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August 7, 2018

With 1,210 people per square mile — at least as of 2015 — New Jersey takes the top spot as the most densely populated state in the nation.

The only other state even to come close that year was Rhode Island, which squeezed 1,022 people into a square mile.

New Jersey is the fifth smallest state in the country, based on land area. It encompasses 7,417 square miles and has the 11th-largest population — close to 9 million in 2015, now estimated to exceed 9 million as of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While there are still plenty of relatively rural parts of New Jersey in the northwest and southwest in particular, its urban areas are very crowded. A survey by Governing magazine of cities with populations of at least 50,000 found that six of the 10 most densely populated in 2016, including the top three, were in New Jersey. New York City ranked fourth.

Leading that list was Union City, with 54,138 people per square mile. Two other Hudson County towns took the second and third slots: West New York, with 52,815 people per square mile, and Hoboken, with 42,484. Also among the top 10 were Passaic, fifth, with 22,42 people per square mile; Jersey City, ninth, with 17,860; and Paterson, 10th, with 17,438.

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