New Hampshire is one among the six states located in the New England region of the United States (alongside Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.). With a total area of approximately 9,350 square miles (24,200 square kilometers), it is the 45th state in terms of land area, making it one of the smallest among the U.S. states. Despite its small size, New Hampshire is known for its natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and rich history, with over 80% covered in forests. The state is home to picturesque lakes such as Lake Winnipesaukee, which is the largest lake in New Hampshire. The White Mountains provide outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other recreational activities, and in the fall, the state's forests transform into a vibrant display of colors, attracting tourists from far and wide.
New Hampshire played a significant role in American history, particularly during the Revolutionary War and the formation of the United States. This history has instilled in New Hampshire a strong sense of individual liberty, which continues to be embraced by its residents. The state's motto is "Live Free or Die," reflecting its independent spirit and unwavering commitment to personal freedom. With a diverse economy, sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, education, and technology play vital roles in New Hampshire. The state is home to several renowned universities and colleges, contributing to a vibrant educational environment. Additionally, its proximity to major metropolitan areas in the northeastern United States, including Boston, provides further advantages for the state.
New Hampshire Geography
New Hampshire is bordered by Massachusetts and Vermont to the south and west, respectively; Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east; and Quebec (Canada) to the north. The state is roughly 70 miles wide from east to west and extends approximately 190 miles from north to south. With a total land area of 8,969 square miles, New Hampshire also encompasses 382 square miles of water.
Landscape and Climate
The landscape of New Hampshire bears the imprint of the last glacial age (70,000 to 10,000 years ago) which shaped the region by moving the Wisconsin ice sheet from northwest to southeast. Moreover, the topography of the state's mountain regions including Crawford, Franconia, Dixville, and Pinkham which consists of hollow valleys and potholes is believed to have been molded by glacial activity.
Although New Hampshire embraces all four distinct seasons, their summers are typically short and mild, while winters are chilly and extensive. Influenced by its proximity to the ocean and mountains, the state experiences a significantly fluctuating climate, in both daily and seasonal temperatures.
New Hampshire is often referred to as the "Mother of Rivers" due to its significant contribution to the origins of five major rivers in New England. The state’s nickname of the “granite state” is fitting as five of New England’s great streams begin in its granite hills.
The state boasts extensive forests, with over 81% (4.8 million acres) New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the nation, after Delaware. A rich variety of tree species can be found in the state including oak, elm, pine, and maple; and alpine plants such as willow and balsam fir. New Hampshire is also home to native mammal species including beaver, white-tailed deer, porcupine, and snowshoe hare.
New Hampshire People and Population
With a population of 1.4 million people, New Hampshire is among the smallest state by populace in the United States. The state has a relatively low population density compared to other states. Historically, New Hampshire has had a predominantly white population, with the majority identifying as non-Hispanic whites. Although this trend continues to this day, the state has seen an increase in diversity over the years, with growing populations of Hispanics, Asians, and other racial and ethnic groups. New Hampshirites are known to possess a strong tradition of volunteerism and community involvement, with a range of local events and organizations that foster a sense of belonging and support.
According to the 2022 U.S. Census, the larger majority of New Hampshire’s population (61.7%) is aged between 18 and 64, with 20.2% being over 65 years old. Based on a comparison done by the University of New Hampshire, their median age of 43.1 in 2019 made New Hampshire the second-oldest state in the nation.
In 2022, exactly one-half (50%) of New Hampshire’s residents identified as female.
According to the U.S. Census in 2022, a large majority of New Hampshire's population consists of people with European heritage (92%), specifically of white ethnicity. The presence of Asians, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, and Hispanics is relatively small in comparison, as each group makes up less than 5% of the total, with the Hispanics leading in second with 4%.
According to the Religious Landscape Study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the majority of adults in New Hampshire, accounting for 59%, identified themselves as followers of various Christian denominations. Among them, 26% identified as Catholics. Additionally, approximately 36% of the population did not affiliate with any specific religious faith.
In 2021, the median household income in New Hampshire was $83,449, with a per capita income of $43,877. The percentage of persons in poverty was estimated to be 7.2%.
Based on the 2022 Census, 93.6% of residents in New Hampshire reported holding a high school diploma, and 38.2 % held a higher education degree (a bachelor’s degree or higher).
New Hampshire boasts several prestigious college-preparatory schools, such as Phillips Exeter Academy, Kimball Union Academy, and St. Paul's School. In addition, the state is home to Dartmouth College, which is an Ivy League research institution.
According to a 2022 study conducted by the National Education Association, the funding for education in New Hampshire was allocated in the following manner: 31.4% came from the state, while local taxpayers contributed 63%. This distribution represents the lowest proportion of state funding and the highest proportion of local funding among all 50 states for public education.
New Hampshire experienced a population growth of 7,700 (0.55 percent) between July 2021 and July 2022, according to recent Census Bureau estimates. This population increase was the second largest in New England and was entirely driven by migration.
Traditionally, the state has had a small but growing immigrant community with only 1 in 16 New Hampshirites being born in another country. Moreover, these immigrants tended to be educated (41% possessed a college degree or higher, while 87% were fluent in English).
The center of New Hampshire's population is located in Manchester, which is the state's largest city, home to approximately 115,141 people.
The state of New Hampshire operates under a system of three branches of government: the Legislative Branch (General Court), the Executive Branch (Governor, Executive Councilors, and State Agencies, all of which house the State House), and the Judicial Branch (courts). Each branch has its own powers and responsibilities over maintaining state laws and the system of checks and balances. The county, school district, zoning and municipal governments all fall under the local government. The state legislature, also known as the General Court of New Hampshire consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Executive Council advises the governor who is responsible for all other departments including law enforcement. The state constitution was adopted statewide in 1784, and grants authority to these branches, which are ultimately controlled by the residents of New Hampshire.
The state has a long history of being a two-party system, with shifts in dominance between the Democratic and Republican parties. Notably, New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary during presidential elections has gained significant national importance, serving as a gauge for broader political trends. The state's constitution has undergone modifications through conventions held periodically, yet a substantial portion of the original constitution remains in effect.
Similar to the rest of New England, New Hampshire leans socially liberal and is considered one of the least religious states in the nation. Despite its social liberalism, the state has a strong aversion to state taxation and bureaucracy. The state is currently governed by a Republican governor, Chris Sununu, and has a Republican-controlled legislature. It is the only state in the Northeast region without a general sales tax and without personal income tax.
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the two largest political parties in New Hampshire, with the Democratic Party holding a slightly larger voter registration. A significant portion of voters in the state register as undeclared, allowing them to choose either party's ballot in primary elections. New Hampshire is also among the handful of states that choose not to have the position of Lieutenant Governor.
Based on estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, New Hampshire's GDP in 2022 was $84 billion, ranking 44th in the United States. The state has one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, and its economy is considered to be robust despite the challenges posed by the recession and the pandemic. Additionally, according to figures released by the White House, New Hampshire's economy had recovered 98 percent of the jobs lost during the early stages of the pandemic by 2022. The state's unemployment rate was recorded at 2.3% in April 2022.
Historically, New Hampshire's largest industries were centered around paper and grain mills, similar to other states in the New England region. These industries heavily relied on manufacturing during the 20th century. However, in recent decades, there has been a shift towards technology and smart manufacturing, which have become the largest and most significant sectors in the state.
Additionally, tourism plays a vital role in New Hampshire's economy, leveraging its natural resources and recreational opportunities to attract visitors from outside the state. Popular destinations such as the Seacoast, Lakes Region, and White Mountains contribute to the thriving tourism industry. Moreover, New Hampshire has gained prominence in the field of biomedical research, with institutions like Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center earning recognition, particularly in the Seacoast region.
Arts and Entertainment
New Hampshire has a vibrant arts scene and is home to numerous theaters, music venues, art galleries, and cultural festivals that showcase local talent and attract renowned artists from various disciplines, The state also boasts a thriving community of artists, musicians, and performers who contribute to the creative fabric of New Hampshire including singer Mandy Moore and comedian and actor Adam Sandler. Additionally, New Hampshire's natural beauty and scenic landscapes often serve as inspiration for artists, photographers, and filmmakers including Ken Burns.
Space, Science and Technology
New Hampshire is home to several renowned research institutions, including Dartmouth College, which conducts cutting-edge scientific research in various disciplines. The State also boasts a thriving technology sector, with numerous companies specializing in fields such as information technology, software development, and biotechnology. In terms of space-related activities the Southwest Research Institute which opened in 2013 conducts spaceflight and suborbital research with projects focused on heliophysics, astrophysics, and Earth sciences. The Space Science Center (SSC) at the University of New Hampshire is also known for conducting research focusing on both near-Earth space and the distant universe.
New Hampshire’s combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, historical heritage, and cultural offerings make it a compelling destination for tourism. Known for its stunning mountainous forests and landscape, many locations offer opportunities for hiking, skiing, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities, including the White Mountains, Lakes Region, and Seacoast. The Appalachian Trail also passes through the state, attracting hikers and nature enthusiasts, as well as family-friendly attractions such as amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and museums. The Polar Caves Park, Story Land, the Old Man of the Mountain (pre-2003), and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center are among the popular choices. New Hampshire is also renowned for its picturesque scenic drives, such as the Kancamagus Highway and the Mount Washington Auto Road, which provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. New Hampshire has a rich history, with sites such as Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, the Canterbury Shaker Village, and the USS Albacore Museum in Portsmouth.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2022, hay emerged as the primary agricultural product in New Hampshire, with maple syrup and corn being the following significant crops. Based on information shared by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, farms in the state exhibit a range of sizes, mostly falling within the small to medium-sized category. The main products include flowers, shrubs, milk, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, horses, and livestock. Family farms in New Hampshire tend to thrive by embracing innovation and diversifying their production.
Wealth and Poverty
According to official statistics, New Hampshire boasts a relatively high median household income and a low poverty rate, in comparison to other states, However, the number of individuals living in poverty in the state still reaches nearly 100,000. In 2021, over 25% of households in New Hampshire had an annual income below $50,000, while more than 16% had less than $35,000. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (https://www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi/products/documents/ec-0622.pdfBEA) reveal that personal income encompasses three main components in New Hampshire: earnings (including wages, salaries, and employer benefits), income from dividends, rent, and interest, and transfer payments (payments received without any corresponding goods or services, such as government social benefits like Social Security payments). Earnings constitute the largest portion, making up approximately two-thirds of personal income.
New Hampshire Interesting Facts
New Hampshire, also known as the Granite State, is packed full of history, natural beauty, and interesting trivia. Here are some fun facts you might not know about this small but mighty state!
New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway is consistently rated among the nation’s most beautiful drives and is now designated an American Scenic Byway. The 34.5-mile route along NH's Rt. 112 passes through the White Mountains, the Swift River, Lower Falls, and Sabbaday Falls.
New Hampshire’s Pine Tree Riot was the original “Boston Tea Party”
A year before the Boston Tea Party, the Pine Tree Riot which occurred in Weare, New Hampshire is considered one of the earliest acts of rebellion against British rule and served as inspiration for the later, more well-known protest that ignited the Revolution.
The root cause of the Pine Tree Riot can be traced back to England's shortage of large trees suitable for ship masts. When King George III ruled that all the pine trees in the colonies had to be reserved for the Royal Navy, anyone who broke the rule would be jailed or fined. The mill owners who were fined and jailed for violating the rule, attacked the King’s representatives. Although eight participants in the riot were identified, tried, and charged with rioting, disturbing the peace, and assault, the judge was sympathetic and handed down relatively lenient sentences. The incident gained popularity throughout the colonies, and as the attackers used soot during the Pine Tree Riot, it is strongly believed to have influenced the idea of disguise, which characterized the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The McDonalds Were Born in New Hampshire
Richard and Maurice McDonald, the founders of McDonald's, were actually born and raised in New Hampshire. After their father lost his job and didn't have a pension, the brothers became determined to take control of their own lives and not rely on employers. They moved to California and initially tried their hand in the movie industry, but ultimately discovered their true passion in the concept of drive-through restaurants. Although the first McDonalds in New Hampshire opened only in the 1960s — the concept for the fast food giant was “homegrown”!
The first state to grow Potatoes!
In 2013, the white potato (solanum tuberosum) was officially recognized as the state vegetable of New Hampshire. This designation came about because of the efforts of Derry Village Elementary School, who discovered that an Irish immigrant had introduced a sack of seed potatoes to the region in 1719. As a result, New Hampshire holds the distinction of being the first state to successfully cultivate the white potato.
New Hampshire History
New Hampshire's history is a testament to the resilience and determination of its people. From its early days as a fishing and farming colony to its role in the founding of the United States and beyond, New Hampshire has always been a place where people value their freedom and independence.
Hew Hampshire has a rich history of human habitation, with Native American tribes living in the region for approximately 12,000 years before European exploration. These tribes engaged in seasonal migration and various activities such as fishing, hunting, gathering, and farming. The arrival of European settlers, particularly the English, brought significant changes to the area. Permanent European settlements were established in the early 17th century, and although the economy flourished through industries like fishing, farming, timber production, and trade, conflicts arose between the English and French. These issues led to wars and attacks on English settlements. The conflicts, along with the expansion of English settlements, resulted in the displacement of Native American populations.
The New Hampshire region was part of English land grants in the 1620s. Settlements were first established in the areas between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers which went on to be named New Hampshire. Although Massachusetts administered the region until 1679, it became a separate royal province and New Hampshirites continued to have disputes over its boundaries. Contentious boundary conflicts with Massachusetts and New York over the area that would later become Vermont persisted until the American Revolution. Benning Wentworth served as colonial governor from 1741 to 1767 when the colony conducted its first census, reporting a population of approximately 52,700. New Hampshire actively participated in the colonial wars between Great Britain and France from 1689 to 1763. During the colonial period, the seat of government was located in Portsmouth, and the province had 147 chartered towns.
In 1774, when armed resistance against the British erupted in New Castle, the people of New Hampshire overwhelmingly supported the goals of the revolutionary leaders. The state contributed two brigadier generals, three regiments of regular troops, and numerous short-term militiamen to the Continental Army. In January 1776, New Hampshire established its own state government and instructed its delegates at the Continental Congress to vote for independence in June 1776. New Hampshire's vote played a pivotal role as the ninth and deciding vote in ratifying the U.S. Constitution in 1788.
Pre-Civil War History
The social, political, and ideological dynamics of the Antebellum period shaped New Hampshire during the mid-19th century, particularly with issues such as border disputes, abolitionism, nativism, and the realignment of political parties. The state had a strong undercurrent of abolitionist sentiment during this period. The Free Soil Party, led by John P. Hale, received significant support from abolitionists. However, conservative Jacksonian Democrats, led by editor Isaac Hill, typically maintained control of the state. In 1835, abolitionists from Dartmouth College established the interracial Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire. This experimental school aimed to promote integrated education. However, opponents of the school, primarily rural residents, dragged it away with oxen and set it ablaze
The Know Nothing movement, also known as the American Party, emerged in response to the rapid influx of Irish Catholics in New Hampshire. In 1855, the Know Nothings achieved a landslide victory, winning 51% of the vote and gaining control of the legislature. They enacted various policies, such as extending the waiting period for citizenship, reforming the state courts, expanding the power of banks and corporations, and opposing the expansion of slavery in the western territories. At the same time, the Whigs and Free-Soil parties both collapsed in New Hampshire in 1854-55, largely due to the rise of the Know Nothings. In the 1855 fall elections, the Know Nothings once again swept the state, this time against the Democrats and the emerging Republican Party. When the Know Nothings disbanded in 1856 and merged with the Republicans, New Hampshire shifted to a two-party system, with the Republican Party, led by Amos Tuck, gaining an edge over the Democrats.
When the Civil War began, communities in New Hampshire rallied together to provide support for the soldiers. The N.H. Soldiers' Aid Society and local chapters organized efforts to outfit soldiers for military service and send care packages from home. Additionally, there was an increased demand for agricultural goods as farmers had to produce enough food for their own families and the families of those serving in the military, as well as contribute to the Union Army's food supplies.
New Hampshire's industries also played a significant role in supporting the war effort. The state's textile mills produced uniforms, boots, socks, and rifles for the Union Army. Some mills faced challenges due to the lack of southern cotton and went out of business
Despite extensive support for the war effort, not everyone in New Hampshire shared the same enthusiasm. Some individuals opposed the war and resented the need for more men to serve in the military. The state implemented a draft in 1863, which was met with widespread disapproval. Former President Franklin Pierce, a New Hampshire native, emerged as a leader in the state's Democratic Party during the war. Initially supporting the federal government, he became increasingly disillusioned with the war's progress.
Political tensions between Democrats and Republicans led to conflicts during town meetings, reflecting the discord that permeated many communities in the state. The surrender of Robert E. Lee and the end of the Confederacy were met with celebration in New Hampshire. However, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln plunged the North into mourning. Franklin Pierce addressed a crowd that gathered at his home after Lincoln
Post-Civil War History
Having increased production and output during the Civil War, in the decades that followed many industries in New Hampshire prospered. Between 1884 and 1903, the state experienced a significant influx of immigrants including, notably French Canadians and Polish groups.
As industries thrived, employment opportunities to Irish, German, and French Canadian workers in textile mills and tanneries increased. In addition to the existing immigrant groups, newcomers from various regions of Europe, including northern, central, eastern, and southern Europe, joined the workforce. While the industrial centers flourished, agricultural communities experienced a decline. The farm population decreased and cleared land acreage diminished. Farmers were compelled to shift their focus to the production of perishable items like dairy products, fruits, and vegetables as grains, wool, and meat were readily available at lower prices from elsewhere.
The decline in rural areas was partially alleviated by the rise of Gilded Age tourism. The construction of grand hotels attracted thousands of tourists annually to New Hampshire's White Mountains, lakes region, and seacoast. Commercial logging operations, particularly in the northern part of the state, also provided relief for rural communities. Logging railroads were established, reaching deep into the heart of the White Mountains, and mills in the booming town of Berlin processed logs from the north country into pulp and paper.
By the late 19th century, the Boston and Maine Railroad had become the state's largest business, controlling all but 52 miles (84 kilometers) of the state's 1,174-mile (1,889-kilometer) railway network. Furthermore, railroad interests wielded significant influence over state politics.
During this period, the textile industry faced challenges due to the Great Depression and increasing competition from mills in the southern United States. The closure of the Amoskeag Mills in 1935 dealt a severe blow to Manchester, and similar closures occurred, such as the former Nashua Manufacturing Company mill in Nashua in 1949 and the bankruptcy of the Brown Company paper mill in Berlin in the 1940s, which resulted in new ownership.
During World War II, New Hampshire's remaining mills received government contracts, enabling them to stay in operation. Unemployment virtually disappeared as young men either enlisted in the military or found employment in the mills. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, located in Kittery, Maine, became the largest single employer in the region during the war. However, as the war came to an end, government contracts ceased, and New Hampshire's traditional industries faced challenges.
In 1944, towards the end of the war, New Hampshire hosted the Bretton Woods Conference, a significant event that led to the establishment of two crucial postwar institutions: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In the 1950s, New Hampshire's economy slowly began to recover. Older textile mills and shoe factories gradually disappeared, making way for new industries focused on machinery, precision instruments, electrical products, and eventually computers and computer accessories. In the latter half of the twentieth century, New Hampshire experienced rapid growth, becoming one of the fastest-growing states in the eastern United States to The population doubled between the 1960 and 2000 censuses. The state's economy diversified, and its political landscape also underwent changes.
New Hampshire also strengthened its economic and cultural ties with the greater Boston, Massachusetts, region, following a national trend of metropolitan areas expanding into rural and smaller cities due to improved highway networks. The arrival of Digital Equipment Corporation, a major minicomputer company, in the early 1970s played a significant role in establishing southern New Hampshire as a high-tech hub connected to the Route 128 corridor.
People Also Ask...
If you are interested in more information about the state of New Hampshire, then keep reading — we have compiled answers to the most common FAQs below. Plus, test your knowledge of the nation’s most iconic highways with our Great American Highways Quiz!
What Is New Hampshire Best Known For?
New Hampshire is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, including the White Mountain National Forest. It's also famous for hosting the first primary in the U.S. Presidential election cycle.
Is New Hampshire a Good Place To Live?
New Hampshire can be a great place to live due to its low crime rates, excellent education system, and abundant outdoor activities.
Is New Hampshire Named After Hampshire U.K.?
Yes, New Hampshire in the United States was named after Hampshire County in southern England by Captain John Mason.
Famous New Hampshire Natives and Residents
Salmon P. Chase jurist;
Charles Anderson Dana editor;
Mary Baker Eddy founder of the Christian Science Church; ;
Thomas Green Fessenden journalist and satirical poet;
Daniel Chester French sculptor;
Robert Frost poet;
Horace Greeley journalist and politician;
Sarah J. Hale editor;
John Irving writer;
John Langdon political leader;
Sharon Christa McAuliffe teacher and astronaut;
Franklin Pierce former president;
Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculptor;
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