New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the U.S. state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania, and on the southwest by Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-least extensive, but the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated of the 50 United States. New Jersey lies mostly within the sprawling metropolitan areas of New York City and Philadelphia. It is also the second-wealthiest U.S. state by 2011 median household income.
The area was inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, with historical tribes such as the Lenape along the coast. In the early 17th century, the Dutch and the Swedes made the first European settlements. The British later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey. It was granted as a colony to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. At this time, it was named after the largest of the British Channel Islands, Jersey, Carteret's birthplace. New Jersey was the site of several decisive battles during the American Revolutionary War.
In the 19th century, factories in cities such as Paterson, Newark, Trenton, and Elizabeth helped to drive the Industrial Revolution. New Jersey's position at the center of the Northeast megalopolis, between Boston and New York City to the northeast, and Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., to the southwest, fueled its rapid growth through the process of suburbanization in the 1950s and beyond.
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.
New Jersey can be thought of as five regions, based on natural geography and population. Northeastern New Jersey, the Gateway Region, lies closest to Manhattan in New York City, and many residents commute into the city to work. Northwestern New Jersey, or the "Skylands", is, compared to the northeast, more wooded, rural, and mountainous. The "Shore", along the Atlantic Coast in the central-east and southeast, has its own natural, residential, and lifestyle 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 fifth region is the Pine Barrens in the interior of the southern part. Covered rather extensively by mixed pine and oak forest, it has a much lower population density than much of the rest of the state.