New england
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New england

New England

New England, collective name given to the six states of the north-eastern United States, namely, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The region is bordered on the west by New York State, on the north by Canada, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by Long Island Sound; the land rises in the north and west to the New England system of the Appalachian Mountains. The coast is the most important commercial area, although during the 20th century industry and tourism have largely superseded the traditionally important activities of fishing and shipbuilding. Many of the major events of America’s colonial period, including the start of the American War of Independence, took place in New England.



Maine, one of the New England states of the United States, bordered on the north and east by the Canadian province of New Brunswick; on the south by the Gulf of Maine (an arm of the Atlantic Ocean); on the west by New Hampshire; and on the north-west by Quebec Province. The Saint John and St Francis rivers form part of the northern boundary, the St Croix River forms part of the south-eastern boundary, and the Salmon Falls River forms part of the south-western boundary. West Quoddy Head, a small peninsula in the south-eastern part of the state, is the easternmost point of land of the United States.

Maine entered the Union on March 15, 1820, when it was separated from Massachusetts to form the 23rd state. Manufacturing began to play a leading role in the Maine economy in the late 19th century. Tourism is also an important industry, and the state’s extensive fisheries are noted for producing lobsters. The name Maine probably originated as the word used by English explorers to refer to the mainland; it may also be derived from the province and region of Maine in north-western France. Maine is known as the “Pine Tree State”. Its major cities are Augusta (the capital); Portland; Leinston; Bangor; Auburn; and South Portland.


Maine has an area of 87,389 sq km (33,741 sq mi) and is the largest state in New England; 0.8 per cent of its land area is owned by the federal government. The state’s extreme dimensions are 500 km (311 mi) from north to south and 325 km (202 mi) from east to west. Elevations range from sea level, along the coast, to 1,606 m (5,268 ft), from the top of Mount Katahdin, in the central part of the state. The approximate mean elevation is 180 m (600 ft). Maine’s coastline extends 367 km (228 mi); its tidal shoreline is 5,597 km (3,478 mi), which includes the coasts of the many offshore islands.

A Physical Geography

Maine can be divided into three major geographical regions: the Seaboard Lowland, the New England Upland, and the White Mountains. Along the coast is the Seaboard Lowland, composed of a rolling landscape cut by numerous bays and estuaries. The sharp and jagged headlands are typical of a glacially drowned coast, where the weight of vast ice sheets depressed the land; most offshore islands are made up of the summits of submerged hills. One of the most spectacular rocky headlands is the granite mass of Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island, the state’s largest island.

Most of Maine consists of a part of the New England Upland, composed in some places of a rough, hilly landscape and in other places, especially around Bangor and in Aroostook County, of a much flatter plain. Both the Seaboard Lowland and the New England Upland are largely underlain by hard metamorphic rocks.

The highest elevations in Maine are found in the White Mountains region, which extends into New Hampshire and Vermont. This scenic area includes resistant granite mountains, such as Mount Katahdin. The Longfellow Mountains are the major range of the region.

Thick glacial deposits cover much of Maine. Infertile and excessively drained, these soils are good for growing pine trees and potatoes, for which the state is famous, but poor for most other agricultural uses. Winding across parts of the New England Upland and the Seaboard Lowland are many long ridges of glacial gravel, called eskers, which once were the beds of streams flowing under glaciers. They are also known locally as horsebacks or hogbacks.

Maine has more than 5,100 rivers and streams, most of which are swift flowing. Drainage is towards the Atlantic Ocean, chiefly via the Saint John, St Croix, Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin, and Saco rivers. There are also more than 2,200 lakes and ponds.

B Climate

Maine has three principal climatological areas: the coastal, northern interior, and southern interior divisions. The coastal division, which extends inland for about 32 km (20 mi), has a maritime climate: winter temperatures are much milder than those inland, and summer temperatures are cooler.

The northern interior division, which occupies about 60 per cent of the state’s area, has a continental climate. Large areas have growing seasons of less than 100 days, and winter cold is severe.

The southern interior division is the warmest part of Maine. North Bridgton here in 1911 recorded the state’s highest temperature, 40.6° C (105° F).

As in most of New England, tornadoes are rare in Maine, but occasionally hurricanes coming up the Atlantic coast strike the state. More frequent coastal storms, called north-easters, bring strong winds and heavy rain or snow to the coastal division in Maine.

C Plants and Animals

80 per cent of Maine is covered with forest, about two thirds of which is made up of softwoods such as white pine, pitch pine, Norway pine, balsam fir, hemlock, and spruce. Among the state’s hardwoods are black cherry, used in furniture making, and white ash, which is prepared for other uses. Other common trees include red and white oak, sugar maple, and white and yellow birch. In Washington and Hancock counties in the south-east, blueberry bushes thrive in the sandy soil. Cranberries are widely distributed in the marshlands. Common wild flowers include anemone, black-eyed Susan, buttercup, daisy, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and violet.

White-tailed deer are numerous, and other large mammals include moose and black bear. Typical small mammals include beaver, muskrat, bobcat, otter, red and grey squirrel, skunk, raccoon, mink, and rabbit. Among the many birds of Maine are chickadees, sparrows, wrens, and such seabirds as ducks, loons, gulls, petrels, and cormorants. Inland waters abound in trout, salmon, bass, and pike; there is also a wide variety of marine species. Seals live along the coast.

D Resources, Products, and Industries

As in the other New England states, metallic minerals have never been important in Maine, which has limited deposits of iron ore, managanese, copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold, platinum, and tin. Non-metallic minerals found in the state include asbestos, sand and gravel, stone, peat, granite, limestone, quartz, mica, feldspar, graphite, and gemstones.

Principal farm and agricultural products include potatoes, dairy products, chicken eggs, hay, beef cattle, pigs, apples, wheat, oats, beans, peas, sugar beet, and blueberries.

More than 95 per cent of Maine’s extensive forests are privately owned, and each year a considerable amount of pulp for paper-making and timber is produced. Softwoods make up about 65 per cent of the annual harvest. Maine is famous for its seafood and has an important fishing industry, with lobster the most valuable product, and clams, scallops, shrimp, cod, herring, and menhaden also caught in significant quantities.

Leading manufactured goods are paper and wood products, footwear and other leather goods, electronic equipment, processed food, clothing, and textiles. Shipbuilding is an important industry.


According to the 1990 census, Maine had 1,227,928 inhabitants, an increase of 9.1 per cent over 1980. In 1997 the population was estimated to be 1,242,051. The average population density in 1990 was 14 people per sq km (36 per sq mi); the highest population density was in the south-west. Whites made up 98.4 per cent of the population and blacks 0.4 per cent. In addition, the population included 5,945 Native Americans, the largest groups being the Penobscot and the Passamaquoddy, as well as some 1,262 people of Chinese ancestry, 1,058 people of Filipino descent, 858 people of Korean origin, and 642 people of Vietnamese extraction. Approximately 6,800 people were of Latino background, and a substantial number of people were of French-Canadian origin.

A Education and Culture

The first schools in Maine were established in the early 18th century, and a state school system began to be developed in 1828. In the late 1980s Maine had 751 state elementary and secondary schools. About 152,300 elementary pupils and 61,500 secondary students attended the state schools each year. In addition, about 11,200 students were enrolled in private schools. In the mid-1990s Maine spent about US$5,440 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of about US$5,310.

In the mid-1990s Maine had 31 institutions of higher education. Major institutions included the University of Maine (1865), at Orono; the University of Southern Maine (1878), at Portland; Bates College (1855), at Lewiston; Bowdoin College (1794), at Brunswick; and Husson College (1898), at Bangor.

Maine has a variety of cultural institutions. Among the state’s museums are the Portland Museum of Art, with a significant collection of 19th-century American painting; the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, in Rockland; the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, in Brunswick, with a large collection of European, American, and Asian art; the Maine State Museum, in Augusta, with displays on historical, ethnographical, and scientific topics; the Robert Abbe Museum of Stone Age Antiquities, in Acadia National Park near Northeast Harbor; the Anthropology Museum of the University of Maine, in Orono; the Penobscot Marine Museum; the Shaker Museum, near Poland Spring, with buildings and handicrafts of a Shaker religious group founded in the late 18th century; and the Colby Museum of Art, in Waterville.

B Places of Interest

A prime attraction is Acadia National Park, mostly on Mount Desert Island, which include rugged coastal areas. Mount Katahdin, in Baxter State Park, is the northern terminus of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which runs south to Georgia. Roosevelt Campobello International Park, encompassing the summer home of the family of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, near Maine.

Numerous mansions, old houses, and rural churches recall Maine’s past. St Croix Island International Historic Site, near Calais, encompasses the site of a short-lived French settlement of 1604-1605. In Burnham Tavern (1770), in Machias, Americans plotted the capture (1775) of the British warship Margaretta in the first naval
encounter of the American War of Independence. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House, in Portland, was the childhood home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

C Sports and Recreation

The sea coast and interior lakes, streams, mountains, and forests of Maine provide many opportunities for swimming, boating, hiking, fishing, and hunting. The state also has a number of ski resorts. Thoroughbred races are held at Scarborough Downs, near Old Orchard Beach.

D Government and Politics

Maine is governed under a constitution that became effective in 1820, the year in which the state entered the Union. The chief executive, and the only popularly elected executive official, is the governor, who is elected to a four-year term. The governor may serve any number of terms, but not more than two in succession. The legislature elects the secretary of state, state treasurer, and Attorney-General.

Legislative authority is vested in a legislature consisting of a 151-member House of Representatives and a 35-member Senate. All legislators are elected to two-year terms. At a national level, the state elects two senators and two representatives to the US Congress. Maine has four electoral votes in presidential elections.

The Republican party dominated politics from the 1850s to the 1950s, when the Democrats began to show considerable strength at the state and local levels. In 1968 Edmund S. Muskie, a US senator from Maine, was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. His party carried Maine that year, but normally the state votes Republican in presidential elections.


At the time of the arrival of the Europeans, Maine was inhabited by some 20 related Algonquian tribes, united in a loose organization known as the Abenaki or Wabanaki (“people of the dawn”). Only the Penobscot and the Passamaquoddy remain today. Many were converted to Roman Catholicism by French missionaries in the 17th century and fought on the side of the French in their wars against the English.

A Colonial and Revolutionary Periods

Laying claim to all of New England, based on the explorations of John Cabot a century earlier, King James I of England authorized the Plymouth Company to colonize the area in 1606. The following year the company founded a settlement at the mouth of the Kennebec River on Sagadahoc Peninsula, but it lasted only a year. French settlements on St Croix Island and on Mount Desert Island also failed.

In 1620 King James named John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges proprietors of lands between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers, but they did little to develop the region, and in 1658 Massachusetts asserted its jurisdiction over Maine; in 1691 it became part of Massachusetts.

Although there was some land speculation before the American War of Independence, Maine remained primarily a source of furs, timber, and forest products. During the Revolution the British established a base near present-day Castine, on Penobscot Bay. The Penobscot expedition (1779), in which a Massachusetts force tried to expel them, was a disastrous failure.

B Independence

The movement to separate from Massachusetts began in 1785, but it did not pick up momentum until 1816, when the Brunswick Convention popularized the separatist movement. In 1819, when the Massachusetts General Court agreed to an Act of Separation, a state constitutional convention was held in Portland. Maine petitioned Congress for admission to the Union in December 1819 and was admitted under the Missouri Compromise as the 23rd state in 1820. Maine was first prominent in national affairs for its leadership in the temperance movement in the 1820s and its adoption of a prohibition law in 1851.

By the time Maine won independence, about half its total land area had been distributed; much of the remainder was still unsurveyed, and a dispute developed about the boundary separating Maine from the Canadian province of New Brunswick. By the late 1830s both Canadian and Maine forestry workers sought control of disputed territory in present-day Aroostook County. The so-called Aroostook War was ended by US forces under General Winfield Scott, and the boundary issue was resolved by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.

C Maine’s Changing Society

Before the American Civil War, Maine’s economy expanded as it supplied the nation with timber products and with ice for food packing. Other emerging industries were lime and granite quarrying, textile milling, fishing, and shipbuilding. Transport needs encouraged railway construction. After the American Civil War, the emergence of steel-hulled ships and the movement of the textile industry out of New England contributed to economic decline. Maine increasingly relied on the paper and pulp industries, and beginning in the 1880s tourism became a major industry.

The state remained predominantly Republican in the first half of the 20th century. By the mid-1950s the Democrats began to be successful, twice electing Edmund Muskie as governor. He achieved national prominence as a US senator and later as Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter. Another prominent Maine Democrat, George Mitchell, was elected majority leader of the US Senate in 1988.

Maine suffered from both rural and urban poverty after World War II. Issues involving energy and the environment aroused major controversies in the 1970s and 1980s, as citizens’ groups repeatedly tried and failed to revoke the licence of the state’s lone nuclear power plant. The 1980s
an economic boom to Maine, as to most of New England; between 1980 and 1989, Maine’s rank among all states in disposable personal income per capita rose from 39th to 21st.

New Hampshire


New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the United States, bordered on the north by Quebec Province, Canada; on the east by Maine and the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by Massachusetts; and on the west by Vermont. The Connecticut River forms almost all the western border; Halls Stream forms part of the north-western boundary.

New Hampshire entered the Union on June 21, 1788, as the ninth of the 13 original states. Manufacturing and services (including tourism) are the leading industries. The state’s name is taken from that of the English county of Hampshire. US President Franklin Pierce was born in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is known as the “Granite State”. Its major cities are Concord (the capital), Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, and Portsmouth.


New Hampshire has an area of 24,043 sq km (9,283 mi); 13 per cent of the land area is owned by the federal government. The state is roughly triangular in shape and has a maximum length of 291 km (181 mi) from north to south and a maximum width of 151 km (94 mi) from east to west. Elevations range from sea level, along the Atlantic Ocean, to 1,917 m (6,288 ft), from the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak of the north-eastern United States. The approximate mean elevation of the state is 305 m (1,000 ft). New Hampshire has a tidal shoreline of 211 km (131 mi). Three of the rocky Isles of Shoals, in the Atlantic, are part of the state.

A Physical Geography

New Hampshire can be divided into three major geographical regions: the Seaboard Lowland, the New England Upland, and the White Mountains. The smallest region is the Seaboard Lowland, a coastal plain in the south-east, which includes sand beaches on the Atlantic. The largest region, a section of the New England Upland, combines rolling hills with an abundance of lakes and ponds. This terrain is occasionally broken by outcroppings of more resistant metamorphic rock that rise well above the surrounding peneplain. These rock hills are named monadnocks after Mount Monadnock, which is located in the south-west. Other monadnocks in the state are Mount Sunapee, Mount Cardigan, and Mount Kearsarge.

In the north is the region of the rugged White Mountains, which includes the Presidential Range. Most of the rock in this area is either granite or granite-related syenite and monzonite of the Devonian geological period. As is true in other parts of the state, the most fertile soil is located in the river valleys. Some of the most interesting features of the White Mountains are the mountain gaps known as notches. Franconia Notch, which encompasses a natural stone profile called the Old Man of the Mountain, is especially picturesque.

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