Amherst is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lying 18 miles (28.9km) northeast of the city of Springfield, Amherst is considered the northernmost town in the Hartford-Springfield Knowledge Corridor Metropolitan Region. Amherst is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, three of the Five Colleges. Amherst consistently ranks as one of the most progressively liberal regions of the United Statesdue in large part to five colleges within the area, but also because the area boasts a large cohort of retired 60's radicals and lefties. The Amherst-Northampton region is known as the happy valley due to the art and music communities, progressive ideas, prestigious colleges and large student population. The name of the town is usually pronounced without the h ("AM-erst"), unlike some other towns of the same name. The communities of Amherst Center, North Amherst, and South Amherst are census-designated places.