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New Hampshire (i /nuːˈhæmpʃər/) is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It borders Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. New Hampshire ranks 44th in land area, 46th in total area of the 50 states, and 41st in population. It became the first post-colonial sovereign nation in the Americas when it broke off from Great Britain in January 1776, and was one of the original thirteen states that founded the United States of America six months later. In June 1788, it became the ninth state to ratify the United States Constitution, bringing that document into effect. New Hampshire was the first U.S. state to have its own state constitution. It has no general sales tax, nor is personal income (other than interest and dividends) taxed at either the state or local level. Concord is the state capital, while Manchester is the largest city in the state.
It is known internationally for the New Hampshire primary, the first primary in the quadrennial U.S. presidential election cycle.
Its license plates carry the state motto: "Live Free or Die." The state nickname is "The Granite State", in reference to its geology and its tradition of self-sufficiency. To accentuate this, many state agencies and New Hampshire license plates carry the image of the Old Man of the Mountain, a former granite stone face in the White Mountains. Several other official nicknames exist but are rarely used.
Among prominent individuals from New Hampshire are founding father Nicholas Gilman, Senator Daniel Webster, Revolutionary War hero John Stark, editor Horace Greeley, founder of the Christian Science religion Mary Baker Eddy, poet Robert Frost, and author Dan Brown. New Hampshire has produced one president, Franklin Pierce.
New Hampshire's major recreational attractions include skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports, hiking and mountaineering, observing the fall foliage, summer cottages along many lakes and the seacoast, motor sports at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Motorcycle Week, a popular motorcycle rally held in Weirs Beach near Laconia in June. The White Mountain National Forest links the Vermont and Maine portions of the Appalachian Trail, and boasts the Mount Washington Auto Road, where visitors may drive to the top of 6,288-foot (1,917 m) Mount Washington.
New Hampshire is part of the New England region. It is bounded by Quebec, Canada to the north and northwest; Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east; Massachusetts to the south; and Vermont to the west. New Hampshire's major regions are the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, the Seacoast, the Merrimack Valley, the Monadnock Region, and the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee area. New Hampshire has the shortest ocean coastline of any U.S. coastal state, with a length of 18 miles (29 km).
New Hampshire was home to the rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain, a face-like profile in Franconia Notch, until the formation fell apart in May 2003.
The White Mountains range in New Hampshire spans the north-central portion of the state, with Mount Washington the tallest in the northeastern U.S. - site of the second-highest wind speed ever recorded - and other mountains like Mount Madison and Mount Adams surrounding it. With hurricane-force winds every third day on average, over 100 recorded deaths among visitors, and conspicuous krumholtz (dwarf, matted trees much like a carpet of bonsai trees), the climate on the upper reaches of Mount Washington has inspired the weather observatory on the peak to claim that the area has the "World's Worst Weather".
In the flatter southwest corner of New Hampshire, the landmark Mount Monadnock has given its name to a class of earth-forms—a monadnock—signifying, in geomorphology, any isolated resistant peak rising from a less resistant eroded plain.
Major rivers include the 110-mile (177 km) Merrimack River, which bisects the lower half of the state north-south and ends up in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Its tributaries include the Contoocook River, Pemigewasset River, and Winnipesaukee River. The 410-mile (660 km) Connecticut River, which starts at New Hampshire's Connecticut Lakes and flows south to Connecticut, defines the western border with Vermont. The state border is not in the center of that river, as usually the case, but at the low-water mark on the Vermont side; meaning that the entire river along the Vermont border (save for areas where the water level has been raised by a dam) lies within New Hampshire. Only one town - Pittsburg - shares a land border with the state of Vermont. The "northwesternmost headwaters" of the Connecticut also define the Canadian border with New Hampshire.
The Piscataqua River and its several tributaries form the state's only significant ocean port where they flow into the Atlantic at Portsmouth. The Salmon Falls River and the Piscataqua define the southern portion of the border with Maine. The Piscataqua River boundary was the subject of a border dispute between New Hampshire and Maine in 2001, with New Hampshire claiming dominion over several islands (primarily Seavey's Island) that include the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2002, leaving ownership of the island with Maine.
The largest of New Hampshire's lakes is Lake Winnipesaukee, which covers 71 square miles (184 km2) in the east-central part of New Hampshire. Lake Umbagog along the Maine border, approximately 12.3 square miles (31.9 km2), is a distant second.
Hampton Beach is a popular local summer destination. About 10 miles (16 km) offshore are the Isles of Shoals, nine small islands (four of which are in New Hampshire) known as the site of a 19th century art colony founded by poet Celia Thaxter, as well as the alleged location of one of the buried treasures of the pirate Blackbeard.
It is the second most forested state in the country, after Maine, in percentage of land covered by woods. This change was caused by the abandonment of farms during the 20th century as many farmers took wage jobs in urban areas or moved to more productive areas. The return of woodlands from open fields forms the subject of many poems by Robert Frost.
The northern third of the state is locally referred to as the "north country" or "north of the notches," in reference to White Mountain passes that channel traffic. It contains less than 5% of the state's population, suffers relatively high poverty, and is losing population as the logging and paper industries decline. However, the tourist industry, in particular visitors who go to northern New Hampshire to ski, snowboard, hike and mountain bike has helped offset economic losses from mill closures.
New Hampshire experiences a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa in southern areas and Dfb in the north), with warm, humid summers, cold, wet winters, and uniform precipitation all year. The climate of the southeastern portion is moderated by the Atlantic Ocean and averages relatively milder and wetter weather, while the northern and interior portions experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Winters are cold and snowy throughout the state, and especially severe in the northern and mountainous areas. Average annual snowfall ranges from 60 inches (150 cm) to over 100 inches (250 cm) across the state.
Average daytime highs are in the mid 70s°F to low 80s°F (around 24-28 °C) throughout the state in July, with overnight lows in the mid 50s°F to low 60s°F (13-15 °C). January temperatures range from an average high of 34 °F (1 °C) on the coast to overnight lows below 0 °F (−18 °C) in the far north and at high elevations. Average annual precipitation statewide is roughly 40 inches (100 cm) with some variation occurring in the White Mountains due to differences in elevation and annual snowfall.
Extreme snow is often associated with a nor'easter, such as the Blizzard of '78 and the Blizzard of 1993, when several feet accumulated across portions of the state over 24 to 48 hours. Lighter snowfall of several inches occur frequently throughout winter, often associated with an Alberta Clipper.
New Hampshire, on occasion, is affected by hurricanes and tropical storms although by the time they reach the state they are often extratropical, with most storms striking the southern New England coastline and moving inland or passing by offshore in the Gulf of Maine. Most of New Hampshire averages fewer than 20 days of thunderstorms per year and an average of 2 tornadoes occur annually statewide.
The National Arbor Day Foundation plant hardiness zone map depicts zones 3, 4, 5, and 6 occurring throughout the state and indicates the transition from a relatively cooler to warmer climate as one travels southward across New Hampshire.
Various Algonquian (Pennacook) tribes inhabited the area prior to European settlement. English and French explorers visited New Hampshire in 1600–1605, and English fishermen settled at Odiorne's Point in present-day Rye in 1623. The first permanent settlement was at Hilton's Point (present-day Dover). By 1631, the Upper Plantation comprised modern-day Dover, Durham and Stratham; in 1679, it became the "Royal Province."
New Hampshire was one of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule during the American Revolution. By the time of the American Revolution, New Hampshire was a divided province. The economic and social life of the Seacoast revolved around sawmills, shipyards, merchant's warehouses, and established village and town centers. Wealthy merchants built substantial homes, furnished them with the finest luxuries, and invested their capital in trade and land speculation. At the other end of the social scale, there developed a permanent class of day laborers, mariners, indentured servants, and even slaves. It was the first state to declare its independence, but the only battle fought there was the raid on Fort William and Mary, December 14, 1774 in Portsmouth Harbor, which netted the rebellion sizable quantities of gunpowder, small arms, and cannon (General Sullivan, leader of the raid, described it as, "remainder of the powder, the small arms, bayonets, and cartouche-boxes, together with the cannon and ordnance stores") over the course of two nights. This raid was preceded by a warning to local patriots the previous day, by Paul Revere on December 13, 1774 that the fort was to be reinforced by troops sailing from Boston. According to unverified accounts, the gunpowder was later used at the Battle of Bunker Hill, transported there by Major Demerit, who was one of several New Hampshire patriots who stored the powder in their homes until it was transported elsewhere for use in revolutionary activities.
New Hampshire was a Jacksonian stronghold; the state sent Franklin Pierce to the White House in the election of 1852. Industrialization took the form of numerous textile mills, which in turn attracted large flows of immigrants from Quebec (the "French Canadians") and Ireland. The northern parts of the state produced lumber and the mountains provided tourist attractions. After 1960, the textile industry collapsed, but the economy rebounded as a center of high technology and a service provider.
Since 1952, New Hampshire gained national and international attention for its presidential primary held early in every presidential election year. It immediately became the most important testing grounds for candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations. The media gave New Hampshire (and Iowa) about half of all the attention paid to all states in the primary process, magnifying the state's decision powers (and spurring repeated efforts by out-of-state politicians to change the rules.)
As of 2005, New Hampshire has an estimated population of 1,309,940, which is an increase of 10,771, or 0.8%, from the prior year and an increase of 74,154, or 6.0%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 23,872 people (that is 75,060 births minus 51,188 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 51,968 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 11,107 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 40,861 people.
The center of population of New Hampshire is located in Merrimack County, in the town of Pembroke. The center of population has moved south 12 miles (19 km) since 1950, a reflection of the fact that the fastest growth in the state has been along its southern border, which is within commuting range of Boston and other Massachusetts cities.
As of 2004, the population includes 64,000 residents born outside the United States (4.9%).
In 2006, New Hampshire had the lowest birth rate in the nation.
The largest ancestry groups in New Hampshire are:
The large Irish American and French-Canadian populations are descended largely from mill workers, and many still live in the former mill towns, like Manchester. New Hampshire has the highest percentage (25.6% of the population) of residents of French/French-Canadian ancestry of any U.S. state.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 3.41% of the population aged 5 and older speak French at home, while 1.60% speak Spanish.
Percentage of New Hampshire residents by religion (from USA Today):
A survey suggests that people in New Hampshire and Vermont are less likely than other Americans to attend weekly services and only 54% say that they are "absolutely certain there is a God" compared to 71% in the rest of the nation. New Hampshire and Vermont are also at the lowest levels among states in religious commitment. About 23% percent of the respondents attend religious service at least once a week (39% nationally). Thirty-six percent said religion is very important to them (56% nationally). According to the ARDA the largest single Protestant denominations are the United Church of Christ with 34,299; and the United Methodist Church with 18,927 members. The Catholic Church had 431,259 members.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Hampshire's total state product in 2008 was $60 billion, tenth lowest in the United States. Median household income in 2008 was $49,467, seventh highest in the country. Its agricultural outputs are dairy products, nursery stock, cattle, apples and eggs. Its industrial outputs are machinery, electric equipment, rubber and plastic products and tourism.
New Hampshire experienced a significant shift in its economic base during the last century. Historically, the base was composed of the traditional New England manufactures of textiles, shoe-making, and small machining shops drawing upon low-wage labor from nearby small farms and from parts of Quebec. Today, these sectors contribute only 2% for textiles, 2% for leather goods, and 9% for machining of the state's total manufacturing dollar value (Source: U.S. Economic Census for 1997, Manufacturing, New Hampshire). They experienced a sharp decline due to obsolete plants and the lure of cheaper wages in the South.
The state's budget in FY2008 was $5.11 billion, including $1.48 billion in federal funds. The issue of taxation is controversial in New Hampshire, which has a property tax (subject to municipal control) but no broad sales tax or income tax. The state does have narrower taxes on meals, lodging, vehicles, business and investment income, and tolls on state roads.
According to the Energy Information Administration, New Hampshire's energy consumption and per capita energy consumption are among the lowest in the country. The Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, located near Portsmouth, is the largest nuclear reactor in New England and provides about 30 percent of New Hampshire’s electricity. Two natural gas-fired plants and some fossil-fuel powered plant, including the coal-fired Merrimack Station plant in Bow, provide most of the rest.
New Hampshire’s residential electricity use is low compared with the national average, in part because demand for air-conditioning is low during the generally mild summer months and because few households use electricity as their primary energy source for home heating. Over half of New Hampshire households use fuel oil for winter heating. New Hampshire has potential for renewable energies like wind power, hydroelectricity, and wood fuel.
The state has no general sales tax and no personal state income tax (the state does tax, at a 5 percent rate, income from dividends and interest) and the legislature has exercised fiscal restraint. Efforts to diversify the state's general economy have been ongoing.
Additionally, New Hampshire's lack of a broad-based tax system (aside from the controversial state-wide property tax) has resulted in the state's local communities having some of the nation's highest property taxes. Overall, New Hampshire remains ranked 49th among states in combined average state and local tax burden.
As of February 2010, the state's unemployment rate was 7.1%.
The Governor of New Hampshire is John Lynch (Democrat). New Hampshire's two U.S. senators are Judd Gregg (Republican) and Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat). New Hampshire's two U.S. representatives are Carol Shea-Porter (Democrat) and Paul Hodes (Democrat).
New Hampshire is an alcoholic beverage control state, and through the State Liquor Commission it takes in $100 million from the sale and distribution of liquor.
The LGBT rights in New Hampshire are mostly the same as non-LGBT residents persons in New Hampshire. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in New Hampshire, and the state has offered civil unions since 1 January 2008, and same-sex marriage in New Hampshire became legal on January 1, 2010.
The New Hampshire State Constitution of 1783 is the supreme law of the state, followed by the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated and the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules. These are roughly analogous to the Federal United States Constitution, United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations respectively.
The attributes of New Hampshire law, as they pertain to victimless crimes, kindergarten, and civil unions, are described in the article on Government of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has a bifurcated executive branch, consisting of the governor and a five-member executive council which votes on state contracts worth more than $5,000 and "advises and consents" to the governor's nominations to major state positions such as department heads and all judgeships and pardon requests. New Hampshire does not have a lieutenant governor; the Senate president serves as "acting governor" whenever the governor is unable to perform the duties.
The legislature is called the General Court. It consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are 400 representatives, making it one of the largest elected bodies in the English-speaking world, and 24 senators. Most are effectively volunteers, nearly half of which are retirees. (For details, see the article on Government of New Hampshire.)
The state's sole appellate court is the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The Superior Court is the court of general jurisdiction and the only court which provides for jury trials in civil or criminal cases. The other state courts are the Probate Court, District Court, and the Family Division.
New Hampshire is a "Dillon Rule" state, meaning that the state retains all powers not specifically granted to municipalities. Even so, the legislature strongly favors local control, particularly with regard to land use regulations. New Hampshire municipalities are classified as towns or cities, which differ primarily by the form of government. Most towns generally operate on the town meeting form of government, where the registered voters in the town act as the town legislature, and a board of selectmen acts as the executive of the town. Larger towns and the state's thirteen cities operate either on a council-manager or council-mayor form of government. There is no difference, from the point of view of the state government, between towns and cities besides the form of government. All state-level statutes treat all municipalities identically.
New Hampshire has a small number of unincorporated areas that are titled as gores, grants, locations, purchases, or townships. These locations have limited to no self-government, and services are generally provided for them by neighboring towns or the county or state where needed. As of the 2000 census, there were 25 of these left in New Hampshire, accounting for a total population of 175 people (as of 2000); several were entirely depopulated. All of these unincorporated areas, except two, are located in Coos County.
The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are the only official parties. A majority of voters are registered independent, and can choose either ballot in the primary, and then regain their independent status after voting. The Libertarian Party had official party status from 1990 to 1994.
New Hampshire is internationally famous for the New Hampshire primary, the first primary in the quadrennial American presidential election cycle. State law requires that the Secretary of State schedule this election at least one week before any "similar event." However, the Iowa caucus has preceded the New Hampshire primary. This primary, as the nation's first contest that uses the same procedure as the general election, draws more attention than those in other states, and has often been decisive in shaping the national contest.
In Dixville Notch in Coos County and Hart's Location in Carroll, the polls open at midnight on Election Day. State law permits a town where all registered citizens have voted to close early and announce its results. These are traditionally the first towns in both New Hampshire and the U.S. to vote in presidential primaries and elections.
Nominations for all other partisan offices are decided in a separate primary election. In Presidential election cycles, this is the second primary election held in New Hampshire.
Pictured to the right, Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire has become a popular campaign spot for politicians as well as several national presidential debates because of its proximity to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
In the past, New Hampshire has often voted Republican. Some sources trace the founding of the Republican Party to the town of Exeter in 1853. Prior to 1992, New Hampshire had only strayed from the Republican Party for three presidential candidates—Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Beginning in 1992, New Hampshire became a swing state in both national and local elections. The state supported Democrats Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008. It was the only U.S. state to support Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 election, but not in the 2004 election, in which Democrat John Kerry, a senator from neighboring Massachusetts, won the state.
The Democrats dominated elections in New Hampshire as they did nationally in 2006 and 2008. In 2006, Democrats won both Congressional seats (electing Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st district and Paul Hodes in the 2nd district), re-elected Governor John Lynch, and gained a majority on the Executive Council and in both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1911. Democrats had not held both the legislature and the governorship since 1874. Neither U.S. Senate seat was up for a vote in 2006. In 2008, Democrats retained their majorities, governorship, and Congressional seats; and former governor Jeanne Shaheen defeated incumbent Republican John E. Sununu for the U.S. Senate in a rematch of the 2002 contest.
The 2008 elections resulted in women holding a majority, 13 of the 24 seats, in the New Hampshire Senate, a first for any legislative body in the United States.
The Free State Project is a proposal to have 20,000 individuals move to New Hampshire, with the intent of reducing the size and scope of government at the local, state, and federal levels. The Free State Project holds the annual New Hampshire Liberty Forum and the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, also known as PorcFest.
New Hampshire has a well-maintained, well-signed network of Interstate highways, U.S. highways, and state highways. State highway markers still depict the Old Man of the Mountain despite that rock formation's demise in 2003. Several route numbers align with the same route numbers in neighboring states. State highway numbering does not indicate the highway's direction. Major routes include:
New Hampshire has 25 public-use airports, four of which have scheduled commercial passenger service. The busiest airport by number of passengers handled is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester and Londonderry, which serves the Greater Boston metropolitan area. The airport with the highest number of daily operations, although with no commercial airline traffic, is Nashua Municipal Airport, due to its use for practice by the flight school programs at Daniel Webster College.
Long-distance intercity passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak's Vermonter and Downeaster lines.
As of 2009, Boston-centered MBTA Commuter Rail services reach only as far as northern Massachusetts. The New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority is working to extend "Capital Corridor" service from Lowell, Massachusetts to Nashua, Concord, and Manchester, including Manchester-Boston Regional Airport; and "Coastal Corridor" service from Haverhill, Massachusetts to Plaistow, New Hampshire.
Eleven public transit authorities operate local and regional bus services around the state, and eight private carriers operate express bus services which link with the national intercity bus network. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation operates a statewide ride-sharing match service, in addition to independent ride matching and guaranteed ride home programs.
Tourist railroads include the Conway Scenic Railroad, Hobo-Winnipesaukee Railroad, and the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
Freight railways in New Hampshire include Pan Am Railways, the New England Central Railroad, the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, and New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation.
The first high schools in the state were the Boys' High School and the Girls' High School of Portsmouth, established either in 1827 or 1830 depending on the source.
New Hampshire has more than 150 public high schools, many of which serve more than one town. The largest is Pinkerton Academy in Derry, which is owned by a private non-profit organization and serves as the public high school of a number of neighboring towns. There are at least 30 private high schools in the state.
In 2008 the state tied with Massachusetts as having the highest scores on the SAT and ACT standardized tests given to high school students.
The following professional sports teams are located in New Hampshire:
The New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon is an oval track which has been visited by national motorsport championships such as the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Champ Car and the IndyCar Series.
Annually since 2002, high school statewide all stars compete against Vermont in ten sports during "Twin State" playoffs. New Hampshire also has two amateur roller derby leagues with the ManchVegas Roller Girls (USARS) and New Hampshire Roller Derby (WFTDA Apprentice League).
In the spring, New Hampshire's many sap houses hold sugaring-off open houses. In summer, New Hampshire is home to many county fairs, the largest being the Hopkinton State Fair, in Contoocook. New Hampshire's lake region is home to many summer camps, especially around Lake Winnipesaukee, and is a popular tourist destination. The Peterborough Players have performed every summer in Peterborough, New Hampshire since 1933. In the fall New Hampshire is host to the New Hampshire Highland Games. New Hampshire has also registered an official tartan with the proper authorities in Scotland, used to make kilts worn by the Lincoln Police Department while its officers serve during the games. The fall foliage peaks in mid October. In the winter, New Hampshire's ski areas and snowmobile trails attract visitors from a wide area. After the lakes freeze over they become dotted with ice fishing ice houses, known locally as bobhouses.