New Jersey – The Garden State

New Jersey, nicknamed the Garden State, is one of the smallest and most urbanized states in the United States. Its densely populated cities contrast sharply with the rugged hills of the northwest, enormous stretches of pine forest in the southeast (the Pine Barrens), and rich horse country in south-central Jersey. It is also an important industrial center that has paid a price in environmental pollution and in congested roads and slums.

The land that is now New Jersey was first settled by Native American tribes, including the Lenape and Munsee, who lived in the area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived around 1200. The state was occupied by Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish settlers in the 17th century. Then it became part of the British Empire in 1664, when England gained control of New Netherland and New Sweden. The colonists fought for independence during the American Revolution, and New Jersey was admitted to the United States in 1787 as the third state.

In the 21st century, New Jersey is an international center for business, finance, and communication. The state’s transportation system is one of the most complex in the world, funneling people and goods to New York City and Philadelphia, as well as to other parts of the country.

New Jersey’s natural environment includes the rocky and sandy shores of its Atlantic coastline, which is lined by broad beaches and barrier islands. The interior is dominated by the rugged hills of the northwest and the wide valleys of the northeast, including the Delaware Water Gap; the southern part of the state is a level Atlantic Coastal Plain with salt marshes and pine forests.

The state’s climate is moderate, with mild winters and hot summers. Annual precipitation averages from 44 to 52 inches. In the north, snowfall is heavy. In the south, it is less frequent. New Jersey has numerous lakes and ponds, including the large Lake Hopatcong in Sussex and Morris counties.

The state is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, and red foxes. There are many bird species, including the American woodcock and the common tern. Other mammals include raccoons and the endangered Tuckahoe masked shrew, which is found only in New Jersey.