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The Empire State™
New York is located in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States, and is the country's third most populous state. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and shares a water border with Rhode Island as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
New York City, which is both the largest city in the state and in the entire United States, is known for its history as a gateway for immigration to the United States and its status as a financial, cultural, transportation, and manufacturing center.
About one third of all of the battles of the Revolutionary War took place in New York. New York became an independent state on July 9, 1776 and enacted its constitution in 1777. The state ratified the United States Constitution on July 26, 1788 to become the 11th state. According to the US Department of Commerce, it is also the state of choice for foreign visitors, leading both Florida and California in tourism respectively.
New York covers 54,475 square miles (141,089 km²) and ranks as 27th largest state by size. The Great Appalachian Valley dominates eastern New York, while Lake Champlain is the chief northern feature of the valley, which also includes the Hudson River flowing southward to the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged Adirondack Mountains, with vast tracts of wilderness, lie west of the valley. Most of the southern part of the state is on the Allegheny plateau, which rises from the southeast to the Catskill Mountains. The western section of the state is drained by the Allegheny River and rivers of the Susquehanna and Delaware systems.
New York's borders touch (clockwise from the west) two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario, which are connected by the Niagara River); the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada; Lake Champlain; three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut); the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic states (New Jersey and Pennsylvania). In addition, Rhode Island shares a water border with New York.
Contrasting with New York City's urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York's Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a popular attraction. The Hudson River begins with Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south through the eastern part of the state without draining Lakes George or Champlain. Lake George empties at its north end into Lake Champlain, whose northern end extends into Canada, where it drains into the Richelieu and then the St Lawrence Rivers. Four of New York City's five boroughs are on the three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River: Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island.
"Upstate" is a common term for New York State counties north of suburban Westchester and Rockland counties. Upstate New York typically includes the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, the Shawangunk Ridge, the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes in the west; and Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Oneida Lake in the northeast; and rivers such as the Delaware, Genesee, Mohawk, and Susquehanna. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.
The Great Lakes, ocean, rivers, and mountains give New York interesting weather. Masses of cold, dry air frequently arrive from the northern interior of the continent. Prevailing winds from the south and southwest transport warm, humid air, which has been conditioned by the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent subtropical waters. These two air masses provide the dominant continental characteristics of the climate. A third great air mass flows inland from the North Atlantic Ocean and produces cool, cloudy, and damp weather conditions.
Nearly all storm and frontal systems moving eastward across the continent pass through or come close in proximity to New York State. Storm systems often move northward along the Atlantic coast and have an important influence on the weather and climate of Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Frequently, areas deep in the interior of the state feel the effects of such coastal storms.
Much of Upstate New York, particularly Western and Central New York, are typically affected by lake-effect snows. This usually results in high yearly snowfall totals in these regions. Winters are also long and cold in both Western and Central New York, though not as cold as the Adirondack region. The New York City metro area in comparison to the rest of the state is milder in the winter. Thanks in part to geography (its proximity to the Atlantic and being shielded to the north and west by hillier terrain), the New York metro area usually sees far less snow than the rest of the state. Lake-effect snow rarely affects the New York metro area, except for its extreme northwestern suburbs.
The summer climate is cool in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and higher elevations of the Southern Plateau. The New York City area and lower portions of the Hudson Valley have rather warm summers by comparison, with some periods of high, uncomfortable humidity. The remainder of New York State enjoys pleasantly warm summers, marred by only occasional, brief intervals of sultry conditions.
New York has many state parks and two major forest preserves. Adirondack Park, roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States, was established in 1892 and given state constitutional protection in 1894.
The Catskill Park was protected in legislation passed in 1885, which declared that its land was to be conserved and never put up for sale or lease. Consisting of 700,000 acres of land, the park is a habitat for bobcats, minks and fishers. There are some 400 black bears living in the region. The state operates numerous campgrounds and there are over 300 miles of multi-use trails in the Park.
The Montauk Point State Park boasts the famous Montauk Lighthouse commissioned by the first President of the U.S.A, George Washington, which is a major tourist attraction and is located in the township of East Hampton, Suffolk County. Hither Hills park offers camping and is a popular destination with surfcasting sport fishermen.