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Vermont (VT) Fast Facts
Location and Geography: Vermont is a state in the northern part of the East Coast, and is the nation’s smallest landlocked state. It is somewhat less urbanized than many other eastern states and is known for its lush forests and maple trees.
Counties and Regions: At its inception, Vermont only had two counties, but over time these were split to make the present-day 14. County seats in Vermont are known as “shire towns”–there are only 9 technical cities in the whole state, so some county seats are in fact towns. These are the general regions of Vermont:
- Champlain Valley
- Green Mountains
- Mount Mansfield
- Northeast Kingdom
Population: With a population of about 625,000, Vermont has the lowest population in the country with the exception of Wyoming. Unlike the crowded urban areas of other East Coast states, Vermont has a great deal of rural land.
Major Cities: Vermont’s largest city is Burlington, which has a population of barely 43,000 people. Its capital, Montpelier, has a population of not quite 8,000.
Story Behind the Name: The name “Vermont” comes from a French phrase meaning “green mountains.” It was originally called New Connecticut, but the name was changed to make it more favorable for admission as a state.
History and Colonization: Because it is on the East Coast, the area that is now Vermont was one of the earlier areas that European explorers encountered. The French landed there sometime in the sixteenth century, and they were later joined by the British and the Dutch, who all laid various claims to the area. Vermont was previously home to two important Native American tribes, the Iroquois and the Abenaki. They traded with the European arrivals initially, but eventually found themselves marginalized and driven off. Very few natives remain in the state of Vermont today.
France initially maintained control of the area, but Great Britain won it from them as one of the outcomes of the French and Indian War. This was shortly before the American Revolution, however, and British power was weakening in the North American continent. As various colonies were all claiming Vermont as part of their territory, citizens of the area decided to form their own independent republic. The Vermont Republic, which was originally called the Republic of New Connecticut, lasted between 1777 and 1791. The Vermont constitution was the first constitution in history to ban slavery and grant universal male suffrage.
Vermont joined the United States in 1791, the fourteenth state and the first one to join that was not one of the Thirteen Original Colonies. Vermont retained its fiercely independent culture even after attaining statehood, and is known for it even to this day. It became one of the most strictly abolitionist states as the century wore on. During the Civil War, Vermont easily supported the Union and sent many troops to the front lines.
Modern Vermont is one of the most rural and old-fashioned of the New England states, although it is also known for its progressive politics (in a way this, too, is something of a tradition). The state has a strong history in the Labor Movement and some agricultural products, most notably maple syrup. It has been hit hard by the recent recession, with its median income dropping the furthest out of any state in the nation over a period of a few years.