Montpelier is located in Washington County and is the capital of Vermont. It has a population of approximately 8,000 people, making it the smallest state capital in the nation, as of December 2015. Montpelier has the highest ratio of dairy cows to people of any state capital in the United States. It is the only state capital without a McDonald's restuarant, and until 1996, it was the only state capital without a Walmart.
Montpelier is located very close to the geographic center of the state and, along with its sister city of Barre, forms a metropolitan region known to local residents as the Twin Cities. Until recently, Montpelier was the only place in the state where a resident could obtain a driver license with a photograph. It is also one of the few state capitals with a State House dome of genuine gold leaf.
General Parley Davis and Colonel Jacob Davis established the first permanent settlement in 1787, and the city was incorporated as a village in 1818. Its proximity to the Winooski River made it the state’s industrial hub and fueled its early growth. Early industries included manufacturing, mining and textile mills. The city is now home to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and its major industries are government, insurance, education and tourism.
Montpelier also hosts the annual Green Mountain Film Festival and the New England Culinary Institute. Other schools include the Union Institute and University, which offers a Master of Education degree, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, which offers Masters of Fine Arts degrees in visual arts and creative writing.