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About Connecticut

Within its compact borders, Connecticut has forested hills, new urban skylines, shoreline beaches, white-steeple colonial churches, and historic village greens. There are classic Ivy League schools, modern expressways, great corporate offices, and small farms. Connecticut is a thriving center of business, as well as a vacation land. It is both a New England state, and suburban to New York City.
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Name of State: Connecticut

Statehood:  January 9, 1788 (5th state)

Nickname/Official Designation:   "The Constitution State" was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1959.

Name Origin/Indian:  Quinnehtukqut -- Mohegan for "Long River Place" or "Beside the Long Tidal River"

Capitol:  Hartford, the sole Capital City since 1875

Governor:  John G. Rowland

State Motto:  Qui Transtulit Sustinet -- "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains"

Population:  The population of Connecticut was 3,405,565 according to the 2000 U.S. Official Census. The most recent population estimate from the Connecticut Department of Public Health is 3,409,549 as of July 1, 2000.

Cities with largest population (2000):

  1. Bridgeport 139,529
  2. New Haven 123,626 
  3. Hartford 121,578 
  4. Stamford 117,083 
  5. Waterbury 107,271 

See the 1990/2000 Census population for all Connecticut towns

Area:  5,018 square miles

Counties:  8

Towns:  169

Cities:  21

Boroughs:  9

Famous For:  Inventors (Charles Goodyear, Elias Howe, Eli Whitney, Eli Terry), Inventions, Watchmaking, Typewriters, Insurance, Submarines

The emblems of the State are as follows:
The State Seal was provided for in the Constitution, 1818.
The State Flag was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1897.
The State Flower, the Mountain Laurel, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1907.
The State Bird, the Robin, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1943.
The State Tree, the White Oak, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1947.
The State Animal, the Sperm Whale, Physeter Catodon, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1975.
The State Insect, the Praying Mantis, Mantis Religiosa, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1977.
The State Mineral, the Garnet, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1977.
The State Song, "Yankee Doodle," was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1978.
The State Ship, USS Nautilus, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1983.
The State Hero, Nathan Hale, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1985.
The State Shellfish, the Eastern Oyster, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1989.
The State Composer, Charles Edward Ives was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1991.
The State Fossil, Eubrontes Giganteus, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1991.
The State Heroine, Prudence Crandall, was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1995.
The State Tartan was adopted by Act of the Legislature, 1995.

For More Information:

See the Miscellaneous section of the Connecticut State Register and Manual
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know - About Connecticut
The Colonial Connecticut Records - 1636-1776

Connecticut's Historical Firsts

1639 -- first constitution adopted, establishing representative government
1656 -- first municipal public library in America, a bequest to the "towne of New Haven"
1670 -- first survey for the first turnpike in America, between Norwich and New London
1729 -- first medical diploma, granted by Yale University
1764 -- first newspaper, "The Hartford Courant" published since October 29, 1764
1775 -- first submarine
1783 -- first dictionary, published by Noah Webster, born in West Hartford
1784 -- first law school in America, Litchfield Law School
            Graduates included John C. Calhoun, Aaron Burr, Horace Mann,
            Oliver Wolcott, Jr. and Noah Webster
1788 -- first State House in America, built after the Federal Constitution ratification
1794 -- first cotton gin, Eli Whitney of New Haven patented this invention
1803 -- first town library, tax-supported and organized in Salisbury
1806 -- first factory town in America, planned and established in Seymour
1808 -- first movable parts mass production in use, making clocks
1810 -- first insurance company, ITT Hartford Group, Inc.
            Officially opened for business and people were able to take insurance for the
            "loss of life or personal injury while journeying by railway or steamboat"
1819 -- first industrial training school, established by Josiah Holbrook in Derby
1836 -- first revolver
1842 -- first public art museum
1843 -- first portable typewriter
1844 -- first use of anesthesia
1846 -- first sewing machine, Elias Howe procured a patent for the first practical
            sewing machine in 1846
1853 -- first ice-making machine
1858 -- first can opener
1861 -- first Ph.D. Degree, Yale University awarded in Philosophy
1868 -- first tape measure
1877 -- first pay phone
1877 -- first telephone exchange, established in Bridgeport
1892 -- first collapsible toothpaste tube
1895 -- first hamburger, served at Louie's Lunch in New Haven
1900 -- first submarine
1907 -- first permanent public planning body in America,
            Hartford's Commission on the City Plan
1908 -- first lollipop
1920 -- first Frisbee, Yale students discovered empty pie plates from Mrs. Frisbie Pies
            in Bridgeport could be sailed across the New Haven Green
1933 -- first vacuum cleaner
1934 -- first Polaroid camera
1939 -- first FM radio station, WDRC-FM began broadcasting in Hartford
1939 -- first helicopter, Igor Sikorsky designed the first successful helicopter in the
            Western Hemisphere
1948 -- first color television
1949 -- first ultra high frequency UHF television station to operate on a daily basis,
            KC2XAK in Bridgeport
1954 -- first nuclear submarine, launched in New London
1982 -- first artificial heart, Dr. Robert K. Jarvik, a Stamford native,
            invented the world's first artificial heart


Legal Holidays in the State

January 1 New Year's Day
First Monday on or after January 15 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 12 Lincoln Day
Third Monday in February Washington's Birthday
Last Monday in May Memorial Day
July 4 Independence Day
First Monday in September Labor Day
Second Monday in October Columbus Day
November 11 Veterans' Day
December 25 Christmas

Whenever any of such days occurs upon a Sunday, the Monday next following such day shall be a legal holiday and whenever any of such days occurs upon a Saturday, the Friday immediately preceding such day shall be a legal holiday. (Section 1-4 Connecticut General Statutes)

*The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
*The Fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day

*These days are designated by the Governor.


Early History

While Connecticut was first explored by the Dutch, who founded trading posts, the first permanent settlements were made by English Puritans from Massachusetts, starting in 1633.

From the first, Connecticut enjoyed a great measure of political independence, proclaiming in its Fundamental Orders of 1639 a democratic principle of government based on the will of the people. These Fundamental Orders are said to have been the first written Constitution of a democratic government; thatís why Connecticut today is nicknamed "The Constitution State." (See Historical Information & Documents)

Agriculture and trade were primary activities of 17th century colonists, but because of limited land Connecticut people quickly turned to manufacturing.

During the American Revolution, Connecticut gave freely of her blood and wealth. Her soldiers were on the battle line from Quebec to Carolina. It was General Israel Putnam at the battle of Bunker Hill who cried: "Donít fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" Patriot-spy Nathan Hale, as he was about to be hanged by the British, said: "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

To George Washington, Connecticut was "The Provision State" because of supplies contributed to his army by Gov. Jonathan Trumbull - the only Colonial governor, incidentally, to support the cause of Americaís independence from Great Britain.

From 1703 to 1875, Connecticut had two capitals; sessions of the General Assembly met alternately in Hartford and New Haven. Since then, the capital has been Hartford.



State government in Connecticut has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial.

Voters elect six state officers: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General. All have four year terms. Connecticut voters also elect two U.S. Senators and six U.S. Representatives.

The General Assembly or legislature has a Senate and a House of Representatives. Members of both houses represent districts based strictly on population. Currently, there are 36 state senators and 151 state representatives.

The Judicial Department is composed of the Superior, Appellate and Supreme courts. Except for probate judges, who are elected by the voters of the town or district they serve, all judges are nominated by the governor and appointed by the General Assembly.

Connecticut has no county government. Below the state level, governing units are either cities or towns. Towns in Connecticut (there are 169 municipalities) may include a city.



The Connecticut Yankee has long been a symbol of ingenuity and inventiveness. These qualities have been matched by production skills since the earliest days. From colonial times, Connecticut has been predominantly a manufacturing state and a world leader in industrial development

When Connecticut was still a colony, her factories were already important enough to draw angry complaints from competitors in England. Connecticut metal buttons were replacing the imported product and were providing the start of Connecticutís great brass industry.

Connecticut is often described as the "Arsenal of the Nation." It gained this reputation as early as the American Revolution. Early in the 19th century, Eli Whitney and Simeon North began making Connecticut firearms with interchangeable parts. This is generally recognized as the beginning of modern mass production.

Through the years, Connecticut industrial genius has given the world such varied inventions as vulcanized rubber, friction matches, sewing machines, steamboats, safety fuses, lollipops, cork screws, mechanical calculators, cylindrical locks and the submarine.

Today, Connecticutís manufacturing industry continues to be highly diversified. Jet aircraft engines, helicopters and nuclear submarines have given the state pre-eminence in the production of transportation equipment. Connecticut also is a leader in such highly skilled and technical fields as metalworking, electronics and plastics. This sort of creativity has made a significant contribution to Connecticutís standard of life - its living qualities. For more than 50 years these qualities have been judged to be the nationís finest. In turn, they are responsible, in large part, for the influx of major corporate offices. Connecticut is now the home of such world-wide organizations as Xerox, G.E., Uniroyal, G.T.E., Olin, Champion International, and Union Carbide.

Among its better-known corporate industries, however are its insurance companies.

Connecticut began to earn its reputation as the Insurance State more than 180 years ago. Marine insurance, the great grandfather of all modern forms of insurance, had its start in Connecticut with coverage for ships and cargoes which sailed from the stateís ocean and river ports to the Caribbean. Fire insurance got its formal start in 1794; other types - life, accident, casualty, health - followed over the next century. There are 106 insurance companies based in Connecticut.

While agriculture no longer holds its once-prominent position in Connecticutís economy, farming is still important to the state. The most important crops are dairy, poultry, forest and nursery, tobacco, vegetables and fruit.


The Land

Connecticut is New Englandís second smallest and southernmost state. Its 5,009 square miles (13,023 square kilometers) are bordered by New York State on the west, Rhode Island on the east, Massachusetts on the north and by Long Island sound on the south.

The southerly flow of the Connecticut River divides the state roughly in half. The coastal plain and central valley are relatively flat; they contain most of the larger cities. Other parts of the state are hilly, with the highest altitudes in the northwest corner. Hills are largely covered with hardwood forests, and about two-thirds of the state is in open land.

Despite New Englandís reputation for a rugged climate, Connecticutís weather is relatively mild. On the average, there are only 12 days a year when the temperature goes above 90 degrees, and about six days when it falls to zero or below. The growing season is fairly long, with the first killing frost generally in mid-October and the last in mid-April. This, together with moderate rainfall, provides good growing conditions. Despite Connecticutís small size, there is some variety in climate, with temperatures in the northern hills as much as 10 degrees lower than those in the central valley year-round.



Tourism in Connecticut is a $4 billion-a-year business. Much of it based on the attraction of the stateís 250-mile Long Island Sound shoreline, its rolling Litchfield Hills, and its unspoiled Connecticut River Valley.

With its wealth of open land, Connecticutís scenery is some of New Englandís most beautiful. Its scores of Colonial villages are filled with historic homes and landmarks. Dozens of golf courses are open to the public; boating, fishing and swimming opportunities are everywhere.

Among the most popular individual attractions are Mystic Seaport and nearby Mystic Marinelife Aquarium; Lake Compounce, Bristol; Nautilus Memorial, Groton; Gillette Castle, Hadlyme; Valley Railroad, Essex; New-Gate Prison, East Granby; Branford Trolley Museum, East Haven; Connecticut river cruise ships; and the homes of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Hartford.

Connecticut also offers a wealth of cultural attractions-theater, opera, ballet, concerts, and a number of nationally ranked museums and art galleries.


For further information, contact the Connecticut State Library: isref@cslib.org
Please send comments or questions about this page to: webmaster@ct.gov

Content Last Modified on 8/17/2004 2:21:38 PM