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Flag of Connecticut State seal of Connecticut
Flag of Connecticut Seal of Connecticut

Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the United States, located in the northeastern part of the country. Southwestern Connecticut is part of the Tri-State Region or New York metropolitan area, which also includes northern New Jersey and southern New York.

Connecticut was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Residents of Connecticut are sometimes referred to as Nutmeggers or Yankees.

Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the country, and ranks 1st in median household income. It also is one of the most densely populated states in the nation.

Connecticut is bordered on the south by Long Island Sound, on the west by New York State, on the north by Massachusetts, and on the east by Rhode Island. The state capital is Hartford, and the other major cities include New Haven, New London, New Britain, Norwich, Milford, Norwalk, Stamford, Waterbury, Danbury and Bridgeport. There are 169 incorporated towns in Connecticut. There is an ongoing civic pride and economic competition between Hartford and New Haven, which stems back to the days when the two cities shared the state's capital, and even back to the rivalry between New Haven Colony and Connecticut Colony.

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.

The Connecticut River cuts through the center of the state, flowing into Long Island Sound, Connecticut's outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite its size, the state has regional variations in its landscape and culture from the wealthy estates of Fairfield County's "Gold Coast" to the rolling mountains and horse-farms of the Litchfield Hills of northwestern Connecticut. Connecticut's rural areas and small towns in the northeast and northwest corners of the state contrast sharply with its industrial cities, located along the coastal highways from the New York border to New Haven, then northwards to Hartford, as well as further up the coast near New London. Many towns center around a small park, known as a "green," (such as the New Haven Green). Near the green may stand a small white church, a town meeting hall, a tavern and several colonial houses. Forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and a sandy shore add to the state's beauty.

The northern boundary of the state with Massachusetts is marked by the distinctive Southwick Jog/Granby Notch, an approximately 2.5 mile (4.0 km) square detour into Connecticut slightly west of the center of the border. Somewhat surprisingly, the actual origin of this anomaly is not absolutely certain, with stories ranging from surveyors who were drunk, attempting to avoid hostile Native Americans, or taking a shortcut up the Connecticut River; Massachusetts residents attempting to avoid Massachusetts' high taxes for the low taxes of Connecticut; Massachusetts' interest in the resources represented by the Congamond Lakes which lie on the border of the jog; and the need to compensate Massachusetts for an amount of land given to Connecticut due to inaccurate survey work. The dispute over the border retarded development in the region, since neither state would invest in public services for the area until the dispute had been settled.

The southwestern border of Connecticut, where it abuts New York State, is marked by a panhandle in Fairfield County, containing Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield, Westport, Wilton and Darien. This irregularity in the boundary is the result of territorial disputes in the late 1600s, culminating with New York giving up its claim to this area, whose residents considered themselves part of Connecticut, in exchange for an equivalent area extending northwards from Ridgefield, Connecticut to the Massachusetts border as well as undisputed claim to Rye, New York.

The name "Connecticut" originates from the Mohegan word quinnitukqut, meaning "place of long tidal river." In fact, the exact spelling "connect I cut", was rendered by Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell, the three "Regicide Judges" who came to New Haven in the 17th century, fleeing persecution by Charles II of England. The first European explorer in Connecticut was the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. After he explored this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed up the Connecticut River (Named Versche Rivier - " Fresh River" - by the Dutch) and built a fort at Dutch Point near present-day Hartford, which they called "House of Hope" (Dutch: Huis van Hoop).

John Winthrop, then of Massachusetts, got permission to create a new colony at Old Saybrook at the mouth of the Connecticut River in 1635. This was the first of three distinct colonies that later would be combined to make up Connecticut. Saybrook Colony was a direct challenge to Dutch claims. The colony was not more than a small outpost and never matured. In 1644, the Saybrook Colony merged itself into the Connecticut Colony.

The first English settlers came in 1633 and settled at Windsor and then Wethersfield in 1634. However, the main body of settlers came in one large group in 1636. The settlers were Puritans from Massachusetts, led by Thomas Hooker. Hooker had been prominent in England, and was a professor of theology at Cambridge. He was also an important political writer, and made a significant contribution to Constitutional theory. He broke with the political leadership in Massachusetts, and, just as Roger Williams created a new polity in Rhode Island, Hooker and his cohort did the same and established the Connecticut Colony at Hartford in 1636. This was the second of the three colonies.

In the 1637-38 bloody Pequot War the European settlers and allies officially destroyed the Pequot Indians.

The third colony was founded in March of 1638. New Haven Colony, (originally known as the Quinnipiack Colony), was established by John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton and others at New Haven. The New Haven Colony had its own Constitution, 'The Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony' which was signed on 4 June 1639.

Because the Dutch were outnumbered by the flood of English settlers from Massachusetts, they left their fort in 1654.

Neither the establishment of the Connecticut Colony or the Quinnipiack Colony were done with the sanction of British imperial authorities, and were independent political entities. They naturally were presumptively English, but in a legal sense, they were only secessionist outposts of Massachusetts Bay. In 1662, Winthrop took advantage of this void in political affairs, and obtained in England the charter by which the colonies of Connecticut and Quinnipiack were united. Although Winthrop's charter favored the Connecticut colony, New Haven remained a seat of government with Hartford, until after the American Revolution.

Winthrop was very politically astute, and secured the charter from the newly restored Charles II; who granted the most liberal political terms.


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