New Jersey has an important place in early American history. In the 1600s, Swedish colonists built the first log cabin in North America in the region. If you want to see where many important Revolutionary War battles were fought, including those at Monmouth and Princeton, go to New Jersey. So many battles were fought in the state that it was called the "Cockpit of the Revolution."
George Washington made his famous Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River near Trenton, the state's capital. Trenton and Princeton were both capitals of the country during 1780s. New Jersey's plan of government, established during the drafting of the Constitution, protected the rights of smaller states and led to the provision for equal representation of all states in the Senate.
New Jersey's name comes from the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Sir George Carteret, a co-owner of the state in the 1600s, was born on the island. The abbreviation for New Jersey is NJ.
New Jersey is a Middle Atlantic state bordered by New York to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Delaware Bay to the south, and Pennsylvania to the west. The Hudson River separates New Jersey and New York, and the Delaware River runs between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The state's landscape includes wilderness areas in the mountains of its northwest and southern tidelands, beaches, and industrial cities and towns.
Although New Jersey ranks 46th in size among the states, it has the ninth largest population and most people per unit of land. Almost 90 percent of the state's total population live in cities and towns -- that's the highest percentage of any state.
New Jersey has such a high urban population mostly because of the importance the state has placed on manufacturing and industry. The state has done this largely because of its location between Philadelphia and New York City, two of the largest commercial and population centers in the country. New Jersey has some of the world's busiest ports including Newark and Elizabeth, located near New York City, and Camden, located near Philadelphia. The state has excellent railroad, highway, and waterway systems to serve these nearby markets. Many people who work in New York City and Philadelphia live in New Jersey and commute using trains, cars, and busses.
New Jersey's industrial history began in 1676 at Shrewsbury when an ironworks was opened. Today, New Jersey is a leading center of industrial research and development. It is the leading state in chemical production. It is also one of the leading states in the production of pharmaceuticals, food products, printed materials, and many other manufactures. Manufacturing centers can be found in Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. Service industries including education, health care, and retail trade are also important parts of the state's economy.
While industry has been good for New Jersey, the large, rapid urbanization that it caused created many problems including the issues of land use, water supply, economic growth, and air pollution. The need for more energy, schools, and expanded transportation facilities also became problems. In fact, rioting broke out in 1967 in Newark, the state's largest city, as African Americans violently protested against discrimination and poor living conditions.
In addition to industry, farming is important to New Jersey. The state's farms are among the smallest in the country, but their output per acre is among the most valuable. Taste fresh fruits and vegetables from the state's numerous truck farms. A truck farm is a small farm where fruits and vegetables are grown to be sold at local markets. In fact, New Jersey is nicknamed the "Garden State" because of the delicious fruits and vegetables produced on its truck farms.
Tourism is the state's second most important source of income. Few states attract more tourists. Hit the jackpot at the slot machines in Atlantic City. While you're in Atlantic City, see beautiful and talented women from every state compete in the Miss America Pageant. Relax or play on the beaches in one of the state's many ocean-side towns.
New Jersey is also famous for the people who worked and lived there. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and electric light at Menlo Park. Samuel F. B. Morse developed the first electric telegraph in the country while working near Morristown. Albert Einstein worked at the Institute for Advance Study in Princeton for many years. Woodrow Wilson was President of Princeton University before becoming President of the United States.