The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England area of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut towards the south, the state of New York to the west, and New Hampshire and Vermont to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010 Census, the people 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. Roughly two thirds of Massachusetts population lives within Greater Boston, the majority of which is either suburban or urban. Western Massachusetts features one urban area, the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River, and a mix of rural areas and college towns. The state of Massachusetts is the most crowded of the six New England states; the 3rd most densely inhabited state in the US, and likewise has the US' twelfth highest GDP per capita.
The state of Massachusetts played a key role in the commercial and cultural history of America. The settlement at Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement within North America, helping to bring Puritans to the area of Massachusetts during the 1630s and to New England many years later. Founded during 1636, Harvard University is the oldest educational institute in the country. During the year 1692, the towns nearby Salem experienced among America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem Witch Trials. In the eighteenth century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which 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 resulted in the Independence of the United States from Great Britain and the American Revolution.
First dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center in the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, the state's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. During the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in health care technology, higher education, high technology, financial services, same-sex marriage, cannabis law reform and universal healthcare.
The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the Massachusetts gross state product in 2008 was $365 billion. The per capita personal income during the year 2008 was $50,735, making it the third highest state in the nation. 13 Fortune 500 companies are situated in the commonwealth, the biggest of which are the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group and MassMutual Financial Services. CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Massachusetts as the 5th best state within the country. Sectors important to the Massachusetts economy consist of higher education, biotechnology, tourism, finance and health care.
As of the year 2005, there were 7,700 farms in Massachusetts encompassing a total of 520,000 acres (2,100 km2), averaging 68 acres (0.28 km2) apiece. Just about 2,300 of the state's 6,100 farms grossed under $2,500 during 2007. Some agricultural products of note include tobacco, livestock, and fruits, tree nuts, and berries, wherein the state is nationally ranked 11th, 17th, and 16th, respectively. The state of Massachusetts is the second largest cranberry producing state in the union, after the state of Wisconsin.