SAYREVILLE, N.J. (AP) – The map says New Jersey is one state. But the people who live in it know better.

New Jersey? One state? Forget it.

There is north Jersey and there is south Jersey, and never do they meet, unless you count that snarling, honking, are-we-there-yet-Dad line of traffic crawling down the Garden State Parkway every summer weekend.

“We have the same license plate. After that, there’s not much in common,” said Frank Capece, a lawyer from the northern town of Cranford. “We root for different football teams, we root for different baseball teams, the cost of living is significantly less in south Jersey and in south Jersey, people talk softer and slower.”

In north Jersey, it’s about “the city” – New York – the wait at the Holland Tunnel today, what the Knicks will do tonight, what Tony Soprano will do this season. Traffic lights? They’re just suggestions, really.

In south Jersey, it’s about the country – a sprawling region of seaside resorts, cranberry bogs, farms and Philadelphia suburbs wrapped around the biggest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, the 1 million acre Pine Barrens.

In colonial times, New Jersey was two different places – for a while.

In 1676, the colony was divided into East Jersey and West Jersey, corresponding roughly to what is now north and south. Unable to successfully govern on their own, they merged in 1702.

The south, portions of which lie beneath the Mason-Dixon line, was settled by Quakers and evolved as a farming region. Settled by New Englanders, Scots and Dutch, the north developed as an industrial corridor and a bedroom community to New York.

According to legend, Ben Franklin once described New Jersey as “a keg tapped at both ends.”

So where does north end and south begin?

Officially, south Jersey is often delineated as the state’s southernmost eight counties – Ocean, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem.

But the popular view isn’t as clear.

“If you talk to someone from Newark or Morristown and say you live in Trenton, they say, ‘Way down in south Jersey, huh?’ But if you talk to someone from Vineland or Atlantic City, Trenton’s north Jersey,” said Phil Rogers of Trenton.

New Jersey is the country’s most densely populated state, with 8.4 million people squeezed into the fourth-smallest state, by area. That’s 1,134 people per square mile, compared with a national average of 79.6 people per square mile.

The population centers are all located in the north: Newark, the state’s largest city, has more people (273,546) than five of the eight southern counties.

“South Jerseyans think north Jerseyans look down on them, in the same way that north Jerseyans think New Yorkers look down on them,” said Rutgers University Prof. Michael Aaron Rockland. “They feel a certain inferiority.”

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