Many of the so-called Pilgrims who sailed to Plymouth were members of a Puritan religious group known as the Separatists, who believed the Anglican Church of England was too hierarchical and had retained many of the trappings of the Roman Catholic Church. They drew much of their influence from John Calvin, such as the notion of predestination, and the right of the individual to interpret the Bible for himself. The Mayflower Compact, signed aboard their ship, the Mayflower, guaranteed all citizens of the colony self-government. The Puritans then proceeded to board their ship, head to the new world, and begin oppressing their very own religious minorities.
William Bradford, the leader of the colony, authored Of Plimoth Plantation (which should have been the title of this article), a history of the group's travails and experiences in the new land. Despite mostly good relations with local Native Americans, half of the colonists died in the first two years. Plymouth Colony later merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony to form the colony of Massachusetts.
The lands of the former Plymouth Colony are now the counties of Barnstable, Plymouth, and Bristol in Massachusetts (Dukes County, i.e. Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, and Nantucket, were originally part of the New Amsterdam colony that is now New York state) and parts of Providence, Newport, and Bristol counties in Rhode Island; the major municipalities in the area aside from Plymouth are Pawtucket, Attleboro, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, Brockton, Middleboro, and Barnstable. The region includes much of the part of Massachusetts known as the South Shore (from Boston to Cape Cod, including the town of Plymouth), Cape Cod itself, and the South Coast (from Cape Cod to Narragansett Bay, including the cities of New Bedford and Fall River).
The area is now known for having a particularly large population of people of Portuguese (on the South Coast) and Brazilian ancestry (many of the latter being recent immigrants, mainly on Cape Cod). There are also several educational institutions in the area, including Bridgewater State University, UMass-Dartmouth, and Cape Cod Community College. The area is also home to the largest salt mine in the world.