Connecticut facts

State of Connecticut
Flag of Connecticut State seal of Connecticut
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):
  • The Constitution State (official)
  • The Nutmeg State
  • The Provisions State
  • The Land of Steady Habits
Motto(s):
  • Qui transtulit sustinet (Latin)
  • He who transplanted still sustains
State anthem: Yankee Doodle
Map of the United States with Connecticut highlighted
Official language None
Demonym
  • Connecticuter
  • Connecticutian
  • Nutmegger
Capital Hartford
Largest city Bridgeport
Largest metro Greater Hartford
Area Ranked 48th
 - Total 5,543 sq mi
(14,357 km2)
 - Width 70 miles (113 km)
 - Length 110 miles (177 km)
 - % water 12.6
 - Latitude 40°98′ N to 42°04′ N
 - Longitude 71°08′ W to 73°72′ W
Number of people Ranked 29th
 - Total 3,590,886 (2015 est)
 - Density 739/sq mi  (285/km2)
Ranked 4th
 - Average income $72,889 (4th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Massachusetts border on south slope of Mount Frissell
2,379 ft (725 m)
 - Average 500 ft  (150 m)
 - Lowest point Long Island Sound
sea level
Before statehood Connecticut Colony
Became part of the U.S. January 9, 1788 (5th)
Governor Dannel P. Malloy (D)
U.S. Senators

Richard Blumenthal (D)

Christopher S. Murphy (D)
U.S. House delegation 5 Democrats (list)
Time zone Eastern: UTC −5/−4
Abbreviations CT, Conn. US-CT
Website www.ct.gov

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States.

Its capital city is Hartford, and its most populous city is Bridgeport.

The state is named for the Connecticut River, a major U.S. river that approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch. Initially, half of Connecticut was a part of the Dutch colony New Netherland, which included much of the land between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers. The first major settlements were established in the 1630s by England.

The Connecticut River, Thames River, and ports along the Long Island Sound have given Connecticut a strong maritime tradition which continues today.

Etymology and symbols

Connecticut State symbols
Flag of Connecticut.svg
The Flag of Connecticut.

Seal of Connecticut.svg
The Seal of Connecticut.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) American robin
Fish American shad
Flower(s) Mountain laurel
Insect European mantis
Mammal(s) Sperm whale
Tree Charter Oak, a white oak

Inanimate insignia
Dance Square dance
Fossil Dinosaur tracks
Mineral Garnet
Shell Eastern oyster
Ship(s) USS Nautilus (SSN-571),  Freedom Schooner Amistad
Slogan(s) Full of Surprises
Song(s)
  • "Yankee Doodle"
  • "The Nutmeg"
Tartan Connecticut State Tartan

Route marker(s)
Connecticut Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Connecticut
Released in 1999

Lists of United States state insignia

The name "Connecticut" originated with the Mohegan word quonehtacut, meaning "place of long tidal river". Connecticut's official nickname is "The Constitution State". Connecticut is also unofficially known as "The Nutmeg State," whose origin is unknown. George Washington gave Connecticut the title of "The Provisions State" because of the material aid that the state rendered to the American Revolutionary War effort. Connecticut is also known as "The Land of Steady Habits".

Charter Oak in Hartford CT
The Charter Oak
SS-571-Nautilus-trials
The USS Nautilus (SSN-571)

According to Webster's New International Dictionary (1993), a person who is a native or resident of Connecticut is a "Connecticuter". Commemorative stamps issued by the United States Postal Service with Connecticut themes include Nathan Hale, Eugene O'Neill, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Noah Webster, Eli Whitney, the whaling ship the Charles W. Morgan which is docked at Mystic Seaport, and a decoy of a broadbill duck.

Geography

Further information: Geology of Connecticut

Connecticut is bordered on the south by Long Island Sound, on the west by New York, on the north by Massachusetts, and on the east by Rhode Island. The state capital and third largest city is Hartford, and other major cities and towns (by population) include Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Greenwich, and Bristol. Connecticut is slightly larger than the country of Montenegro. There are 169 incorporated towns in Connecticut.

Map of Connecticut NA cropped
Map of Connecticut

The highest peak in Connecticut is Bear Mountain in Salisbury in the northwest corner of the state. The highest point is just east of where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York meet (42° 3' N; 73° 29' W), on the southern slope of Mount Frissell, whose peak lies nearby in Massachusetts. At the opposite extreme, many of the coastal towns have areas that are less than 20 feet above sea level.

The coast of Connecticut sits on Long Island Sound, which is an estuary.

The Connecticut River cuts through the center of the state, flowing into Long Island Sound. The most populous metropolitan region centered within the state lies in the Connecticut River Valley. Despite Connecticut's relatively small size, it features wide regional variations in its landscape; for example, in the northwestern Litchfield Hills, it features rolling mountains and horse farms, whereas in areas to the east of New Haven along the coast, the landscape features coastal marshes, beaches, and large scale maritime activities.

Connecticut's rural areas and small towns in the northeast and northwest corners of the state contrast sharply with its industrial cities such as Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, located along the coastal highways from the New York border to New London, then northward up the Connecticut River to Hartford.

Areas maintained by the National Park Service include Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, and Weir Farm National Historic Site.

Climate

Barndoor Hills original
Scenery upon Barndoor Hills in Granby in autumn
EH 2001 snow
Winter in East Haven

Much of Connecticut has a humid continental climate, with cold winters and hot, humid summers. Far southern and coastal Connecticut has a humid temperate climate (also called subtropical in some climate classifications), with hot, and humid summers and cool to cold winters with a mix of rain and snow. Most of Connecticut sees a fairly even precipitation pattern with rainfall/snowfall spread throughout the 12 months.

Thunderstorms are most frequent during the summer, occurring on average 30 times annually. These storms can be severe, and the state usually averages one tornado per year. During hurricane season, tropical cyclones occasionally affect the region.

Winters are generally moderately cold from south to north in Connecticut, with average January temperatures ranging from 38 °F (3 °C) in the coastal lowlands to 29 °F (−2 °C) in the inland and northern portions on the state.

Flora

Like other states on the East Coast, Connecticut has a rich and diverse amount of trees and plants.

Forests consist of a mix of Northeastern coastal forests of Oak in southern areas of the state, to the upland New England-Acadian forests in the northwestern parts of the state. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is the state flower, and is native to low ridges in several parts of Connecticut.

Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) is also native to eastern uplands of Connecticut and Pachaug State Forest is home to the Rhododendron Sanctuary Trail, which contains some of the largest wild Rhododendrons found in the United States. Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), is found in wetlands in the southern parts of the state. Connecticut has one native cactus (Opuntia humifusa), found in sandy coastal areas and low hillsides. Several types of beach grasses and wildflowers are also native to Connecticut.

In some coastal communities, Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia), scrub palms (Sabal minor), and other broadleaved evergreens are cultivated in small numbers.

History

Ctcolony
A map of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies

Colonial Connecticut

The first European explorer in Connecticut was Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. After he explored this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed up the Connecticut River (then known by the Dutch as Versche Rivier, "Fresh River") and built a fort at Dutch Point in present-day Hartford, which they called "House of Hope" (Dutch: Huis van Hoop).

The name "Connecticut" comes from the Mohegan Indian word "Quinnehtukqut". It means "Long River Place" or "Beside the Long Tidal River." The first explorer from Europe to come to Connecticut was Adriaen Block, from the Netherlands. After he explored this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed up the Connecticut River (Named Versche Rivier by the Dutch) and built a fort near present-day Hartford, which they called "House of Hope" (Dutch: Huys de Hoop).

The first English settlers came in 1633. They were Puritans from Massachusetts, who were led by the Reverend Thomas Hooker. They founded the Connecticut Colony. Colonies were also established at Old Saybrook and New Haven, which later became part of Connecticut. Historically important colonial settlements included: Windsor (1633), Wethersfield (1634), Saybrook (1635), Hartford (1636), New Haven (1638), and New London (1646).

Because the Dutch were outnumbered by the English settlers, they left their fort in 1654. Connecticut's first constitution, the "Fundamental Orders," was adopted on January 14, 1639, while its current constitution, the third for Connecticut, was adopted in 1965. Connecticut is the fifth of the original thirteen states.

The western boundaries of Connecticut have been subject to change over time. According to a 1650 agreement with the Dutch, the western boundary of Connecticut ran north from the west side of Greenwich Bay "provided the said line come not within 10 miles [16 km] of Hudson River." On the other hand, Connecticut's original Charter in 1662 granted it all the land to the "South Sea," i.e. the Pacific Ocean. This probably added confusion to the early forefathers because the Pacific Ocean is located on the west coast of the United States. Agreements with New York, the "Pennamite Wars" with Pennsylvania over Westmoreland County, followed by Congressional intervention, and the relinquishment and sale of the Western Reserve lands brought the state to its present boundaries.

In the summer and fall of 2016, Connecticut experienced a drought in many parts of the state, causing some water-use bans. This affected the agricultural economy in the state.

Demographics

Main Street, Newtown CT
Main Street, Newtown

Race, ancestry, and language

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Connecticut's race and ethnic percentages were:

  • 77.6% White (71.2% Non-Hispanic White, 6.4% White Hispanic)
  • 10.1% Black or African American
  • 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 3.8% Asian
  • 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
  • 5.6% from some other race
  • 2.6% Two or more races

As of 2004, 11.4% of the population (400,000) was foreign-born. In 1870, native-born Americans had accounted for 75% of the state's population, but that had dropped to 35% by 1918.

As of 2000, 81.69% of Connecticut residents age 5 and older spoke English at home and 8.42% spoke Spanish, followed by Italian at 1.59%, French at 1.31% and Polish at 1.20%.

Industries

Finance and insurance is Connecticut's largest industry. Manufacturing is the third biggest industry at 11.9% of GDP and dominated by Hartford-based United Technologies Corporation (UTC), which employs more than 22,000 people in Connecticut. Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft operates Connecticut's single largest manufacturing plant in Stratford, where it makes helicopters. Other UTC divisions include UTC Propulsion and Aerospace Systems, including jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and UTC Building and Industrial Systems.

Connecticut used to be a center of gun manufacturing.

Connecticut's agricultural sector employed about 12,000 people as of 2010, with more than a quarter of that number involved in nursery stock production. Other agricultural products include dairy products and eggs, tobacco, fish and shellfish, and fruit.

Oyster harvesting was historically an important source of income to towns along the Connecticut coastline. In the 19th century, oystering boomed in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Norwalk and achieved modest success in neighboring towns. In 1911, Connecticut's oyster production reached its peak at nearly 25 million pounds of oyster meats. This was, at the time, higher than production in New York, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts. During this time, the Connecticut coast was known in the shellfishing industry as the oyster capital of the world. From before World War 1 until 1969, Connecticut laws restricted the right to harvest oysters in state-owned beds to sailing vessels. These laws prompted the construction of the oyster sloop style vessel that lasted well into the 20th century. The sloop Hope is believed to be the last oyster sloop built in Connecticut, completed in Greenwich in 1948. The Milford Oyster Festival, sometimes shortened to "Oysterfest," is an annual cultural festival held on the third Saturday of August throughout the city of Milford, Connecticut.

Transportation

Roads

Between New Haven and New York City, the I-95 is one of the most congested highways in the United States. Many people now drive longer distances to work in the New York City area. This strains the three lanes of traffic capacity, resulting in lengthy rush hour delays. The state has encouraged traffic reduction schemes, including rail use and ride-sharing.

Metro-North train 1567 enters Stamford
A Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line train leaving Stamford Station

Connecticut also has a very active bicycling community, with one of the highest rates of bicycle ownership and use in the United States.

Rail

Southwestern Connecticut is served by the Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line.

Ferry

The Rocky Hill – Glastonbury Ferry and the Chester–Hadlyme Ferry cross the Connecticut River. The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry travels between Bridgeport, Connecticut and Port Jefferson, New York by crossing Long Island Sound. Ferry service also operates out of New London to Orient, New York; Fishers Island, New York; and Block Island, Rhode Island.

Images


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