See: History of New York
Law and Government
As in all fifty states, the head of the executive branch of government is a Governor. The legislative branch is called the Legislature, and consists of a Senate and an Assembly. Unlike most States, the New York electoral law permits electoral fusion, and New York ballots tend to have, in consequence, a larger number of parties on them, some being permanent minor parties that seek to influence the major parties and others being ephemeral parties formed to give major-party candidates an additional line on the ballot.
New York's legislature is notoriously dysfunctional. The Assembly has long been controlled by the Democrats, the Senate has long been controlled by the Republicans. No budget has been passed on time for twenty years, and the government is unable to pass legislation for which there is supposed to be a consensus, as in reforming the Nelson Rockefeller Drug Laws.
In 2002, 16,892 laws were introduced in the New York legislature, more than twice as many as in the Illinois General Assembly, whose members are the second most prolific. Of those bills, only 4 percent, 693, actually became law, the lowest passing percentage in the country.
New York's legislature also has more paid staff, 3,428 than any other legislature in the nation. Pennsylvania, whose staff is the second largest, only had 2,947, and California only 2,359. New York's legislature also has more committees than any other legislature in the nation.
New York's subordinate political units are its 62 counties. Smaller officially recognized incorporated municipal units are towns cities, and villages.
The court system in New York is notable for its "backwards" naming: the state's trial court is called the New York Supreme Court, while the highest court in the state is the New York Court of Appeals.
New York State's borders touch (clockwise from the northwest) two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario, which are connected by the Niagara River), the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario in Canada, three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic states (New Jersey and Pennsylvania).
While best known for New York City's urban congestion, especially Manhattan's skyscrapers, the rest of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. Few people know that New York's Adirondack State Park is larger than any National Park in the US. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is a popular attraction; the best view is from the Canadian side. The Hudson River 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 large islands at the mouth of the Hudson River Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Long Island.
The five New York City boroughs and their (counties) are: The Bronx (Bronx) on the mainland north of Manhattan (New York) on Manhattan Island; the Hudson River is their western boundary. Brooklyn (Kings) and Queens (Queens) are across the East River from Manhattan on the western end of Long Island and Staten Island (Richmond) is south of Manhattan. The eastern end of Long Island includes suburban Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
"Upstate" is a common term for New York State north of the New York City metropolitan area; but many of those outside of the NYC metropolitan area find the term demeaning because it is emblematic of the cultural and demographic divide which separates the two areas, one rural and conservative, the other urban and liberal. Which of the suburban counties north of The Bronx along the Hudson River (Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam) count as "Upstate" depends on who is making the list. Upstate New York includes the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, the Shawangunk Ridge, the Finger and Great Lakes in the west and Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Oneida Lake in the northeast, and rivers such as the Delaware, Genesee, Hudson, Mohawk, and Susquehanna. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.
New York City dominates the economy of the state. It is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States and is the location of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street, Manhattan. In 1999, the total gross state product was $755 billion, second only to California in the nation. Its 2000 Per Capita Personal Income was $34,547, placing it 4th in the nation. New York's agricultural outputs are dairy products, cattle and other livestock, vegetables, nursery stock, and apples. Its industrial outputs are printing and publishing, scientific instruments, electric equipment, machinery, chemical products, and tourism.
New York State is an agricultural leader, ranking within the top five states for a number of products including dairy, apples, cherries, cabbage, potatoes, onions, maple syrup and many other products. The state has about a quarter of its land in farms and produced 3.4 billion dollars in agricultural products in 2001. The south shore of Lake Ontario provides the right mix of soils and microclimate for many apple, cherry, plum, pear and peach orchards. Apples are also grown in the Hudson Valley and near Lake Champlain. The south shore of Lake Erie and the southern Finger Lakes hillsides have many vinyards. The Finger Lakes area is famous for award-winning farm wineries and others.
New York was heavily glaciated in the ice age leaving much of the state with deep, fertile, though somewhat rocky soils. Row crops, including hay, corn (also known as maize), wheat, oats, barley, and soybeans, are grown. Particularly in the western part of the state, sweet corn, peas, carrots, squash, cucumbers and other vegetables are grown. The Hudson and Mohawk valleys are known for pumpkins and blueberries. The glaciers also left numerous swampy areas, which have been drained for the rich humus soils called muckland which is mostly used for onions, potatoes, celery and other vegetables. Dairy farms are present throughout much of the state. Cheese is a major product, often produced by Amish or Mennonite farm cheeseries. New York is rich in nectar-producing plants and is a major honey-producing state. The honeybees are also used for pollination of fruits and vegetables. Most commercial beekeepers are migratory, taking their hives to southern states for the winter. Most cities have Farmers' markets which are well supplied by local truck farmers.
According the the US Census Bureau, as of 2003, New York was the third largest state in population after California and Texas, with a population of 19,190,115. 20.4% of the population is foreign-born.
The racial makeup of the state is:
6.5% of New York's population were reported as under 5, 24.7% under 18, and 12.9% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.8% of the population.
Important cities and towns
Its major cities and towns are:
Primary and Secondary Education
The New York State Board of Regents and the State Education Department control all public primary and secondary education in the state.
Colleges and universities
Besides the many private colleges and universities in the state, New York, like many other states, operates its own system of institutions of higher learning known as the State University of New York System (SUNY). New York City operates the City University of New York (CUNY) in conjunction with the state.
Professional sports teams
USS New York was named in honor of this state.
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