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Before the arrival of Europeans, Maine was inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Native American peoples including the Wabanaki, Passamaquoddy and Penobscots.
The area was settled by both French and English settlers in the early 17th century, the French arriving in 1604, and the English in 1607. The province became part of the English Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652, but nevertheless was the scene of several battles between the English and French over control the territory.
The territory was also fought over by the American and British forces during both the American Revolution (1775 to 1783) and the War of 1812. In fact, the border between Maine and British North America (which later to become Canada) was not finalized until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
Although politically part of Massachusetts, Maine was physically separated from the rest of the state. As a result, the idea arose that Maine ought to be admitted to the Union as a separate state. This idea was politically convienent, as the Missouri Compromise required that slave and free states be admitted to the Union in equal numbers - and thus Maine was admitted to the Union on March 15th 1820.
In the late 19th century, Maine began to industrialize with the establishment of many textile mills. This was supplemented by the growth of a ship building industry (which was to contribute significantly to the US war effort in World War II).
Post war, some of Maine's traditional industries have gone into decline. The state's economy has however diversified into new fields, including telemarketing and tourism. Today Maine has an economy based on a mix of seafood (particularly lobsters), agricultural produce and industrial products. Maine is also an important transportation hub, with Portland being New England's busiest port.
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