. Located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers, the city had a population of 48,864 at the 2020 census and an estimated population of 48,018 in 2021. The Charleston metropolitan area as a whole had an estimated 255,020 residents in 2021. Charleston is the center of government, commerce, and industry for Kanawha County, of which it is the county seat.Early industries important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well. Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city's economy.
The first permanent settlement, Fort Morris, was built in fall 1773 by William Morris prior to Lord Dunmore's War, and was used extensively during the American Revolution. The town of Charleston was incorporated by the Virginia House of Delegates in 1794 with the trustees being William Morris, Leonard Morris, and Daniel Boone.Charleston is the home of the Charleston Dirty Birds of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, and the annual 15-mile (24 km) Charleston Distance Run. Yeager Airport and the University of Charleston are in the city. West Virginia State University is in the local area as well as West Virginia University and Marshall University satellite campuses.