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New Hampshire (NH) Fast Facts
Location and Geography: New Hampshire is located in the historic New England portion of the United States, and is the northernmost New England state other than Maine. Its proximity to Quebec means that New Hampshire shares some common heritage with French Canadians.
Counties and Regions: New Hampshire is a small state with only ten counties, which tend to get larger and less populous towards the northern climes of the state. New Hampshire’s general regions could be delineated as follows:
- Connecticut River Valley
- Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region
- Great North Woods Region
- Lakes Region
- Merrimack Valley
- Monadnock Region
- Seacoast Region
- White Mountains
Population: Like many of the small states along the East Coast, New Hampshire has a relatively low population but a relatively high population density. About 1.3 million people make their homes there.
Major Cities: The largest city in New Hampshire is Manchester, which with more than 100,000 people is the largest city in New England north of Boston. The state capital, Concord, has about 42,000 people. New Hampshire’s population tends to concentrate in the south, nearer Massachusetts and the city of Boston.
Story Behind the Name: Unsurprisingly, New Hampshire is named after a place in England called Hampshire, which itself is named after a port city called Southampton.
History and Colonization: New Hampshire is located in New England, and is therefore one of the first areas colonized by the British in the seventeenth century. The natives that originally lived there, the Pennacook, were marginalized early on due to European diseases and settlement. They ended up either dead or incorporated into other tribes, and so their culture has largely vanished. As with other places in New England, hardly any Native Americans live in New Hampshire today
New Hampshire played a crucial role in the revolutionary period of the contemporary United States. As one of the Thirteen Original Colonies, it broke away from the British Crown at the same time as the others in 1776. New Hampshire was the first colony to create a state constitution and to form its own independent government. It only endured one battle of the American Revolution on its own soil, but it was a center of changing politics and had a huge hand in the formation of the new country.
Abolitionism proved to be one of the more divisive elements of New Hampshire’s politics in the nineteenth century. For the most part, the state was controlled by conservative elements, but there was a powerful abolitionist movement that frequently struggled for control. Nevertheless, New Hampshire’s support of the Union during the Civil War was inevitable, as it was a far northern state. Sentiments during and after the war turned more Republican, as the divisions between the North and the South deepened and the new Republican party swept northern politics.
New Hampshire’s traditional economy had centered around fishing, textiles, and manufacturing, but these all took a heavy hit in the early decades of the twentieth century. Many of the older specialties were becoming obsolete, and competition from cheap labor in the South caused factories in New Hampshire to close. The state has bounced back in the present as the modern highway system has linked it to major cities such as Boston, and high-tech industries are growing in importance. New Hampshire is still a center of American politics, as every four years it holds one of the earliest primaries in the presidential election.