The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bounded by Rhode Island and Connecticut towards the south, New York towards the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire towards the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Based on the 2010 Census, the population of the state of Massachusetts was 6,547,629. The state features two separate metropolitan areas, the eastern Boston metropolitan area and the western Springfield metropolitan area. Approximately two thirds of Massachusetts inhabitants lives within Greater Boston, the majority of which is either urban or suburban. Western Massachusetts features one urban area, the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River, and a mix of college towns and rural areas. Massachusetts is the most heavily populated of the six New England states; the third most densely inhabited state in the United States, and also has the US' twelfth highest GDP per capita.
Massachusetts played a significant commercial, historical and cultural role in American history. Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement within North America, and Puritans settling Massachusetts in the 1630s dominated New England for numerous years. Harvard University, established in the year 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning within the United States. During the year 1692, the towns surrounding Salem experienced amongst America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem Witch Trials. In the eighteenth century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, that swept the Atlantic world, began from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. During the late 18th century, the city of Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there which led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain.
The state of Massachusetts was at first dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, but moved towards a manufacturing base during the Industrial Revolution. The economy of the state during the 20th century shifted again from manufacturing to services. During the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in higher education, health care technology, financial services, higher technology, cannabis law reform, universal healthcare, and same-sex marriage.
During the year 2008, Massachusetts gross state product was estimated at $365 billion, based on the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. During that same year, the per capita personal income was the 3rd highest in the nation at $50,735. 13 Fortune 500 companies are situated in the commonwealth, the largest of which are the MassMutual Financial Services and the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Massachusetts as the fifth best state within the country. Sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy consist of biotechnology, higher education, finance, health care, and tourism.
There were 7,700 farms in the state of Massachusetts during the year 2005. The total area of the farms totaled 520,000 acres or 2,100 km2, that is an average of 0.28 km2 or 68 acres for each farm. During 2007, just about 2,300 of the state's 6,100 farms grossed under $2,500. Particular agricultural products of note include tobacco, livestock, and fruits, tree nuts, and berries, for which Massachusetts is nationally ranked 11th, 17th, and 16th, respectively. The state of Massachusetts is the 2nd biggest cranberry producing state in the union, after Wisconsin.