Geography and Landforms:

Connecticut is the third smallest state. Only Rhode Island and Delaware have less area. A low, flat region known as the Coastal Lowlands is found along the state's southern shore with the Atlantic Ocean. It is between 6 and 16 miles wide. Several important harbors are found along the coast. They include New London, New Haven, and Greenwich. The mountainous Taconic section is located in the northwest corner of the state. Connecticut's highest point, Mt. Frissell, is located here. An area of hills, ridges and rivers known as the Western New England Upland is found in the western part of the state. This region slopes gradually from a height of 1400 feet above sea level in the northwest to just 1000 feet above sea level in the southeast. The Connecticut Valley Lowland is a 20-mile wide area in the center of the state. Small rivers separated by 300-600 foot basalt ridges are found in this lowland region. Narrow river valleys and low hills make up the Eastern New England Upland region. It is a heavily forested area in the eastern part of the state. The state's lowest point is found where Connecticut meets the Long Island Sound to the south.


The first Europeans to land on the shores of Connecticut were Dutch traders in 1614. They set up trading posts, purchased land from the Pequot Indians, and established a fort on the site of present day Hartford in 1633. English Puritans from Plymouth, Massachusetts built a trading post in Connecticut at the site of the town of Windsor.

The first permanent settlement was made in 1635 by the English. It was called Wethersfield. That same year, the settlement at Dorchester was established. Reverend Thomas Hooker and a group of colonists from Massachusetts settled Hartford in 1636. These three early Connecticut settlements united to form the Connecticut Colony. Many of the colonists bought land from the Mohican Indians and established farms.

Problems soon developed between the Pequot Indians and the colonists. The Pequot tribe wanted to claim the lands that had been purchased from the Mohicans. This led to the Pequot War in 1637. The colonists, led by Captain John Mason, defeated the Pequot later that year.

In 1639 the Connecticut Colony adopted the Fundamental Orders as its law. It described a form of government that was based on the will of the people. This document was the first written constitution in the New World and was part of the basis for the United States Constitution.

New Haven was founded as an independent colony in 1638. It was a Puritan church-state. Soon, the towns of Guilford, Milford, Stamford, Branford, and Southold joined this colony. Connecticut consisted of these two colonies - the Connecticut Colony and the New Haven colony, until 1664, when both were united as the result of a charter given to the Connecticut Colony by the King of England.

During the late 1600s, farms in the Connecticut Colony exported farm products to the West Indies. Several important industries developed during this time. They included clockmaking, shipbuilding, and silversmithing.

The colonists were growing increasing unhappy under the rule of the English monarchy. They wanted to have their own government rather than submit to a governor appointed by the King. They were also afraid that England would eventually take away their lands. In October of 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, the English governor who had been appointed by King Charles II, arrived in Connecticut to take away the colony's charter. At an assembly meeting, colonists refused to give it up. They hid it in the hollow part of a large oak tree. The tree became known as the "Charter Oak."

England began imposing stiff taxes and trade restrictions on all of the American colonies. The Revolutionary War began in 1775 and Connecticut joined the patriot forces. Nathan Hale and Governor Jonathan Trumbull were two of Connecticut's most famous patriots in the war for independence.

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and that same year, Nathan Hale was captured by the British while on a spy mission for General Washington. Before being hanged, he spoke his famous words, "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Only one Revolutionary War battle was fought in Connecticut. It was at New London in 1781. British forces captured a nearby fort and burned many of the buildings in town. Connecticut was an important supplier of gunpowder, salt, and flour for the Continental Army during this conflict.

The Revolution ended in 1781 and Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

During the early 1800s, Connecticut experienced tremendous growth as an industrial state. Many inventors lived and worked there. Eli Terry of East Hartford began to mass-produce clocks in 1808. The first silk mill in America was founded in 1810 in Mansfield. Samuel Colt invented the first repeating pistol in 1836, and Charles Goodyear patented a process for strengthening rubber in 1844.

Slavery was abolished in Connecticut in 1848. Connecticut joined with other northern states to support the Union cause at the time of the Civil War. Because of its industrial strength, the state was able to supply the Union army with many necessary items. These included weapons, army wagons, gunpowder, uniforms, brass buttons, and ships.


Since colonial times, Connecticut has been a leading industrial state. Over the years, the state has produced friction matches, submarines, lollipops, safety fuses, mechanical calculators, and sewing machines.

Today, Connecticut is an important producer of transportation equipment including nuclear submarines, helicopters, and jet engines. The state is also a leader in the manufacturing of electronics and plastics.

Connecticut is corporate home to many world-renowned companies, such as Xerox, General Electric, and Union Carbide. For more than 180 years, Hartford has been the nation's insurance capital. This industry began with ship and cargo insurance during the 18th century. Fire insurance was introduced in 1794 and over the next century, life, accident, and health insurance followed. There are 106 insurance companies in Hartford alone.

Agriculture is also important to the state. Connecticut's farms produce dairy and poultry products, tobacco, vegetables and fruits, and nursery items.

First Inhabitants:

Thousands of Native Americans lived in what is now the state of Connecticut before European settlers came to the area. They were all part of the Algonkian Indian family. The Pequot tribe was the most powerful. These Indians lived near the Thames River to the south. The Mohicans, a branch of the Pequot, lived near present-day Norwich.

These Native Americans gave the state its name. Connecticut comes from an Indian word "Quinatucquet," which means "Beside the Long Tidal River."

Books Related To Connecticut

26 Fairmount Avenue - Tomie dePaola
(978-0698118645) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 760, ESL level: 2 - 3
Famed author Tomie dePaola tells the story of his childhood in Connecticut.

An Acceptable Time - Madeleine L'Engle
(978-0312368586) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 3 - 4
Polly Of'Keefe has a lot of surprises during a normal trip to her grandparents when she time travels and meets soldiers, druids, and prehistoric creatures.

Because of Mr. Terupt - Rob Buyea
(978-0375858246) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 3
Although Mr Terupt is a new teacher, students find their lives improved when they have contact with him.

Burning Up - Caroline Cooney
(978-0440226871) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3 - 4
Macey is surprised to find a lot of prejudice in her urban community after an acquaintance is murdered.

Junebug - Alice Mead
(978-0312561260) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 570, ESL level: 3
Although a young boy is happy to be close to his tenth birthday, his life in inner city housing adds stress to his excitement.

The Magical Christmas Horse - Mary Higgins Clark
(978-1416994787) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 910, ESL level:
Johnny is overjoyed to get to spend Christmas at his grandfather's farm in Connecticut.

N is for Nutmeg: A Connecticut Alphabet - Elissa Grodin
(978-1585361243) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 1 - 2
This book features all the things that are special about the state of Connecticut.

Through the Lock - Carol Otis Hurst
(978-0618030361) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 610, ESL level: 3
Two orphans find adventures along the way to finding their families in 19th century Connecticut.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare
(978-0547550299) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 850, ESL level: 3 - 4
Kit Tyler is troubled with her relatives in her new home in Connecticut after having grown up in Barbados, and she makes friends with a woman accused of being a witch.

Famous Citizens:

Phineas Taylor "P.T." Barnum
P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut. He was one of the most colorful and well-known personalities in US history. Barnum was the founding force behind one of America's most famous circuses: Barnum & Bailey Circus. Known as a huckster, he is often quoted as having said, "There's a sucker born every minute," however, it's likely he did not originate the phrase. He did, however, make the exhibition of such human curiosities as General Tom Thumb, a dwarf who stood just over 3 feet tall, the centerpiece of his "traveling museum."

Charles Ives
Composer Charles Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut. He is recognized as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ives was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

Edwin Herbert Land
Edwin Herbert Land, inventor and physicist, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Land and a group of scientists founded the Polaroid Company in 1937. During WWII, the company produced military related items like target finders and dark-adaptation glasses. Their most successful product was the Polaroid Land Camera, the first "instant" camera. It was introduced in the late 1940s.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her best known novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, was instrumental in drawing attention to the abolitionist movement in America. The novel became an internationally acclaimed bestseller, and served to support and energize those who were against slavery. It's said that, upon meeting President Abraham Lincoln, he remarked, "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."

Noah Webster
Noah Webster was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, and published the first American dictionary in 1810. He was the first person to document distinctively American words such as skunk, hickory, and chowder. He also modernized spellings of words, changing the traditional English "musick" to "music," "centre" to "center," and "plough" to "plow."

Capital: Hartford
Entered Union: January 9, 1788
Population: 3,596,677
Area 5,543
Bird Robin
Flower Mountain Laurel
Nickname: Constitution State, Nutmeg State
Governor Dan Malloy

Places to Visit in Connecticut: (Click the links to learn more.)

The Mark Twain House - Hartford
This National Historic Landmark was the home to Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and his family from 1874 to 1891. While living here, Clemens wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Mystic Seaport - Mystic
Mystic Seaport is the largest and most comprehensive maritime museum in North America. Learn about the maritime history of America as you sail or row exact replicas of traditional wooden boats, ride in an antique steamboat, star gaze in the planetarium, or explore the beautiful riverfront gardens.

Peabody Museum of Natural History - New Haven
Egyptian mummies, mighty dinosaurs, and saber-toothed cats can be found at this museum that documents 300 million years of prehistory. There are also outstanding exhibits on Ancient Egypt, Mesoamerica, the Andes, the Pacific, the Great Plains, and the Northwest Coast. Eleven dioramas blend art and science as they portray aspects of the natural world. Other exhibits focus on minerals, meteorites, mammals, and fossil plants.

The Henry Whitfield House - Guilford
Built in 1639, it is the oldest remaining house in Connecticut. It was the home of Guilford's first minister and served as an important meeting place for town leaders. The home is filled with many historical artifacts that reveal the culture of Early New England settlers. Take a virtual tour of the historic stone house on-line.

Connecticut Audubon Center - Fairfield
Discover Connecticut's varied ecosystems at this science center and nature preserve. Raised boardwalks and bridges allow visitors to easily explore the varied habitats that include woodlands, meadows, marshes, and ponds. Many environmental activities and programs for children and adults are offered throughout the year.