The area of Massachusetts was part of the original territory of the United States. It was originally included in the Charter of New England in 1620; the Charter of Massachusetts Bay, which became the Constitution of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629; and a charter that united the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies in 1691. In 1785, it ceded area to the United States that became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787. Massachusetts ratified the U.S. Constitution on February 6, 1788; it was the sixth of the original 13 states to join the Union. At the time of statehood, the area of Maine was a district in Massachusetts. In 1819, it agreed to allow its district of Maine to petition for statehood, and Maine was admitted to the Union as a separate state on March 15, 1820. There were changes to the boundary between Connecticut and Massachusetts in 1804 and between Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 1862, and a resurvey of the latter boundary in 1897, resulting in generally the same boundary as the present state. Massachusetts is one of four states that are legally described as a commonwealth.
Census data for Massachusetts are available beginning with the 1790 census. The population data for 1790, 1800, and 1810 do not include the area of Maine. The population of the legal area of Massachusetts including the area of Maine for those censuses was 700,745 in 1810; 574,564 in 1800; and 475,327 in 1790.
See: Geographic Terms & Concepts
Counties & County Equivalents
There are 14 counties in Massachusetts. Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties have active county governments, each governed by a board of county commissioners. Nantucket County and Nantucket town are governmentally consolidated and have a single set of officials. Suffolk County and Boston city are governmentally consolidated and have a single set of officials. Berkshire, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, and Worcester counties are no longer legal governmental units.
There are 357 county subdivisions in Massachusetts known as minor civil divisions (MCDs). There are 298 towns with functioning, but not necessarily active, governments. The 53 incorporated places are independent of MCDs and serve as county subdivisions. In addition there are six MCDs each consisting entirely of water area within the territorial limits of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, towns and cities are usually the main providers of local government services. The entire state is covered by town governments with the exception of the areas within cities. The governing body in each town and city is the board of selectmen.
Places (Incorporated Cities, Towns & Census Designated Places (CDPs))
Massachusetts has 244 places; 53 incorporated places and 191 census designated places (CDPs). The incorporated places are all cities. The minimum population for incorporation in Massachusetts is 12,000. Cities are governed by a board of selectmen. An incorporated place can legally exist in a single county only. All of the incorporated places are cities that are each independent of any other county subdivision and serve as county subdivisions.
Alphabetical List of Cities, Towns, CDPs and Other Populated Places
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q, R | S | T | U, V | W, X, Y, Z
Massachusetts Civil Features
Massachusetts Civil Features: Political Subdivisions, Native Areas, Land Grants, etc. - sorted by Census Class Codes.
Metropolitan and Micropolitan Stastical Areas
There are 5 Metropolitan and 2 Micropolitan Statistical Areas in Massachusetts. MA Metopolitan & Micropolitan Areas
Massachusetts ZIP Code Tabulation Areas
There are 538 ZIP Code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) in Massachusetts. View Massachusetts ZIP Codes and ZIP Code Maps.
Massachusetts has 71 elementary school districts, 35 secondary school districts, and 210 unified school districts. View Massachusetts Public and Private Schools.
Massachusetts has nine congressional districts as a result of reapportionment based on the 2010 Census. View Map of Massachusetts Congressional Districts.
State Legislative Districts
There are 40 state senate districts and 160 house districts in Massachusetts. In addition, there is one state senate district and one state house district not defined, each of which encompasses water area.
American Indian Areas
Massachusetts has one state recognized American Indian reservation and one federally recognized trust land.