New York is the nation's third most populous state and ranks as the 27th largest state by size. It is often referred to as New York State to distinguish it from New York City, which, with a population of over 8,000,000 people, is the most populous city in the United States. Both State and City were named for the 17th century Duke of York, James Stuart, the future James II and VII from England and Scotland.
In contrast with New York's urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the State is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York's Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States. It is larger than the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Olympic National Parks combined. New York established the first state park in the United States at Niagara Falls in 1885. Today the state has 178 State Parks.
Upstate New York and Downstate New York are terms often used informally to distinguish New York City or its greater metropolitan area from the rest of New York State. The placement of a boundary between the two is a matter of great contention. Unofficial and loosely defined regions of Upstate New York include the Southern Tier which often includes the counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and the North Country which can mean anything from the strip along the Canadian border to everything north of the Mohawk River.
Weather in New York is heavily influenced by two continental air masses: a warm, humid one from the southwest and a cold, dry one from the northwest.
The winters are long and cold in the Plateau Divisions of the state. The summer climate is cool in the Adirondacks, Catskills and higher elevations of the Southern Plateau.
The New York City/Long Island area and lower portions of the Hudson Valley have rather warm summers by comparison, with some periods of high, uncomfortable humidity. The remainder of New York State enjoys pleasantly warm summers, marred by only occasional, brief intervals of sultry conditions.