Massachusetts had 6,349,097 inhabitants in 2000, according to the national census, placing it 13th among the states. The census showed population had increased by 5.5 percent from that of 1990. Between 1970 and 1980 the state’s population grew by only 0.8 percent, while in the decade from 1960 to 1970 it had increased by 10.5 percent.
Massachusetts lies on the northern end of a continuous urban belt that begins in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. The state’s population density of 317 persons per sq km (821 per sq mi) in 2006 was higher than that of any other state except New Jersey and Rhode Island. Urban dwellers accounted for 91 percent of its inhabitants in 2000.
Massachusetts had more urban than rural inhabitants as far back as 1850 and had become overwhelmingly urban by 1930. In the second half of the 20th century the movement from urban to suburban areas has blurred the distinction between rural and urban areas, since most of the people classified as rural dwellers do not live on farms. Such central cities as Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, once losing residents to their outlying areas, are again growing, as are such former textile cities as Fall River and New Bedford.
Massachusetts’s capital and largest city is Boston, with a population of 559,034 in 2005. The Boston metropolitan area, including parts of seven counties in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire, had 5,819,100 inhabitants in 2000.
Worcester had 175,898 residents in 2005. Springfield is another populous city, with 151,732 people. Brockton, Lowell, New Bedford, Cambridge, Fall River, and Quincy are other large urban centers in Massachusetts. The state is noted for a rich diversity in the national background of its residents. Although the earliest settlers were English, people of many countries subsequently made their home in Massachusetts. In the 1840s the potato famine drove many Irish to Massachusetts, and they have since passed the English in numbers to become the state’s largest ethnic group. In the second half of the 19th century the mills and factory towns in central and western Massachusetts attracted many French Canadians, and around the turn of the century, Italians became a third major influx.
The descendants of the English (Yankees), the Irish, the Greeks, and the Italians have dominated state politics in recent years. Many descendants of immigrants from Poland, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Lithuania, and other countries have also retained their ethnic identities. Numerous communities in the state are strongly identified with one ethnic group or another. Although blacks have lived in the state since colonial times, the major black migration into Massachusetts took place in the second half of the 20th century.
Whites comprise the largest share of the population, representing 84.5 percent of the people. Blacks are 5.4 percent, Asians are 3.8 percent, Native Americans are 0.2 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race are 6 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 2,489 at the time of the census. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 6.8 percent of the people. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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