Located in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States, New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state, but the 11th-most populated and the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. States. To the north and east is New York, to the southeast and south is the Atlantic Ocean, to the west is Pennsylvania, and to the southwest is Delaware.
It is the second-wealthiest state in terms of the median household income according to the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Let's explore some key information about this place before we delve into the geography, climate, and economy information available.
State abbreviation: NJ
Largest city: Newark
Highest point: High Point (1,803 feet)
Admitted to the Union: December 18,1787 (3rd state)
Prior to colonization, this area was home to Native Americans for 2,800 years. Tribes like the Lenape lived along the coast. In the 17th century, the Dutch and Swedes arrived and created the first European settlements in the area.
The English came to the area later and named it the Province of New Jersey, named after the birthplace of one of the colony's leaders: Sir George Carteret. The other owner of the colony was John Berkeley. During the American Revolution, this was the location where several decisive battles were fought.
Over the course of the 19th century, several major cities were responsible for driving the Industrial Revolution forward.:
The unique geographical location of this state within the Northeast megalopolis between Boston and New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. was ideal for growth. The state grew quickly through the process of suburbanization in the 1950's and into the present.
Today NJ has seen two light rail systems opened in the 2000's known as the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and the River Line. These new additions have revitalized their respective areas, and the state continues to steadily grow.
Climate and Geographical Features
Despite being so small, the state has two different climate conditions. In the south, central, and northeastern portions of the state, there is a humid mesothermal climate. The north has a different profile though, it is a humid continental climate (also known as microthermal) which is much cooler because of the higher elevation.
Each year, New Jersey receives anywhere from 2,400 to 2,8000 hours of sunshine. Summers tend to be hot and humid. For the most part, temperatures don't go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but on an average of 25 days each summer they have been known to.
In the winter, most of the area doesn't have sub-zero temperatures, but the phenomenon is more common in the north. Rainfall ranges from 43 to 51 inches each year and is usually spread evenly throughout the time period. On average, there is rain 120 days each year and 25 to 30 thunderstorms which usually happen during the summer.
In the Winter and Spring months, there is a possibility for "nor'easters." This is the name for macro-scale storms along the northeastern coast of the U.S. These have been known to cause everything from flooding, to blizzards in the past.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are fairly rare, but NJ has been hit before. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 for example hit the state with winds of 90 mph. The state's geography can be divided in a number of ways. For example, if we're looking at natural features and population, we get five distinct regions:
The Gateway Region (Northeast, close to New York City and Manhattan)
Skylands (Northwestern, wooded, rural, and mountainous)
The Shore (Atlantic coast)
The Delaware Valley (southwestern, near Philadelphia)
Pine Barrens (interior, pine and oak forests, low population density)
The highest point in the state is ironically named "High Point," it is 1,803 feet in height. Major rivers within the borders are as follows:
Looking at the geology of the state, we need to go back 250 million years to the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. What would eventually become NJ was originally connected to northern Africa as part of the supercontinent of Pangea. The collision of North American and Africa is what created the Appalachian Mountains.
Roughly 180 million years ago, the continents separated and Africa drifted to where it is currently. After the end of the last ice age around 18,000 years ago, the retreating glaciers created Lake Passaic in addition to rivers, swamps, and gorges.
Economic Structures and Statistics
The gross state product as estimated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is $487 billion in 2010. The unemployment rate as of 2012 was 9%. In 2013 it was ranked second in the number millionaires per capita in the U.S. Overall it is ranked 2nd in terms of incomes higher than the national average.
76.4% of the state's counties are among the top 100 in the country. While the economy as a whole has a lot of different industries within it, the main ones remain the same:
There are number of agricultural items that fuel the economy. Along with outputs of seafood and horses, the state also produces a large number of blueberries, cranberries, spinach, bell peppers, peaches, and head lettuce. NJ ranks in the top 10 for production of these items as well.
While there are a number of high-energy industries here, the state puts out very little carbon dioxide emissions and only uses 2.7% of the total power consumption in the U.S. Nuclear power is responsible for over half of the generation in the area.
There are three plants here in total, one of which is Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, the oldest operating plant in the country. Shipping is a major part of the economy because of the location on the ocean. The Port Newark-Elizabeth Maine Terminal is the world's first container port and one of the largest.
New Jersey is a small place with a lot of big things going on. Before you move on to the next state, be sure to check out our list of New Jersey state facts.