It was on this day 220 years ago (in 1791) that Vermont became a state. It was the 14th state to join the Union — the first aside from the original 13 colonies.

It’s the second-least populated state in the nation, and only five states are smaller in land area. Of all the 50 states, it has the very lowest Gross State Product. But it also has one of the best unemployment rates in the nation. In the past decade, it’s been ranked first as the most healthful place to live — more times than any other state.

It has an eccentric political history. It was an independent nation, the Vermont Republic, for 14 years (1777–1791). It had its own money, sovereign government, and a constitution that explicitly forbade slavery — almost a century before the United States did. It also required government taxes to support public schools.

For the first 200 years as a U.S. state, Vermont voted Republican in every single presidential election except one (in 1964, it voted for Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater). But since 1992, Vermont has voted Democrat in every presidential election. It was the only state in America that George W. Bush did not visit during his two terms as president. It was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage legislatively (in Iowa — the very first state to legalize same-sex marriage — it was through a court ruling).

It vies with New Hampshire for being the least religious state in the union. Only half of Vermonters say they believe in God, compared with about 70 percent of the rest of the nation. People there attend weekly services at a much lower rate than other Americans, and a much smaller percentage say that religion is important to them. There are, however, a disproportionately high number of American converts to Buddhism living in Vermont, and there are several Buddhist retreat centers through out the state.

It produces more maple syrup than any other state in America. About 2.5 percent of Vermont’s population speaks French at home.

Advertisements

It’s official, I’m going to Turkey! Booked my tickets today. I am starting with WordPress and hoping to be able to upload photos and share my trip while I am there.