New Jersey

The Garden State

Where is it?

State Flag




Geographic coordinates:
38°55'N to 41°21'23"N
73°53'39"W to 75°35'W
total: 8,722 sq mi
land: 7,419 sq mi
water: 1,303 sq mi
coastline: 130 mi
shoreline: 1,792 mi
Bordering States:
Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 0 ft
highest point: High Point 1,803 ft
The western border of New Jersey is largely defined by the Delaware River. Because of its dense population and because most communities of northern New Jersey do not have the widespread reservoir system of neighboring Greater New York City, the slightest dry season leads to drought warnings; but because there are many streams and rivers close to these communities, the slightest above average rainfall causes frequent flooding as many parts of Northern New Jersey are part of a flood plain. It is also at the center of the Boston to Washington megalopolis.

New Jersey is broadly divided into three geographic regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. North Jersey lies within New York City's general sphere of influence (i.e. largely within the New York metropolitan area), and some residents commute to the city to work. Central Jersey is a largely suburban area. South Jersey is within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's general sphere of influence, and most of it is included in the Delaware Valley. Such geographic definitions are loosely defined, however, and there is often dispute over where one region begins and another ends. Some people do not consider Central Jersey to exist at all, but most believe it is a separate geographic and cultural area from the North and South.




8,938,175 (2014)
Largest City:
Newark: 277,140 (2010)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 6.7%
<18 years old: 24.8%
65 years and over: 12.9%
Male: 48.7% Female: 51.3%
Population growth rate:
3.6% (2000-2005)
Population density:
1,134 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 63.8%
Hispanic: 14.9%
Black: 14.5%
Asian: 7.0%
Native American: 0.3%
Multi-Race: 1.2%
Christian: N/A
Other: N/A
Non-Religious: N/A




Some claim there is evidence suggesting that people have inhabited New Jersey since 10,500 BC. This would have been a post Ice age culture consisting of traveling hunters. However, the Europeans were the first to document the land. New Jersey’s first European presence was not until the year 1497, when Italian explorer John Cabot first saw New Jersey while sailing up the coast. “Florentine, Giovanni da Verrazano, reportedly visited the coast in 1524” but neither of these men are considered New Jersey’s discoverer. Cabot failed to explore the land and Verrazano left no record supporting his claim.

Sir Henry Hudson is the explorer generally credited with having discovered New Jersey in 1609. On September 4, 1609 he dropped anchor in Cape May and took a crew of 20 men for a week of exploration. He didn’t leave any European culture behind, but he did document his discovery very well. New Jersey’s first taste of European personality came from Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey. In “1620 he sailed up the Delaware, and in 1624 he erected Fort Nassau at the Mouth of Timber Creek” (Pomfret 5b). He explored the greater Delaware Bay area and confirmed that the land was good for planting. He declared it as ready for colonization and named Cape May in his own honor.

Europeans agreed that the land was good for planting, but they felt discontent towards the inhabitants. The Lenni-Lenape tribe occupied New Jersey at this time. The Europeans found them strange and uncivilized; while in fact that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Lenni-Lenape Native Americans tribe was part of the larger group of Algonquian-speaking peoples. The tribe was well organized into “three groups, which were geographic distributed” (Worton 27). These sub-tribes each had a sub-chief or sakima. The sub-tribes each had their respective names, “the Minsi, or the people of the stony country in the north; the Unami, or the people down the river in the central portion; and Unilachitgo or the people who leave near the ocean in the south” (ibid 27). The Unami sakima was normally thought to be the chief of the whole Lenni-Lenape tribe. The tribe was in fact so well organized that it had a network of trails resembling the locations of many of our modern-day highways. They were also the leading force of peace within the nation. The tribe was frequently asked to serve as intermediaries to settle inter-tribal conflicts.

It was their contact with the early Dutch traders that would be the beginning of the end for the Lenni-Lenape. In 1638, a company of Swedes and ethnic Finns, under the supervision of Dutch political and commercial interests, set sail for the New World. They sailed across the North Atlantic, south along the New Jersey Coast, then into the Delaware Bay and up the Delaware River to Wilmington. They began to settle both sides of the Delaware at a site not far from what would become Salem. A fort named Old Fort Elfsborg became the central hub for trade. The Scandinavian influence prevails today as linguists theorize that certain speech patterns in Southern New Jersey area are traceable to the mixed and changing Swedish-English vocabulary.




December 18, 1787 (3rd State)
State Tree:
Northern Red Oak
State Bird:
Eastern Goldfinch
State Flower:
The Governor of New Jersey is considered one of the most powerful governors in the nation, as it is currently the only state-wide elected office in the state and appoints many government officials. Formerly, an acting governor was even more powerful as he simultaneously served as president of the senate, thus directing half of the legislative and all of the executive process. Richard Codey was the last to serve that way as the result of a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2005.

The current version of the New Jersey State 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.

New Jersey was once a politically competitive state in the past but has become a Democratic stronghold since 1980s; the legislature has also switched hands, and one house was evenly divided from 1999–2001. Three of the last five gubernatorial elections have been close. The Congressional seats have also been as evenly divided as thirteen seats can be. Currently; the Democrats hold the post of Governor, have majority control of both the houses of state legislature, have both Congressional Senate seats and also most positions in state delegation to House of Representatives.




The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Jersey's total state product in 2004 was $416 billion. Its per capita personal income in 2004 was $41,636, 4th in the U.S. and 126% of the national average of $33,041. Its median household income is the highest in the nation with $55,146. It is ranked 2nd in the nation by the number of places with per capita incomes above national average with 76.4%. Nine of New Jersey's counties are in the wealthiest 100 of the country. Women in New Jersey earn the highest per capita income as stated in a 2002 article in the Newark Star-Ledger.

The Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal is one of the world's largest container ports although its imports are being threatened by the relatively low Bayonne Bridge. Newark Liberty International Airport is ranked seventh among the nation's busiest airports and among the top 20 busiest airports in the world.

Its agricultural outputs are nursery stock, horses, vegetables, fruits and nuts, seafood, and dairy products. In particular, cranberries and eggplant are two of the state's largest crops. Hammonton in the southern part of the state is known as the blueberry capital of the world. 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. Additionally, New Jersey is home to the largest petroleum containment system outside of the Middle East.

New Jersey hosts several business headquarters. Fifty Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in or conduct business from Morris County alone. New Jersey is said to have the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the world: nearly one hundred companies on the Fortune 500 list have headquarters or conduct business from New Jersey. Paramus is noted for having one of the highest retail sales per person ratios in the nation. Several New Jersey counties such as Somerset (#7), Morris (10), Hunterdon (13), Bergen (21), Monmouth (42) counties have been ranked among the highest-income counties in the United States. Four others are also in the top 100.