Maine is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River. It is called the Pine Tree State and nearly 90% of its land is forested. In the forested areas of the interior lies uninhabited land, some of which does not have a formal political organization -- a rarity in New England. The Northwest Aroostook, Maine Unorganized Territory in the northern part of the state, for example, has an area of 2,668 square miles (6,910 km2) and a population of 27, or one person for every 100 square miles (260 km2).
Maine has almost 230 miles (400 km) miles of coastline, 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of tidal coastline, and over 30 state parks.
Bill Caldwell, one of Maine's favorite journalists, once wrote, "The weather out there changes every day. And every day I enjoy it more. If you like weather, you love Maine. In one day Maine can get up to five kinds of weather. In one year, we get 10 seasons."
So although the weather may be changeable, it's never boring. While winters are long, there are many days that are cloud-free and brilliant. Also good news is that the climate along the coastal region, which extends inland for about 20 miles, is moderated by the Atlantic ocean which makes for milder winters and cooler summers.
Maine has the traditional form of New England government -- home rule -- said to be the only existing type of "pure" democracy. This means that state government has relatively little power, and that the town and cities make all their major decisions by citizen vote through the vehicle of annual town meetings, usually held in March. In many of Maine's 450 smaller towns and plantations, this is one of the major social events of the year, usually with refreshments and, more often than not, a potluck dinner.
There are only a couple of dozen larger cities that are ruled by city councils, although more towns are beginning to elect some officials and are hiring professionals to manage their day-to-day business.
Maine's agriculture outputs include poultry, eggs, dairy products, cattle, apples, maple syrup, potatoes and wild blueberries. In fact, the state produces 25% of all blueberries in North America, making it the largest blueberry producer in the world. Fishing once a mainstay of the state's economy, maintains a presence, particularly lobstering and groundfishing. 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 biotechnology. Naval shipbuilding and construction remain also in Maine and serves as a large support base for the U.S. Navy.