Area, 9,609 sq mi (24,887 sq km). Pop. (2000) 608,827, an 8.2% increase since the 1990 census. Capital, Montpelier. Largest city, Burlington. Statehood, Mar. 4, 1791 (14th state). Highest pt., Mt. Mansfield, 4,393 ft (1,340 m); lowest pt., Lake Champlain, 95 ft (29 m). Nickname, Green Mountain State. Motto, Freedom and Unity. State bird, hermit thrush. State flower, red clover. State tree, sugar maple. Abbr., Vt.; VT
The forested Green Mts. constitute the dominant physiographic feature of Vermont. They consist of at least four distinct groups, all traversing the state in a generally north-south direction. Largest and most important are the Green Mts. proper, which extend down the center of the state from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts line, rising to Vermont's highest peak, Mt. Mansfield (4,393 ft/1,339 m). The Taconic Mts., occupying the southwestern portion of the state, contain Vermont's important marble deposits. East of the Green Mts. and extending from the Canadian border to somewhat below the middle of the state are the Granite Hills, so called because of their valuable stone. The fourth group, sometimes called the Red Sandrock Hills, extends along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. In E Vermont there are also isolated peaks or monadnocks not connected with the principal ranges.
The rivers of Vermont (the only completely inland state of New England) flow either into the Connecticut River or into Lake Champlain. The Winooski rises east of the Green Mts. and cuts directly through them to Lake Champlain. Grand Isle county, comprising several islands and a peninsula jutting down into Lake Champlain from Canada, is connected to Vermont proper by causeways.
Vermont has a short summer and a humid, continental climate, with abundant rainfall and a growing season that varies from 120 days in the Connecticut valley to 150 in the Lake Champlain region. Winter brings heavy snows, which usually cover the ground for at least three full months, but because the state's good roads are almost always kept clear, this season no longer forces complete isolation on rural communities. With its rugged terrain, much of it still heavily wooded, Vermont has limited areas of arable land, but the state is well suited to grazing (the Justin Morgan breed of horses was developed there).
Every summer thousands of vacationers are drawn by the scenic mountains and the picturesque New England villages, while climbers attempt the many accessible peaks and hikers take on the Long Trail that runs the length of the state along the Green Mt. ridge. In the winter thousands of skiers flock to the slopes at Mad River Glen, Bromley, Stowe, Stratton, and elsewhere. Montpelier is the capital, Burlington the largest city.
Dairy farming has long been dominant in Vermont agriculture, although it has declined somewhat. Apples, cheese, maple syrup, and greenhouse and nursery products are important. The state's most valuable mineral resources are stone, asbestos, sand and gravel, and talc. In the areas around Rutland and Proctor is a noted marble industry, and at Barre the famous Vermont granite is quarried and processed.
The manufacture of nonelectric machinery, machine tools, and precision instruments is important. The textile industry, once dominant in Burlington, has declined, but the manufacture of computer components, food products, pulp and paper, and plastics has helped to compensate for this loss. Cottage industries have long thrived in Vermont, making a variety of products from knitwear to ice cream, while captive insurance companies (insurance companies owned by the companies they insure) are more recent and growing industry. Tourism is also vitally important to the state economy.
Vermont is governed under a constitution adopted in 1793. The state legislature, called the general assembly, consists of a senate with 30 members and a house of representatives with 150 members, all elected to two-year terms. The governor is elected for a two-year term; in 2003, Jim Douglas, a Republican, succeeded Democrat Howard Dean, who retired after serving since 1991. Douglas was reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Vermont sends two senators and one representative to the U.S. Congress and has three electoral votes.
The state's traditional devotion to the Republican party was evidenced in the presidential elections of 1912 and 1936, when Vermont was one of only two states in the union that voted Republican. This has changed, however, as the state's liberalism in cultural and environmental matters has turned it away from the Republican party. Since 1991, the socialist former mayor of Burlington, Bernard Sanders (who runs as an independent), has represented Vermont in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Among Vermont's institutions of higher education are Bennington College, at Bennington; Middlebury College, at Middlebury; Marlboro College, at Marlboro; Norwich Univ., at Northfield; the School for International Training, at Brattleboro; and the Univ. of Vermont, at Burlington.
The first European known to have entered the area that is now Vermont was Samuel de Champlain, who, after beginning the colonization of Quebec, journeyed south with a Huron war party in 1609 to the beautiful lake to which he gave his name. The French did not attempt any permanent settlement until 1666, when they built a fort and a shrine to Ste Anne on the Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain. However, this and later French settlements were abandoned, and until well into the 18th cent. the region was something of a no-man's-land.Benning Wentworth and the New Hampshire Grants
Fort Dummer, built (1724) by the English near the site of Brattleboro, is considered the first permanent settlement in what is now Vermont. However, Vermont's history may be said to have really begun in 1741, when Benning Wentworth became royal governor of New Hampshire. According to his commission New Hampshire extended west across the Merrimack River until it met "with our [i.e., the king's] other Governments." Since the English crown had never publicly proclaimed the eastern limits of the colony of New York, this vague description bred considerable confusion.
Wentworth, assuming that New York's modified boundary with Connecticut and Massachusetts (20 mi/32 km E of the Hudson River) would be extended even farther north, made (1749) the first of the New Hampshire Grants—the township called Bennington—to a group that included his relatives and friends. However, New York claimed that its boundary extended as far east as the Connecticut River, and Gov. George Clinton of New York (father of Sir Henry Clinton) promptly informed Governor Wentworth that he had no authority to make such a grant. Wentworth thereupon suggested that the dispute between New York and New Hampshire over control of Vermont be referred to the crown. The outbreak of the last of the French and Indian Wars in 1754 briefly suspended interest in the area, but after the British captured Ticonderoga and Crown Point in 1759, Wentworth resumed granting land in the area of present Vermont.
In 1764 the British authorities upheld New York's territorial claim to Vermont. New York immediately tried to assert its jurisdiction—Wentworth's grants were declared void, and new grants (for the same lands) were issued by the New York authorities. Those who held their lands from New Hampshire resisted, and a hot controversy, long in the making, now exploded. New York and New Hampshire land speculators had the most at stake, with the New Hampshire grantees, first on the scene, having the advantage. Regional pride among the New England settlers played a large part in creating resistance to New York authority. Chief among the leaders of this resistance was Ethan Allen, who organized the Green Mountain Boys. New York courts were forcibly broken up, and armed violence was directed against New Yorkers until the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, when the British became the major threat and common enemy.The American Revolution and Independent Vermont
At the beginning of the Revolution, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys captured Ticonderoga, and Seth Warner took Crown Point. In Jan., 1777, Vermont (as its citizens were soon calling the region) proclaimed itself an independent state at a meeting in the town of Westminster. Chiefly because of the opposition of New York, the Continental Congress refused to recognize Vermont as the 14th colony or state. The convention that met at Windsor in July reaffirmed Vermont's independent status and adopted a constitution, notable especially because it was the first in the United States to provide for universal male suffrage. Thomas Chittenden was elected the first governor.
The Green Mountain Boys under Seth Warner and John Stark made an important contribution to the American cause with their victory at Bennington in Aug., 1777 (see Saratoga campaign). Later, Ethan Allen and his brother Ira Allen, acting on their own, entered into devious negotiations with British agents, possibly with the intent of annexing Vermont to Canada. The talks were inconclusive and ended when the Americans finally triumphed at Yorktown in 1781. For ten years Vermont remained an independent state, performing all the offices of a sovereign government (such as coining money, setting up post offices, naturalizing new citizens, and appointing ambassadors) and gradually becoming more and more independent.Statehood, at Last
Not until 1791, after many delays and misunderstandings and, most important, after the dispute with New York was finally adjusted (1790) by payment of $30,000, did Vermont enter the Union. It was the first state to be admitted after the adoption of the Constitution by the 13 original states. In the next two decades Vermont had the greatest population increase in its history, from 85,425 in 1790 to 217,895 in 1810. As in the earlier days, most of the settlers migrated from S New England, and, since the more desirable lands in the river valleys were soon taken, many of them settled in the less hospitable hills.
Although the Embargo Act of 1807 aided the development of many small manufacturing establishments, it was bitterly opposed in Vermont for its disruption of the profitable trade with Canada. The War of 1812 was unpopular in Vermont as it was in the rest of New England, and during the war extensive smuggling across the Canadian border was carried on. Vermont was threatened by British invasion from Canada until U.S. troops, under Thomas Macdonough, won (1814) the battle on Lake Champlain.
At this early period in its history, Vermont, lacking an aristocracy of wealth, was the most democratic state in New England. Jeffersonian Democrats held control for most of the first quarter of the 19th cent. Beginning in the 1820s political and social life in Vermont was considerably affected by the activities of those opposed to Freemasonry, and in the presidential election of 1832 Vermont was the only state carried by William Wirt, candidate of the Anti-Masonic party. Anti-Masonry agitation was soon succeeded by even more vigorous efforts in behalf of another cause—the one against slavery.The Mexican and Civil Wars
In the Mexican War, which it viewed as having been undertaken solely to increase slave territory, Vermont was very apathetic. However, no Northern state was more energetic in support of the Union cause in the Civil War, and Vermonters strongly favored Lincoln over Vermont-born Stephen Douglas. One of the most bizarre incidents of the war was the Confederate raid (1864) on Saint Albans, a town which, after the war, also figured in the equally bizarre attempt of the Fenians to invade Canada in the cause of Irish independence.The Changing Economy of Vermont
The economy of the state, meanwhile, was in the midst of a series of sharp dislocations. The rise of manufacturing in towns and villages during the early 19th cent. had created a demand for foodstuffs for the nonfarming population. Consequently, commercial farming began to crowd out the subsistence farming that had predominated since the mid-18th cent. Grain and beef cattle became the chief market produce, but when the rapidly expanding West began to supply these commodities more cheaply and when wool textile mills began to spring up in S New England, Vermont turned to sheep raising.
After the Civil War, however, the sheep industry, unable to withstand the competition from the American West as well as from Australian, and South American wool, began to diminish. The rural population declined as many farmers migrated westward or turned to the apparently easier life of the cities, and abandoned farms became a common sight. The transition to dairy farming in the 20 years following the war staved off a permanent decline in Vermont's agricultural pursuits.
Since the 1960s, Vermont's economy has grown significantly with booms in the tourist industry and in exurban homebuilding and with the attraction of high-technology firms to the Burlington area. In recent years, prosperity has to some degree conflicted with concern for environmental issues. Nonetheless, the state has been active in attempts to preserve its natural beauty, enacting very strict laws regarding industrial pollution and the conservation of natural resources.
See Federal Writers' Project, Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State (3d ed. 1968); R. N. Hill et al., comp., Vermont (1969); A. M. Hemenway, Abby Hemenway's Vermont, ed. by B. C. Morrissey from the 5-volume Vermont Historical Gazetteer of 1881 (1972); C. T. Morrissey, Vermont (1981); T. D. Bassett, Vermont: A Bibliography of Its History (1983); H. A. Meeks, Vermont's Land and Resources (1986).
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 45th by total area and 43rd by land area at . It has a population of 608,827, ranking 49th of all fifty states (surpassing only Wyoming). The only New England state with no coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Vermont is notable for the Green Mountains running north to south and Lake Champlain which makes up 50% of Vermont's western border. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north.
Originally inhabited by Native American tribes (Abenaki, and Iroquois), the territory that is now Vermont was claimed by France but became a British possession after France's defeat in the French and Indian War. For many years, the surrounding colonies disputed control of the area, especially New Hampshire and New York. Settlers who held land titles granted by these colonies were opposed by the Green Mountain Boys militia, which eventually prevailed in creating an independent state, the Vermont Republic, which was founded during the Revolutionary War and lasted for 14 years. In 1791, Vermont joined the United States as the fourteenth state.
The state is noted for its scenery and dairy products. It is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. The state capital is Montpelier, and the largest city and metropolitan area is Burlington. No other state has a largest city as small as Burlington.
The origin of the name Green Mountains (Les verts monts) is uncertain. Some authorities say that they are so named because they have much more forestation than the higher White Mountains of New Hampshire and Adirondacks of New York. Other authorities say that they are so named because of the predominance of mica-quartz-chlorite schist, a green-hued metamorphosed shale. The Green Mountain range forms a north-south spine running most of the length of the state, slightly west of its center. In the southwest portion of the state are the Taconic Mountains; the Granitic Mountains are in the northeast. In the northwest near Lake Champlain is the fertile Champlain Valley. In the south of the valley is Lake Bomoseen.
Several mountains have timberlines with delicate year round alpine ecosystems. These include Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state, Killington Peak, the second highest, and Camels Hump the state's third highest. About 77 percent of the state is covered by forest; the rest is covered in meadow, uplands, lakes, ponds and swampy wetlands.
Areas in Vermont administered by the National Park Service include the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock.
Cities (2003 estimated population):
Largest towns (2003 estimated population):
In the autumn, Vermont's hills experience an explosion of red, orange and gold foliage displayed on the sugar maple as cold weather approaches. This famous display of color that occurs so abundantly in Vermont is not due so much to the presence of a particular variant of the sugar maple; rather it is caused by a number of soil and climate conditions unique to the area.
|Rec High °F||59||63||84||91||94||96||101||98||95||87||69||62|
|Norm High °F||25||31||43||51||64||76||81||78||71||54||36||28|
|Norm Low °F||4||10||22||30||43||55||60||57||50||33||15||7|
|Rec Low °F||-38||-35||-18||9||24||36||41||38||21||4||-16||-32|
The agricultural growing season ranges from 120-180 days.
The first European to see Vermont is thought to have been Jacques Cartier, in 1535. On July 30, 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of the fortification of Lake Champlain. This was the first European settlement in Vermont and the site of the state's first Roman Catholic Mass.
The first permanent British settlement was established in 1724, with the construction of Fort Dummer protecting the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro. These settlements were made by the Province of Massachusetts Bay to buffer its settlers on the western border along the Connecticut River.
In 1731, more French settlers arrived. They constructed a small temporary wooden stockade. This was replaced by a fort in 1734. The fort, when completed, gave the French control of the New France/Vermont border region in the Lake Champlain Valley and was the only permanent fort in the area until the building of Fort Carillon more than 20 years later.
The government encouraged French colonization, leading to the development of small French settlements in the valley. The British attempted to take the Fort St. Frédéric four times between 1755 and 1758; in 1759, a combined force of 12,000 British regular and provincial troops under Sir Jeffrey Amherst captured the fort. The French were driven out of the area and retreated to other forts along the Richelieu River. One year later a group of Mohawks burnt the settlement to the ground, leaving only chimneys, which gave the area its name.
The second British settlement was the 1761 founding of Bennington.
During the French and Indian War, some Vermont settlers, including Ethan Allen, joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French. Fort Carillon on the New York-Vermont border, a French fort constructed in 1755, was the site of two British offensives under Lord Amherst's command: the unsuccessful British attack in 1758 and the retaking of the following year with no major resistance (most of the garrison had been removed to defend Quebec, Montreal, and the western forts). The British renamed the fort Fort Ticonderoga (which became the site of two later battles during the American Revolutionary War). Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the land to the British.
The end of the war brought new settlers to Vermont. A fort at Crown Point had been built, and the Crown Point Military Road stretched from the east to the west of the Vermont wilderness from Springfield to Chimney Point, making travel from the neighboring British colonies easier.
Three colonies, Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire, laid claim to what is now Vermont. All had royal charters, issued under different kings, to prove these conflicting claims. In 1741, George II ruled that Massachusetts' claims in Vermont and New Hampshire were invalid and fixed Massachusetts' northern boundary at its present location. This still left New Hampshire and New York with conflicting claims to the land.
On 1764-07-20, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of the parallel of 45 Degrees north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and has remained unchanged to the present. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont on 1777-01-18.
In 1770, Ethan Allen, his brothers Ira and Levi, and Seth Warner recruited an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York. When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse. This resulted in the deaths of Daniel Houghton and William French in the "Westminster Massacre."
In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen met "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district." On January 18, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of the Vermont. For the first six months of the state's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.
On June 2, 1777, a second convention of 72 delegates met to adopt the name "Vermont." This was on the advice of a friendly Pennsylvanian who wrote them on how to achieve admission into the newly independent United States as the 14th state. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted at the Windsor Tavern adopted by the delegates on July 8. This was among the first written constitutions in North America and was indisputably the first to abolish the institution of slavery, provide for universal manhood suffrage and require support of public schools.
British General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of horses, food and munitions were kept at Bennington, which was the largest community in the land grant area. He dispatched 2,600 men, nearly a third of his army, to seize the colonial storehouse there, unaware that General Stark's New Hampshire troops were then traversing the Green Mountains to join up at Bennington with the Vermont continental regiments commanded by Colonel Seth Warner, together with the local Vermont and western Massachusetts militia. The combined American forces, under Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. In a desperate, all-day battle fought in intense summer heat, the army of yankee farmers killed or captured virtually the entire British detachment. General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17.
Battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the Revolutionary War because they were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced the French that the Americans were worthy of military aid. Stark became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington", and the anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Vermont as a legal holiday known as "Bennington Battle Day." Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to an heroic granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured from the British troops at the Battle of Bennington.
Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.
An 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state. The mid to late 1850s saw a transition from Vermonters mostly favoring slavery's containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution, producing the Radical Republican and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. As the Whig party shriveled, and the Republican Party emerged, Vermont strongly trended in support of its candidates, first on the state level and later for the presidency. In 1860 it voted for President Abraham Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.
A large proportion of Vermont’s state and national-level politicians for several decades after the Civil War were veterans.
The northernmost land action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont.
Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 85 people died, 84 of them in Vermont. Another flood occurred in 1973, when the flood caused the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.
On April 25, 2000, as a result of the Vermont Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont General Assembly passed and Governor Howard Dean signed into law H.0847, which provided the state sanctioned benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions. Controversy over the civil unions bill was a central issue in the subsequent 2000 elections.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2005, Vermont has an estimated population of 623,050, which is an increase of 1,817, or 0.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 14,223, or 2.3%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 7,148 people (that is 33,606 births minus 26,458 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 7,889 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 4,359 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 3,530 people.
It is the least populous state in New England. In 2006, it has the second lowest birthrate in the nation, 42/1000 women. The median age of the work force was 42.3, the highest in the nation.
Vermont's population is:
Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Vermont ranks:
Residents of British ancestry (especially English) live throughout most of Vermont. The northern part of the state maintains a significant percentage of people of French-Canadian ancestry.
In the last two decades, the Burlington area has welcomed the resettlement of several refugee communities. These include individuals and families from South East Asia, Bosnia, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Tibet. These communities have grown to include non-refugees and in some cases are several generations in the making.
|Congregational/United Church of Christ||6%|
|Assemblies of God||1%|
|Declined to answer||8%|
Today more than two-thirds of Vermont residents identify themselves as Christians. This number includes a body of Christian Lebanese stoneworkers. The largest single religious body in the state is the Roman Catholic Church. According to the ARDA the Catholic Church had 147,918 members in 2000.
Twenty-four percent of Vermonters attend church regularly. This low is matched only by New Hampshire.
Over one-fifth of Vermonters identify themselves as non-religious, tying Vermont with Oregon as having the second-highest percentage of non-religious people in the United States. Only Washington State has a higher percentage. A survey suggests that people in Vermont and New Hampshire are less likely to attend weekly services and are less likely to believe in God (54%) than people in the rest of the nation (71%). The two states are at the lowest levels among states in religious commitment. About 23% percent of the respondents attend religious service at least once a week (39% nationally). Thirty-six percent said religion is very important to them (56% nationally).
Almost one-third of Vermonters are self-identified Protestants. The largest Protestant denomination in the state is the United Church of Christ with 21,597, and the second largest is the United Methodist Church with 19,000 members; followed by Episcopalians, "other" Christians, and Baptists.
Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young—the first two leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—were both born in Vermont. Adherents to the Mormon faith, however, do not make up a single percentage point of Vermont's population. A memorial to Joseph Smith, at his birthplace in Sharon, is maintained by the LDS.
Vermont may have the highest concentration of western-convert Buddhists in the country. It is home to several Buddhist retreat centers.
In 2008, an economist said that the state had "a really stagnant economy, which is what we are forecasting for Vermont for the next 30 years.
According to the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Vermont’s gross state product (GSP) was $23 billion. This places the state 50th among the 50 states. It stood 38th in per capita GSP. The per capita personal income was $32,770 in 2004.
Components of GSP were:
Canada was Vermont's number one external trading partner in 2007, followed by Taiwan. The state had $4 billion worth of commerce with Quebec.
One measure of economic activity is retail sales. The state had $5.2 billion in 2007.
Over the past two centuries logging has fallen off as over-cutting and the exploitation of other forests made Vermont's forest less attractive. Loss of farms has had the beneficial effect of allowing Vermont's land and forest to recover. The accompanying lack of industry has allowed Vermont to avoid many of the ill-effects of 20th century industrial busts, effects that still plague neighboring states. Today, most of Vermont's forests consist of second-growth.
Of the remaining industries, dairy farming is the primary source of agricultural income.
In the last half of the twentienth century, developers have had plans to build condos and houses on what was relatively inexpensive, open land. Vermont's government has responded with a series of laws controlling development and with some pioneering initiatives to prevent the loss of Vermont's dairy industry.
In 1947 there were 11,206 dairy farms in the state. In 2003 there were fewer than 1,500, a decline of 80%. The number of cattle had declined by 40%. However, milk production had doubled in the same period due to tripling the production per cow. In 2007, there were 1,087 farms left, down from 1,138 in 2006. While milk production rose, Vermont's market share declined. Within a group of states supplying the Boston-NYC market, Vermont was third with a 10.6% share of the market. in 2007, there were 1,050 dairy farms remaining. The number has been diminishing by 10% annually.
A significant amount of milk is shipped into the Boston market. Therefore the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certifies that Vermont farms meet Massachusetts sanitary standards. Without this certification, a farmer may not sell milk for distribution into the bulk market.
An important and growing part of Vermont's economy is the manufacture and sale of artisan foods, fancy foods, and novelty items trading in part upon the Vermont "brand" which the state manages and defends. Examples of these specialty exports include Cabot Cheese, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Fine Paints of Europe, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, several micro breweries, ginseng growers, Burton Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates, King Arthur Flour, and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
In 2001, Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about one-quarter of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 accounting for 37% of national production.
In 2000, only 3% of the state's working population was still engaged in agriculture.
Wine industry started in Vermont in 1985. There are 14 wineries today.
Housing prices did not rise that much during the early 2000s. As a result, the collapse in real estate values was not that precipitous either. While foreclosure rose significantly in 2007, the state stood 50th (last,best) in ratio of foreclosure filings to households. While housing sales dropped annually from 2004 to 2008, prices continued to rise.
In 2007, Vermont was best in the country for construction of new energy efficient homes as evaluated by the EPA under the Energy Star program. However, about 60% of Vermont homes heated with oil in 2008. In August 2008, the cost in Vermont of various heating sources per 1 million BTU ranged from $14.39 for cord wood to $43.50 for kerosene.
Summer camps contribute to Vermont's tourist economy. Trout fishing, lake fishing, and ice fishing draw outdoor enthusiasts to the state, as does the hiking on the Long Trail. In winter, nordic and backcountry skiers visit to travel the length of the state on the Catamount Trail. Several horse shows are annual events. Vermont's state parks, historic sites, museums, golf courses, and new boutique hotels with spas were designed to attract tourists.
Vermont collects personal income tax in a progressive structure of five different income brackets, ranging from 3.6% to 9.5%.
Vermont's general sales tax rate is 6%, which is imposed on sales of tangible personal property, amusement charges, fabrication charges, some public utility charges and some service contracts (some towns and cities impose an additional 1% Local Option Tax). There are 46 exemptions from the tax which include medical items, food, manufacturing machinery, equipment and fuel, residential fuel and electricity, clothing, and shoes. A use tax is imposed on the buyer at the same rate as the sales tax. The buyer pays the use tax when the sellers fails to collect the sales tax or the items are purchased from a source where no tax is collected. The use tax applies to items taxable under the sales tax. Property taxes are imposed for the support of education and municipal services.
Vermont does not assess tax on intangible personal property. Vermont does not collect inheritance taxes; however, its estate tax is decoupled from the federal estate tax laws and therefore the state still imposes its own estate tax.
For a more detailed explanation see a List of Routes in Vermont.
A 2005-6 study ranked Vermont 37th out of the states for "cost-effective road maintenance", a decline of 13 places since 2004-5.
Federal data indicates that 16% of Vermont's 2,691 bridges had been rated structurally deficient by the state in 2006. In 2007 Vermont had the sixth worst percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country.
Vermont experts estimated that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.
In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts. In 2005, the state used 5,883 Kilowatt hours of electriciy.
(Above percentages are of population, not of land area.)
Cell phone coverage in the state, generally, outside of the major metropolitan areas is weak due to interference from mountains, the attempt to serve a small rural population living in a large area rendering investment in improvements uneconomical, and environmentalists' opposition to towers. Unicel, focusing on rural areas, has better coverage.
In summer of 2007, Verizon Wireless announced that it would purchase Unicel (Rural Cellular) in Vermont and 14 other states for $2.67 billion during the first half of 2008. Some state officials and Unicel subscribers have opposed this purchase. As a result, Unicel in Vermont only will be sold to another company.
In May 2007, Vermont passed measures intended to make broadband (3 mbits minimum) together with cellular coverage universally available to all citizens with the intention of having the first e-state in the Union by 2010.
In 2008 Comcast started to extend additional cable access throughout the state. In 2007, 2/3 of all Vermonters had access to cable. At the end of this 2008 initiative, 90% of Vermonters will have access.
Vermont is represented in the United States Congress by two senators and one representative.
The state is governed by a constitution which divides governmental duties into three branches, typical of a US state: legislative, executive and judicial. All members of the executive and legislative branch serve two-year terms including the governor and 50 senators. There are no term limits for any office. The state capital is in Montpelier.
There are three types of incorporated municipalities in Vermont: towns, cities, and villages. Like most of New England, there is slight provision for autonomous county government. Counties and county seats are merely convenient repositories for various government services such as County and State Courts, with several elected officers such as a State's Attorney and Sheriff. All county services are directly funded by the State of Vermont. The next effective governmental level below state government are municipalities. Most of these are towns.
An in-depth evaluation of government ranked Vermont high compared to other states. It ranked highest in "small discrete issues and huge global ones." It performed poorly in the issues in-between and planning for the future.
Vermonters have been known for their political independence. Vermont is one of four states that were once independent (the others being Texas, California, and Hawaii). It has sometimes voted contrarian in national elections. Notably, Vermont is the only state to have voted for a presidential candidate from the Anti-Masonic Party, and Vermont was one of only two states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in all four of his presidential campaigns (the other was Maine).
Vermont's unique history and history of independent political thought has led to movements for the establishment of the Second Vermont Republic and other plans advocating secession. In 2007, about 13% of Vermont's population supported Vermont's withdrawal from the Republic. The percentage who supported this in 2005 was 8%.
Republicans dominated Vermont politics from the party's founding in 1854 until the mid-1970s. Prior to the 1960s, rural interests dominated the legislature. As a result, cities, particularly the older sections of Burlington and Winooski, were neglected and fell into decay. People began to move out to newer suburbs.
In the meantime, many people had moved in from out of state. Much of this immigration included the arrival of more liberal political influences of the urban areas of New York and New England in Vermont.
After the legislature was redistricted under one-person, one-vote, it passed legislation to accommodate these new arrivals. This legislation was the Land Use and Development Law (Act 250) in 1970. The law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, created nine District Environmental Commissions consisting of private citizens, appointed by the Governor, who must approve land development and subdivision plans that would have a significant impact on the state's environment and many small communities.
As a result of Act 250, Vermont was the last state to get a Wal-Mart (there are four, as of March 2008, but only the Williston store was new construction).
Another case involves the recent controversy over the adoption of civil unions, an institution which grants same-sex couples nearly all the rights and privileges of marriage. In Baker v. Vermont (1999), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that, under the Constitution of Vermont, the state must either allow same-sex marriage or provide a separate but equal status for them. The state legislature chose the second option by creating the institution of civil union; the bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Howard Dean.
Vermont is one of only two states represented by a member of the United States Congress who does not currently associate with a political party: Senator Bernie Sanders describes his political views as socialist, but caucuses with the Democrats in the selection of the Senate leadership. In the early 1960s many progressive Vermont Republicans and newcomers to the state helped bolster the state's small Democratic Party. Until 1992, Vermont had supported a Democrat for president only once since the party's founding—in Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 landslide victory against Barry Goldwater. In 1992, it supported Democrat Bill Clinton for president and has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since. Vermont gave John Kerry his fourth-largest margin of victory in 2004. He won the state's popular vote by 20 percentage points over incumbent George W. Bush, taking almost 59% of the vote. Essex County in the state's northeastern section was the only county to vote for Bush. Vermont still remains the only state that President Bush has not visited.
On the other hand, Republican Governor Douglas won all counties but Windham in the 2006 election. Vermonters are frequent ticket-splitters.
In 2007, when confronted with an allegedly liberal issue, assisted suicide for the terminally ill, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives rejected the measure by a vote of 82-63.
Minor parties flourish. Rules which eliminate smaller parties from the ballot in most states do not exist in Vermont. As a result, voters often have extensive choices for general elections.
A political issue has been Act 60, which balances taxation for education funding. This has resulted in the town of Killington trying to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire due to what the locals say is an unfair tax burden.
A movement favors separating Vermont from the U.S. or making it the 11th province of Canada. Some suggest the state should join Canada due to its liberal policies as opposed to remaining with the U.S.
The Vermont constitution and the courts supports the right of a person to walk (fish and hunt) on any unposted, unfenced land. That is trespass must be proven by the owner; it is not automatically assumed.
The state is an alcoholic beverage control state. In 2007, through the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, it took in over $14 million from the sale and distribution of liquor.
In 2007 Vermont was ranked number one in the nation as the healthiest place to live for the sixth time in seven years. Criteria included low teenage birth rate, strong health coverage, the lowest AIDS rate in the country, and 18 other factors. In 2007, Vermont was ranked among the best five states in the country for preventing "premature death" in people under 75 years of age. The rate of survival was twice that of the five lowest performing states.
In 2007, Vermont was ranked the third safest state for highway fatalities.
Parts of the state have been declared federal disaster areas on 28 occasions from 1963 to 2008.
In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency cited Chittenden and Bennington as counties with 70 parts of smog per billion which is undesirable.
In northern Vermont particularly, moose are not uncommon, including in urban areas. Residents are aware of the potential danger and no one has been injured in rare chance encounters. They constitute a traffic threat since they are unaware of vehicles. There are several deaths each year from collisions.
The state authorized two more pre-K grades to the school system for the benefit of three and four year olds. Entry to these two grades is capped.
According to one study, enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade has declined by nearly 10 percent during the 1990s. During the same period total staff numbers have increased by more than 20 percent. Per pupil spending grew from $6,073 in 1990 to $13,664 in 2006. A study by the Census Bureau lists Vermont with the fourth highest expenditure per pupil in the country at $11,835 for 2005.
In 2008, there were 19,145 full-time equivalent teachers and 94,114 students in public schools. Teacher-pupil ratio is 11.12:1.
By the middle nineteenth century, an expansion in settlement and the population of the state, coupled with increased prosperity, brought grammar schools to all corners of Vermont. Even the most remote Northeast Kingdom had established high-school-level instruction in Brownington, Craftsbury, Danville, Hardwick, and Newport. Many of these established grammar schools and academies, though not entirely public, received funds from area town governments in exchange for education of their students. As a system of public funding for primary and secondary education took root, many of these schools became municipal public schools. Several remained private, becoming private high-school-level academies, and several become colleges; the Orange County Grammar School became Vermont Technical College, the Rutland County Grammar School became Castleton State College, the Lamoille County Grammar School became Johnson State College, and the Addison County Grammar School became Middlebury College.
The Vermont Frost Heaves, the 2007 and 2008 American Basketball Association national champions, are a franchise of the Premier Basketball League, and have been based in Barre and Burlington since the fall of 2006.
Vermont is home to a semi-professional football team, the Vermont Ice Storm, based in South Hero. It plays its home games at the Colchester High School stadium. It is a member of the Empire Football League.
Annually since 2002, high school statewide all stars compete against New Hampshire in ten sports during "Twin State" playoffs.
In the Northeast Kingdom, the Bread and Puppet Theatre holds weekly shows in Glover in a natural outdoor amphitheater.
One of Vermont's best known musical exports was the group Phish, whose members met while attending school in Vermont and played its final concert in the state.
The rate of volunteerism in Vermont was 8th in the nation with 37% in 2007. The state stood first in New England.
State symbols include:
Maps and Demographics
Tourism & recreation
Culture & history