Maine

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Maine

Maine is a state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest, respectively. Maine is the 12th-smallest by area, the 9th-least populous, the 13th-least densely populated, and the most rural of the 50 U.S. states. It is also the northeasternmost among the contiguous United States, the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes, the only state whose name consists of a single syllable, and the only state to border exactly one other US state. The most populous city in Maine is Portland, while its capital is Augusta.

Name

There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the name “Maine”, but the most likely is that early explorers named it after the former province of Maine in France. Whatever the origin, the name was fixed for English settlers in 1665 when the English King’s Commissioners ordered that the “Province of Maine” be entered from then on in official records. The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the former French province of Maine.

Other theories mention earlier places with similar names or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland. Captain John Smith, in his “Description of New England” (1614) laments the lack of exploration: “Thus you may see, of this 2000. miles more then halfe is yet vnknowne to any purpose: no not so much as the borders of the Sea are yet certainly discouered. As for the goodnes and true substances of the Land, wee are for most part yet altogether ignorant of them, vnlesse it bee those parts about the Bay of Chisapeack and Sagadahock: but onely here and there wee touched or haue seene a little the edges of those large dominions, which doe stretch themselues into the Maine, God doth know how many thousand miles;” Note that his description of the mainland of North America is “the Maine”. The word “main” was a frequent shorthand for the word “mainland” (as in “The Spanish Main”)

Geography

There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the name “Maine”, but the most likely is that early explorers named it after the former province of Maine in France. Whatever the origin, the name was fixed for English settlers in 1665 when the English King’s Commissioners ordered that the “Province of Maine” be entered from then on in official records. The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the former French province of Maine.

Other theories mention earlier places with similar names or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland. Captain John Smith, in his “Description of New England” (1614) laments the lack of exploration: “Thus you may see, of this 2000. miles more then halfe is yet vnknowne to any purpose: no not so much as the borders of the Sea are yet certainly discouered. As for the goodnes and true substances of the Land, wee are for most part yet altogether ignorant of them, vnlesse it bee those parts about the Bay of Chisapeack and Sagadahock: but onely here and there wee touched or haue seene a little the edges of those large dominions, which doe stretch themselues into the Maine, God doth know how many thousand miles;” Note that his description of the mainland of North America is “the Maine”. The word “main” was a frequent shorthand for the word “mainland” (as in “The Spanish Main”)

Climate

Maine has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), with warm and sometimes humid summers, and long, cold and very snowy winters. Winters are especially severe in the Northern and Western parts of Maine, while coastal areas are moderated slightly by the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in marginally milder winters and cooler summers than inland regions. Daytime highs are generally in the 75–80 °F (24–27 °C) range throughout the state in July, with overnight lows in the high 50s °F (around 15 °C). January temperatures range from highs near 30 °F (−1 °C) on the southern coast to overnight lows averaging below 0 °F (−18 °C) in the far north.

The state’s record high temperature is 105 °F (41 °C), set in July 1911, at North Bridgton. Precipitation in Maine is evenly distributed year-round, but with a slight summer maximum in northern/northwestern Maine and a slight late-fall or early-winter maximum along the coast due to “nor’easters” or intense cold-season rain and snowstorms. In coastal Maine, the late spring and summer months are usually driest—a rarity across the Eastern United States. Maine has fewer days of thunderstorms than any other state east of the Rockies, with most of the state averaging fewer than twenty days of thunderstorms a year. Tornadoes are rare in Maine, with the state averaging two per year, although this number is increasing. Most severe thunderstorms and tornadoes occur in the Sebago Lakes & Foothills region of the state. Maine rarely sees the effect of tropical cyclones, as they tend to pass well east and south or are greatly weakened by the time they reach Maine.

Demographics

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Maine was 1,344,212 on July 1, 2019, a 1.19% increase since the 2010 United States census. At the 2020 census, 1,362,359 people lived in the state. The state's population density is 41.3 people per square mile, making it the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi River. As of 2010, Maine was also the most rural state in the Union, with only 38.7% of the state's population living within urban areas. As explained in detail under "Geography", there are large tracts of uninhabited land in some remote parts of the interior of the state, particularly in the North Maine Woods.

The mean population center of Maine is located in Kennebec County, just east of Augusta. The Greater Portland metropolitan area is the most densely populated with nearly 40% of Maine's population. This area spans three counties and includes many farms and wooded areas; the 2016 population of Portland proper was 66,937.

Maine has experienced a very slow rate of population growth since the 1990 census; its rate of growth (0.57%) since the 2010 census ranks 45th of the 50 states. The modest population growth in the state has been concentrated in the southern coastal counties; with more diverse populations slowly moving into these areas of the state. However, the northern, more rural areas of the state have experienced a slight decline in population in recent years.

Language

Maine does not have an official language, but the most widely spoken language in the state is English. The 2000 Census reported 92.25% of Maine residents aged five and older spoke only English at home. French-speakers are the state’s chief linguistic minority; census figures show that Maine has the highest percentage of people speaking French at home of any state: 5.28% of Maine households are French-speaking, compared with 4.68% in Louisiana, which is the second highest state. Although rarely spoken, Spanish is the third-most-common language in Maine, after English and French.

Religion

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), the religious affiliations of Maine in 2010 were:

  • Protestant 37%
    • Evangelical Protestant 4%
  • Unclaimed 31%
  • Catholic Church 28%
  • Other religions 1.7%
  • Non-Christian religions include Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Baháʼí.

The Catholic Church was the largest religious institution with 202,106 members, the United Methodist Church had 28,329 members, the United Church of Christ had 22,747 members In 2010, a study named Maine as the least religious state in the United States.

Economy

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maine’s total gross state product for 2010 was $52 billion. Its per capita personal income for 2007 was $33,991, 34th in the nation. As of May 2018, Maine’s unemployment rate is 3.0% 

Maine’s agricultural outputs include poultry, eggs, dairy products, cattle, wild blueberries, 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. While lobster is the main seafood focus for Maine, the harvest of both oysters and seaweed are on the rise. In 2015, 14% of the Northeast’s total oyster supply came from Maine. In 2017, the production of Maine’s seaweed industry was estimated at $20 million per year. The shrimp industry of Maine is on a government-mandated hold. With an ever-decreasing Northern shrimp population, Maine fishermen are no longer allowed to catch and sell shrimp. The hold began in 2014 and is expected to continue until 2021. 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. Maine blueberries. The U.S.’s only commercial producers of wild blueberries are located in Maine.

Shipbuilding

Maine has a long-standing tradition of being home to many shipbuilding companies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Maine was home to many shipyards that produced wooden sailing ships. The main function of these ships was to transport either cargos or passengers overseas. One of these yards was located in Pennellville Historic District in what is now Brunswick, Maine. This yard, owned by the Pennell family, was typical of the many family-owned shipbuilding companies of the time period. Other such examples of shipbuilding families were the Skolfields and the Morses. During the 18th and 19th centuries, wooden shipbuilding of this sort made up a sizable portion of the economy.

Transportation

Airports

Maine receives passenger jet service at its two largest airports, the Portland International Jetport in Portland, and the Bangor International Airport in Bangor. Both are served daily by many major airlines to destinations such as New York, Atlanta, and Orlando. Essential Air Service also subsidizes service to a number of smaller airports in Maine, bringing small turboprop aircraft to regional airports such as the Augusta State Airport, Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, Knox County Regional Airport, and the Northern Maine Regional Airport at Presque Isle. These airports are served by regional providers such as Cape Air with Cessna 402s, and CommutAir with Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft.

Many smaller airports are scattered throughout Maine, serving only general aviation traffic. The Eastport Municipal Airport, for example, is a city-owned public-use airport with 1,200 general aviation aircraft operations each year from single-engine and ultralight aircraft.

Highways

Interstate 95 (I-95) travels through Maine, as well as its easterly branch I-295 and spurs I-195, I-395 and the unsigned I-495 (the Falmouth Spur). In addition, U.S. Route 1 (US 1) starts in Fort Kent and travels to Florida. The eastern terminus of the eastern section of US 2 starts in Houlton, near the New Brunswick, Canada border to Rouses Point, New York, at US 11. US 2A connects Old Town and Orono, primarily serving the University of Maine campus. US 201 and US 202 flow through the state. US 2, Maine State Route 6 (SR 6), and SR 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.

Rail

The Downeaster passenger train, operated by Amtrak, provides passenger service between Brunswick and Boston's North Station, with stops in Freeport, Portland, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Wells. The Downeaster makes five daily trips.

Freight service throughout the state is provided by a handful of regional and shortline carriers: Pan Am Railways (formerly known as Guilford Rail System), which operates the former Boston & Maine and Maine Central railroads; St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad; Maine Eastern Railroad; Central Maine and Quebec Railway; and New Brunswick Southern Railway.

Municipalities

Organized Municipalities

An organized municipality has a form of elected local government which administers and provides local services, keeps records, collects licensing fees, and can pass locally binding ordinances, among other responsibilities of self-government. The governmental format of most organized towns and plantations is the town meeting, while the format of most cities is the council-manager form. As of 2022 the organized municipalities of Maine consist of 23 cities, 430 towns, and 31 plantations. Collectively these 484 organized municipalities cover less than half of the state's territory. Maine also has three Reservations: Indian Island, Indian Township Reservation, and Pleasant Point Indian Reservation.

Unorganized Territory

Unorganized territory (UT) has no local government. Administration, services, licensing, and ordinances are handled by the state government as well as by respective county governments who have townships within each county's bounds. The unorganized territory of Maine consists of more than 400 townships (in Maine, towns are incorporated, townships are unincorporated), plus many coastal islands that do not lie within any municipal bounds. The UT land area is slightly over half the entire area of the State of Maine. Year-round residents in the UT number approximately 9,000 (about 1.3% of the state's total population), with many more people staying there only seasonally. Only four of Maine's sixteen counties (Androscoggin, Cumberland, Waldo and York) are entirely incorporated, although a few others are nearly so, and most of the unincorporated area is in the vast and sparsely populated Great North Woods of Maine.

Education

There are thirty institutions of higher learning in Maine. These institutions include the University of Maine, which is the oldest, largest and only research university in the state. UMaine was founded in 1865 and is the state’s only land grant and sea grant college. The University of Maine is located in the town of Orono and is the flagship of Maine. There are also branch campuses in Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle.

Bowdoin College is a liberal arts college founded in 1794 in Brunswick, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Colby College in Waterville was founded in 1813 making it the second oldest college in Maine. Bates College in Lewiston was founded in 1855 making it the third oldest institution in the state and the oldest coeducational college in New England. The three colleges collectively form the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium and are ranked among the best colleges in the United States; often placing in the top 10% of all liberal arts colleges.

Maine’s per-student public expenditure for elementary and secondary schools was 21st in the nation in 2012, at $12,344.

Culture

Agriculture

The state is a major producer of potatoes. Until World War II, Maine was the number one potato producer in the nation. In 2022, Maine ranked ninth in producing the most potatoes in the nation. That same year, Maine potato growers shipped 21 million potatoes (equal to more than 530 truckloads) to processors in Washington state and as seed potatoes for Idaho farmers, after northwestern potato crops suffered from the hot, dry 2021 season.

Maine is the number one U.S. producer of low-bush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium). Preliminary data from the USDA for 2012 also indicate Maine was the largest blueberry producer of the major blueberry producing states, with 91,100,000 lbs. This data includes both low (wild), and high-bush (cultivated) blueberries: Vaccinium corymbosum.

Maine was a center of grain production in the 1800s, until grain production moved westward. However, in the early 2000s the local food movement spurred renewed interested in locally grown grains. In 2007, the Kneading Conference was founded. In, 2012, the Skowhegan grist mill Maine Grains opened. The revival of grain farming and milling in Maine has led to the creation of other businesses, including bakeries and malthouses. In 2020, the first Maine farmers grew hemp for its grain crop.

Dairy products and chicken's eggs are other major industries. Maine has a smaller number of commodity farms and confined animal feeding operations. Apples, maple syrup and sweet corn are other major agricultural crops.

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