The State of New York, known today as "The Empire State," is one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States and the 11th state to ratify the United States Constitution. The original inhabitants of this area were dominated by the Haudenasaunee (Iroquois - Five Nations). Dutch and French trappers were the first explorers to venture from the Atlantic coast settlements. Beginning in 1613, the Dutch began to establish jurisdiction over the territory between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers, naming it "New Netherlands." By 1622 the area was chartered and governed by The Dutch West India Company, who traded heavily with the Mohawks, Oneida, and Onandoga Nations of the Haudenasaunee Confederacy until 1664 when it fell under English rule.
What eventually became New York State had been settled by the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy for at least 500 years before Europeans arrived. They thrived on wild game and American Bison herds. They were also prosperously growing corn and vegetables and maintained orchards, along with the harvesting of abundant fish in their territories. With the establishment of a State charter on April 20, 1777, which granted unlimited westward expansion, territorial disputes between the colonies and the Iroquois erupted. During the American Revolution, four of the Iroquois nations fought on the side of the British, with the Oneidas being the one exception. In 1779, in what some identify as retribution for their allegiance to the British, George Washington ordered Generals Clinton and Sullivan to destroy all the Haudenasaunee communities through the Finger Lakes and Genesee Country regions. During what was known as the Sullivan Campaign, hundreds were tortured and killed and survivors fled to Fort Niagara where more than half died of exposure, hunger and disease. Eventually, treaties were ratified by the new U.S. Government and the State of New York. However, wealthy land speculators entered into agreements that eliminated Indian title to vast tracts of land. Some purchases of Iroquois lands are the subject of numerous modern-day land claims by all of the individual nations.
Transportation in western New York was difficult before canals were built in the early part of the nineteenth century. Governor DeWitt Clinton strongly advocated building a canal to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, and thus all the Great Lakes. Work commenced in 1817, and the Erie Canal was finished in 1825. The canal opened up vast areas of New York to commerce and settlement, and enabled port cities such as Buffalo to grow and prosper. The state now boasts the most extensive and one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the country.
As of 2006, New York was the third largest state in population after California and Texas, with an estimated 19,306,183 citizens. New York is a slow growing state with a large rate of emigration to other states, especially Florida and Arizona. However, some of its continued growth can be attributed to it being a leading destination for international immigration.
New York's gross state product in 2005 was $963.5 billion, again ranking it third in size behind the larger states of California and Texas. New York exports a wide variety of goods such as foodstuffs, commodities, minerals, manufactured goods, cut diamonds, and automobile parts. New York's five largest export markets in 2004 were Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland. The state's largest imports are oil, gold, aluminum, natural gas, electricity, rough diamonds, and lumber. Tourism from the north is also a large part of the economy. Canadians spent US$487 million in 2004.
New York City is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States and is the location of the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in the world by dollar volume. Many of the world's largest corporations are based in the city. The state also has a large manufacturing sector that includes printing and the production of garments, furs, railroad equipment and bus line vehicles. Many of these industries are concentrated in upstate regions. Albany and the Hudson Valley are major centers of nanotechnology and microchip manufacturing, while the Rochester area is important in photographic equipment and imaging.
About 52% of all revenue raised by local governments in the state is raised solely by the government of New York City, which is the largest municipal government in the United States. It is comprised of five counties: the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. It is home to more than two-fifths of the state's population. Buffalo is the second largest city and the smallest is Sherrill, New York, located just west of the Town of Vernon in Oneida County. Albany is the state capital, and the Town of Hempstead is the civil township with the largest population.
New York is also a major agricultural producer with over a quarter of its land in farms, ranking among the top five states for agricultural products including dairy, apples, cherries, cabbage, potatoes, onions, maple syrup and many others. The state is the largest producer of cabbage in the U.S. From world-class and abundant wineries concentrated in the Finger Lakes region to a moderately sized saltwater commercial fishery of clams, lobsters, squid, and flounder the state has a very diversified economy.
The University of the State of New York oversees all public primary, middle-level, and secondary education in the state, while the New York City Department of Education manages the public school system in New York City. At college level, the statewide public university system is the State University of New York (SUNY). The City University of New York (CUNY) is the public university system of New York City. In addition to these, there are several private universities.
New York State established many state parks and two major forest preserves early on with the guidance from George Perkins Marsh's "Man and Nature," published in 1864. Marsh argued that deforestation could lead to desertification; referring to the clearing of once-lush lands surrounding the Mediterranean, he asserted "the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon." These parks and wildlife preserves continue to support a large portion of the state's tourist economy. The largest of these is Adirondack Park, established in 1892 and given constitutional protection in 1894, is roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States. The Catskill Park was protected in legislation passed in 1885 and consists of 700,000 acres, serving as a habitat for bobcats, minks, black bears, and fish. The state operates numerous campgrounds and there are over 300 miles of multi-use trails in the park. The Montauk State Park boasts the Famous Montauk Lighthouse commissioned by George Washington and is also a major tourist attraction.
"Upstate" is a common term for New York State counties north of suburban Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess 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.
New York State citizens have a long and loyal following for sports of all kinds. From the Haudenasaunee contribution to academic and professional lacrosse teams to minor leagues, school teams, and major league baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. These include the NFL' Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, the NBA's New York Knicks, MLB's New York Mets and New York Giants, and NHL's New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. New York also hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. The Games were known for the USA-USSR hockey game dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" in which a group of American college students and amateurs defeated the heavily-favored Soviet national ice hockey team 4-3 and went on to win the gold medal. Lake Placid also hosted the 1932 Winter Olympics. Along with St. Moritz, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria, it is one of the three places to have twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games.