New York has always played an important role in our nation's history and development dating back to early exploration, colonial times and the struggle for independence. Nearly one-third of all battles during the Revolution were fought in New York State, including the victory at the Battle of Saratoga. New York was at the forefront of the Underground Railroad movement, and its prime location and politics made it a destination of choice for many Africans fleeing slavery along the eastern seaboard. The Women's Rights Movement was born in New York State, in Seneca Falls.
The 524-mile New York State Canal System was key to the growth of industry, commerce and transportation in New York State. An engineering marvel, the Erie Canal was called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it was built.
Visit one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S., Letchworth State Park, whose gorge is renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East," as the Genesee River roars through it over three major waterfalls between cliffs as high as 600 feet surrounded by lush forests.
The site of two winter Olympics, the rebirth of American auto racing, and a legendary shrine to the national pastime (Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame), New York has been, and is, at the forefront of sports in America.
As the point of entry for millions of immigrants, New York has been at the center of the American immigrant experience. From the New York City skyline - often the first sight of the nation for new arrivals - to immigrant communities in western New York, there are many museums and historic sites to visit. Visitors can explore the dazzling array of New York's arts and cultural history attractions in communities across the state. Long before European settlers set foot on the land that would become New York, Indian nations had built thriving civilizations here. That culture remains vital today, with over 200,000 Native Americans living throughout the state.
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world—the New York metropolitan area. The city is referred to as New York City or the City of New York to distinguish it from the State of New York, of which it is a part. A global power city, New York exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the United Nations Headquarters, New York is an important center for international diplomacy and has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world.
On one of the world's largest natural harbors, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which is a county of New York State. The five boroughs—the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—were consolidated into a single city in 1898. With a census-estimated 2013 population of 8,405,837 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles (790 km2), New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. By 2013 census estimates, the New York Metropolitan Area's population remains by a significant margin the United States' largest Metropolitan Statistical Area, with approximately 19.9 million people, and is also part of the most populous Combined Statistical Area in the United States, containing an estimated 23.4 million people.
Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to its approximately 55 million annual visitors. Several sources have ranked New York the most photographed city in the world. Times Square, iconified as "The Crossroads of the World", is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world's entertainment industry. The names of many of the city's bridges, skyscrapers, and parks are known around the world. New York City's financial district, anchored by Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, has been called the world's leading financial center and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by total market capitalization of its listed companies. Manhattan's real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. Manhattan's Chinatown incorporates the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere, with several signature Chinatowns developing across the city. Providing continuous 24/7 service, the New York City Subway is one of the most extensive metro systems worldwide, with 468 stations in operation. Numerous colleges and universities are located in New York, including Columbia University, New York University, and Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 35 in the world.