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Central Massachusetts is the geographically central region of Massachusetts. Though definitions vary, most include all of Worcester County and the northwest corner of Middlesex County. Worcester, the largest city in the area and the seat of Worcester County, is often considered the cultural capital of the region. Other populous cities include Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, and arguably Marlborough.
The region is mostly wooded and hilly upland, in contrast to the Atlantic coastal plain to the east and the Connecticut River valley lowland to the west. The geographic center of Massachusetts is located in the town of Rutland.
Although residents of eastern Massachusetts don't use the term, residents of central Massachusetts strongly identify with the term central Massachusetts and do not identify with western Massachusetts. Likewise, residents of western Massachusetts do not consider Worcester county (central Massachusetts) to be part of western Massachusetts. Residents of central and western Massachusetts understand the differences in their communities and prefer the distinction. However, it is common for people in eastern Massachusetts to lump the communities together, in a sense, using the term western Massachusetts to describe the locations to the west of Greater Boston.
The Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90) runs through the southern part of Worcester County. Other interstate highways in the area are I-190, I-290, I-395, and I-495 on the eastern edge. Route 2 is another major east-west highway that spans the northern part of Worcester County. Other significant thoroughfares include Route 9, Route 146, and U.S. Route 20.