Boston is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is sometimes regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact. Boston city proper had a 2008 estimated population of 620,535, making it the twenty-first largest in the country. Boston is also the anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston, home to 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Greater Boston as a commuting region includes six Massachusetts counties, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Worcester, all of Rhode Island and parts of New Hampshire; it is home to 7.5 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.
In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded the city on the Shawmut Peninsula. During the late 18th century, Boston was the location of several major events during the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. Several early battles of the American Revolution, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston, occurred within the city and surrounding areas. Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the peninsula. After American independence was attained Boston became a major shipping port and manufacturing center, and its rich history now helps attract 16.3 million visitors annually. The city was the site of several firsts, including America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635) and the first subway system in the United States.
With many colleges and universities within the city and surrounding area, Boston is a center of higher education and a center for medicine. The city's economy is also based on research, electronics, engineering, finance, and high technology—principally biotechnology. The city has been experiencing gentrification and has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, though it remains high on world livability rankings.
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