New Jersey – A Brief Overview

The State of New Jersey has many different faces, from a bustling metropolitan area to rural agricultural communities and coastal beaches. Located on the Atlantic Ocean in the south, the Hudson River in the north, and Pennsylvania to the west, it has three coast lines, two mountain ranges, and a vast watershed.

The state is rich in natural resources, including salt marshes and bogs that are habitats for birds, wildlife, and plants. It also has a good supply of granite and sand for construction, clams and oysters for the food industry, and bauxite for mining. The State is also home to some of the nation’s most prominent financial institutions, and a great variety of manufacturing businesses.

A large percentage of the State’s population lives in the five northeastern counties, centered on the cities of Newark and New York City. The rest of the State is mostly rural, with two-fifths of the land devoted to farmland and forests.

Before Europeans arrived, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Lenape and Munsee (or Minsi). Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish colonists then settled in the northern counties. By the 1640s, when Henry Hudson explored the Atlantic coastline and discovered the Hudson River, people rushed in to take advantage of this fertile territory. New towns sprang up, and the State became one of the original 13 colonies.

The Atlantic Coastal Plain, with low hills and pine forests, sweeps across the southern three-fifths of the State, ending in the barrier islands, where sandy beaches are popular. The land here is well suited to farming, and vegetables are especially popular. Pinelands National Reserve, the country’s first national park, protects the sandy dunes and salt marshes.

In the central portion of the State are a few hills, and some rolling farmland. In Mercer and Middlesex counties, there are some industrial towns. Princeton, in Mercer county, is home to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is one of the country’s most charming college towns. The town of Princeton combines the charm of its campus with its rich colonial history to create a truly unique place.

The State is a haven for the arts and has a reputation for being a cultural center. The State has many world-class museums, including the Princeton Art Museum and the Rutgers University Art Gallery, which display the work of such famous artists as the impressionists, abstractionists, and modernists. The state’s performing arts include theater, opera, and symphony orchestras. The State has also produced such famous musicians as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Frank Sinatra. It has first-rate universities, and is a leader in technology and biological research. Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans cross the Hudson River to work each day in New York City, where they cheer for the city’s sports teams and visit the great theaters and restaurants. In addition, they attend shows at Broadway and the many other attractions that New York has to offer.