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Massachusetts
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Flag of Massachusetts Official seal of Massachusetts
Nickname(s): 
The Bay State (official)
The Pilgrim State; The Puritan State
The Old Colony State
The Baked Bean State
Motto(s): 
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (Latin)
By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty
Anthem: All Hail to Massachusetts
Map of the United States with Massachusetts highlighted
Map of the United States with Massachusetts highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Province of Massachusetts Bay
Admitted to the Union February 6, 1788 (6th)
Capital
(and largest city)
Boston
Largest metro Greater Boston
Legislature General Court
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Area
 • Total 10,565 sq mi (27,337 km2)
 • Land 7,840 sq mi (20,306 km2)
 • Water 2,715 sq mi (7,032 km2)  26.1%
Area rank 44th
Dimensions
 • Length 190 mi (296 km)
 • Width 115 mi (184 km)
Elevation
500 ft (150 m)
Highest elevation 3,489 ft (1,063.4 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean)
0 ft (0 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 7,033,469
 • Rank 15th
 • Density 897/sq mi (346/km2)
 • Density rank 3rd
 • Median household income
$77,385
 • Income rank
2nd
Demonym(s) Bay Stater (official) Massachusite (traditional)

Massachusettsan (recommended by the U.S. GPO)

Masshole (derogatory or endearing)
Language
 • Official language English
 • Spoken language
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
MA
ISO 3166 code US-MA
Trad. abbreviation Mass.
Latitude 41° 14′ N to 42° 53′ N
Longitude 69° 56′ W to 73° 30′ W
Massachusetts state symbols
Flag of Massachusetts.svg
Seal of Massachusetts.svg
Living insignia
Bird Black-capped chickadee, wild turkey
Fish Cod
Flower Mayflower
Insect Ladybug
Mammal Right whale, Morgan horse, Tabby cat, Boston Terrier
Reptile Garter snake
Tree American elm
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Cranberry juice
Colors Blue, green, cranberry
Dance Square dance
Food Cranberry, corn muffin, navy bean, Boston cream pie, chocolate chip cookie, Boston cream doughnut
Fossil Dinosaur Tracks
Gemstone Rhodonite
Mineral Babingtonite
Poem Blue Hills of Massachusetts
Rock Roxbury Puddingstone
Shell New England Neptune, Neptunea lyrata decemcostata
Ship Schooner Ernestina
Slogan Make It Yours,
The Spirit of America
Soil Paxton
Sport Basketball
State route marker
Massachusetts state route marker
State quarter
Massachusetts quarter dollar coin
Released in 2000
Lists of United States state symbols

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Maine to the east, Connecticut to the southwest and Rhode Island to the southeast, New Hampshire to the northeast, Vermont to the northwest, and New York to the west. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. It is home to the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Massachusetts was a site of early English colonization: the Plymouth Colony was founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, and in 1630 the Massachusetts Bay Colony, taking its name from the indigenous Massachusett people, established settlements in Boston and Salem. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which, during the Industrial Revolution, catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that later led to the American Revolution.

The entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful scientific, commercial, and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist, temperance, and transcendentalist movements. In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, with the largest financial endowment of any university, and Harvard Law School has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010. Both Harvard and MIT, also in Cambridge, are perennially ranked as either the most or among the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world. Massachusetts residents have been described by the World Population Review as having the highest average IQ of all U.S. states, exceeding 104, and the state's public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance. The state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in, as well as one of the most expensive.

Etymology

National-atlas-massachusetts
Prominent roads and cities in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett.

The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts".

History

MayflowerHarbor
The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882). The Pilgrims were a group of Puritans who founded Plymouth in 1620.

Pre-colonization

Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett. While cultivation of crops like squash and corn supplemented their diets, these tribes were generally dependent on hunting, gathering and fishing for most of their food supply. Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as longhouses, and tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems.

Colonial period

In the early 1600s, after contact had been made with Europeans, large numbers of the indigenous peoples in the northeast of what is now the United States were killed by virgin soil epidemics such as smallpox, measles and influenza. Between 1617 and 1619, smallpox killed approximately 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans.

The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived via the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people.

This was the second successful permanent English colony in the part of North America that later became the United States, after the Jamestown Colony. The event known as the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World which lasted for three days. The Pilgrims were soon followed by other Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at present-day Boston in 1630.

In 1641, Massachusetts expanded inland significantly, acquiring the Connecticut River Valley settlement of Springfield.

In 1691, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth were united (along with present-day Maine, which had previously been divided between Massachusetts and New York) into the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Shortly after the arrival of the new province's first governor, William Phips, the Salem witch trials took place, where a number of men and women were killed for alleged witchcraft.

The Revolutionary War

Percy's Rescue at Lexington Detail
Percy's Rescue at Lexington

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain; colonists in Massachusetts had long uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in Massachusetts towns. Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city.

Federal period

Bostonian John Adams, known as the "Atlas of Independence", was an important figure in both the struggle for independence as well as the formation of the new United States. His son John Quincy Adams, also from Massachusetts, would go on to become the sixth United States President.

From 1786 to 1787, an armed uprising, known as Shays' Rebellion led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays wrought havoc throughout Massachusetts, and ultimately attempted to seize the Federal armory. The rebellion was one of the major factors in the decision to draft a stronger national constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. On February 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution.

19th century

In 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as the 23rd state as a result of the ratification of the Missouri Compromise.

Mill Building (now museum), Lowell, Massachusetts
Textile mills such as the Boott Mills in Lowell made Massachusetts a leader in the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

During the 19th century, Massachusetts became a national leader in the American Industrial Revolution, with factories around cities such as Lowell and Boston producing textiles and shoes, and factories around Springfield producing tools, paper, and textiles.

Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm an African American regiment with White officers, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. In 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory education laws.

Alexander Graham Bell is commonly credited as the inventor of the first practical telephone. On March 10, 1876 at Boston University, he was able to communicate with his assistant Thomas A. Watson in the next room.

20th century

Boston CAT Project-construction view from air
Part of the "Big Dig" construction project; this portion is over the Charles River in Boston.

With the exodus of several manufacturing companies, the area's industrial economy began to decline during the early 20th century. By the 1920s, competition from the South and Midwest, followed by the Great Depression, led to the collapse of the three main industries in Massachusetts: textiles, shoemaking, and precision mechanics.

Massachusetts manufactured 3.4 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking tenth among the 48 states. In Eastern Massachusetts, following World War II, the economy was transformed from one based on heavy industry into a service-based economy.

Kennedy bros
Kennedy brothers John, Robert (middle) and Edward in July 1960.

The Kennedy family was prominent in Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. Children of businessman and ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. included John F. Kennedy, who was a senator and US president before his assassination in 1963, Robert F. Kennedy, who was a senator, US attorney general, and presidential candidate before his assassination in 1968, Ted Kennedy, a senator from 1962 until his death in 2009, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a co-founder of the Special Olympics. In 1966, Massachusetts became the first state to popularly elect an African American to the US senate with Edward Brooke. George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989–1993) was born in Milton in 1924.

21st century

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.

Geography

Pioneer Valley South From Mt. Sugarloaf
A portion of the north-central Pioneer Valley in Sunderland

Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States. It is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, and has an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2), 25.7% of which is water. Several large bays distinctly shape its coast. Boston is the largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, and the mouth of the Charles River.

Despite its small size, Massachusetts features numerous topographically distinctive regions. The large coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern section of the state contains Greater Boston, along with most of the state's population, as well as the distinctive Cape Cod peninsula. To the west lies the hilly, rural region of Central Massachusetts, and beyond that, the Connecticut River Valley. Along the western border of Western Massachusetts lies the highest elevated part of the state, the Berkshires.

The U.S. National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts.

Ecology

Charadrius-melodus-004 edit
Many coastal areas in Massachusetts provide breeding areas for species such as the piping plover.

The primary biome of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest. Although much of Massachusetts 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.

A number of species are doing well in the increasingly urbanized Massachusetts. 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 Massachusetts, 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 eastern coast. Lakes in central Massachusetts provide habitat for many species of fish and waterfowl, but some species such as the common loon are becoming rare. 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 grey seals.

Freshwater fish species in Massachusetts 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.

Climate

Most of Massachusetts has a humid continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Far southeast coastal areas are the broad transition zone to temperate climates (humid subtropical climate in some classifications). Frosts are frequent all winter, even in coastal areas due to prevailing inland winds. Due to its location near the Atlantic, Massachusetts is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms.

Demographics

Massachusetts population map
Massachusetts population density map. The centers of high-density settlement, from east to west, are Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield, respectively.
Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 378,787
1800 422,845 11.6%
1810 472,040 11.6%
1820 523,287 10.9%
1830 610,408 16.6%
1840 737,699 20.9%
1850 994,514 34.8%
1860 1,231,066 23.8%
1870 1,457,351 18.4%
1880 1,783,085 22.4%
1890 2,238,947 25.6%
1900 2,805,346 25.3%
1910 3,366,416 20.0%
1920 3,852,356 14.4%
1930 4,249,614 10.3%
1940 4,316,721 1.6%
1950 4,690,514 8.7%
1960 5,148,578 9.8%
1970 5,689,170 10.5%
1980 5,737,037 0.8%
1990 6,016,425 4.9%
2000 6,349,097 5.5%
2010 6,547,629 3.1%
2020 7,029,917 7.4%

At the 2020 U.S. census, Massachusetts had a population of over 7 million, a 7.4% increase since the 2010 United States census. As of 2015, Massachusetts was estimated to be the third-most densely populated U.S. state, with 871.0 people per square mile, behind New Jersey and Rhode Island. In 2014, Massachusetts had 1,011,811 foreign-born residents or 15% of the population.

Most Bay State residents live within the Boston metropolitan area, also known as Greater Boston, which includes Boston and its proximate surroundings but also extending to Greater Lowell and to Worcester. The Springfield metropolitan area, also known as Greater Springfield, is also a major center of population. Demographically, the center of population of Massachusetts is located in the town of Natick.

Like the rest of the Northeastern United States, the population of Massachusetts has continued to grow in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Massachusetts is the fastest-growing state in New England and the 25th fastest-growing state in the United States. Population growth was largely due to a relatively high quality of life and a large higher education system in the state.

Foreign immigration is also a factor in the state's population growth, causing the state's population to continue to grow as of the 2010 Census (particularly in Massachusetts gateway cities where costs of living are lower). 40% of foreign immigrants were from Central or South America, according to a 2005 Census Bureau study, with many of the remainder from Asia. Many residents who have settled in Greater Springfield claim Puerto Rican descent. Many areas of Massachusetts showed relatively stable population trends between 2000 and 2010. Exurban Boston and coastal areas grew the most rapidly, while Berkshire County in far Western Massachusetts and Barnstable County on Cape Cod were the only counties to lose population as of the 2010 Census.

By sex, 48.4% were male, and 51.6% were female in 2014. In terms of age, 79.2% were over 18 and 14.8% were over 65.

Race and ancestry

St. Patrick Day's Parade, Scituate MA
Saint Patrick's Day parade in Scituate, the municipality with the highest percentage identifying Irish ancestry in the United States, at 47.5% in 2010. Irish Americans constitute the largest ethnicity in Massachusetts.
Ethnic composition as of the 2020 census
Race and Ethnicity Alone Total
White (non-Hispanic) 67.6% 67.6
 
71.4% 71.4
 
Hispanic or Latino 12.6% 12.6
 
African American (non-Hispanic) 6.5% 6.5
 
8.2% 8.2
 
Asian 7.2% 7.2
 
8.2% 8.2
 
Native American 0.1% 0.1
 
0.9% 0.9
 
Pacific Islander 0.02% 0.02
 
0.1% 0.1
 
Other 1.3% 1.3
 
3.6% 3.6
 

The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 95.4% in 1970 to 67.6% in 2020. As of 2011, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 63.6% of all the births, while 36.4% of the population of Massachusetts younger than age 1 was minorities (at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white). One major reason for this is that non-Hispanic whites in Massachusetts recorded a total fertility rate of 1.36 in 2017, the second-lowest in the country after neighboring Rhode Island.

As late as 1795, the population of Massachusetts was nearly 95% of English ancestry. During the early and mid-19th century, immigrant groups began arriving in Massachusetts in large numbers; first from Ireland in the 1840s; today the Irish and part-Irish are the largest ancestry group in the state at nearly 25% of the total population. Others arrived later from Quebec as well as places in Europe such as Italy, Portugal, and Poland. In the early 20th century, a number of African Americans migrated to Massachusetts, although in somewhat fewer numbers than many other Northern states. Later in the 20th century, immigration from Latin America increased considerably. More than 156,000 Chinese Americans made their home in Massachusetts in 2014, and Boston hosts a growing Chinatown accommodating heavily traveled Chinese-owned bus lines to and from Chinatown, Manhattan in New York City. Massachusetts also has large Dominican, Puerto Rican, Haitian, Cape Verdean and Brazilian populations. Boston's South End and Jamaica Plain are both gay villages, as is nearby Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod.

Boston Chinatown Paifang
Boston's Chinatown, with its paifang gate, is home to many Chinese and also Vietnamese restaurants.
Party goers and dancers at Back Bay Block Party
Boston gay pride march, held annually in June. In 2004 Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The largest ancestry group in Massachusetts are the Irish (22.5% of the population), who live in significant numbers throughout the state but form more than 40% of the population along the South Shore in Norfolk and Plymouth counties (in both counties overall, Irish-Americans comprise more than 30% of the population). Italians form the second-largest ethnic group in the state (13.5%), but form a plurality in some suburbs north of Boston and in a few towns in the Berkshires. English Americans, the third-largest (11.4%) group, form a plurality in some western towns. French and French Canadians also form a significant part (10.7%), with sizable populations in Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester Counties. Lowell is home to the second-largest Cambodian community of the nation. Massachusetts is home to a small community of Greek Americans as well, which according to the American Community Survey there are 83,701 of them scattered along the state (1.2% of the total state population). There are also several populations of Native Americans in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag tribe maintains reservations at Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard and at Mashpee on Cape Cod—with an ongoing native language revival project underway since 1993, while the Nipmuc maintain two state-recognized reservations in the central part of the state, including one at Grafton.

Massachusetts has avoided many forms of racial strife seen elsewhere in the US, but examples such as the successful electoral showings of the nativist (mainly anti-Catholic) Know Nothings in the 1850s, the controversial Sacco and Vanzetti executions in the 1920s, and Boston's opposition to desegregation busing in the 1970s show that the ethnic history of Massachusetts was not completely harmonious.

Languages

The most common varieties of American English spoken in Massachusetts, other than General American, are the cot-caught distinct, rhotic, western Massachusetts dialect and the cot-caught merged, non-rhotic, eastern Massachusetts dialect (popularly known as a "Boston accent").

Top 11 Non-English Languages Spoken in Massachusetts
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)
Spanish 7.50%
Portuguese 2.97%
Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) 1.59%
French (including New England French) 1.11%
French Creole 0.89%
Italian 0.72%
Russian 0.62%
Vietnamese 0.58%
Greek 0.41%
Arabic and Khmer (Cambodian) (including all Austroasiatic languages) (tied) 0.37%

As of 2010, 78.93% (4,823,127) of Massachusetts residents 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 7.50% (458,256) spoke Spanish, 2.97% (181,437) Portuguese, 1.59% (96,690) Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin), 1.11% (67,788) French, 0.89% (54,456) French Creole, 0.72% (43,798) Italian, 0.62% (37,865) Russian, and Vietnamese was spoken as a primary language by 0.58% (35,283) of the population over 5. In total, 21.07% (1,287,419) of Massachusetts's population 5 and older spoke a first language other than English.

OldShipEntrance
Built in 1681, the Old Ship Church in Hingham is the oldest church in America in continuous ecclesiastical use. Massachusetts has since become one of the most irreligious states in the U.S.

Religion

Massachusetts was founded and settled by Brownist Puritans in 1620 and soon after by other groups of Separatists/Dissenters, Nonconformists and Independents from 17th century England. A majority of people in Massachusetts today remain Christians. The descendants of the Puritans belong to many different churches; in the direct line of inheritance are the various Congregational churches, the United Church of Christ and congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association, long located on Beacon Hill, is now located in South Boston. Many Puritan descendants also dispersed to other Protestant denominations. Some disaffiliated along with Roman Catholics and other Christian groups in the wake of modern secularization.

Today, Christians make up 57% of the state's population, with Protestants making up 21% of them. Roman Catholics make up 34% and now predominate because of massive immigration from primarily Catholic countries and regions—chiefly Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, and Latin America. Both Protestant and Roman Catholic communities have been in decline since the late 20th century, due to the rise of irreligion in New England. It is the most irreligious region of the country, along with the Western United States. A significant Jewish population immigrated to the Boston and Springfield areas between 1880 and 1920. Jews currently make up 3% of the population. Mary Baker Eddy made the Boston Mother Church of Christian Science serve as the world headquarters of this new religious movement. Buddhists, Pagans, Hindus, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, and Mormons may also be found. Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, the Shaolin Meditation Temple in Springfield, and the Insight Meditation Center in Barre are examples of non-Abrahamic religious centers in Massachusetts. According to 2010 data from The Association of Religion Data Archives, (ARDA) the largest single denominations are the Catholic Church with 2,940,199 adherents; the United Church of Christ with 86,639 adherents; and the Episcopal Church with 81,999 adherents. 32% of the population identifies as having no religion.

Economy

The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the Massachusetts gross state product in 2020 was $584 billion. The per capita personal income in 2012 was $53,221, making it the third-highest state in the nation. As of January 2022, Massachusetts state general minimum wage is $14.25 per hour while the minimum wage for tipped workers is $6.15 an hour, with a guarantee that employers will pay the difference should a tipped employee's hourly wage not meet or exceed the general minimum wage. This wage is set to increase to a general minimum of $15.00 per hour and a tipped worker minimum of $6.75 per hour in January 2023, as part of a series of minimum wage amendments passed in 2018 that saw the minimum wage increase slowly every January up to 2023.

In 2015, twelve Fortune 500 companies were located in Massachusetts: Liberty Mutual, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, TJX Companies, General Electric, Raytheon, American Tower, Global Partners, Thermo Fisher Scientific, State Street Corporation, Biogen, Eversource Energy, and Boston Scientific. CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2014" has recognized Massachusetts as the 25th-best state in the nation for business, and for the second year in a row the state was ranked by Bloomberg as the most innovative state in America. According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Massachusetts had the sixth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.73 percent. Billionaires living in the state include past and present leaders (and related family) of local companies such as Fidelity Investments, New Balance, Kraft Group, Boston Scientific, and the former Continental Cablevision.

Massachusetts has three foreign-trade zones, the Massachusetts Port Authority of Boston, the Port of New Bedford, and the City of Holyoke. Boston-Logan International Airport is the busiest airport in New England, serving 33.4 million total passengers in 2015, and witnessing rapid growth in international air traffic since 2010.

Sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy include higher education, biotechnology, information technology, finance, health care, tourism, manufacturing, and defense. The Route 128 corridor and Greater Boston continue to be a major center for venture capital investment, and high technology remains an important sector. In recent years tourism has played an ever-important role in the state's economy, with Boston and Cape Cod being the leading destinations. Other popular tourist destinations include Salem, Plymouth, and the Berkshires. Massachusetts is the sixth-most popular tourist destination for foreign travelers. In 2010, the Great Places in Massachusetts Commission published '1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts' that identified 1,000 sites across the commonwealth to highlight the diverse historic, cultural, and natural attractions.

Sunset on Cape Cod Bay
Sunset at Brewster, on Cape Cod Bay.

While manufacturing comprised less than 10% of Massachusetts's gross state product in 2016, the Commonwealth ranked 16th in the nation in total manufacturing output in the United States. This includes a diverse array of manufactured goods such as medical devices, paper goods, specialty chemicals and plastics, telecommunications and electronics equipment, and machined components.

As of 2012, there were 7,755 farms in Massachusetts encompassing a total of 523,517 acres (2,120 km2), averaging 67.5 acres (27.3 hectares) apiece. Particular agricultural products of note include green house products making up more than one third of the state's agricultural output, cranberries, sweet corn and apples are also large sectors of production. Massachusetts is the second-largest cranberry-producing state in the union after Wisconsin.

The more than 33,000 nonprofits in Massachusetts employ one-sixth of the state's workforce. In 2007, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a state holiday, Nonprofit Awareness Day.

In February 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Massachusetts the best state in the United States based upon 60 metrics including healthcare, education, crime, infrastructure, opportunity, economy, and government. The Bay State ranked number one in education, number two in healthcare, and number five in the handling of the economy.

Taxation

Depending on how it is calculated, state and local tax burden in Massachusetts has been estimated among U.S. states and Washington D.C. as 21st-highest (11.44% or $6,163 per year for a household with nationwide median income) or 25th-highest overall with below-average corporate taxes (39th-highest), above-average personal income taxes, (13th-highest), above-average sales tax (18th-highest), and below-average property taxes (46th-highest). In the 1970s, the Commonwealth ranked as a relatively high-tax state, gaining the pejorative nickname "Taxachusetts". This was followed by a round of tax limitations during the 1980s—a conservative period in American politics—including Proposition 2½.

As of January 1, 2020, Massachusetts has a flat-rate personal income tax of 5.00%, after a 2002 voter referendum to eventually lower the rate to 5.0% as amended by the legislature. There is a tax exemption for income below a threshold that varies from year to year. The corporate income tax rate is 8.8%, and the short-term capital gains tax rate is 12%. An unusual provision allows filers to voluntarily pay at the pre-referendum 5.85% income tax rate, which is done by between one and two thousand taxpayers per year.

The state imposes a 6.25% sales tax on retail sales of tangible personal property—except for groceries, clothing (up to $175.00), and periodicals. The sales tax is charged on clothing that costs more than $175.00, for the amount exceeding $175.00. Massachusetts also charges a use tax when goods are bought from other states and the vendor does not remit Massachusetts sales tax; taxpayers report and pay this on their income tax forms or dedicated forms, though there are "safe harbor" amounts that can be paid without tallying up actual purchases (except for purchases over $1,000). There is no inheritance tax and limited Massachusetts estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

Energy

Massachusetts's electricity generation market was made competitive in 1998, enabling retail customers to change suppliers without changing utility companies. In 2018, Massachusetts consumed 1,459 trillion BTU, making it the seventh-lowest state in terms of consumption of energy per capita, and 31 percent of that energy came from natural gas. In 2014 and 2015, Massachusetts was ranked as the most energy efficient state the United States while Boston is the most efficient city, but it had the fourth-highest average residential retail electricity prices of any state. In 2018, renewable energy was about 7.2 percent of total energy consumed in the state, ranking 34th.

Transportation

Massachusetts has 10 regional metropolitan planning organizations and three non-metropolitan planning organizations covering the remainder of the state; statewide planning is handled by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in Massachusetts.

Regional public transportation

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), also known as "The T", operates public transportation in the form of subway, bus, and ferry systems in the Metro Boston area.

Fifteen other regional transit authorities provide public transportation in the form of bus services in the rest of the state. Four heritage railways are also in operation:

Long-distance rail and bus

Amtrak operates several inter-city rail lines connecting Massachusetts. Boston's South Station serves as the terminus for three lines, namely the high-speed Acela Express, which links to cities such as Providence, New Haven, New York City, and eventually Washington DC; the Northeast Regional, which follows the same route but includes many more stops, and also continues further south to Newport News in Virginia; and the Lake Shore Limited, which runs westward to Worcester, Springfield, and eventually Chicago. Boston's other major station, North Station, serves as the southern terminus for Amtrak's Downeaster, which connects to Portland and Brunswick in Maine.

Outside of Boston, Amtrak connects several cities across Massachusetts, along the aforementioned Acela, Northeast Regional, Lake Shore Limited, and Downeaster lines, as well as other routes in central and western Massachusetts. The Hartford Line connects Springfield to New Haven, operated in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, and the Valley Flyer runs a similar route but continues further north to Greenfield. Several stations in western Massachusetts are also served by the Vermonter, which connects St. Albans, Vermont to Washington DC.

Amtrak carries more passengers between Boston and New York than all airlines combined (about 54% of market share in 2012), but service between other cities is less frequent. There, more frequent intercity service is provided by private bus carriers, including Peter Pan Bus Lines (headquartered in Springfield), Greyhound Lines, OurBus, BoltBus and Plymouth and Brockton Street Railway. Various Chinatown bus lines depart for New York from South Station in Boston.

MBTA Commuter Rail services run throughout the larger Greater Boston area, including service to Worcester, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Newburyport, Lowell, and Plymouth. This overlaps with the service areas of neighboring regional transportation authorities. As of the summer of 2013 the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority in collaboration with the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is operating the CapeFLYER providing passenger rail service between Boston and Cape Cod.

Ferry

Ferry services are operated throughout different regions of the states.

Most ports north of Cape Cod are served by Boston Harbor Cruises, which operates ferry services in and around Greater Boston under contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Several routes connect the downtown area with Hingham, Hull, Winthrop, Salem, Logan Airport, Charlestown, and some of the islands located within the harbor. The same company also operates seasonal service between Boston and Provincetown.

On the southern shore of the state, several different passenger ferry lines connect Martha's Vineyard to ports along the mainland, including Woods Hole, Hyannis, New Bedford, and Falmouth, all in Massachusetts, as well as North Kingstown in Rhode Island, Highlands in New Jersey, and New York City in New York. Similarly, several different lines connect Nantucket to ports including Hyannis, New Bedford, Harwich, and New York City. Service between the two islands is also offered. The dominant companies serving these routes include SeaStreak, Hy-Line Cruises, and The Steamship Authority, the latter of which regulates all passenger services in the region and is also the only company permitted to offer freight ferry services to the islands.

Other ferry connections in the state include a line between Fall River and Block Island via Newport, seasonal ferry service connecting Plymouth to Provincetown, and a service between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk.

Rail freight

As of 2018, a number of freight railroads were operating in Massachusetts, with Class I railroad CSX being the largest carrier, and another Class 1, Norfolk Southern serving the state via its Pan Am Southern joint partnership. Several regional and short line railroads also provide service and connect with other railroads. Massachusetts has a total of 1,110 miles (1,790 km) of freight trackage in operation.

Air service

Logan Airport aerial view
Logan International Airport in Boston is the largest airport in New England in terms of passenger volume

Boston Logan International Airport served 33.5 million passengers in 2015 (up from 31.6 million in 2014) through 103 gates. Logan, Hanscom Field in Bedford, and Worcester Regional Airport are operated by Massport, an independent state transportation agency. Massachusetts has 39 public-use airfields and more than 200 private landing spots. Some airports receive funding from the Aeronautics Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration; the FAA is also the primary regulator of Massachusetts air travel.

Roads

National-atlas-massachusetts
Prominent roads and cities in Massachusetts

There are a total of 36,800 miles (59,200 km) of interstates and other highways in Massachusetts. Interstate 90 (I-90, also known as the Massachusetts Turnpike), is the longest interstate in Massachusetts. The route travels 136 mi (219 km) generally west to east, entering Massachusetts at the New York state line in the town of West Stockbridge, and passes just north of Springfield, just south of Worcester and through Framingham before terminating near Logan International Airport in Boston. Other major interstates include I-91, which travels generally north and south along the Connecticut River; I-93, which travels north and south through central Boston, then passes through Methuen before entering New Hampshire; and I-95, which connects Providence, Rhode Island with Greater Boston, forming a partial loop concurrent with Route 128 around the more urbanized areas before continuing north along the coast into New Hampshire.

I-495 forms a wide loop around the outer edge of Greater Boston. Other major interstates in Massachusetts include I-291, I-391, I-84, I-195, I-395, I-290, and I-190. Major non-interstate highways in Massachusetts include U.S. Routes 1, 3, 6, and 20, and state routes 2, 3, 9, 24, and 128. A great majority of interstates in Massachusetts were constructed during the mid-20th century, and at times were controversial, particularly the intent to route I-95 northeastwards from Providence, Rhode Island, directly through central Boston, first proposed in 1948. Opposition to continued construction grew, and in 1970 Governor Francis W. Sargent issued a general prohibition on most further freeway construction within the I-95/Route 128 loop in the Boston area. A massive undertaking to bring I-93 underground in downtown Boston, called the Big Dig, brought the city's highway system under public scrutiny for its high cost and construction quality.

Cities, towns, and counties

Largest cities or towns in Massachusetts
Source:
Rank Name Pop.
1 Boston 692,600
2 Worcester 185,428
3 Springfield 153,606
4 Cambridge 118,927
5 Lowell 110,997
6 Brockton 95,708
7 New Bedford 95,363
8 Quincy 94,470
9 Lynn 94,299
10 Fall River 89,541

Boston is the state capital and largest city in Massachusetts. The population of the city proper is 692,600, and Greater Boston, with a population of 4,873,019, is the 11th largest metropolitan area in the nation. Other cities with a population over 100,000 include Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, and Cambridge. Plymouth is the largest municipality in the state by land area, followed by Middleborough.

Arts, culture, and recreation

Site of Thoreau's cabin
The site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond in Concord

Massachusetts has contributed to American arts and culture. Drawing from its Native American and Yankee roots, along with later immigrant groups, Massachusetts has produced a number of writers, artists, and musicians. A number of major museums and important historical sites are also located there, and events and festivals throughout the year celebrate the state's history and heritage.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was born in Boston but spent much of his later life in Concord, largely created the philosophy with his 1836 work Nature, and continued to be a key figure in the movement for the remainder of his life. Emerson's friend, Henry David Thoreau, recorded his year spent alone in a small cabin at nearby Walden Pond in the 1854 work Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

Other famous authors and poets born or strongly associated with Massachusetts include Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath, H.P. Lovecraft, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as "Dr. Seuss". Famous painters from Massachusetts include Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell; many of the latter's works are on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

InsideOutStage
An outdoor dance performance at Jacob's Pillow in Becket

Massachusetts is also an important center for the performing arts. Both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra are based in Massachusetts.

USS Constitution salutes Bataan 2005
USS Constitution fires a salute during its annual Fourth of July turnaround cruise.

Massachusetts is home to a large number of museums and historical sites. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the DeCordova contemporary art and sculpture museum in Lincoln are all located within Massachusetts, and the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket includes several observatories, museums, and an aquarium. Historically themed museums and sites such as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Boston's Freedom Trail and nearby Minute Man National Historical Park, both of which preserve a number of sites important during the American Revolution, the Lowell National Historical Park, which focuses on some of the earliest mills and canals of the industrial revolution in the US, the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, which includes important African-American and abolitionist sites in Boston, and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park all showcase various periods of Massachusetts' history.

Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village are two open-air or "living" museums in Massachusetts, recreating life as it was in the 17th and early 19th centuries, respectively.

Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade and "Harborfest", a week-long Fourth of July celebration featuring a fireworks display and concert by the Boston Pops as well as a turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor by the USS Constitution, are popular events. The New England Summer Nationals, an auto show in Worcester, draws tens of thousands of attendees every year. The Boston Marathon is also a popular event in the state drawing more than 30,000 runners and tens of thousands of spectators annually.

Long-distance hiking trails in Massachusetts include the Appalachian Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail, the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the Midstate Trail, and the Bay Circuit Trail. Other outdoor recreational activities in Massachusetts include sailing and yachting, freshwater and deep-sea fishing, whale watching, downhill and cross-country skiing, and hunting.

Sports

Gillette Stadium Foxboro
Gillette Stadium in Foxborough is the home venue for the New England Patriots (NFL) and the New England Revolution (MLS)

Massachusetts is home to five major league professional sports teams: seventeen-time NBA Champions Boston Celtics, nine-time World Series winners Boston Red Sox, six-time Stanley Cup winners Boston Bruins, six-time Super Bowl winners New England Patriots, and Major League Soccer team New England Revolution.

In the late 19th century, the Olympic sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. The Basketball Hall of Fame is a major tourist destination in the City of Springfield and the Volleyball Hall of Fame is located in Holyoke. The American Hockey League (AHL), the NHL's development league, is headquartered in Springfield.

Several universities in Massachusetts are notable for their collegiate athletics. The state is home to two Division I FBS teams, Boston College of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and FBS Independent University of Massachusetts at Amherst. FCS play includes Harvard University, which competes in the famed Ivy League, and College of the Holy Cross of the Patriot League. Boston University, Northeastern University, UMASS Lowell, and Merrimack College also participate in Division I athletics. Many other Massachusetts colleges compete in lower divisions such as Division III, where MIT, Tufts University, Amherst College, Williams College, and others field competitive teams.

Massachusetts is also the home of rowing events such as the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond and the Head of the Charles Regatta. A number of major golf events have taken place in Massachusetts, including nine U.S. Opens and two Ryder Cups. Massachusetts is also the home of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and Premier Lacrosse League team Cannons Lacrosse Club.

Massachusetts has produced several successful Olympians including Thomas Burke, James Connolly, and John Thomas (track & field); Butch Johnson (archery); Nancy Kerrigan (figure skating); Todd Richards (snowboarding); Albina Osipowich (swimming); Aly Raisman (gymnastics); Patrick Ewing (basketball); as well as Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Bill Cleary, and Keith Tkachuk (ice hockey).

Education

Harvard University and MIT are both widely regarded as in the top handful of universities worldwide for academic research in various disciplines. (Shown are the Widener Library at Harvard and MIT Building 10.)
MA Public High School District SAT by town
Towns in Massachusetts by combined mean SAT of their public high school district for the 2015–2016 academic year

In 2018, Massachusetts's overall educational system was ranked the top among all fifty U.S. states by U.S. News & World Report. Massachusetts was the first state in North America to require municipalities to appoint a teacher or establish a grammar school with the passage of the Massachusetts Education Law of 1647, and 19th century reforms pushed by Horace Mann laid much of the groundwork for contemporary universal public education which was established in 1852. Massachusetts is home to the oldest school in continuous existence in North America (The Roxbury Latin School, founded in 1645), as well as the country's oldest public elementary school (The Mather School, founded in 1639), its oldest high school (Boston Latin School, founded in 1635), its oldest continuously operating boarding school (The Governor's Academy, founded in 1763), its oldest college (Harvard University, founded in 1636), and its oldest women's college (Mount Holyoke College, founded in 1837). Massachusetts is also home to the highest ranked private high school in the United States, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, which was founded in 1778.

Massachusetts's per-student public expenditure for elementary and secondary schools was eighth in the nation in 2012, at $14,844. In 2013, Massachusetts scored highest of all the states in math and third-highest in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Massachusetts' public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance.

Massachusetts is home to 121 institutions of higher education. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both located in Cambridge, consistently rank among the world's best private universities and universities in general. In addition to Harvard and MIT, several other Massachusetts universities currently rank in the top 50 at the undergraduate level nationally in the widely cited rankings of U.S. News and World Report: Tufts University (#27), Boston College (#32), Brandeis University (#34), Boston University (#37) and Northeastern University (#40). Massachusetts is also home to three of the top five U.S. News and World Report's best Liberal Arts Colleges: Williams College (#1), Amherst College (#2), and Wellesley College (#4). Boston Architectural College is New England's largest private college of spatial design. The public University of Massachusetts (nicknamed UMass) features five campuses in the state, with its flagship campus in Amherst, which enrolls more than 25,000.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Massachusetts para niños

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