ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for the British Channel Island of Jersey.
NICKNAME: The Garden State.
ENTERED UNION: 18 December 1787 (3rd).
SONG: "I'm from New Jersey" (unofficial).
MOTTO: Liberty and Prosperity.
COAT OF ARMS: In the center is a shield with three plows, symbolic of agriculture. A helmet above indicates sovereignty, and a horse's head atop the helmet signifies speed and prosperity. The state motto and the date "1776" are displayed on a banner below.
FLAG: The coat of arms on a buff field.
OFFICIAL SEAL: The coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey."
BIRD: Eastern goldfinch.
TREE: Red oak; dogwood (memorial tree).
LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. 3rd Monday in January; Lincoln's Birthday, 12 February (sometimes observed on a Friday or Monday closest to this date); Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Good Friday, Friday before Easter. March or April; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Election Day, 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in November; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.
TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.
LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
Situated in the northeastern United States. New Jersey is the smallest of the Middle Atlantic states and ranks 46th among the 50 states.
The total area of New Jersey is 7,787 sq mi (20,168 sq km), of which 7,468 sq mi (19,342 sq km) constitute land and 319 sq mi (826 sq km) are inland water. New Jersey extends 166 mi (267 km) n-s; the extreme width e-w is 57 mi (92 km).
New Jersey is bordered on the n and ne by New York State (with the boundary formed partly by the Hudson River. New York Bay, and Arthur Kill, and passing through Raritan Bay); on the e by the Atlantic Ocean ; on the s and sw by Delaware (with the line passing through Delaware Bay); and on the w by Pennsylvania (separated by the Delaware River). Numerous barrier islands lie off the Atlantic coast.
New Jersey's total boundary length is 480 mi (773 km), including a general coastline of 130 mi (209 km); the tidal shoreline is 1,792 mi (2,884 km). The state's geographic center is in Mercer County, near Trenton.
Although small, New Jersey has considerable topographic variety. In the extreme northwest corner of the state are the Appalachian Valley and the Kittatinny Ridge and Valley. This area contains High Point, the state's peak elevation, at 1,803 ft (550 m) above sea level. To the east and south is the highlands region, an area of many natural lakes and steep ridges, including the Ramapo Mountains, part of the Appalachian chain. East of the highlands is a flat area broken by the high ridges of the Watchungs and Sourlands and — most spectacularly — by the Palisades, a column of traprock rising some 500 ft (150 m) above the Hudson River. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 250 ft (76 m).
The Atlantic Coastal Plain, a flat area with swamps and sandy beaches, claims the remaining two-thirds of the state. Its most notable feature is the Pine Barrens, 760 sq mi (1,968 sq km) of pitch pines and white oaks. Sandy Hook, a peninsula more than 5 mi (8 km) long, extending northward into the Atlantic from Monmouth County, is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean is the lowest elevation in the state.
Major rivers include the Delaware, forming the border with Pennsylvania, and the Passaic, Hackensack, and Raritan. The largest natural lake is Lake Hopatcong, about 8 mi (13 km) long. Some 550 to 600 million years ago, New Jersey's topography was the opposite of what it is now, with mountains to the east and a shallow sea to the west. Volcanic eruptions about 225 million years ago caused these eastern mountains to sink and new peaks to rise in the northwest; the lava flow formed the Watchung Mountains and the Palisades. The shoreline settled into its present shape at least 10,000 years ago.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware River, most of New Jersey has a moderate climate with cold winters and warm, humid summers. Winter temperatures are slightly colder and summer temperatures slightly milder in the northwestern hills than in the rest of the state.
In Atlantic City, the yearly average temperature is 54 ° f (12 ° c), ranging from 32 ° f (0 ° c) in January to 75 ° f (23 ° c) in July. Precipitation is plentiful, averaging 46 in (117 cm) annually; snowfall totals about 16 in (41 cm). At Atlantic City, annual precipitation is about 40.3 cm (102 cm). The annual average humidity is 81% at 7 am, reaching a normal high of 87% in September.
Statewide, the record high temperature is 110 ° f (43 ° c), set in Runyon on 10 July 1936; the record low is − 34 ° f ( − 37 ° c), set in River Vale on 5 January 1904. A 29.7-in. (75.4-cm) accumulation on Long Beach Island in 1947 was the greatest 24-hour snowfall in the state's recorded history. Occasional hurricanes and violent spring storms have damaged beachfront property over the years, and floods along northern New Jersey rivers especially in the Passaic River basin, are not uncommon. A serious drought occurs, on average, about once every 15 years.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Although highly urbanized, New Jersey still provides a diversity of natural regions, including a shady coastal zone, the hilly and wooded Allegheny zone, and the Pine Barrens in the south. Birch, beech, hickory, and elm all grow in the state, along with black locust, red maple, and 20 varieties of oak; common shrubs include the spicebush, staggerbush, and mountain laurel. Vast stretches beneath pine trees are covered with pyxie, a small creeping evergreen shrub. Common wild flowers include meadow rue, butter-flyweed, black-eyed Susan, and the ubiquitous eastern (common) dandelion. Among rare plants are Candy's lobelia, floating heart, and pennywort. Six plant species were listed as threatened or endangered in 2006, including the American chaffseed and small whorled pogonia.
Among mammals indigenous to New Jersey are the white-tailed deer, black bear, gray and red foxes, raccoon, woodchuck, opossum, striped skunk, eastern gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, and common cottontail. The herring gull, sandpiper, and little green and night herons are common shore birds, while the red-eyed vireo, hermit thrush, English sparrow, robin, cardinal, and Baltimore oriole are frequently sighted inland. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, serves as an important breeding and wintering site for over 70,000 birds each year. The site also supports 38 mammal species, 8 amphibian species, and 11 types of reptiles.
Anglers in the state prize the northern pike, chain pickerel, and various species of bass, trout, and perch. Declining or rare animals include the whippoorwill, hooded warbler, eastern hognose snake, northern red salamander, and northern kingfish. Sixteen animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) were listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered in April 2006, including four species of turtle, the Indiana bat, bald eagle, shortnose sturgeon, roseate tern, and three species of whale.
Laws and policies regulating the management and protection of New Jersey's environment and natural resources are administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The state devoted 1.4% of its total budget appropriations, or $225.1 million, to environmental protection in 1996 – 97.
The proximity of the populace to industrial plants and to the state's expansive highway system makes air pollution control a special concern in the state. New Jersey had one of the most comprehensive air pollution control programs in the United States, maintaining a network of 105 air pollution monitoring stations, as well as 60 stations that monitor just for particulates and 10 that monitor for radiation. New Jersey was the first state to begin a statewide search for sites contaminated by dioxin, a toxic
by-product in the manufacture of herbicides.
The DEP reported that a 1984 review of water quality in the state showed that water quality degradation had been halted and that the quality of streams had been stabilized or improved. The greatest improvements had been made in certain bays and estuaries along the Atlantic coast, where the elimination of discharges from older municipal sewage treatment plants resulted in the reopening of shellfish-harvesting grounds for the first time in 20 years. However, some rivers in highly urbanized areas were still severely polluted.
Approximately 1,500 treatment facilities discharge waste water into New Jersey's surface and groundwaters. Nearly 80% of these facilities comply with the requirements of federal and state clean water laws. Solid waste disposal in New Jersey became critical as major landfills reached capacity. In 1977, the state had more than 300 operating landfills; in 1991 there were about 50 landfills. The state's solid waste stream is 1,100 tons per capita. Some counties and municipalities were implementing recycling programs in 1985, and the state legislature was considering a bill to make recycling mandatory. By the mid-1990s the state of New Jersey had about 30 curbside recycling programs.
New Jersey's toxic waste cleanup program is among the most serious in the United States. In 2003, 23.1 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, New Jersey had 551 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 113 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center, the Middlesex Sampling Plant (of the US Department of Energy), and the US Radium Corp. as well as several farm sites. In 2004, New Jersey ranked first in the nation for the highest number of sites on the National Priorities List. In 2005, the EPA spent over $85 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $44 million for the clean water state revolving fund and $19 million for the drinking water revolving fund.
The New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund was established by the state legislature in 1977 and amended in 1980. A tax based on the transfer of hazardous substances and petroleum products is paid into the fund and used for the cleanup of spills.
New Jersey first acquired land for preservation purposes in 1907. Since 1961, the state has bought more than 240,000 acres (97,000 hectares) under a "Green Acres" program for conservation and recreation. In 1984, an $83-million Green Trust Fund was established to expand land acquisition. The Green Acres Program has assisted county and municipal governments in acquiring over 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares). Additionally, Green Acres is assisting nonprofit conservation groups in acquiring over 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares) in a 50% matching grant program established in 1989. The US Congress designated 1.1 million acres (445,000 hectares) in the southern part of the state as the Pinelands National Reserve in 1978. Since then, the state has purchased more than 60,000 acres (24,000 hectares) in the region, bringing the state open-space holding in the Pinelands to more than 270,000 acres (109,000 hectares). As of 1 July 1993, there were approximately 790,000 acres (319,000 hectares) of preserved public open space and recreation land in New Jersey.
There are about 916,000 acres (370,692 hectares) of wetlands in the state. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic coast was established in 1984 through the merger of the Brigantine and Barnegat National Wildlife Refuges. The site was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1986, primarily for its role as a habitat for breeding and wintering waterbirds. Part of the Delaware Bay Estuary wetlands lie within New Jersey, but jurisdiction of this Ramsar site (designated 1992) lies with the state of Delaware.
New Jersey ranked 10th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 8,717,925 in 2005, an increase of 3.6% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, New Jersey's population grew from 7,730,188 to 8,414,350, an increase of 8.9%. In 2004, New Jersey had the highest population density among the 50 states: 1,175.60 persons per sq mi. The population is projected to reach 9.2 million by 2015 and 9.6 million by 2025.
In 2004, the median age was 37.8. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 24.8% of the population while 12.9% was age 65 or older.
Sparsely populated at the time of the Revolutionary War, New Jersey did not pass the one million mark until the 1880 census. Most of the state's subsequent growth came through migration, especially from New York during the period after 1950 when the New Jersey population stood at 4,835,329. The most significant population growth came in older cities in northern New Jersey and in commuter towns near New York and Philadelphia. The average annual population growth declined from 2.3% in the 1950s to 1.7% in the 1960s, and the state actually experienced a net loss from migration of 275,000 during the 1970s. Total growth rose to 5% during the 1980s.
New Jersey's major population centers, with estimated 2004 population figures, are Newark, 280,451; Jersey City. 239,079; Paterson, 150,869; and Elizabeth, 124,724.
New Jersey is one of the most ethnically heterogeneous states. As of 2000, 1,476,327 New Jerseyites (17.5% of the state's population) were of foreign birth. The leading countries of origin were Italy, 7.3%; Cuba. 6.5%; India. 5.4%; and Germany. 4.4%. As of 2001, New Jersey had the third-highest percentage of foreign-born residents among the 50 states, surpassed only by California and New York.
Blacks first came to New Jersey as slaves in the 1600s; the state abolished slavery in 1804, one of the last of the northern states to do so. Today black people constitute the state's largest (13.6%) ethnic minority, 1,141,821 as of 2000. Newark elected its first black mayor, Kenneth Gibson, in 1970, three years after the city was torn by racial disorders that killed 26 people and injured some 1,500 others. In 2004, 14.5% of the state's population was black.
The estimated Hispanic and Latino population in 2000 was 1,117,191 (up from 868,000 in 1996), or 13.3% of the total. The Puerto Rican population, which increased from 55,361 in 1960 to 366,788 in 2000, lived mostly in Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Paterson, and Passaic. There were 77,337 Cubans in 2000, many of them in Union City and Elizabeth; their numbers were augmented by the migration of Cuban refugees in 1980. Smaller Spanish-speaking groups included Colombians and Dominicans. In 2004, 14.9% of the state's population was Hispanic or Latino.
The estimated number of Asians living in New Jersey in 2000 was 480,276, the fifth-largest total among the 50 states. Pacific Islanders numbered 273,000. The largest group of Asians reported was from India (169,180 in 2000, up from 54,039 in 1990); there were 85,245 Filipinos, 100,355 Chinese (more than double the 1990 figure of 47,068), 65,349 Koreans, and 14,672 Japanese. In 2004, 7% of the state's population was Asian.
The state's total Native American population, including Eskimos and Aleuts, numbered 19,492 in 2000. Among the state's American Indians is a group claiming to be descended from Dutch settlers, black slaves, British and German soldiers, and Leni-Lenape and Tuscarora Indians; incorporated as the Ramapough Mountain Indians in 1978, they live in the Ramapo hills near Ringwood and Mahwah. In 2004, 0.3% of the state's population was American Indian.
In 2004, 1.2% of the state's population reported origin of two or more races.
European settlers found New Jersey inhabited largely by the Leni-Lenape Indians, whose legacy can still be found in such placenames as Passaic, Totowa, Hopatcong, Kittatinny, and Piscataway.
In 2000, 5,854,578 New Jerseyites — 74.5% of the resident population five years old or older — spoke only English at home, down from 80.5% in 1990.
The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil. and Turkish. The category "Other Indic languages" includes Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Romany. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali.