Portland, Maine is the largest city in the state, but it's actually not the capital. As the most northeastern location in the 50 U.S. States, this place has a unique geography, climate, and history that make it stand out from the rest.
Before we explore those aspects of this pace, here are some key facts to help acquaint you with Maine:
State Abbreviation: ME
Admitted to the Union: March 15, 1820
Nickname(s): "The Pine Tree State", "Vacationland"
ME is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic ocean to the east and south along with New Hampshire to the west and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast.
This locations is both the farthest north and the farthest east among all the other states. The iconic landscape includes rocky coastlines, mountainous and jagged terrain, and vast swathes of forests in the interior. Various waterways and a penchant for fine seafood like lobster and clams are also well-known.
Prior to the arrival of settlers, the area was primarily inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years. When Europeans first arrived, there were Algonquian-speaking people in the area. It was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state as part of the Missouri Compromise.
It is ranked as the 39th largest state and the 41st most populated. In terms of crime rates, it is also considered the safest place to live in the U.S.
Climate and Geographical Features
Maine enjoys a humid continental climate with warm, but typically not hot, summers. Winter months are cold and snowy, especially so in the northern portions of the state. The coastal areas are modified by the Atlantic Ocean to the point where they have less harsh winters.
The record high temperature was recorded in 1911 at North Bridgton. It was measured at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also less than twenty days of thunderstorms here, the lowest number of any locations east of the Rockies. Tornadoes are also rare here, with the average being less than two per year.
The latest record low temperature was recorded in January of 2009 at -50 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of geography, this is the easternmost location in the United States both in extreme points and in the geographic center. For example, Eastport and Lubec are respectively the easternmost city and town in the U.S.
The Old Sow in the Bay of Fundy is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. The nickname "The Pine Tree State" comes from the fact that over 83% of the land is forested. The coastline is famous for being jagged and rocky, but also for containing beaches, lighthouses, fishing villages, and thousands of offshore islands.
The Isles of Shoals are located along the New Hampshire border and are composed of bays and inlets. Farther inland you'll find rivers, forests, and mountains. This is known as a "drowned coast" among geologists. What used to be valleys and mountains are now bays and islands. The rest is submerged.
This landscape was created as a result of glaciers during the last Ice Age. Famous features like Somes Sound and Bubble Rock, both of which are in the Acadia National Park, were carved by glaciers. This national park is the only one of its kind in the New England region. It provides protection and management for the following areas:
Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor)
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Acadian Culture (St. John Valley)
Roosevelt Campobello International Park (Lubec)
Saint Croix Island International Historic Site (Calais)
The History of Maine
The original peoples in this area were the Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki tribes which included the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Penobscot. The first settlement established by Europeans was in 1604 on Saint Croix Island. The first English settlement was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607.
Various settlements came and went over the years. The area was divided into multiple territories as well. The tribes in the center of the area were driven out during King William's War in 1690. The other tribes suffered greatly in defeats during the Dummer's War.
The current boundaries became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. After the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the final border was established as part of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. That being said, the state was able to remove itself from the state of Massachusetts via secession in 1820, at which point it became its own state as part of the Missouri Compromise.
The original capital was in Portland, the largest city, but it was moved to Augusta in 1832 to be more centrally located within the state. Four U.S Navy ships have also been named USS Maine in honor of this place.
There are several theories as to where the name came from. One suggests that the Franco-American Day established in 2001 stated that the state was named after the former French province of the same name. Another mentions that it is a nautical reference to the mainland. While the origin of the name remains a mystery, in 1665 the King's Commissioners order that the "Province of Maine" be the name used from then on in official records.
The official state flag has undergone major transformations since the first iteration in 1901. Originally, the flag has a pine tree in the center, and a blue "North Star." Today, the flag features the state's coat of arms on a blue field. The center of the shield shows a moose resting under a pine tree.
A farmer and seaman are shown, representing the state's reliance on agriculture and sea-based resources. The north star above the crest represents the motto: Dirigo meaning "I lead." While there are no official colors, it is specified that the blue background be the same shade as the flag of the United States.
The state of Maine is a unique place with a rich history, and amazing landscapes. Now that you've finished reading this, check our our Maine state facts to learn more about this wonderful state.