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Massachusetts State Guide

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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is 7th smallest and 14th most populous states of the United States. At its east lies the Atlantic Ocean, New York to the west, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north and Connecticut and Rhode Island lies to the south. Massachusetts was granted statehood on February 6, 1788[1].

Massachusetts Fast Facts

Capital City: Boston
State Flower: Mayflower (Epigaea regens)
State Tree: American Elm
State Bird: Black-capped Chickadee
State Beverage: Cranberry Juice
State Marine Mammal: Right Whale
Song of the Commonwealth: All hail to Massachusetts

History of Massachusetts

The earliest human settlers in Massachusetts were called "Paleo-Indians". European history in Massachusetts began with adventurous explorers. Later Puritans determined to find a place where their religious views and practices would be free from persecution would arrive here. By 1640 the immigrants in the state has increased to 16,000. The colonizing movement spread fast along the coast. People who were restless and rebellious against the rigid rule of the ministers went out into what are now other New England states.

In the 1660s the Stuarts were restored to the throne. Massachusetts lost its charter in 1684 and became a part of the Dominion of New England. During the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century Massachusetts grew in maritime trade. During this time Massachusetts' maritime trade with Caribbean ports rose and Boston was known as "The Mart of the West Indies".

On March 5, 1770 occurred the "Boston Massacre" in which British soldiers of the garrison based in that unfaithful town fired to a mocking crowd of citizens. In 1780 the state constitution adopted. In 1788 Massachusetts became sixth U S. state. The Constitution of Massachusetts is the oldest written Constitution in the world still in effect.

During the Embargo and the War of 1812, the American States were forced to manufacture essential goods. Manufacturing gradually became more and more concentrated in New England and particularly in Massachusetts. The Constitutional Convention of 1820 gave people a greater voice in their government. In 1833 another Constitutional Amendment brought in separation of Church and State.

The early decades of the 19th century in Massachusetts were marked by vigorous intellectual activity. A reforming spirit dominated the Commonwealth throughout the years until the conclusion of the Civil War. The post-war years were devoted primarily to the expansion of industry. Post war period also saw Massachusetts progressing in the field of education as the state attained a high degree of fame for its many universities and colleges.

Industry, which had expanded to meet the demands of World War I, continued to spiral until 1929 when the nationwide depression began. By 1939, however, when World War II began in Europe, the economy had returned to normal. Employment after World War II remained high in Massachusetts. In the mid-1980s Massachusetts witnessed a fortuitous economic atmosphere, a large pool of educated people, and exciting entrepreneurial spirit. Great statewide economic expansion occurred during the 1990s, especially between 1993 and 2000.

Massachusetts History Timeline


1620- Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod. Pilgrims established settlement named Plymouth
1629- Masssachusetts Bay Company chartered
1630- Boston founded
1636- Harvard College established
1639- First Post Office in U. S. established in Boston
1692- Massachusetts granted new charter and became royal colony with Maine and Plymouth


1763- Indian wars ended
1780- John Hancock became first elected governor and state constitution adopted
1788- Massachusetts became sixth U S. state


1820- Massachusetts and Maine separated
1826- First American railroad built in Quincy
1833- Constitutional amendment separated church and state
1876- Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated first telephone in Boston


1954- First medically successful kidney transplant performed in Boston
1957- Massachusetts Turnpike opened
1961- First nuclear-powered surface vessel launched at Quincy


2004- Same-sex marriage rights approved
2006- Legislature enacted first plan in U. S. for Massachusetts citizens to receive universal health insurance coverage

Geography of Massachusetts

Massachusetts occupies an area of 8,257 square miles[2]. About half of the State is forest land. Massachusetts is 7th smallest and 14th most populous states of the United States. At the east of Massachusetts lies the Atlantic Ocean, New York to the west, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north and Connecticut and Rhode Island lies to the south. 

Massachusetts Geography Fast Facts

  • Total Area: 8,257 square miles
  • Land Area: 27,336 km2
  • Highest Peak: Mt. Greylock

Topography of Massachusetts

Most of the State of Massachusetts lies north of the 42nd parallel of latitude. The north-south width of the state is approximately 50 miles and the east-west extension is 150 miles. The Massachusetts coastline is about 192 miles. The land surface of Massachusetts is mountainous parallel to the border in the west and also normally regarded rolling hills elsewhere. The Cape along with the other parts of the coastal plain comprise of flat land having many marshes, tiny lakes and pond. Mt. Greylock, in the west, rises 3,487 feet above sea level, the highest peak in Massachusetts. The commonwealth has typical New England soil that is rocky and hard-packed.

Forests in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Bureau of ForestryMassachusetts occupies an area of 8,257 square miles and about half of the State is forest land. The looks after the forest division in the commonwealth. In Massachusetts there are 3.2 million acres of private owned forest land and 310,000 acres of State Forests and Parks [3]. There are 351 municipalities with associated urban trees and forests. Programs are made by the bureau to serve this owners.

Under the Service Forestry Program technical and financial assistance is provided to private landowners and municipalities.

Under Community Forest Program community forests are established by protecting forest land from conversion to non-forest uses and to provide community benefits.

The Forest Legacy Program is a collaboration between participating States and the USDA Forest Service which helps protect environmentally important forests from conversion to non-forest uses.

Under Forest Health Program factors that influence the health of Massachusetts forests are monitored.

Under Urban and Community Forestry Program communities are given technical assistance and grants to build long-term support for the protection of public trees and forests.

Climate of Massachusetts

The climatic characteristics of Massachusetts includes changeableness in weather, differences between the same seasons in different years, large ranges in temperature and  equable distribution of precipitation. There are three climatological divisions in Massachusetts-- Western, Central and Coastal.

The average annual temperature ranges from about 46 degrees Fahrenheit in the Western Division to 49 in the Central and to around 50 in the Coastal.

Summer months in the state are pleasant for the most part. Long term averages for July range from 67 to 70o F in the Western Division, 70 to 74 elsewhere.

Winter average temperature varies much more from place to place. It ranges in the low 20s for January in the Western Division, near 30o F in the Coastal Division, in the middle to upper 20s in the Central.

The annual average total precipitation ranges from 40 to 50 inches at stations having long-term records. The average yearly snowfall amount shows a rapid rise from the coast westward and approximately 25 to 30 inches snowfall recorded on Cape Cod and  the western portion recorded 60 to 80 inches recorded .

Economy of Massachusetts

The economy of Massachusetts shows rapid growth every year. According to MassBenchmarks estimates Massachusetts real gross domestic product grew at a 3.4 % annual rate in the first quarter, in the second quarter, it decreased to a 1.7% rate , and improved to 2.8% in the third quarter[4]. Based on tax revenues, the nominal wage and salary income rose at an annual rate of 2.9 %. Based on the study done by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the ratio of GDP comparison of Boston to New England has risen from 39.0 % to 40.4 % from 2001 to 2012. The unemployment rate of Massachusetts as of January 2015 was 5.1% which showing a decrease of 1% from the previous year.

Economic Overview and Outlook of Massachusetts

  • Since February 2010[5], private sector employment has grown by 6.4 %
  • The unemployment rate of Massachusetts as of January 2015 was 5.1 %
  • Real per capita personal income (in 2009 $) in Massachusetts was $53,263.80 in the 3rd quarter of 2013, up from $52,031.60 in the 3rd quarter of 2011
  • Between the second quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2013 national home prices rose by 5.9 %
  • Since the second quarter of 2011, home prices in Massachusetts have risen by 3.9 %

State Quick Facts

  • Unemployment Rates December 2013[6]: 7.0%
  • Veterans Population (2012): 7.2%
  • All Veterans' Unemployment Rate (2012): 9.9%
  • Median Household Income (2012): $63,656
  • Poverty Rate (2012): 11.3%
  • No Health Insurance (2012): 4.1%

Agriculture in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is responsible for keeping Massachusetts agriculture economically and environmentally sound.    

  • Massachusetts ranks very high in the nation in cash receipts per acre from farm marketing
  • In the southeastern coastal area a large portion of the nation’s cranberry supply is grown
  • Dairying and poultry raising find convenient markets in Massachusetts
  • Apples are the most prolific of the tree fruits
  • Maple syrup is produced in the Berkshire area
  • In the central and eastern portions of the State, numerous commercial truck gardens are cultivated

Industries in Massachusetts

Industries in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of the global leaders in the industrial sector. Key Industries in Masachusetts include Information Technology, Renewable Energy, Life Sciences, Finance, Creative and Maritime, Manufacturing, Defense.

IT Industry: Massachusetts is an outstanding performer and has nearly outperformed all other Leading technology States in growth in the IT industry recently. The Information Technology cluster comprised of over 3000 companies supporting over 170,000 jobs in 2008[7].

Services: Massachusetts is also a hotbed of activity in industry subsets like RFID/CSID, robotics, video gaming, mobile technologies, nanotechnology, Software as a Service, cloud computing, photonics, telecommunications and Web 2.0 Companies.

Renewable Energy Industry: Massachusetts is leading the charge in renewable energy industry. Renewable energy  includes design, development, financing and construction of technologies.

Life sciences: The Massachusetts life sciences are cornerstone of Massachusetts' innovation economy. Massachusetts is a global leader in the life sciences. The life sciences super cluster includes the activities of the state's world-class universities, biotechnology, teaching hospitals and research institutions, professional service industry, medical devices and pharmaceutical companies.

Financial Service Industry: Massachusetts is a national and global leader in the financial service industry. The financial service industry ranks as the third largest industry sector in the commonwealth. The financial service industry has over 180,000 jobs in Massachusetts.  

Creative industries: The economy of Massachusetts includes many creative industries that includes marketing, architecture, visual arts, design, film, media, digital games, music and publishing.

Marine science industry: Massachusetts marine science industry consists of a wide range of businesses and
technologies. According to a study the Massachusetts marine technology industry had approximately 8,900 jobs and 298 establishments.

Demographics of Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the 14th most populous states of the United States. The commonwealth had an estimated population of 6,745,408 as of 2014 estimation by the U.S Census Bureau which which reflected an increase of 3.02% since the year 2010.

Racial Distribution of the State

  • White alone: 83.2%
  • Black or African American: 8.1%
  • Asian: 6.0%
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.5%
  • Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Two or More Races: 2.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 10.5%

Population Quick Facts[8]
  • Population, 2014: 6,745,408
  • Population, 2013: 6,708,874    
  • Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014: 3.0%
  • Persons under 5 years, percent, 2013: 5.5%
  • Persons under 18 years, percent, 2013: 20.8%
  • Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2013: 14.8%
  • Female persons, percent, 2013: 51.5%

Education in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Education is responsible to manage and strengthen the public education Education in Massachusettssystem of the Commonwealth. By its curriculum, instruction, and assessment the department ensures that students are prepared to succeed in post secondary education and are made competitive citizens. It is noteworthy to say that Massachusetts offers a vast range of options to students seeking higher education and the state has some of the topmost colleges and universities in the nation.

Some of the top Universities and Colleges of Massachusetts are-

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • Harvard University, Cambridge
  • Boston University, Boston
  • Tufts University, Medford
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst
  • Boston College, Chestnut Hill
  • Northeastern University, Boston
  • Brandeis University, Waltham
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester
  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley

Healthcare in Massachusetts

Massachusetts healthcareThe Massachusetts Department of Public Health is an important authority to look after the health care services in Massachusetts and to enhance the living standards and health of the community. The Department of Public Health strives to prevent illness and injury and  assures high quality public health. It promotes the well being of the people in the Commonwealth. The department of public health  implements various plans and policies for the better of the health of the community. The top hospitals in Massachusetts are McLean Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Baystate Medical Center among others.

Government of Massachusetts

The state government of Massachusetts is set up and guarded by the Massachusetts Constitution. Massachusetts was granted statehood on February 6, 1788. The government of Massachusetts has been divided into three branches, as specified in the constitution-- the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial.

The executive power in Massachusetts is divided among the constitutional officers who are elected every four years. The Governor of Massachusetts leads the executive branch of the government and acts as the chief executive head.

Officially referred to as the "Great and General Court", the Massachusetts Legislature is responsible for making laws in Massachusetts Senatethe commonwealth. The legislative power is divided between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Together they make the laws of the Commonwealth. The Senate composes of 40 members while the Massachusetts House of Representatives composes of 160 members.

The Judicial power in Massachusetts is exercised by the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court and the Trial Court and its departments. Both civil and criminal matters and appeals of lower court decisions and administrative rulings are heard by these courts. The judges are appointed by the governor and they hold office till the age of 70 years.

Taxation in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue oversees taxation system in the commonwealth. In Massachusetts the income tax that is collected helps in funding public services and resources such as public works projects, public safety, education and social services. In Massachusetts the personal income tax rates apply to the residents, nonresidents, corporate trusts and estates and trusts. A tax rate of 5.15% is imposed on earned income like wages, salaries, commissions, tips and unearned income like dividends interest and capital gains.

Important tax rates in Massachusetts

  • Personal income and fiduciary income rate: 5.15%
  • Sales and use tax rate: 6.25%
  • Sales tax on meals, prepared food and all beverages rate: 6.25%

Transportation in Massachusetts

Massachusetts transport

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) oversees the entire network of transportation in Massachusetts. The department ensures safe and reliable transportation in the commonwealth. The organization is oversees the divisions of Highway, Aeronautics, Mass Transit and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT is administered by a Secretary of Transportation to serve as Chief Executive Officer and is appointed by the Governor.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation looks after the road transportation system in the commonwealth. While doing so the department ensures that safe and reliable journey is provided to the commuters throughout the commonwealth. Road transportation in Massachusetts comprises of state routes, highways and several bridges and tunnels.

The Rail and Transit Division of MassDOT is responsible to develop, promote, preserve, and improve the railways system in the commonwealth. The department promotes safe, convenient and efficient rail system for passengers and freight movement in the Commonwealth. The Rail and Transit Division manages the state rail system, oversees the Commonwealth’s fifteen Regional Transit Authorities, takes up the work of all transit initiatives and oversees the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The Massachusetts freight rail system comprises of a mix of Class I, regional and short-line railroads. The MBTA serves as one of the largest commuter rail systems in Massachusetts. Passenger rail served by Amtrak is the provider of inter-city travel in the commonwealth.

The Aeronautics Division takes up the work of coordinating aviation policy in the commonwealth. It has authority over the public use airports, private use landing areas and seaplane bases in Massachusetts. The division oversees the aviation safety, airport development and improvements, aircraft accident investigation, statewide aviation planning and navigational aids. It certifies airports and heliports, conducts annual airport inspections, licenses airport managers and enforces safety and security regulations.


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