The most populous of the New England states, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts occupies 23,934 sq km of land area, much of it rugged and hilly extensions of the Appalachian mountain chain but with coastal areas that mirror Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. The islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are popular summer vacation destinations. Though small in size, Massachusetts holds a storied place in the history of the American Republic. The destination of the Pilgrim Fathers and later Puritan refugees in the 17th century, the capital and largest city of Boston became a hotbed of revolutionary activity in the late 18th century and the site of the first battles of the American Revolution. Later still it fostered the nascent labor movement during industrialization. The Commonwealth is home as well to many celebrated cultural and educational institutions, including the oldest American university, Harvard University. The Bay State's well-educated population is concentrated in the east in the sphere of Boston, where high technology, finance, and trade dominate the economy, but Massachusetts remains a leading state in manufacturing and fisheries.
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