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New England

New England refers to the six states of the Northeast -- Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It was first given the name by John Smith during his exploration in 1614. At the time of the revolution, four of these were among the original thirteen colonies that declared independence. Vermont remained aloof while its territorial disputes were sorted out, but joined soon thereafter, while Maine split from Massachusetts to become a state in 1820.

After the period of initial settlement, New England received relatively little fresh immigration for two centuries beginning around 1640. The increase in its population was due mainly to large families. Although not attractive as a destination for immigrants seeking to farm, New England became a magnet for workers due to the Industrial Revolution. After 1840, immigration from other sources grew apace. Originally highly Protestant, in fact Puritan, there is now a Catholic majority in Massachusetts.

An early and enduring interest in education, manifested by the founding of Harvard as America`s first college, has given New England an unusually large number of the nation`s institutions of higher learning, and a particularly high concentration of the very best.