Massachusetts/ˌmæsəˈtʃuːsɨts/, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, Vermont and New Hampshire to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state by land area, but the 14th most populous and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 States. It is the most populous of the six New England states and has the nation's sixth highest GDP per capita. The state features two separate metropolitan areas: the Greater Boston area in the east and the Springfield metropolitan area in the west. Approximately two-thirds of Massachusetts' population currently lives in Greater Boston.
Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history. Plymouth was the site of the first colony in New England, founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic world, originated from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention.
Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the temperance, transcendentalist, and abolitionist movements. In the late 19th century, the Olympic sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the state's Supreme Judicial Court. Massachusetts has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including members of the Adams family and the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts' economy shifted from manufacturing to services. In the 21st century, Massachusetts is an international economic leader in life science, the finance industry, information technology, manufacturing, renewable energy, the defense industry, and maritime trade.