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Maine

Maine

As big as the other five New England states combined, Maine barely has the population of tiny Rhode Island. In theory, therefore, there's plenty of room for its massive summer influx of visitors; in reality, the majority of these make for the southern stretches of the extravagantly corrugated coast . You only really begin to appreciate the size and space of the state further north, or inland , where vast tracts of mountainous forest are dotted with lakes, and barely pierced by roads - more like the Alaskan interior than the RV-cluttered roads of the Vermont and New Hampshire mountains, and ideal territory for hiking and canoeing (and moose spotting).

Originally part of Massachusetts, Maine became a separate entity only in 1820, when the Missouri Compromise made Maine a free, and Missouri a slave, state. In the nineteenth century, its people had a reputation for conservatism and resistance to immigration, manifested in anti-Irish riots. The state's economy has always been heavily based on the sea, although many of those who fish also farm, and long expeditions are now rare. Recently they have been selling their catch direct to Russian factory ships anchored just offshore. Lobster fishing in particular has defied gloomy predictions and has boomed again as evidenced by the many thriving lobster pounds.

Maine's climate is famously harsh. In winter, most of Maine is under ice; summer is short and usually heralded in early June by an infestation of tiny black flies. Fall colors begin to spread from the north in late September - when, unlike elsewhere in New England, off-season prices apply - but temperatures drop sharply, becoming quite frosty by mid-October.