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New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S., was first explored for France in 1524. When Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609, he claimed both New York and New Jersey for the Dutch and named it the New Netherlands. And, by 1630, the Dutch settlement of New Jersey was forming on the Hudson River.
The Dutch lost control of New Jersey to the British who added it to their colonies in 1664. With the promise of religious and political freedoms and inexpensive land, many settlers began flooding into the area including a Quaker colony in 1674.
In 1676, the colony became divided into East Jersey and West Jersey and when the disputes led to rioting in the 1690's, England joined the two colonies back into one. New Jersey claimed their independence from Britain in 1776. And, became the 3rd state on December 18, 1787.
In 1869, New Jersey was the home of the nation’s first college football game and in 1896 the first professional basketball games were held there. It was also the home of the very first drive-in movie theater that opened outside of Camden in 1933. And, the first dinosaur skeleton that was ever found in the U.S., was discovered in Haddonfield in 1858.
With over 50 resort towns and cities, New Jersey relies heavily on tourism. The pharmaceutical industry is important as well, the state manufacturers around one sixth of all U.S. drugs. New Jersey also produces more chemicals than any other state in the nation.
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