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About New York
New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.8 million residents in 2015, it is the fourth-most-populous state in the United States. To differentiate from its city with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.
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The state’s largest city, New York City, makes up over 40% of the population of the State of New York. Two-thirds of the state’s population lives in the New York metropolitan area, and nearly 40% lives on Long Island. The state and city were both named for the 17th-century Duke of York, future King James II of England. With an estimated population of 8.55 million in 2015, New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. The New York Metropolitan Area is one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. New York City is a global city, home to the United Nations Headquarters and has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, as well as the world’s most economically powerful city. The next four most populous cities in the state are Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse, while the state capital is Albany.
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New York has a diverse geography. The state is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east. The state has a maritime border in the Atlantic Ocean with Rhode Island, east of Long Island, as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north and Ontario to the northwest. The southern part of the state consists of Long Island and several smaller associated islands, as well as New York City and the lower Hudson River Valley, most of which lie within the wider Atlantic Coastal Plain. The large region known as Upstate New York consists of several ranges of the wider Appalachian Mountains, including the Allegheny Plateau and Catskills along New York’s Southern Tier, and the Adirondack Mountains, Thousand Islands archipelago, and Saint Lawrence Seaway in the Northeastern lobe of the state. These more mountainous regions are bisected by two major river valleys—the north-south Hudson River Valley and the east-west Mohawk River Valley, which forms the core of the Erie Canal. Western New York is considered part of the Great Lakes Region and straddles Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Between the two lakes lies Niagara Falls. The central part of the state is dominated by the Finger Lakes, a popular vacation and tourist destination.
New York had been inhabited by tribes of Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans for several hundred years by the time the earliest Europeans came to New York. French colonists and Jesuit missionaries arrived southward from Montreal for trade and proselytizing. In 1609, the region was visited by Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch built Fort Nassau in 1614 at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, where the present-day capital of Albany later developed. The Dutch soon also settled New Amsterdam and parts of the Hudson Valley, establishing the multicultural colony of New Netherland, a center of trade and immigration. England seized the colony from the Dutch in 1664. During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), a group of colonists of the Province of New York attempted to take control of the British colony and eventually succeeded in establishing independence.
Many landmarks in New York are well known, including four of the world’s ten most-visited tourist attractions in 2013: Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls (shared with Ontario), and Grand Central Terminal. New York is home to the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the United States and its ideals of freedom, democracy, and opportunity. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity and entrepreneurship, social tolerance, and environmental sustainability. New York’s higher education network comprises approximately 200 colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, and Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 35 in the world.
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New York has 114,365 miles of public roads, with 1,674 of those miles being interstate highways. The state consists of 32 interstate highways, 9 being main routes and 23 being auxiliary routes that exist entirely or partly in New York. The principal north-south highways used by vehicle transporters are I-81, I-87, and I-95. There are also five principal east-west interstates, I-78, I-84, I-86, I-88, and I-90. The New York State Thruway is a set of limited-access highways that together extend 569.83 miles, making it one of the largest toll highway systems in the United States. The Thruway connects Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to New York. to the Pennsylvania state line at Ripley, crossing through Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo.