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Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is the northernmost portion of both New England and the 48 contiguous states. The state is known for its scenery — its jagged, mostly rocky coastline, its low, rolling mountains, and its heavily forested interior — as well as for its seafood cuisine, especially lobsters and clams.
The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking peoples. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party. The province within its current boundaries became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Because it was physically separated from the rest of Massachusetts and was growing in population at a rapid rate, Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 as a component of the Missouri Compromise.
Origin of the name
There are two theories for the origin of the name "Maine." One has it that the name is in some way connected to the older Province of Maine in France.
To the south and east is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north and northeast is New Brunswick, a province of Canada. The Canadian province of Quebec is to the northwest. Maine is both the northernmost state in New England and the largest, accounting for nearly half the region's entire land area. Maine also has the distinction of being the only state to border just one other state (New Hampshire to the west). The municipalities of Eastport and Lubec are, respectively, the easternmost city and town in the 48 contiguous states. Maine's Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in New England (Lake Champlain being partially in New York). Mount Katahdin is both the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which extends to Springer Mountain, Georgia, and the southern terminus of the new International Appalachian Trail, which, when complete, will run to Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Maine also has several unique geographical features. Machias Seal Island, off its easternmost point, is claimed by both the U.S. and Canada and is one of five North American land areas whose sovereignty is still in dispute. Also in this easternmost area is the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.
Maine is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River. It is called the Pine Tree State; ninety percent of its land is forested. In the forested areas of the interior there is much uninhabited land, some of which does not have formal political organization into local units. For example, the Northwest Aroostook, Maine unorganized territory in the northern part of the state has an area of 2,668 square miles (6,910 km²) and a population of 27, or one person for every 100 square miles (255 km²).
Maine is equally well known for its dramatic ocean scenery. West Quoddy Head is the easternmost piece of land in the contiguous 48 United States. Along the famous rock-bound coast of Maine are lighthouses, sandy beaches, quiet fishing villages and thousands of offshore islands, including the Isles of Shoals, which straddle the New Hampshire border. Jagged rocks and cliffs and thousands of bays and inlets add to the rugged beauty of Maine's coast. Just inland, by contrast, are sparkling lakes, rushing rivers, green forests and towering mountains. This visual contrast, forested slopes sweeping down to the sea, has been aptly summed up by American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay of Rockland and Camden, Maine in "Renascence":
- "All I could see from where I stood
- was three long mountains and a wood
- I turned and looked the other way
- and saw three islands and a bay"
More prosaic geologists describe this type of landscape as a drowned coast, where a rising sea level has invaded former land features, creating bays out of valleys and islands out of mountain tops. A rise in the elevation of the land, due to the melting of heavy glacier ice, caused a slight rebounding effect of underlying rock; however, this land rise was not strong enough to eliminate all the effect of the rising sea level and its invasion of former land features.
Millions of people have enjoyed this coastal scenery at Maine's Acadia National Park, the only national park in New England.
Areas under the protection and management of the National Park Service include:
- Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail
- Maine Acadian Culture in St. John Valley
- Roosevelt Campobello International Park near Lubec
- Saint Croix Island International Historic Site at Calais
The state experiences a continental climate, much more so in the southern part of the state, with Fahrenheit temperatures generally dipping into the 20s and 10s in the winter (−10 degrees Celsius) and 70s and low 80s in the summer (+25 °C). Wind chill often reduces the winter temperature to lows beyond −20 °F (−30 °C). Maine, on occasion, is affected by tropical cyclones although by the time they reach the state, they have become extratropical, and the chances of one reaching Maine at hurricane strength are very slim. Maine has fewer days of thunderstorms than any state east of the Rockies, with most of the state averaging less than 20 days of thunderstorms a year. Tornadoes are rare in Maine with the state averaging less than 2 a year, mostly occurring in the southern part of the state
The origin of the name Maine is the subject of some controversy. Many historians believe that Maine is named after the French province of Maine. Others suggest that the name was coined by English settlers living on islands along the coast, who would speak of going to the mainland as "going over to the main."
The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking peoples including the Wabanaki, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscots. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party that included Samuel de Champlain, the noted explorer. The French named the entire area, including the portion that later became the State of Maine, Acadia. English colonists sponsored by the Plymouth Company settled in 1607. The coastal areas of western Maine first became the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent. Eastern Maine north of the Kennebec River was more sparsely settled and was known in the 17th century as the Territory of Sagadahock.
The province within its current boundaries became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Maine was much fought over by the French and English during the 17th and early 18th centuries. After the defeat of the French in the 1740s, the territory from the Penobscot River east fell under the nominal authority of the Province of Nova Scotia, and together with present day New Brunswick formed the Nova Scotia county of Sunbury, with its court of general sessions at Campobello. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The treaty concluding revolution was ambiguous about Maine's boundary with British North America. The territory of Maine was confirmed as part of Massachusetts when the United States was formed, although the final border with British territory was not established until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. (Indeed, in 1839 Governor Fairfield declared war on England over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. Known as the Aroostook War, this is the only time a state has declared war on a foreign power. The dispute was settled, however, before any blood was shed.)
Because it was physically separated from the rest of Massachusetts and was growing in population at a rapid rate, Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 through the Missouri Compromise. This compromise allowed admitting both Maine and Missouri (in 1821) into the union while keeping a balance between slave and free states. Maine's original capital was Portland until 1832, when it was moved to Augusta.
As of 2005, Maine has an estimated population of 1,321,505, which is an increase of 6,520, or 0.5%, from the prior year and an increase of 46,582, or 3.7%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 6,413 people (that is 71,276 births minus 64,863 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 41,808 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 5,004 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 36,804 people.
Maine is a popular tourist destination, but it also experiences harsh winters and, consequently, the great temporary influx of visitors occurs during the warmer months. Many of these visitors establish an alternate secondary residence in Maine during some or all warm months and then depart for their primary residence in the off-season. These are the summer people of Maine lore. Official census figures normally count a person as a resident only once, at the place of the primary home. Therefore, there are some situations in which official census figures could be misleading for Maine. For example, some communities may have a much larger seasonal retail sector than their official, small population figure would imply.
The center of population of Maine is located in Kennebec County, in the city of Augusta . However, as explained in detail under "Geography", there are large tracts of uninhabited land in some remote parts of the interior.
Race, ancestry, and language
The five largest ancestries in the state are: French or French Canadian (22.8%), English (21.5%), Irish (15.1%), American (9.4%) and Italian (4.6%). Maine is second only to New Hampshire in the percentage of French Americans among U.S. states. It also has the largest percentage of non-Hispanic whites of any state and the highest percentage of current French-speakers. Franco-Mainers tended to settle in the industrial cities of inland Maine (especially Lewiston) whereas much of the midcoast and downeast sections remain strongly Anglo. Smaller numbers of various other groups, including Germans, and Italians, settled throughout the state.
The 2000 Census reported 92.25% of Maine residents age 5 and older speak English at home. Census figures show Maine has a greater proportion of people speaking French at home than any other state in the nation, a result of Maine's large French-Canadian community. 5.28% of Maine households are French-speaking, compared with 4.68% in Louisiana. In addition, French is also an administrative language in Maine. Spanish is the third most spoken language at 0.79%, followed by German at 0.33% and Italian at 0.12% .
The religious affiliations of the people of Maine are shown below:
- Christian – 82%
- Protestant – 56%
- Baptist – 16%
- Methodist – 9%
- Pentecostal – 6%
- United Church of Christ – 3%
- Lutheran – 3%
- Other Protestant or general Protestant – 18%
- Roman Catholic – 25%
- Other Christian – 1%
- Protestant – 56%
- Other Religions – 1%
- Non-Religious – 17%
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maine's total gross state product for 2003 was US$41 billion. Its per capita personal income for 2003 was US$29,164, 29th in the nation.
Maine's agricultural outputs include poultry, eggs, dairy products, cattle, wild blueberries, apples, and maple sugar. Aroostook County is known for its potato crops. Commercial fishing, once a mainstay of the state's economy, maintains a presence, particularly lobstering and groundfishing. Western Maine aquifers and springs are a major source of bottled water. Maine's industrial outputs consist chiefly of paper, lumber and wood products, electronic equipment, leather products, food products, textiles, and bio-technology. Naval shipbuilding and construction remain key as well, with Bath Iron Works in Bath and Portsmouth Naval Yard in Kittery. Brunswick Naval Air Station is also in Maine, and serves as a large support base for the U.S. Navy. However, the BRAC campaign recommended Brunswick's closing, despite a recent government-funded effort to upgrade its facilities.
Tourism and outdoor recreation play a major and increasingly important role in Maine's economy. The state is a popular destination for sport hunting (particularly deer, moose and bear), sport fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, boating, camping and hiking, among other activities.
Maine ports play a key role in national transportation. Beginning around 1880, Portland's rail link and ice-free port made it Canada's principal winter port, until the aggressive development of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the mid-1900s. In 2001, Maine's largest city of Portland surpassed Boston as New England's busiest port (by tonnage), due to its ability to handle large tankers. Maine's Portland International Jetport was recently expanded, providing the state with increased air traffic from carriers such as JetBlue.
Maine has very few large companies that maintain headquarters in the state, and fewer than before due to consolidations and mergers, particularly in the pulp and paper industry. Some of the larger companies that do maintain headquarters in Maine include Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland; IDEXX Laboratories, in Westbrook; UnumProvident, in Portland; L. L. Bean, in Freeport; and Delorme, in Yarmouth. Maine is also the home of The Jackson Laboratory, a non-profit institution and the world's largest mammalian genetic research facility.
Maine has an income tax structure containing 4 brackets, which range from 2% to 8.5% of personal income. Maine's general sales tax rate is 5%. The state also levies charges of 7% on lodging and prepared food and 10% on short-term auto rentals. Commercial sellers of blueberries, a Maine staple, must keep records of their transactions and pay the state 1.5 cents per pound ($1.50 per 100 pounds) of the fruit sold each season. All real and tangible personal property located in the state of Maine is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. The administration of property taxes is handled by the local assessor in incorporated cities and towns, while property taxes in the unorganized territories are handled by the State Tax Assessor.
Interstate 95 runs through Maine, as well as its easterly branch I-295. In addition, U.S. Route 1 starts in Maine and runs to Florida. The eastern terminus of the eastern section of U.S. Route 2 starts in Houlton, near the New Brunswick, Canada border to Rouses Point, New York, at US 11 . There is also another US 2A connecting Old Town and Orono, Maine, primarily serving the University of Maine campus. U.S. Route 2, Route 6 and Route 9 are often used by truckers and other motorists of the Maritime Provinces en route to other destinations to the United States or as a short cut to Central Canada.
The state of Maine has two major airports with scheduled commercial jet service: the Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport. US Airways also services a number of smaller regional airports with 19- to 34-seat commuter prop aircraft.
The Portland International Jetport is by far the busiest airport in the state, with scheduled jet service to points as far south as Atlanta, Georgia and as far west as Chicago, Illinois. The low-cost carrier JetBlue recently began service to Portland with four flights daily to New York JFK. AirTran Airways will initiate service to Baltimore, Maryland and Orlando, Florida in the summer of 2007.
The Downeaster passenger train, operated by Amtrak, provides passenger service between Portland and Boston's North Station, with stops in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Wells. The Downeaster currently makes four round trips every day, and a fifth round trip will be implemented later this year.
Seasonal passenger excursions between Brunswick and Rockland are operated by the Maine Eastern Railroad, which leases the state-owned Rockland Branch rail corridor.
Freight service throughout the state is provided by a handful of regional and shortline carriers: Pan Am Railways (formerly known as Guilford Rail System), which operates the former Boston & Maine and Maine Central railroads; St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad; Maine Eastern Railroad; Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway; and Eastern Maine Railway/New Brunswick Southern Railway.
Law and government
The Maine Constitution structures Maine's state government, composed of three co-equal branches - the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The state of Maine also has three Constitutional Officers (the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, and the State Attorney General) and one Statutory Officer (the State Auditor).
The legislative branch is the Maine Legislature, a bicameral body composed of the Maine House of Representatives, with 151 members, and the Maine Senate, with 35 members. The Legislature is charged with introducing and passing laws.
The executive branch is responsible for the execution of the laws created by the Legislature and is headed by the Governor of Maine (currently John Baldacci, a Democrat). The Governor is elected every four years; no individual may serve more than two consecutive terms in this office. The current attorney general of Maine is G. Steven Rowe. As with other state legislatures, the Maine Legislature can by a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate override a gubernatorial veto.
The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting state laws. The highest court of the state is the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The lower courts are the District Court, Superior Court and Probate Court. All judges except for probate judges serve full-time; are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature for terms of seven years. Probate judges serve part-time and are elected by the voters of each county for four-year terms.
State and local politics
In state general elections, Maine voters tend to accept independent and third-party candidates more frequently than most states. Maine has had two independent governors recently (James B. Longley, 1975–1979 and Angus King, 1995–2003). The Green Party candidate won nine percent of the vote in the 2002 gubernatorial election, more than in any election for a statewide office for that party. The locally organized Maine Green Independent Party also elected John Eder to the office of State Representative in the Maine House of Representatives, the highest elected Green official nationwide. Pat LaMarche, 2004 Green Party vice-presidential candidate, resides in the southern coastal town of Yarmouth. Maine state politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, are noted for having more moderate views than many in the national wings of their respective parties.
Maine is an Alcoholic beverage control state.
Maine's federal politics are notable and are dramatic for several reasons. In the 1930s, it was one of very few states which remained dominated by the Republican Party. In the 1936 Presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt received the electoral votes of every state other than Maine and Vermont. In the 1960s, Maine began to lean toward the Democrats, especially in Presidential elections. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey became just the second Democrat in half a century to carry Maine thanks to the presence of his running mate, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie. Maine has since become a left-leaning swing state and has voted Democratic in four successive Presidential elections, casting its votes for Bill Clinton twice, Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry (with 53.6% of the vote) in 2004. Republican strength is greatest in Washington and Piscataquis counties. Though Democrats have carried the state in presidential elections in recent years, Republicans have largely maintained their control of the state's U.S. Senate seats, with Ed Muskie, William Hathaway and George Mitchell being the only Maine Democrats serving in the U.S. Senate in the past fifty years.
The Reform Party of Ross Perot achieved a great deal of success in Maine in the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996: in 1992 Perot came in second to Bill Clinton, despite the longtime presence of the Bush family summer home in Kennebunkport, and in 1996, Maine was again Perot's best state.
Since 1969, two of Maine's four electoral votes are awarded based on the winner of the statewide election. The other two go to the highest vote-winner in each of the state's two congressional districts.
Famous politicians from Maine include James Blaine, Thomas Brackett Reed, Edmund Muskie, Margaret Chase Smith, William Cohen, George J. Mitchell, John Baldacci, Olympia Snowe, Hannibal Hamlin, Susan Collins, Owen Brewster, and Percival Baxter.
Currently, Maine's two federal U.S. senators are Susan Collins (Republican) and Olympia Snowe (Republican). The state's two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are Tom Allen (Democrat) and Mike Michaud (Democrat).
An organized municipality has a form of elected local government which administers and provides local services, keeps records, collects licensing fees, and can pass locally binding ordinances among other responsibilities of self-government. The governmental format of most organized towns and plantations is the Town Meeting while the format of most cities is the Council-Manager form. As of 2007 the organized municipalities of Maine consists of 22 cities, 432 towns, and 34 plantations. Collectively these 488 organized municipalities cover less than half of the state's territory. Maine also has 3 Reservations: Indian Island, Indian Township Reservation, and Pleasant Point Indian Reservation.
- The largest municipality in Maine, by population, is the city of Portland (pop. 64,249).
- The smallest city by population is Eastport (pop. 1,640).
- The largest town by population is Brunswick (pop. 21,172).
- The smallest town by population is Frye Island, a resort town which reported zero year-round population in the 2000 Census; one plantation, Glenwood, also reported a permanent population of zero.
- In the 2000 Census, the smallest town aside from Frye Island was Centerville with a population of 26, but since that Census, Centerville voted to disincorporate and therefore is no longer a town. The next smallest town with a poplulation listed in that Census is Beddington, (pop. 29).
- The largest municipality by land area is the town of Allagash (128 square miles).
- The smallest municipality by land area is the plantation of Monhegan Island (0.86 square miles).
Unorganized territory has no local government. Administration, services, licensing, and ordinances are handled by the State Government. The Unorganized Territory of Maine consists of over 400 townships (towns are incorporated, townships are unincorporated), plus many coastal islands that do not lie within any municipal bounds. The UT land area is slightly over one half the entire area of the State of Maine. Year round residents in the UT number approximately 9,000, about 1.3% of the state's total population, with many more people residing only seasonally within the UT. Only four of Maine's sixteen counties are entirely incorporated, although a few others are nearly so, and most of the unincorporated area is in the vast and sparsely populated Great North Woods of Maine.
Most populous cities and towns
|Old Orchard Beach
Throughout Maine, many municipalities, although each separate governmental entities, never-the-less form portions of a much larger population base. There are many such population clusters throughout Maine, but some examples from the municipalities appearing in the above listing are:
- Portland, South Portland and several other surrounding communities
- Lewiston and Auburn
- Bangor, Orono, Brewer, and Old Town
- Biddeford and Saco
- Brunswick and Topsham
- Waterville and Winslow
Colleges and universities
- Portland Sea Dogs, minor league baseball, Eastern League (U.S. baseball)
- Portland Pirates, minor league hockey, American Hockey League
- Lewiston MAINEiacs, junior hockey, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Four U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Maine in honor of the state.
The noted American ecologist Rachel Carson did much of her research at one of the Maine seacoast's most characteristic features, a tide pool for her classic "The Edge of the Sea." The spot where she conducted observations is now preserved as the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Reserve at Pemaquid Point.
Maine is the only U.S. state to have a name one syllable long; all other 49 states have at least two syllables.
Maine is the only U.S. state to only be bordered by one state (New Hampshire); all other 49 states have multiple or zero bordering states.
The town of Lubec, Maine is the easternmost point in the United States. Eastport, Maine is the easternmost city in the United States.
Estcourt Station is Maine's northernmost point and also the northernmost point in the New England region of the United States.
Maine is the number one exporter of blueberries and toothpicks.
Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor, Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, and Mars Hill Mountain in Mars Hill each battle to be the first site in the contiguous United States to see the morning's sunlight. Maine's first light depends on the time of year, as the sunrise moves from South to North. From October 7 to March 6, Cadillac Mountain is first. From March 7 to March 24, East Quoddy Head is first in the country. Warmer months, March 25 to September 18, Mars Hill Mountain sees first light. Then, when the sun starts getting lower in the sky, The country's day begins between September 19 to October 6 back at East Quoddy Head.
Maine has 62 lighthouses.
Maine is the only state to by themselves declare war on another country. In the 19th century Maine declared war on Canada. War never broke out but Canada signed a treaty to give up control of Northern Maine
- State berry: Wild Blueberry
- State bird: Black-capped Chickadee
- State cat: Maine Coon
- State dog: Honey & Sugar
- State fish: Landlocked Salmon
- State flower: White Pinecone and Tassel
- State fossil: Pertica Quadrifaria
- State gemstone: Tourmaline
- State herb: Wintergreen
- State insect: European honey bee
- State mammal: Moose
- State number: 23
- State Beverage: Moxie
- State soil: Chesuncook soil series
- State song: State of Maine Song
- State tree: Eastern White Pine
- State vessel: Arctic exploration schooner Bowdoin
- State motto: Dirigo ("I lead" or "I direct")
(See also: www.maine.gov portal.)
- State of Maine official website
- USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Maine
- Maine State Facts
- Maine Information
- Maine Genealogy
- MaineToday.com - Information, recreation, blogs, breaking news
- myMaineToday.com - Maine news, written by Mainers
- MEPages.NET - Maine Yellow Pages
- U.S. Census Bureau quick facts on Maine
- Local histories of towns and counties in Maine
- County Maps of Maine