21 SCHOOLS in MAINE
Maine has historically been one of the most culturally unique places in the United States; as far north and as far east as Americans could go for most of the nation’s history, Maine’s remoteness gave it a personality all its own. The French claim the first European settlements in Maine, but archeological evidence shows that Norwegians were trading with Native Americans in the area in the 13th century, and perhaps even as far back as the 10th, though no Vikings established permanent residence. From Britain’s establishment of the Massachusetts colony in the 1600s, Maine was the site of a three-way battle between the French, the British, and a confederation of American Indian tribes, until the British won it securely in the French and Indian War; it then became a bone of contention between Britain and the newly-independent United States. It was not until 1820 that what was then the northern part of Massachusetts (despite being separated by New Hampshire) gained its own statehood and national identity.
Maine’s culture and economy are as unusual as its history. The northern region of Maine, especially around Saint John Valley, is as much French Canadian as it is Anglo-American, while the southern section more closely resembles the rest of New England. With its long, rocky coastline, the sea has always been central to Maine’s development, from commercial fishing to shipbuilding and trade, and those industries are still fundamental to Maine’s economy. Maine is also the least densely-populated state in the east, and with more than 80% of its land covered in forests, the state has always been valued for its natural resources – including maple sugar and syrup, as well as paper and lumber. And of course, Maine is a tourist destination for boaters, hunters, and lovers of outdoor adventure recreation, from rock climbing and hiking to skiing and snowboarding. Maine’s industry and culture are supported, of course, by a well-developed and nationally-acclaimed higher education system.
Maine is one of the oldest settled regions in the US, though it was not one of the original 13 states, and it is the home to some of the oldest and most esteemed, pioneering universities in the nation, like Bowdoin College (one of the oldest American colleges), Bates College (the first racially-integrated, coeducational college in the US), and Colby College (the first men’s college to admit women). With its unparalleled coastline and forests, Maine is also home to two of the nation’s most respected ecological colleges, the College of the Atlantic and Unity College. The University of Maine, and Maine’s regional public universities, do the work of educating the largest numbers of Maine’s citizens, and reaching out to Maine’s rural and remote citizens, as well as meeting the needs of working adults, career-changing professionals, and promising youth.