New Jersey is the most densely populated state of the United States of America and has the U.S. postal abbreviation of NJ. It is also the fifth smallest state. The state is named after the island of Jersey in the English Channel.
Once inhabited by the tribes of the Lenape, the first Europeans to settle the region were the Dutch in the early 1600's, who formed a settlement at present-day Jersey City. At the time, much of what is now New Jersey was claimed as part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which also included parts of present-day New York State and had its capital at New Amsterdam, now known as New York City. Some of southwestern New Jersey was also settled by the Swedes in the mid-1600's as part of the Swedish colony of New Sweden, which included parts of Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. These territories were taken by the Dutch in 1655 and incorporated into New Netherland.
The entire region became a territory of Britain in 1664 when a British fleet under the command of Colonel Richard Nicolls sailed into what is today New York Harbor and took over the colony. They met minimal resistance, perhaps because of the unpopularity of the Dutch colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant. The newly taken lands were divided by King Charles II of England, who gave his brother, the Duke of York (later King James II) the region between New England and Maryland as a proprietary colony (as opposed to a royal colony). James then granted the land between the Hudson River and the Delaware River (the land that would become New Jersey) to two friends who had been loyal through the English Civil War: Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton.
During the English Civil War the Island of Jersey remained loyal to The English Crown and gave sanctuary to the King. It was from the Royal Square in St. Helier that Charles II of England was first proclaimed King of England in 1649, following the execution of his father, Charles I of England. In 1663 in recognition of his loyalty to the English Crown Sir George Carteret, Jersey's Royalist Governor, was gifted a large tract of land in North America henceforth known as New Jersey.
Settlement for the first ten years of English rule was in the Hudson River region and came primarily from New England. On March 18, 1673 Berkeley sold his half of New Jersey to Quakers in England (with William Penn acting as trustee for a time) who settled the Delaware Valley region as a Quaker colony. New Jersey was governed as two distinct provinces, West Jersey and East Jersey, for the 28 years between 1674 and 1702. In 1702 the two provinces were united under a royal, rather than a proprietary, governor.
Revolutionary War Era
New Jersey was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution.
During the War for Independence, British and American armies crossed New Jersey several times.
In December, 1776, the Continental Army under George Washington crossed the Delaware River and engaged Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton. The river crossing has become an iconic moment in the early history of the United States of America, having been immortalized in Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.
This image was also chosen to represent the State of New Jersey on the reverse side of the 1999 New Jersey State Quarter released by the United States Mint.
Slightly more than a week after victory at Trenton, on January 3, 1777, the American forces scored an important victory over the British under Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton.
In the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall at Princeton University, making Princeton the country's capital for four months.
It was there that the Continental Congress learned of the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783) which ended the war.
On November 20, 1789 the state became the first in the newly-formed Union to ratify the Bill of Rights.
Ironically, on February 15, 1804 New Jersey became the last northern state to abolish slavery by enacting legislation that slowly phased out slavery. However, by the close of the Civil War, several African-Americans in New Jersey were still in bondage and New Jersey initially refused to ratify the Constitutional Amendments banning Slavery and granting rights to America's black population.
After the war, in the 1790s, when the United States was first founded and Washington, D.C. was being built, Princeton University's Nassau Hall served as a temporary capital for the fledgling republic.
Modern American History
New Jersey suffered heavy casualties in the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. Of the 3,000 people who died in September 11, 2001, over 650 were commuters and air travelers (United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark Airport in New Jersey). This meant the state lost more people in the attacks than any other state except New York.
Law and government
See: List of Governors of New Jersey; New Jersey Legislature
The capital of New Jersey is Trenton. The governor of New Jersey is Richard Codey (Democrat), who took over as acting governor based on his role as State Senate President upon James E. McGreevey's resignation on November 15, 2004. The state's two U.S. Senators are Frank R. Lautenberg (Democrat) and Jon Corzine (Democrat). New Jersey has 13 Congressional Districts.
Politically, New Jersey, like the rest of the northeastern United States, leans toward the Democratic Party. It was, however, a Republican stronghold for years in the past, having given comfortable margains of victory to the Republican candidate in the close elections of 1948, 1968, and 1976. The state was a crucial swing state in the elections of 1960, 1968, and 1992. It was named as a possible swing again in the 2004 election, following the September 11 terrorist attacks on Newark and nearby New York City and Bush's policies after those attacks. Since the early 1980s, however, the state has given large victories to Democrats in the 1990's, while in the 2004 presidential election it was a little more close, but still an easy victory (with Kerry defeating Bush by about 6%). The last Republican to hold a Senate seat from New Jersey was Clifford P. Case in 1979.
The state's Democratic strongholds include Mercer County around the cities of Trenton and Princeton; Essex County and Hudson County, the state's two most urban counties, around the state's two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City; as well as in Camden County and most of the other urban communities just outside of Philadelphia and New York City.
The more suburban northwestern and southeastern counties of the state are bastions of the Republican party: Republicans have strong backing along the coast in Ocean County and in the mountainous northwestern part of the state, especially Sussex County and Morris County and Warren County.
Some of the key swing counties in the state are Bergen County, Burlington County, Cape May. In the 2004 Presidental Election, Bergen County gave George W. Bush 47 percent of the vote and in Cape May Bush recieved 54.
The constitution was adopted in 1947. It provides for a bicameral Legislature consisting of a Senate of 40 members and an Assembly of 80 members. Each of the 40 legislative districts elects one Senator and two Assembly members. Assembly members are elected by the people for a two year term in all odd-numbered years; Senators are elected in the years ending in 1, 3, and 7 and thus serve either four or two year terms.
The New Jersey Supreme Court  consists of a chief justice and six associate justices. All are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of a majority of the membership of the state senate. Justices serve an initial seven-year term, after which they can be reappointed to serve until age 70.
See: List of New Jersey counties.
New Jersey is broadly divided into three geographic regions: they are North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. North Jersey is within New York City's general sphere of influence, with many of its residents commuting into the city for work. Central Jersey is a largely suburban area, while South Jersey is within Philadelphia's general sphere of influence. Such geographic definitions are broad, however, and there is often dispute over where one region begins and another ends.
High Point in Sussex County is the highest elevation in the state.
New Jersey is bordered on the north and northeast by New York, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Delaware, and on the west by Pennsylvania (the latter two across the Delaware River.) Prominent geographic features include:
New Jersey's 1999 total state gross product was $332 billion, placing it 8th in the nation. Its 2002 per capita personal income was $39,453, the second highest in the nation. 
Its agricultural outputs are nursery stock, horses, vegetables, fruits and nuts, seafood, and dairy products. In particular, cranberries and eggplants are two of the state's largest crops. Its industrial outputs are pharmaceutical and chemical products, food processing, electric equipment, printing and publishing, and tourism. New Jersey's economy has a large base of industry and chemical manufacturing. Although the state is certainly not defined by these activities, their existence and visibility to those passing through the state along some of its major highways does contribute to many jokes about pollution and ironic plays on the state's nickname, the "Garden State."
According to the Census Bureau, as of 2003, the estimated population of New Jersey was 8,638,396, making the state slightly more populated than Georgia, which was ahead of New Jersey in 2002; New Jersey is again, as it had been before, the ninth most-populous U.S. state.
New Jersey is also the most racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse state in the union. It has a larger percentage, and a greater mix, of non-whites as well as a greater mix of Caucasian backgrounds, than any other state. It also has the second largest percentage of Jews, the second largest percentage of Muslims, and one of the largest percentages of immigrants in the country.
It is the most Italian-American state in the nation, having passed New York state for that title in the 2000 Census, and has one of the largest percentages of African-Americans, Hispanics, Arabs, and Asians in the country.
The racial makeup of the state is:
The five largest ancestry groups in New Jersey are Italian (17.8%), Irish (15.9%), African American (13.6%), German (12.6%), Polish (6.9%).
Newark and Camden are two of the poorest cities in America, but New Jersey as a whole has the highest median household income in the nation, as well as the second highest per capita income, after Connecticut. This is largely due to the fact that so much of New Jersey is comprised of suburbs, most of them affluent, of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the nation, and the first and only state that has had every one of its 21 counties deemed "urban", as opposed to rural.
6.7% of its population were reported as under 5, 24.8% under 18, and 13.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.5% of the population.
The religious affiliations of the citizens of New Jersey are:
- Roman Catholic – 46%
- Protestant – 37%
- Other Christian – 4%
- Other Religions – 5%
- Non-Religious – 6%
The largest Protestant denominations in New Jersey are: Baptist (10% of the total state population), Methodist (7%), and Presbyterian and Lutheran (tied 3%).
New Jersey Culture
Musician Bruce Springsteen has sung of New Jersey life on his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and in many of his most popular songs, including "Atlantic City", "Born to Run", "Darlington County", "Freehold", "Jersey Girl " (written by Tom Waits), "Jungleland", "Spirit in the Night", and others. Fellow musician Jon Bon Jovi has also written many songs about New Jersey and even named one of his albums after it. The Bloodhound Gang produced a song called "The 10 Coolest Things About New Jersey," which consists of 10 seconds of complete silence.
Asbury Park, home of The Stone Pony, where Springsteen and Bon Jovi frequented early in their careers, is still considered by many to be a mecca for up-and-coming musicians.
Former Fugee Lauryn Hill, a South Orange resident, is hip-hop's best-selling solo female artist. Her 1998 debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, sold 10 million copies internationally.
Hip-hop's longest running radio show was founded by two Jerseyans, Special K (Kevin Bonners) and Teddy Ted (Ted Whiting) of Hackensack, who began on New York's WHBI in 1982 and now appear on WPAT-AM.
Then there are artists like Irvington's Queen Latifah, the first female rapper to succeed in music, film and TV, and the Grammy-winning Naughty By Nature of East Orange, who cut 1992's smash hit "O.P.P.". Redman, an influential underground figure and Newark native, has recently found commercial success through collaborations with Eminem and the Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man.
Musical artists Fountains of Wayne are a group of New Jerseyians who took the name of a semi-famous lawn and garden store  on Route 46 in Wayne, New Jersey (also featured on an episode of The Sopranos). Another emerging New Jersey band is Seven and the Sun .
Emo lately has found its home in New Jersey, particuarly near New Brunswick, New Jersey. It is the home of such bands as My Chemical Romance, Saves the Day, Thursday, Senses Fail, The Early November, Hidden In Plain View, Armor For Sleep, Midtown, Outsmarting Simon, Denver In Dallas, The Assistant, Penfold, Amber Brown Vision, and many more. Other main breeding grounds for emo include Chicago, Los Angeles and nearby Long Island.
The DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots are both from New Jersey. The brothers, Dean and Robert, are the guitarist and bassist for the band.
Another popular Jerseyan in rock music today is Zakk Wylde of Jersey City, who is currently the guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne and is with another popular rock band, Black Label Society. Wylde is famous for his signature "Bulls-eye" Gibson Les Paul guitar.
Pete Yorn is another New Jersey artist. He has two albums out: musicforthemorningafter (2001) and Day I Forgot (2003).
TV and film
Motion pictures and televisions shows also have been set in New Jersey. The popular television drama The Sopranos depicts the life of a New Jersey organized crime family and is filmed on location at various places thoughout the state.
The 2004 Sundance Film Festival favorite Garden State (starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman) was shot on location in Morris Township. Also, the popular animated series Megas XLR and Aqua Teen Hunger Force take place primarily in New Jersey.
Director Kevin Smith sets many of his films in New Jersey, particularly his "New Jersey Trilogy" of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. The 2004 movie, Jersey Girl, is also based in New Jersey. Clerks also had a short-lived animated series spin-off with the same name. It took place in the same locations as the movie.
The 2004 stoner film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle took place in New Jersey. Several locations seen in the movie include Princeton University, Newark, New Brunswick, and a ficitonal White Castle in Cherry Hill.
Many believe in a creature called the Jersey Devil, an evil demon born to a human mother who terrorizes the population of the Pine Barrens. It is also known sometimes as the Leeds Devil. New Jersey is also home to several other urban legends, such as the ghost of Annie's Road in Totowa, Midgetville in Edgewater, Albino Village in Clifton, the haunted and demon-possessed Clinton Road in West Milford, and the Witch of Igoe Road in Marlboro. Camp NoBeBoSo in Blairstown was also the setting of the original Friday the 13th movie, which was partially based on real murders that have occurred near the campground, in the state's very rural northwest. Such horror stories were the inspiration behind the now nationally-famous Weird NJ magazine and website.
The properties in the United States version of the board game Monopoly are named after the streets of Atlantic City.
The New Jersey Turnpike is one of the best-known roadways in New Jersey. This toll road carries interstate traffic between Delaware and New York. Commonly referred to as simply "the Turnpike," it is also known for its numerous rest-areas named after prominent New Jerseyans as varied as inventor Thomas Edison; United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; U.S. President Grover Cleveland; writers James Fenimore Cooper, Joyce Kilmer, and Walt Whitman; patriot Molly Pitcher; Red Cross advocate Clara Barton, and football coach Vince Lombardi. If you look at where it continues on to, you will find that this highway, I-95, is the highway with the most traffic in the northwestern hemisphere.
The Garden State Parkway, or just "the Parkway," carries more in-state traffic, and runs from the town of Montvale along New Jersey's northern border with New York to the southernmost tip of the state at Cape May. It is somewhat true that some New Jersey residents who live near the Parkway or the Turnpike locate their hometowns according to their respective highway exits, though very few New Jerseyans living anywhere else in the state will do so. It also acts as the trunk that connects the New York metropolitan area to Atlantic City.
Other freeways in New Jersey include the Atlantic City Expressway, Palisades Interstate Parkway, Interstate 76, Interstate 78, and Interstate 80.
The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) operates extensive rail and bus service throughout the state. NJ Transit is a state-run corporation that began with the consolidation of several private bus companies in North Jersey. In the early 1980s, it acquired the commuter train operations of CONRAIL that connect towns in northern and central New Jersey to New York City. In 1989, NJ Transit began service between Atlantic City and Lindenwold, extending it to Philadelphia in the 1990s.
New Jersey has interstate compacts with all three neighboring states. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Delaware River Port Authority (with Pennsylvania), and the Delaware River and Bay Authority (with Delaware) operate most of the major transportation routes into and out of New Jersey. Tolls for the bridges are charged in one direction - it's free to get into New Jersey, but you have to pay to get out. The Scudders Falls bridge on I-95 near Trenton is still free as of this writing.
See also: List of New Jersey State Highways
Important cities and towns
Major cities (and their populations):
see also: List of Municipalities in New Jersey (by population)
Wealth of cities by per capita income:
see also: New Jersey locations by per capita income
1 Mantoloking, New Jersey $114,017
2 Saddle River, New Jersey $85,934
3 Far Hills, New Jersey $81,535
4 Essex Fells, New Jersey $77,434
5 Alpine, New Jersey $76,995
6 Millburn, New Jersey $76,796
7 Rumson, New Jersey $73,692
8 Harding Township, New Jersey $72,689
9 Teterboro, New Jersey $72,613
10 Bernardsville, New Jersey $69,854
693 Newark, New Jersey $13,009
694 Laurel Lake, New Jersey $12,965
695 Passaic, New Jersey $12,874
696 Seabrook Farms, New Jersey $12,499
697 McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey $12,364
698 New Hanover Township, New Jersey $12,140
699 Lakewood, New Jersey $11,802
700 Bridgeton, New Jersey $10,917
701 Fort Dix, New Jersey $10,543
702 Camden, New Jersey $9,815
Although some problems exist in certain inner city neighborhoods, New Jersey overall is considered to have one of the best public education systems in the United States. In addition, 54% of high school graduates continue on to college or university, tied with Massachusetts for the second highest rate in the nation (North Dakota holds first place at 59%. New Jersey also has the highest average scores for advanced placement testing in public schools in the nation.
New Jersey is home to more scientists and engineers than any other state.
Colleges and universities
Institution Name, Location
Berkeley College, various campuses
Bloomfield College, Bloomfield
Caldwell College, Caldwell
Centenary College, Hackettstown
The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township
College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown
Drew University, Madison
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham Park-Madison & Teaneck-Hackensack campuses
Felician College, Rutherford & Lodi campuses
Georgian Court College, Lakewood
Kean University, Union-Elizabeth
Monmouth University, West Long Branch
Montclair State University, Montclair
New Jersey City University, Jersey City
New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark
Princeton University, Princeton
Ramapo College, Mahwah
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, New Jersey
Rider University, Lawrenceville
Rowan University, Glassboro
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- Rutgers, New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus
- Rutgers, Camden Campus
- Rutgers, Newark Campus
Saint Peter's College, Jersey City
Seton Hall University, South Orange
- Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken
Thomas Edison State College, Trenton
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark
William Paterson University, Wayne
In addition to the above institutions, there are 19 community colleges, serving the 21 counties in the state.
Institution Name, Location
- Atlantic Cape Community College , Mays Landing
Bergen Community College, Paramus
Brookdale Community College, Lincroft
Burlington County College, Pemberton
- Camden County College , Blackwood
County College of Morris, Randolph
- Cumberland County College , Vineland
Essex County College , Newark
- Gloucester County College , Sewell
- Hudson County Community College , Jersey City
- Mercer County Community College , Trenton
Middlesex County College , Edison
- Ocean County College , Toms River
Passaic County Community College, Paterson-Wanaque-Wayne
- Raritan Valley Community College , North Branch
- Salem Community College , Carneys Point
Sussex County Community College , Newton
- Union County College , Cranford
- Warren County Community College , Washington
Professional sports teams
The USS New Jersey, one of the most decorated vessels in the United States Navy, was named in honor of this state.