From a geographical point-of-view, Maine is one of the most diverse states in the continential United States. It is also very, very large. To the south and east is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the northeast is the Canadian provice of New Brunswick and Quebec is to the northwest. Maine is both the largest and the northernmost state in the New England region, bordered on the west by New Hampshire. It is also the only state that borders exactly one other state.
Although Alaska is the northernmost state in the United States, Maine is the northernmost state in the contiguous 48 states. Its easternmost city is Eastport, and its easternmost town is Lubec. Its largest lake is Moosehead Lake, and its highest mountain is Mt. Katahdin, which is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. A new International Appalachian Trial starts at Mt. Katahdin and runs to Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Maine also has several unique geographical features. Machias Seal Island, off its easternmost point, is claimed by both the USA and Canada and is the only U.S. land area still in dispute with respect to sovereignty. Also in this easternmost area is the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the world.
Maine is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River, owing in part to its huge relative size - its land mass exceeds that of all other New England states combined. It is appropriately called the Pine Tree State, as 90 percent of its land is forest.
In the forested areas of the interior there is much uninhabited land, some of which does not even have formal political organization into local units. Maine's mountains are spectacular and its most recognized peaks are Mt Washington and Mt Kathadin.
For example, the Northwest Aroostook, Maine "territory" in the far north is listed as having an area of 2,668 square miles and a population of 27, or one person for every 100 square miles.
Maine is equally well known for its dramatic ocean scenery. West Quoddy Head is the easternmost piece of land in the contiguous 48 United States.
Along the famous rock-bound coast of Maine are lighthouses, sandy beaches, quiet fishing villages and thousands of offshore islands, including the Isles of Shoals, which straddles the New Hampshire border.
Jagged rocks and cliffs and thousands of bays and inlets add to the rugged beauty of Maine's coast. Just inland, by contrast, is the view of sparkling lakes, rushing rivers, green forests and towering mountains. This visual contrast of forested slopes sweeping down to the sea has been aptly summed up by American poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay of Rockland and Camden, Maine in "Renascence":
"All I could see from where I stood was three long mountains and a wood I turned and looked the other way and saw three islands and a bay"
Geologists describe this type of landscape as a drowned coast, where a rising sea level has invaded former land features, creating bays out of valleys and islands out of mountain tops.
In the case of Maine there has been a partially offsetting rise in land also, due to the melting of heavy glacier ice, which caused a rebounding effect of underlying rock; however, this land rise was not strong enough to eliminate all the effect of the rising sea level and its invasion of some former land features.
Millions of Americans have enjoyed this coastal scenery at Maine's Acadia National Park, the only national park in New England.
The noted American ecologist Rachel Carson did much of her research at one of the Maine seacoast's most characteristic features, a tide pool for her classic "The Edge of the Sea."
The spot where she conducted observations is now preserved as the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Reserve at Pemaquid Point.