|Commonwealth of Massachusetts|
|Largest metro area||Greater Boston|
|Area||Ranked 44th in the US|
|- Total||10,555 sq mi |
|- Width||183 miles (295 km)|
|- Length||113 miles (182 km)|
|- % water||25.7|
|- Latitude||41° 14′ N to 42° 53′ N|
|- Longitude||69° 56′ W to 73° 30′ W|
|Population||Ranked 14th in the US|
|- Total||6,547,629 (2010 Census)|
|- Density||809.8/sq mi (312.7/km2)|
Ranked 3rd in the US
|- Median income||$65,401 (2008) (6th)|
|- Highest point||Mount Greylock|
3,492 ft (1,064 m)
|- Mean||500 ft (150 m)|
|- Lowest point||Atlantic Ocean|
0 ft (0 m)
|Admission to Union||February 6, 1788 (6th)|
|Governor||Deval Patrick (D)|
|Lieutenant Governor||Tim Murray (D)|
|- Upper house||Senate|
|- Lower house||House of Representatives|
|U.S. Senators||John Kerry (D) |
Scott Brown (R)
|U.S. House delegation||10 Democrats (list)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
|Abbreviations||MA Mass. US-MA|
|Bird(s)||Black-capped Chickadee, Wild Turkey|
|Mammal(s)||Right whale, Morgan horse, Tabby cat, Boston Terrier|
|Colors||Blue, Green, Cranberry|
|Food||Cranberry, Corn muffin, Navy bean, Boston cream pie, Chocolate chip cookie, Boston cream donut|
|Poem||"Blue Hills of Massachusetts"|
|Slogan(s)||Make It Yours,|
The Spirit of America
|Song(s)||All Hail to Massachusetts|
|Released in 2000|
|Lists of United States state insignia|
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts () is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Most of its population of 6.6 million lives in the Boston metropolitan area. The eastern half of the state consists of urban, suburban, and rural areas, while Western Massachusetts is mostly rural. Massachusetts is the most populous of the six New England states and ranks third among U.S. states in GDP per capita.
Massachusetts has been significant throughout American history. Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement in North America. Many of Massachusetts's towns were founded by colonists from England in the 1620s and 1630s. During the 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. It was also a center of the temperance movement and abolitionist activity before the American Civil War. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The state has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including the Adams family and the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade with Europe, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, the state's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Today, the state is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett, whose name can be segmented as mass-adchu-s-et, where mass- is "large", -adchu- is "hill", -s- is a diminutive suffix meaning "small", and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place. It has been translated as "near the great hill", "by the blue hills", "at the little big hill", or "at the range of hills", referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular, Great Blue Hill, located on the boundary of Milton and Canton. Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset, from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock (meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead") in Quincy where Plymouth Colony commander Myles Standish and Squanto, a Native American, met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621.
The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Colloquially, it is often referred to simply as "the Commonwealth." While this designation is part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications. Massachusetts has the same position and powers within the United States as other states.
Massachusetts is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, and has an area of . It is bordered on the north by New Hampshire and Vermont, on the west by New York, on the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the state is uplands of resistant metamorphic rock that were scraped by Pleistocene glaciers that deposited moraines and outwash on a large, sandy, arm-shaped peninsula called Cape Cod and the islands Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to the south of Cape Cod. Upland elevations increase to the north and west and the highest point in the state is Mount Greylock at near the state's northwest corner.
The uplands are interrupted by the downfaulted Pioneer Valley along the Connecticut River and further west by the Housatonic Valley separating the Berkshire Hills from the Taconic Range along the western border with New York.
Boston is located at the innermost point of Massachusetts Bay, at the mouth of the Charles River, the longest river entirely within Massachusetts. Most of the population of the Boston metropolitan area (approximately 4.4 million) does not live in the city proper; eastern Massachusetts on the whole is fairly densely populated and largely suburban as far west as Worcester.
Central Massachusetts encompasses Worcester County, and includes the cities of Worcester, Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Southbridge and small upland towns, forests, and small farms. The Quabbin Reservoir borders the western side of the county, and is the main water supply for the eastern part of the state.
The Pioneer Valley along the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts is urbanized from the Connecticut border (and greater Hartford) north as far as Northampton, and includes Springfield, Chicopee, Agawam, West Springfield, Westfield, and Holyoke. Pioneer Valley economy and population was influenced by agriculturally productive Connecticut River Valley land in the 17th and 18th century, water power for the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and expansion of higher education in the 20th century.
The remainder of the state west of Pioneer Valley is mainly uplands including the hilltowns immediately to the west, then a range of low mountains known as the Berkshires and parts of the Taconic and Hoosac Ranges. It largely remained in aboriginal hands until the 18th century when Scotch-Irish settlers arrived and found more productive lowlands along the Connecticut River already settled. Availability of better land in western New York and then the Northwest Territory put upland agricultural population into decline, but available water power led to 19th century settlement along upland rivers. Pittsfield and North Adams grew into small cities and there are a number of smaller mill towns along the Westfield and Housatonic Rivers.
The National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts. Along with twelve national historic sites, areas, and corridors, the National Park Service also manages the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a number of parks, trails, and beaches throughout the commonwealth.
The primary biome of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest. Although much of the state had been cleared for agriculture, leaving only traces of old growth forest in isolated pockets, secondary growth has regenerated in many rural areas as farms have been abandoned. Currently, forests cover around 62% of Massachusetts. The areas most affected by human development include the Greater Boston area in the east, the smaller Springfield metropolitan area in the west, and the largely agricultural Pioneer Valley. Animals that have become locally extinct over the past few centuries include gray wolves, elk, wolverines, and mountain lions.
A number of species are doing well, despite, and in some cases because of the increased urbanization of the commonwealth. Peregrine falcons utilize office towers in larger cities as nesting areas, and the population of coyotes, whose diet may include garbage and roadkill, has been increasing in recent decades. White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys and eastern gray squirrels are also found throughout Massachusetts. In more rural areas in the western part of the state, larger mammals such as moose and black bears have returned, largely due to reforestation following the regional decline in agriculture.
Massachusetts is located along the Atlantic Flyway, a major route for migratory waterfowl along the Atlantic coast. Lakes in central Massachusetts provide habitat for the common loon, while a significant population of long-tailed ducks winter off Nantucket. Small offshore islands and beaches are home to roseate terns and are important breeding areas for the locally threatened piping plover. Protected areas such as the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge provide critical breeding habitat for shorebirds and a variety of marine wildlife including a large population of gray seals.
Freshwater fish species in the commonwealth include bass, carp, catfish, and trout, while saltwater species such as Atlantic cod, haddock and American lobster populate offshore waters. Other marine species include Harbor seals, the endangered North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.