New Jersey

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New Jersey

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by Delaware Bay and the state of Delaware. At 7,354 square miles (19,050 km2), New Jersey is the fifth-smallest state based on land area, but with close to 9.3 million residents, is the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated. New Jersey’s state capital is Trenton, while the state’s most populous city is Newark. With the sole exception of Warren County, all counties in the state lie within the combined statistical areas of New York City or Philadelphia; consequently, the state’s largest metropolitan area falls within Greater New York.

Geography

The state of New Jersey is bordered on the north and northeast by New York (parts of which are across the Hudson River, Upper New York Bay, the Kill Van Kull, Newark Bay, and the Arthur Kill); on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the southwest by Delaware across Delaware Bay; and on the west by Pennsylvania across the Delaware River. This is New Jersey’s only straight border. New Jersey is often broadly divided into three geographic regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. Some New Jersey residents do not consider Central Jersey a region in its own right, but others believe it is a separate geographic and cultural area from the North and South.

Within those regions are five distinct areas, based upon natural geography and population concentration. Northeastern New Jersey lies closest to Manhattan in New York City, and up to a million residents commute daily into the city for work, many via public transportation. Northwestern New Jersey is more wooded, rural, and mountainous. The chief tree of the northern forests is the oak. The Jersey Shore, along the Atlantic Coast in Central and South Jersey, has its own unique natural, residential, and cultural characteristics owing to its location by the ocean. The Delaware Valley includes the southwestern counties of the state, which reside within the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. The Pine Barrens region is in the southern interior of New Jersey; covered rather extensively by mixed pine and oak forest, this region has a lower population density than most of the rest of the state. Forests cover 45%, or approximately 2.1 million acres, of New Jersey’s land area.

Climate

There are two climatic conditions in the state. The south, central, and northeast parts of the state have a humid subtropical climate, while the northwest has a humid continental climate (microthermal), with much cooler temperatures due to higher elevation. New Jersey receives between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually. Climate change is affecting New Jersey faster than much of the rest of the United States. As of 2019, New Jersey was one of the fastest-warming states in the nation.

Summers are typically hot and humid, with statewide average high temperatures of 82–87 °F (28–31 °C) and lows of 60–69 °F (16–21 °C); however, temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on average 25 days each summer, exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) in some years. Winters are usually cold, with average high temperatures of 34–43 °F (1–6 °C) and lows of 16 to 28 °F (−9 to −2 °C) for most of the state, but temperatures can, for brief periods, fall below 10 °F (−12 °C) and sometimes rise above 50 °F (10 °C). Northwestern parts of the state have significantly colder winters with sub-0 °F (−18 °C) being an almost annual occurrence. Spring and autumn may feature wide temperature variations, with lower humidity than summer. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone classification ranges from 6 in the northwest of the state, to 7B near Cape May. All-time temperature extremes recorded in New Jersey include 110 °F (43 °C) on July 10, 1936, in Runyon, Middlesex County and −34 °F (−37 °C) on January 5, 1904, in River Vale, Bergen County.

Demographics

Population

The United States Census Bureau tabulated in the 2020 United States census that the population of New Jersey was 9,288,994 on April 1, 2020, a 5.7% increase since the 2010 United States census. Residents of New Jersey are most commonly referred to as New Jerseyans or, less commonly, as New Jerseyites. At the 2010 census, there were 8,791,894 people living in the state.

Race and ethnicity

The 2019 Vintage Year Census data reported the following makeup estimates: 71.9% White alone, 15.1% Black or African American alone, 10.0% Asian alone, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native alone, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, and 2.3% Two or more races. Hispanic or Latino accounted for 20.9%, while White alone (non Hispanic or Latino) accounted for 54.6% of the population.

In 2010, unauthorized immigrants constituted an estimated 6.2% of the population. This was the fourth-highest percentage of any state in the country. There were an estimated 550,000 illegal immigrants in the state in 2010. Among the municipalities which are considered sanctuary cities are Camden, Jersey City, and Newark.

Languages

As of 2010, 71.31% (5,830,812) of New Jersey residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 14.59% (1,193,261) spoke Spanish, 1.23% (100,217) Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin), 1.06% (86,849) Italian, 1.06% (86,486) Portuguese, 0.96% (78,627) Tagalog, and Korean was spoken as a main language by 0.89% (73,057) of the population over the age of five. In total, 28.69% (2,345,644) of New Jersey’s population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.

A diverse collection of languages has since evolved amongst the state’s population, given that New Jersey has become cosmopolitan and is home to ethnic enclaves of non-English-speaking communities.

Religion

By number of adherents, the largest denominations in New Jersey, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives in 2010, were the Roman Catholic Church with 3,235,290; Islam with 160,666; and the United Methodist Church with 138,052. In September 2021, the State of New Jersey aligned with the World Hindu Council to declare October as Hindu Heritage Month.

The world’s largest Hindu temple was inaugurated in Robbinsville, Mercer County, in central New Jersey during 2014, a BAPS temple. In January 2018, Gurbir Grewal became the first Sikh American state attorney general in the United States. In January 2019, Sadaf Jaffer became the first female Muslim American mayor, first female South Asian mayor, and first female Pakistani-American mayor in the United States, of Montgomery in Somerset County.

Economy

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Jersey’s gross state product in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $639.8 billion. New Jersey’s estimated taxpayer burden in 2015 was $59,400 per taxpayer. New Jersey is nearly $239 billion in debt.

Affluence

New Jersey's per capita gross state product in 2008 was $54,699, second in the U.S. and above the national per capita gross domestic product of $46,588. Its per capita income was the third highest in the nation with $51,358. In 2020, New Jersey had the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, approximately 9.76% of households. The state is ranked second 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 among the 100 wealthiest U.S. counties.

Industries

New Jersey's economy is multifaceted, but is centered on the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, information technology, the financial industry, chemical development, telecommunications, food processing, electric equipment, printing, publishing, and tourism. New Jersey's agricultural outputs are nursery stock, horses, vegetables, fruits and nuts, seafood, and dairy products. New Jersey ranks second among states in blueberry production, third in cranberries and spinach, and fourth in bell peppers, peaches, and head lettuce. The state harvests the fourth-largest number of acres planted with asparagus.

New Jersey has a strong scientific economy and is home to major pharmaceutical and telecommunications firms, drawing on the state's large and well-educated labor pool. There is also a strong service economy in retail sales, education, and real estate, serving residents who work in New York City or Philadelphia. Thomas Edison invented the first electric light bulb at his home in Menlo Park, Edison in 1879. New Jersey is also a key participant in the renewable wind industry. New Jersey has more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere in the world, and is a global leader in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, life sciences, and technology.

Tourism

New Jersey's location at the center of the Northeast megalopolis and its extensive transportation system have put over one-third of all United States residents and many Canadian residents within overnight distance by land. This accessibility to consumer revenue has enabled seaside resorts such as Atlantic City and the remainder of the Jersey Shore, as well as the state's other natural and cultural attractions, to contribute significantly to the record 111 million tourist visits to New Jersey in 2018, providing US$44.7 billion in tourism revenue, directly supporting 333,860 jobs, sustaining more than 531,000 jobs overall including peripheral impacts, and generating US$5 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Gambling

In 1976, a referendum of New Jersey voters approved casino gambling in Atlantic City, where the first legalized casino opened in 1978. At that time, Las Vegas was the only other casino resort in the country. Today, several casinos lie along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the first and longest boardwalk in the world being 5.5 miles long. Atlantic City experienced a dramatic contraction in its stature as a gambling destination after 2010, including the closure of multiple casinos since 2014, spurred by competition from the advent of legalized gambling in other northeastern U.S. states. On February 26, 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed online gambling into law. Sports betting has become a growing source of gambling revenue in New Jersey since being legalized across the nation by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14, 2018.

Natural resources and energy

Some mining activity of zinc, iron, and manganese still takes place in the area in and around the Franklin Furnace. Although New Jersey is home to many energy-intensive industries, its energy consumption is only 2.7% of the U.S. total, and its carbon dioxide emissions are 0.8% of the U.S. total. New Jersey's electricity comes primarily from natural gas and nuclear power. New Jersey is seventh in the nation in solar power installations, enabled by one of the country's most favorable net metering policies and renewable portfolio standard. The state has more than 140,000 solar installations.

Education

Secretary of Education Rick Rosenberg, appointed by Governor Jon Corzine, created the Education Advancement Initiative (EAI) to increase college admission rates by 10% for New Jersey’s high school students, decrease dropout rates by 15%, and increase the amount of money devoted to schools by 10%. Rosenberg retracted this plan when criticized for taking the money out of healthcare to fund this initiative.

New Jersey is known for the quality of its education. In 2015, the state spent more per each public school student than any other U.S. state except New York, Alaska, and Connecticut, amounting to $18,235 spent per pupil; over 50% of the expenditure was allocated to student instruction.

Culture

General

New Jersey has continued to play a prominent role as a U.S. cultural nexus. Like every state, New Jersey has its own cuisine, religious communities, museums, and halls of fame. New Jersey is the birthplace of modern inventions such as: FM radio, the motion picture camera, the lithium battery, the light bulb, transistors, and the electric train. Other New Jersey creations include: the drive-in movie, the cultivated blueberry, cranberry sauce, the postcard, the boardwalk, the zipper, the phonograph, saltwater taffy, the dirigible, the seedless watermelon, the first use of a submarine in warfare, and the ice cream cone. Diners are iconic to New Jersey. The state is home to many diner manufacturers and has over 600 diners, more than any other place in the world.

New Jersey is frequently the target of jokes in American culture, especially from New York City-based television shows, such as Saturday Night Live. Academic Michael Aaron Rockland attributes this to New Yorkers' view that New Jersey is the beginning of Middle America. The New Jersey Turnpike, which runs between two major East Coast cities, New York City and Philadelphia, is also cited as a reason, as people who traverse through the state may only see its industrial zones. Reality television shows like Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey have reinforced stereotypical views of New Jersey culture, but Rockland cited The Sopranos and the music of Bruce Springsteen as exporting a more positive image.

Cuisine

New Jersey is known for several foods developed within the region, including Taylor Ham (also known as pork roll), sloppy joe sandwiches, tomato pies, salt water taffy, and Texas wieners. New York City cuisine has an influence on North Jersey's cuisine, and in Philadelphia cuisine influences South Jersey.

New Jersey third largest industry is food and agriculture just behind pharmaceuticals and tourism. New Jersey is one of the top 10 producers of blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, apples, spinach, squash, and asparagus in the United States. Many restaurants in the state get locally grown ingredients because of this. Campbell's Soup Company has been headquartered in Camden since 1869. Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, operates a corporate headquarters in Jersey City.

Transportation

Roadways

The New Jersey Turnpike is one of the most prominent and heavily trafficked roadways in the United States. This toll road, which overlaps with Interstate 95 for much of its length, carries traffic between Delaware and New York, and up and down the East Coast in general. Commonly referred to as simply "the Turnpike", it is known for its numerous rest areas named after prominent New Jerseyans. The Garden State Parkway, or simply "the Parkway", carries relatively more in-state traffic than interstate traffic and runs from New Jersey's northern border to its southernmost tip at Cape May.

It is the main route that connects the New York metropolitan area to the Jersey Shore. With a total of fifteen travel and six shoulder lanes, the Driscoll Bridge on the Parkway, spanning the Raritan River in Middlesex County, is the widest motor vehicle bridge in the world by number of lanes as well as one of the busiest. New Jersey is connected to New York City via various key bridges and tunnels. The double-decked George Washington Bridge carries the heaviest load of motor vehicle traffic of any bridge in the world, at 102 million vehicles per year, across fourteen lanes. It connects Fort Lee, New Jersey to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, and carries Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1/9 across the Hudson River.

The Lincoln Tunnel connects to Midtown Manhattan carrying New Jersey Route 495, and the Holland Tunnel connects to Lower Manhattan carrying Interstate 78. New Jersey is also connected to Staten Island by three bridges—from north to south, the Bayonne Bridge, the Goethals Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing.

Airports

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is one of the busiest airports in the United States. Operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, it is one of the three main airports serving the New York metropolitan area. United Airlines is the airport's largest tenant, operating an entire terminal there, which it uses as one of its primary hubs. FedEx Express operates a large cargo terminal at EWR as well. The adjacent Newark Airport railroad station provides access to Amtrak and NJ Transit trains along the Northeast Corridor Line.

Two smaller commercial airports, Atlantic City International Airport and rapidly growing Trenton-Mercer Airport, also operate in other parts of the state. Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, and Millville Municipal Airport in Cumberland County, are general aviation airports popular with private and corporate aircraft due to their proximity to New York City and the Jersey Shore, respectively.

Rail and Bus

NJ Transit operates extensive rail and bus service throughout the state. A state-run corporation, it began with the consolidation of several private bus companies in North Jersey in 1979. In the early 1980s, it acquired Conrail's commuter train operations that connected suburban towns to New York City. Today, NJ Transit has eleven commuter rail lines that run through different parts of the state. Most of the lines end at either Penn Station in New York City or Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken. One line provides service between Atlantic City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

NJ Transit also operates three light rail systems in the state. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail connects Bayonne to North Bergen, through Hoboken and Jersey City. The Newark Light Rail is partially underground, and connects downtown Newark with other parts of the city and its suburbs, Belleville and Bloomfield. The River Line connects Trenton and Camden.

Ferries

New York Waterway has ferry terminals at Belford, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, and Edgewater, with service to different parts of Manhattan. Liberty Water Taxi in Jersey City has ferries from Paulus Hook and Liberty State Park to Battery Park City in Manhattan. Statue Cruises offers service from Liberty State Park to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, including Ellis Island. SeaStreak offers services from the Raritan Bayshore to Manhattan, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority operates the Cape May–Lewes Ferry on Delaware Bay, carrying both passengers and vehicles between New Jersey and Delaware. The agency also operates the Forts Ferry Crossing for passengers across the Delaware River. The Delaware River Port Authority operates the RiverLink Ferry between the Camden waterfront and Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

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