Massachusetts: The Bay State

The name Massachusetts, derived from the Native American word mass adchu ut – near the great hills – was first mentioned in Captain John Smith’s book “A Description of New England” (1616). Nicknames for Massachusetts are Bay State and Old Colony. Its capital Boston is the largest city in New England and one of the oldest, most prosperous cities in the US, and also one of the most important cultural centers. The Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773) made it famous, when protests against a raise of the tea tax by the British Parliament set off the War of Independence. The ca. 4-kilometers long (2.5 miles) Freedom Trail – a red brick road – leads to sixteen historic places, among them the Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House and the Old State House.

Within the metropolitan area of Boston are both the world-famous Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), founded in 1861, which is of similar importance. The MIT is one of the leading universities for technological research and education. It is a private, non-denominational university of technology and it was the first to educate chemical engineers, and made economy, social sciences, and humanities part of the engineering education. At present, 10,255 students study at the MIT. The MIT prides itself on its high educational quality. Students take part in active research from a very early date.

With regard to culture, the Symphony Hall (one of the three concert halls with the best acoustics in the world) is world-famous, as is the Boston Symphony Orchestra (and the Boston Pops Orchestra) that gives the majority of its concerts in the Symphony Hall.

The region’s economic power is dominated mostly by educational institutions, health services, the financial sector and technology. In addition, there is an archbishop in Boston, as well as traditionally a cardinal.

Massachusetts is among the most prosperous states

Founded as Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 by English Puritans, it was one the thirteen colonies revolting against British rule during the American Revolution. The Massachusetts Constitution, which is still in effect today, was ratified in 1780 and is one of the oldest modern constitutions in the world.

Massachusetts’ economy during the 18th and 19th century mainly profited from the whaling of Nantucket Island and the cities of New Bedford and Salem, and from cod fishing. The best fishing grounds for that were just off the Massachusetts coast. Countless depictions of that fish on coins and in the architecture of Boston remind of that. The peninsula in the southeast of Massachusetts is called Cape Cod. Cape Cod, with the Cape Cod National Seashore, is a very popular destination for summer vacations.

Massachusetts is one of the economically most successful US states. Real GDP per capita – the most important indicator for prosperity – was at $46,721 in 2006. This makes Massachusetts number 3 in the national ranking.