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 first English settlement in Maine, the short-lived Popham Colony, was established by the Plymouth Company in 1607. A number of English settlements were established along the coast of Maine in the 1620s, although the rugged climate, deprivations, and Indian attacks wiped out many of them over the years. As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen settlements still survived. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Maine was an exclave of Massachusetts until 1820 as a result of a growing in population, becoming the 23rd state on March 15, as per the Missouri Compromise.
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 United States. Estcourt Station is Maine's northernmost point and also the northernmost point in the New England region of the United States. (For more information see extreme points of the United States).
Maine's Moosehead Lake is the largest lake wholly in New England (Lake Champlain being located between Vermont and New York). A number of other Maine lakes, such as South Twin Lake, are described by Thoreau. 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 and North Rock, off its easternmost point, are claimed by both the U.S. and Canada and are within one of four areas between the two countries whose sovereignty is still in dispute, but is the only one of the disputed areas containing land. 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 lies much uninhabited land, some of which does not have formal political organization into local units (a rarity in New England). The Northwest Aroostook, Maine unorganized territory in the northern part of the state, for example, 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 ocean scenery, with almost of shoreline 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, beaches, 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 lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains. This visual contrast of 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":
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.
George Lorenzo Noyes, known as the thoreauvian of Maine is a noted state naturalist, mineralogist, development critic, writer and landscape artist. He lived a devout wilderness lifestyle in the mountains of Norway, Maine, expressing in his paintings his spiritual reverence for nature and writing of the values of a simple life of sustainable living. Harvard Quarry at the summit of Noyes Mountain, named in his honor, in Greenwood, provides an excellent panoramic view and is a popular destination for rock and mineral collectors.
Much of Maine's geography was created by heavy glacial activity at the end of the last ice age. Prominent glacial features include Somes Sound and Bubble Rock. Carved by glaciers, Somes Sound is considered to be the only fjord on the eastern seaboard and reaches depths of . The extreme depth and steep drop-off allow large ships to navigate almost the entire length of the sound. These features also have made it attractive for boat builders, such as the prestigious Hinkley Yachts. Bubble Rock is what is known as a "glacial erratic" and is a large boulder perched on the edge of Bubble Mountain in Acadia National Park. By analyzing the type of granite, geologists were able to discover that glaciers carried Bubble Rock to its present location from the town of Lucerne, Maine--30 miles away.
Acadia National Park is the only national park in New England.
Areas under the protection and management of the National Park Service include:
Maine is generally safe from hurricanes and tropical storms. By the time they reach the state, many have become extratropical and few hurricanes have made landfall in Maine. Maine has fewer days of thunderstorms than any other 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 fewer than two per year, mostly occurring in the southern part of the state.
|Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures (°F) For Various Maine Cities|
The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples including the Abenaki, 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. The first English settlement in Maine was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607, the same year as the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Both colonies were predated by the Roanoke Colony by 22 years. Because the Popham Colony did not survive the harsh Maine winters and the Roanoke Colony was lost, Jamestown enjoys the distinction of being regarded as America’s first permanent English-speaking settlement. 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 Britain 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, the largest city in Maine, until it was moved to Augusta in 1832 to make it more central within the state.
Maine is a very 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 the 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 mean population center of Maine is located in Kennebec County, in or near the town of Mount Vernon. The Greater Portland metropolitan area is the most densely populated with nearly 20% of Maine's population. As explained in detail under "Geography", there are large tracts of uninhabited land in some remote parts of the interior.
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 who come from Quebec. Franco-Mainers tended to settle in rural northern Maine (particularly Aroostook County) and the industrial cities of inland Maine (especially Lewiston), whereas much of the midcoast and downeast sections remain mostly of British heritage. Smaller numbers of various other groups, including Italian and Polish have settled throughout the state since the early 20th c. immigration waves.
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, who migrated from adjacent Quebec and New Brunswick. 5.28% of Maine households are French-speaking, compared with 4.68% in Louisiana. Spanish is the third most spoken language at 0.79%, followed by German at 0.33% and Italian at 0.12%
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 (the state produces 25% of all blueberries in North America, making it the largest blueberry producer in the world), apples, maple syrup 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 Shipyard in Kittery. Naval Air Station Brunswick 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's unemployment rate is 4.8%
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; Unum, in Portland; TD Banknorth, in Portland; L.L. Bean in Freeport; Cole Haan and Delorme, both located in Yarmouth. Maine is also the home of The Jackson Laboratory, the world's largest non-profit mammalian genetic research facility and the world's largest supplier of genetically purebred mice.
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 Fort Kent 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 in the United States or as a short cut to Central Canada.
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 makes five southbound trips and five northbound trips every day.
Seasonal passenger excursions between Brunswick and Rockland are operated by the Maine Eastern Railroad, which leases the state-owned Rockland Branch rail corridor.
See also: List of Maine railroads
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.
Maine is an Alcoholic beverage control state.
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. 2004's presidential race saw reports that the campaign of President George W. Bush had made the calculation to devote attention to one of Maine's two Congressional Districts with the possibility of carrying the district's vote for an Electoral Vote in a close national race.
Famous politicians from Maine include Percival Baxter, James Blaine, Owen Brewster, William Cohen, Susan Collins, Hannibal Hamlin, George J. Mitchell, Edmund Muskie, Thomas Brackett Reed, Margaret Chase Smith, Olympia Snowe, and Wallace H. White, Jr..
| South Portland|
| Presque Isle|
| Cape Elizabeth|
| Old Orchard Beach|
| Old Town|
| South Berwick|
Throughout Maine, many municipalities, although each separate governmental entities, nevertheless 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:
A school union is two or more school departments that share a superintendent but nothing else; each town has an independent school board. Usually, only one of the schools in the school union has a high school, but unlike MSADs (discussed below), students in the whole school union are not compelled to attend that school. School union students are given a choice of neighboring school districts, and the school union pays for the student's tuition.
The third type is a MSAD (Maine School Administrative District). This is a regional school district that incorporates two or more towns into one school department with one high school and middle school. These towns do not have independent school boards, but instead have one central board governing the entire district. Students are obligated to attend the central high school. Usually, a MSAD comprises one larger town and one or more smaller towns. The larger town is equipped with a high school and middle school, while the surrounding towns have elementary schools as well, but no secondary schools. The elementary schools usually cut off after grade 5 or grade 6. Sometimes, towns in a MSAD do not have an elementary school but possess a high school and/or middle school, whereas the surrounding towns have the elementary schools.
The last type of school district is a CSD (Community School District, sometimes called a Consolidated School District). This usually (but not always) exists in school districts with such a small student population between several towns that the school district cannot justify an elementary school outside the largest town in the district. In rare cases a CSD refers to only a high school of a school union. Sometimes, in towns geographically isolated (such as island towns) the entire student population attends one school grades PK-12.
Students can choose to attend a school in another district if the parents agree to pay the school tuition. Vocational centers are usually regional, so one school department will administer a technical center but other school districts will transport their students there to take classes.
(See also: www.maine.gov portal)