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, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Most of its population of 6.6 million lives in the Boston metropolitan area. Massachusetts is the most populous of the six New England states and ranks third among U.S. states in GDP per capita.
Massachusetts has been significant throughout American history. Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement in North America. Many of Massachusetts's towns were founded by colonists from England in the 1620s and 1630s. During the 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. It was also a center of the temperance movement and abolitionist activity before the American Civil War. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The state has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including the Adams family and the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade with Europe, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, the state's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Today, the state is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is an island and a cape coextensive with Barnstable County. Several small islands right off Cape Cod, including Monomoy Island, Monomoscoy Island, Popponesset Island, and Seconsett Island, are also in Barnstable County, being part of municipalities with land on the Cape. The Cape's small-town character and large beachfront attract heavy tourism during the summer months.
Cape Cod was formed as the terminal moraine of a glacier, resulting in a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1914, the Cape Cod Canal was cut through the base or isthmus of the peninsula, forming an island. The Cape Cod Commission refers to the resultant landmass as an island; as does the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in regards to disaster preparedness.
Unofficially, it is one of the biggest barrier islands in the world, shielding much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves. This protection helps to erode the Cape shoreline at the expense of cliffs, while protecting towns from Fairhaven to Marshfield. [wikipedia]