A Kentucky skyline at night

Kentucky Facts

Facts About Kentucky

There’s a lot more to Kentucky than most people know. These interesting facts about Kentucky provide insight into the history, traditions and charm of the Bluegrass State.

State Capital of Kentucky

Frankfort became the state capital of Kentucky in 1792 after pledging more manpower toward the construction of a statehouse than any other city. During the Civil War, Frankfort was the only Union capital occupied by Confederate troops.

Frankfort is located astride a double curve in the Kentucky River in the central portion of the state, and the Kentucky capital city is known for having one of the most beautiful Capitol buildings in the country. Frankfort’s population is slightly less than 30,000.

Kentucky Symbols & Traditions

Learn interesting facts about Kentucky songs, animals, flowers and the flag.


The largest industry groups, based on their contribution to the total state gross product are: manufacturing, tourism, services, government, insurance and real estate, retail trade, transportation and public utilities, wholesale trade, construction, mining, farming and agricultural services, forestry, and fisheries.


The agricultural community is strong in the Bluegrass State; Kentucky had 85,000 farms in 2011, according to the Kentucky field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Kentucky farm size averaged 164 acres.

Horses were the leading source of farm income for Kentucky farmers, followed by broilers (chickens), cattle, tobacco, soybeans and corn. Kentucky is home to some of the world's leading thoroughbred farms and thoroughbred auctions as well as prestigious events such as the Kentucky World's Championship Horse Show and the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Kentucky still leads the nation in burley tobacco production, even though the federal tobacco price support program was discontinued in 2005. The state is second in the U.S. in total tobacco production and is in the top 20 in corn, soybeans, winter wheat, hay, barley and sorghum.

Kentucky is the leading beef cattle state east of the Mississippi River and is eighth in the nation overall. Kentucky is seventh in broilers and in the top 20 in goats, dairy cows, swine and chickens other than commercial broilers. For more information about Kentucky agriculture, visit the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website.


Located in the south-central United States along the west side of the Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky ranks 37th in land size, with 39,732 square miles (102,907 square kilometers). The Commonwealth is bordered by seven states: Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. The Ohio River flows 664 miles (1,068 kilometers) along the northern and western borders of the state. Kentucky's highest point is Black Mountain in Harlan County, 4,145 feet (1,264 meters) above sea level; its lowest point, the Mississippi River in Fulton County, 257 feet (78 meters) above sea level. Explore the regions of Kentucky to see the state’s distinct areas and attractions.

Natural Resources

Kentucky has more miles of running water than any other state except Alaska. The numerous rivers and water impoundments provide 1,100 commercially navigable miles (1,770 kilometers).

Kentucky has 12.7 million acres of commercial forest land – 50% of the state's land area. The main species of trees are white oak, red oak, walnut, yellow poplar, beech, sugar maple, white ash and hickory. Kentucky ranks third among hardwood producing states.

The total value of Kentucky's mineral production in 1999 was $3.8 billion. Principal minerals and by-products produced in order of value are coal, crushed stone, natural gas and petroleum. Kentucky is the nation's third largest coal producer – 152.4 million tons in 1996. For more information, please visit the Energy and Environment Protection Cabinet website.


According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Kentucky's population is 4,468,402. The largest cities are listed below:

Louisville 621,349
Lexington      315,509
Covington-Florence-Newport (No. KY) 85,802
Bowling Green 64,302
Owensboro 58,791
Richmond 33,993
Hopkinsville 31,741
Georgetown 29,098
Henderson 28,859
Elizabethtown 28,531
Frankfort 27,453
Paducah 24,879
Ashland 21,035


Want more Kentucky facts? Visit our Famous Kentuckians page to learn about well-known Kentucky natives and residents.