New York, sometimes called New York State, is a state in the Northeastern United States. A Mid-Atlantic state, New York borders New England, and has an international border with Canada. With almost 19.6 million residents, it is the fourth-most populous state in the United States and seventh-most densely populated as of 2023. New York is the 27th-largest U.S. state by area, with a total area of 54,556 square miles (141,300 km2).
New York has a varied geography. The southeastern part of the state, known as Downstate, encompasses New York City, the most populous city in the United States, Long Island, the most populous island in the United States, and the lower Hudson Valley. These areas are the center of the New York metropolitan area, a sprawling urban landmass, and account for approximately two-thirds of the state’s population. The much larger Upstate area spreads from the Great Lakes to Lake Champlain, while its Southern Tier region extends to the border of Pennsylvania. Upstate includes the Adirondack Mountains and the Catskill Mountains (part of the wider Appalachian Mountains). The east–west Mohawk River Valley bisects the more mountainous regions, and flows into the north–south Hudson River valley near the state capital of Albany. Western New York, home to the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, is part of the Great Lakes region and borders Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Central New York is anchored by the city of Syracuse; between the central and western parts of the state, New York is dominated by the Finger Lakes, a popular tourist destination.
New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that went on to form the United States. The area of present-day New York had been inhabited by tribes of the Algonquians and the Iroquois Confederacy Native Americans for several thousand years by the time the earliest Europeans arrived. Stemming from Henry Hudson’s expedition in 1609, the Dutch established the multiethnic colony of New Netherland in 1621, which included the settlements of Fort Orange (present-day Albany), Wiltwijck (present-day Kingston), and New Amsterdam (present-day New York City). England seized the colony from the Dutch in 1664, renaming it the Province of New York.
During the American Revolutionary War, fought between 1775 and 1783, a group of colonists eventually succeeded in establishing independence, and joined the fledgling United States. From the early 19th century, New York’s development of its interior, beginning with the construction of the Erie Canal, gave it incomparable advantages over other regions of the United States East Coast. The state built its political, cultural, and economic ascendancy over the next century, earning it the nickname of the “Empire State”. Although deindustrialization eroded a significant portion of the state’s economy in the second half of the 20th century, New York in the 21st century continues to be considered as a global node of creativity and entrepreneurship, social tolerance, and environmental sustainability.
Many landmarks in New York are well known, including four of the world’s ten most-visited tourist attractions in 2013: Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls and Grand Central Terminal. The state is home to approximately 200 colleges and universities, including two Ivy League universities, Columbia University and Cornell University, and the expansive State University of New York, which is among the largest university systems in the nation. New York City is home to the headquarters of the United Nations, and it is sometimes described as the world’s most important city, the cultural, financial, and media epicenter, and the capital of the world.