Maine, largest New England state in the northeasternmost United States; bordered by Canada to the northwest, north, and east, by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and by New Hampshire to the southwest.
Land and climate
During the Ice Age, Maine was covered by glaciers that pushed down the coastline, creating offshore islands. The moving ice rounded the mountains and left hundreds of lakes and ponds. Today, forests cover nearly 90% of the state. Maine has 3 distinct land regions. (1) The Coastal Lowlands extend inward from the Atlantic 10–40 mi (16–64 km). The land is gently rolling; along the coast are many rocky bays, inlets, and rugged peninsulas, and more than 1,300 islands. (2) The Eastern New England Upland runs northeast to southwest down the middle of the state. This rolling, heavily forested land contains hundreds of rivers and lakes. The Aroostook Plateau in the northeast is the state's most fertile area. (3) The White Mountains Region covers northwestern Maine and extends into New Hampshire and Vermont. This region includes most of Maine's higher peaks, including Mt. Katahdin. Moosehead Lake is Maine's largest lake. The state has more than 5,000 rivers and streams; major rivers include the Kennebec, Penobscot, St. John, Androscoggin, and Saco. Maine's climate is moist, cooler than most of the United States. Arctic air and coastal winds make Maine colder than many other places in the same latitude. Principal cities are Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor.
Service industries account for approximately 70% of the total value of all goods and services Maine produces in a year, but manufacturing is the main economic activity. Maine's abundant forests provide the raw materials for its paper industry and for such manufactured products as cardboard boxes, paper bags, lumber, and toothpicks. Other leading manufactured products include electrical equipment, processed foods, leather products, and textiles. Tourism, based on the striking Atlantic scenery and plentiful recreation facilities, is another major source of income for the state. Maine produces the nation's third-largest potato crop (after Idaho and Washington). Milk, eggs, and broilers (chickens) are the top livestock products. Mineral products include construction sand and gravel, cement, and crushed stone.
Maine's constitution was adopted in 1819. The governor serves a 4-year term. The state legislature consists of 35 senators and 151 representatives; all serve 2-year terms. In the U.S. Congress, Maine is represented by 2 senators and 2 representatives.
Vikings may have been the first Europeans to explore Maine, c.A.D. 1000. Italian sea captain John Cabot probably explored the coast in 1498. The area was home to thousands of Native Americans when the first European-American settlers arrived in the early 1600s. Becoming part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid-1600s, Maine was a battleground during the French and Indian Wars; Maine soldiers played an active part in the American Revolution. In 1819, the people voted to separate from Massachusetts, and Maine became a state in 1820. During the Civil War, it was a strong antislavery state. After the war, industrial development extended until the 1930s Great Depression and rose again after World War II, when tourism also boomed. Since the early 1970s, however, the state's economic development has been uneven. In the 1940s, Maine's Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman elected to both houses of the U.S. Congress.