Often called 'The Crossroads of the Revolution', New Jersey was the site of some of the most important battles during the American War for Independence, and scene of the famous crossing of the Delaware River by George Washington, on his way to engage Hessian troops at the 1st Battle of Trenton. On December 18th, 1787 New Jersey became the 3rd state to join to Union. Long before this however, the lands of New Jersey were first inhabited by Lenape American Indians, then the Dutch in the 1630's (under the name New Netherlands), and followed by the Swedish colony of New Sweden in what is now southern New Jersey. Britain officially took control of the region in 1664. New Jersey is a low-lying state and the fourth smallest in the U.S. The southern region of New Jersey is sparsely populated and dominated by swamplands. Notable geographic features in the state include the Delaware Water Gap, the New Jersey Palisades, the ecologically sensitive Meadowlands, and the Pine Barrens.
New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the U.S. The major urban centers of northeast and southwest New Jersey are in close proximity to the cities of New York and Philadelphia respectively. New Jersey is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the U.S. with significant populations of Muslims, African Americans and Italian-Americans. The median household income of New Jersey, at $61,359 in 2004, is the highest in the U.S. New Jersey also has one of the largest business communities in the nation, with many major corporations based out of northern New Jersey. Coined the 'Garden State', New Jersey does have some significant agricultural exports such as eggplant and blueberries. For its population size and density, New Jersey has surprisingly few large cities, with only six over 100,000 people according to 2004 Census estimates. Newark, once considered the best example of white flight, urban violence and industrial wasteland, is the largest city and currently experiencing a resurgence. Other major cities include Jersey City, Patterson, the gambling and entertainment hub Atlantic City, and Princeton, home to one of the finest universities in the world. New Jersey is politically a swing state, but has recently leaned to the left in elections, giving John Kerry the state's 15 electoral votes in 2004. The state has 13 seats in the House of Representatives.