New Hampshire's official motto is “Live Free or Die,” a libertarian philosophy that truly captures the state's historic resistance to regulation. In accord with its preference for limited government, the state constitution of New Hampshire is the only one to acknowledge a right of revolution, and the only one not to require the establishment of a public school system. There are no laws requiring those over the age of 18 to wear seatbelts or motorcycle helmets or drivers to carry mandatory automobile insurance. New Hampshire also has no general sales tax and no personal income tax, no lieutenant governor and only one appellate court (most states have two). However, New Hampshire's 400-member House of Representatives is the largest in the U.S., with one elected official for every 3,300 citizens, illustrating the state's emphasis on local control.
The citizens of New Hampshire also have a major impact on national politics, thanks to their participation in the nation's first presidential primary (following the Iowa caucus), which has been the case since 1952. Other states, complaining that New Hampshire, a small and rather homogenous state, has a disproportionate influence over the nominations of presidential candidates by the major parties, have attempted to undermine the primary's significance, unsuccessfully thus far. Presidential hopefuls continue to make pilgrimages to New Hampshire early in their campaigns, and a good showing in that first primary is considered crucial by many election handicappers.
New Hampshire is a relatively expensive state in which to own real estate, with a statewide median home value of $248,399 as of early 2016. On top of that, it has the third-highest property taxes in the nation after New Jersey and Illinois. In 2015, the average real estate tax bill in the state was $3,649. Yet real estate remains in high demand in New Hampshire, no doubt thanks to the excellent quality of life. In 2014, 24/7 Wall Street ranked the state #1 in the nation for quality of living due to factors like the low homicide and poverty rates (both the lowest in the country), high employment rate (77%, the 7th highest nationally), widespread access to broadband Internet (79%, the highest in the U.S.) and strong voter turnout (6th highest in the nation).
As a result, a growing number of highly educated professionals employed in the Boston metro area are commuting roughly an hour to homes in New Hampshire, particularly in the southern cities of Salem, Nashua and Derry. As of early 2016, the median home values in these areas were $303,570, $244,420 and $233,664, respectively. Conversely, many Bostonians drive to New Hampshire to make certain purchases without sales tax, thus fueling retail businesses along the border.
The Granite State's economy relies largely on manufacturing and tourism, with visitors coming for colorful leaves in the fall, skiing and snowboarding in the White Mountains in winter and swimming at Lake Winnipesaukee and the beaches along the state’s 13 miles of coastline in summer. Unfortunately for tourists, the state's most famous landmark, a granite formation in Franconia Notch dubbed “the Old Man of the Mountain” for its resemblance to a craggy face, collapsed in 2003. New Hampshire is also home to Mount Washington, location of “the worst weather on Earth,” where scientists at the summit's weather observatory clocked the second-fastest wind gust ever recorded on land (231 mph) in April 1934.
The 5th smallest state in terms of land area, New Hampshire has an estimated population of over 1.3 million people. 94% of residents are white, 2% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian and 1% are black. Ethnically, the Irish represent the largest reported heritage at over 13% of the population, while foreign-born individuals comprise 5%. With a median household income of $64,916 as of early 2016, New Hampshire ranks among the top 10 wealthiest states in the U.S. It is also lands in the top 10 for both high school diplomas (91%) and undergraduate degrees (33%).