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Prior to European settlement, the area that is today known as Connecticut, was inhabited by various Algoquian tribes. The Dutch were the first Europeans to arrive in the area: Dutch navigator, Adriaen Block, is known to have sailed up the Connecticut River, at least as far as Hartford in 1614. The Dutch West India Company is also known to have been trading furs in the area in 1623, and to have later set up fortifications in the area.
English colonists from Massachusetts began to arrive in the 1630s, and created settlements at Windsor (1633), Wethersfield (1634), Hartford (1636), Saybrook (1636) and New Haven (1637). As might be expected, there was indeed considerable competition between the English and Dutch. This led the Dutch to send a party up river with the intention of taking gifts to the Indians and encouraging them to trade - however, the Dutch inadvertently transmitted smallpox into the Indian population, which wiped out 75% of the Indians within a year. Eventually the English gained the upper hand, and following the 1654 Treaty of Hartford, the Dutch withdrew completely from the area.
In 1662, the Connecticut Colony gained a Royal Charter that confirmed self-government, and granted a western limit to the colony of the Pacific Ocean. This claim, stretching across the entire North American continent, led to clashes with other colonies, that continued well into the late 18th century.
Connecticut was one of the 13 colonies involved in the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), but its internal self-government continued unchanged after it adopted the US Constitution on January 9th, 1788. The state in fact continued to operate under its 1662 Charter until 1818, when a new state constitution was finally adopted.
In the 20th century, large numbers of European immigrants arrived in Connecticut, including many immigrants from Italy and Poland, gradually transforming the ethnic mix in the state. Connecticut was an important supplier of military equipment in both World Wars, during the Cold War. Today the state is primarily suburban and middle-class, although there are still some rural areas. In recent years, the Pequot Native Americans (indigenous to the area) have gained official recognition, and the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation is now one of the richest in the country.
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