New Jersey offers a mix of urban energy, natural beauty, and a thriving economy, making it an intriguing and dynamic state to explore and live in. Although New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state in terms of land area, New Jersey is densely populated and has a rich history and diverse culture.
New Jersey Geography
New Jersey is the fourth smallest state by land and is occupied by land regions: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, the New England Upland, the Appalachian Ridge, and the Valley Region. The largest of these regions is the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
Size and Position
New Jersey is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware River. The state is located on the Middle Atlantic coast of the Northern-eastern United States.
Landscape and Climate
The Garden State enjoys a fairly moderate climate with cold winters and warm, humid summers. The state has a generally hilly part in the northwestern region and then it becomes more rolling hills before flattening out in the south and southeast.
New Jersey People and Population
The most populous city in the state is Newark followed by Jersey City and Paterson. New Jersey is a highly diverse state with a mix of ethnicities including African-American, Hispanic, Asian, White, and Native American making up the bulk of the population.
Per the 2022 Census, in New Jersey, the larger portions of the population are showing to be under 18 with 21.8% of the population or 65 and over at 16.9%. The average age in Indiana is 40 years.
The gender in Indiana is pretty evenly split with 50.8% reporting as identifying female and 49.2% reporting as identifying male.
New Jersey is relatively racially/ethnically diverse with a majority of Caucasian (71.1%), African American/Black (15.3%), and Latino/Hispanic (21.5%) inhabitants.
Religion in New Jersey has a majority of Christian affiliations with 67% of the population identifying as a subgroup under Christianity. 14% reported being non-Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc), and a higher percentage reported no affiliation at all at 18%.
The average income in New Jersey as of 2020 was reported at $85,245. The Garden State’s median income ranks fourth in the United States according to the U.S. Census. In 2020 9.67% of New Jersey was living below the poverty line.
New Jersey currently ranks #1 in the United States for K-12 education with a 91% graduation rate for high school.
New Jersey’s higher education ranks 29th in the country with Princeton, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and the Stevens Institute of Technology as the top-ranking universities in the state. There are a total of 48 colleges and universities in New Jersey.
New Jersey is currently ranking at #2 for education with 41.5% of their population holding a bachelor’s degree.
New Jersey has a large immigrant population of almost 2 million. 31.6% of New Jersey households reported speaking a non-English language. The most common non-English languages are Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), and Portuguese.
New Jersey Government
New Jersey’s initial constitution was founded in 1776 along with the United States Constitution. New Jersey was the fourth state to adopt a constitution that declared independence from Great Britain. Though this constitution was designed as a temporary charter, the original draft stayed in effect for 68 years. The constitution has been amended a few times, though the current constitution was adopted in 1947 and has been in effect since.
The state of New Jersey’s government is closely modeled after the federal government with an emphasis on checks and balances. The government holds three offices: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Under the Executive office is the governor and lieutenant governor.
Local governments in the Garden State have a U.S. Representative per district, chambers of commerce, and mayoral elections.
Per the Pew Research Center, New Jersey is trending Moderate with 37% of the population voting in favor of the Liberal/Moderate presidential candidates. 60% of Catholics and Evangelical Protestants make up the Moderate and Liberal population while the Conservative population makes up 33% of that religious-political demographic.
New Jersey’s economy is driven by major pharmaceuticals, life sciences, financial services, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and transportation and logistics.
There are not a lot of extraction industries found in New Jersey, however, the Garden State does produce construction sand, gravel, crushed stone, and peat.
Arts and Entertainment
From farms and orchards to beverage making, New Jersey is a place for everyone. New Jersey has several farms and orchards where guests and New Jersey residents can purchase freshly made dairy products, visit a lavender and alpaca farm, and you can even pick your own apples.
New Brunswick has the State Theatre New Jersey, the Zimmerli Art Museum, and a brewery called the Harvest Moon Brewery.
Science and Technology
New Jersey’s long and rich scientific history begins in the 18th century with Alexander Hamilton who took a gander at the Passaic River waterfall and saw nothing but opportunity. Silk, textiles, locomotives, and several other industries began in the Garden State. In 1870, Thomas Edison found himself setting up shop in Newark, where he eventually invented the light bulb, the phonograph, and the movie camera.
Information Technology is flourishing and thriving in New Jersey with more than 5,000 information and technology companies based in New Jersey.
In the latest news reports, New Jersey is working. to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change by lowering their carbon economy and expanding clean energy infrastructure.
If you’re going to New Jersey, you have to make a stop in Camden. Camden is adult and child friendly with places like the Please Touch Museum, Camden Children’s Garden, and Cooper River Distillers there is something for every member of the family.
In addition to the fun things in Camden, New Jersey has several locations that one should visit when making a trip. The Atlantic City Boardwalk, the Cape May Lighthouse, the Statue of Liberty, and the Lakota Wold Preserve are just a few of the wonderful attractions New Jersey has.
For reality television fans, Seaside Heights, New Jersey is a must-see as that is where the hit show of the early 2000s “Jersey Shore” was filmed.
Another must-do is the Wildwood boardwalk. It is a 7.1-mile out-and-back trail that generally takes about two hours to complete. Guests can go birding, fishing, and road-biking here!
For fans of innovative and life-changing technology, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and the Newark Museum of Art are located in Essex, where you can also see the Statue of Liberty.
New Jersey is one of the top 10 producers of blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, apples, spinach, squash, and asparagus.
Wealth and Poverty
As of 2022, the poverty rate in New Jersey is 10.2% and the rate of extreme poverty is 5%. 8.60% of New Jerseyans are experiencing food insecurity and almost 21.2% of the population are working under the poverty line due to the moderate percentage of low-wage jobs. Almost 9% of New Jerseyans are uninsured.
Though 36% of New Jersey rent their home, the property tax rate is relatively low in comparison to other states. The home foreclosure rates are at 1.81% and 9,662 people are experiencing homelessness.
With the rising numbers in economic factors, Governor Murphy’s primary focus will be on building a “stronger and fairer” economy that works for more people. In a recent press release, Murphy indicated that he will also continue to focus on education. In terms of health care, the state government believes that health care is a right, not a privilege so Murphy is working to ensure access to affordable health care.
New Jersey Interesting Facts
New Jersey has the highest population density in the United States. It is also home to one of the world’s busiest seaports, located in Elizabeth and Newark. The Garden State has an abundance of universities and colleges including Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Seton Hall University.
Native American Influence
New Jersey was first inhabited by Native American tribes for more than 10 thousand years. The Lenni Lenape, a subsection of the Algonquin, eventually became lumped in together by English settlers under the name “Delaware.”
As colonization became more commonplace, in 1758 New Jersey became the first colony to have a reservation at Brotherton in Burlington County. The numbers of the Brotherton tribe were relatively low with 85 members at the time that the Oneida tribe in New York invited the Brotherton tribe to combine. The invitation was accepted and the Brotherton reservation was no more.
Today, Rutgers University sits on the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lanape. In a historical explanation, Rutgers University published a book called “Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History”, detailing how the university came to acquire the land it sits on and how it benefitted from slavery. New Jersey signed a Native American Affairs Commission into law on December 22, 1995, and the Commission now serves as a liaison between the tribes and state and federal governments.
Besides salt water taffy, applejack, and amazing deli sandwiches, New Jersey has other staple foods that make the cuisine delicious! Taylor Ham pork rolls, fat sandwiches, and Trenton tomato pies are all iconic state foods that New Jerseyans know and enjoy statewide.
New Jersey History
New Jersey has a long and rich history that dates back to when it was first inhabited by the Lenape Native American tribes. Once colonized in 1664, New Jersey flourished as a major hub of trade and industry that helped propel the colonies forward in their struggle for independence.
According to nj.gov, the first people to live in modern-day New Jersey were the Delaware Indians. Their name means “original people” or “genuine people” and they spoke Algonquian. Men were typically hunters and fishers while women worked in the gardens where they grew squash, beans, sweet potatoes, and corn.
New Jersey was initially founded as New Netherlands under Henry Hudson. Small trading colonies sprang up where the present towns of Hoboken and Jersey City are located. In 1660 Bergen was founded as the first permanent European settlement.
Trenton, New Jersey has proven to be an integral part of United States history. In November of 1776, the British took control of New Jersey and forced Washington to Pennsylvania. However, no one chased the rebels across the Delaware River given the treacherous ice that dotted the river. In a surprise attack, early Christmas morning, Washington surprised the troops stationed at Trenton and won the territory back.
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and the first state to sign the Bill of Rights.
Pre-Civil War History
Textiles and iron factories became what New Jersey was known for, Trenton produced clay, iron, and steel products while Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, and Passaic all became manufacturing centers in the 1800s. Though New Jersey was located in the north, a disclaimer should be noted that New Jersey still had a high population of slaves.
Southern New Jersey was mostly agricultural and did have a dependency on slaves until December 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. New Jersey also refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which freed all slaves in the United States and prohibited any further servitude. Years before, in 1804, New Jersey passed the Gradual Abolition of Slavery into law which allowed for the children of enslaved Blacks born after July 4, 1804, to be freed after their 21st birthdays. If they were over the age of 21 when the law passed, those people remained slaves until they died, ran away, or were granted freedom.
Post Civil War
After the Civil War, New Jersey resumed rapid industrialization and relied more heavily on the cheap labor that could be found like immigrants and newly freed slaves that emigrated from the South.
As factories grew as did demand, unions and labor representative organizations also formed. In 1879, the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions was founded with the purpose of establishing and maintaining a safe work environment, better ventilation in workplaces, and restrictions on employing children. The New Jersey Division of Workers would cause difficulty between employers and employees.
Throughout the 1900s, New Jersey saw continued growth and development. In the 1920s, the Garden State did not accept the 18th Amendment which prohibited the production and sale of alcohol. Gang bosses profited from the rebellious act and those bosses were protected by the governor. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, the gangs and mafia bosses extended their operations to include gambling and prostitution.
New Jersey was a pivotal state in working towards national civil rights campaigns organized by African Americans. In 1948, the state legislature enacted laws to protect the jobs of black school teachers by prohibiting the dismissal of any teacher based on race in New Jersey. Governor Alfred Driscoll played a distinctive role in establishing equality by ordering the Division Against Discrimination to cut off the funding to school districts that blatantly engaged in segregation. In 1949, New Jersey passed laws that are mirrored in the National Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations and housing.
People Also Ask…
If you are interested in more information about the state of New Jersey, then keep reading — we have compiled answers to the most common FAQs below. Plus, test your newfound state knowledge by taking our quiz on The Oldest U.S. States!
Is cannabis legal in New Jersey?
Only medical cannabis can be legally purchased for registered qualifying patients and can only be purchased from an authorized Alternative Treatment Center.
Where can I find traveler information?
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) has all the information that motorists need to travel safely in New Jersey.
What is New Jersey income tax information?
New Jersey has a 6.5% to 11.5% corporate income tax rate, a 6.625% state sales tax rate, a max local sales rate of 3.313%, and an average combined state and local sales tax of 6.60%. Taxpayers’ monies mainly include spending on government salaries, infrastructure, education, public pensions, public assistance, corrections, Medicaid, and transportation.
How can I get a P.O. Box?
Apply online. Find, reserve, and pay for a P.O. box at a Post Office near you!
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Bud Abbott comedian;
- Charles Addams cartoonist;
- Edwin Aldrin astronaut;
- Count Basie band leader;
- Joan Bennett actress;
- Jon Bon Jovi musician;
- Zach Braff actor, director;
- William J. Brennan jurist;
- Aaron Burr political leader;
- James Fenimore Cooper novelist;
- Lou Costello comedian;
- Stephen Crane writer;
- Helen Gahagan Douglas representative;
- Allen Ginsberg poet;
- William Frederick Halsey, Jr. admiral;
- Alfred Joyce Kilmer poet;
- Ernie Kovacs comedian;
- Jerry Lewis comedian and film director;
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh author;
- Norman Mailer novelist;
- Patricia McBride ballerina;
- Richard Nixon president;
- Dorothy Parker author;
- Paul Robeson singer and actor;
- Philip Roth novelist;
- Ruth St. Denis dancer and choreographer;
- Antonin Scalia jurist;
- H. Norman Schwarzkopf general;
- Frank Sinatra singer and actor;
- Bruce Springsteen musician;
- Alfred Stieglitz photographer;
- Albert Payson Terhune journalist and novelist;
- Sarah Vaughan singer;
- William Carlos Williams physician and poet;
- Bruce Willis actor;
- Edmund Wilson literary critic and author.