People lived in what’s now New Hampshire at least 12,000 years ago. Thousands of years later Native American tribes, including the Abenaki and the Pennacook, lived on the land.
French and English explorers began to arrive in the 1500s, and the English established the first permanent European settlement in 1623. The French and English fought during the late 1600s and early 1700s, and at first the Native American tribes tried to stay out of the wars. But eventually they sided with the French, and as the British won more battles, the Native Americans were forced out of the region.
In 1776, during the American Revolution, New Hampshire became the first colony to create a constitution and declare its independence from Great Britain. In 1788 it was named the ninth U.S. state.
WHY’S IT CALLED THAT?
Englishman John Mason named New Hampshire after Hampshire county in England where he’d lived as a boy. He invested in building on the land, but never left England to see it.
New Hampshire is nicknamed the Granite State because it has a history of granite mining.
GEOGRAPHY AND LANDFORMS
The forested White Mountains in the north include Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet tall, this is New England’s highest point. The White Mountains also used to feature the Old Man of the Mountain, a granite formation that looked like a man’s face. But in 2003 the stones collapsed.
The Eastern New England Upland covers most of the central and southern portions of the state. It includes the hilly Merrimack Valley; the Hills and Lakes Region, which features Lake Winnipesaukee (the state’s largest lake); and the Connecticut River Valley, which forms New Hampshire’s western border. This region also contains Mount Monadnock, one of the world’s most-climbed mountains!
The Coastal Lowlands cover the southeastern corner of the state, where it touches the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can find sandy beaches along the coastline and wetlands farther inland.
Eastern red bats, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and moose are among New Hampshire’s mammals. The state is home to birds such as great horned owls, hairy woodpeckers, and nighthawks. Common reptiles include black racer snakes, painted turtles, and snapping turtles. And amphibians like bullfrogs, salamanders, and American toads live throughout the state.
Eastern white pine, sugar maple, white oak, blue spruce, and black walnut are a few of New Hampshire’s trees. You can also find wildflowers such as purple aster, evening primrose, buttercup, and an orchid called pink lady’s slipper (the state wildflower).
Although New Hampshire still has granite quarries, it’s better known for mining sand and gravel. The state also mines some semiprecious stones including garnet and beryl.
—Maple sundaes and cider donuts are popular desserts in New Hampshire.
—New Hampshire’s famous names include President Franklin Pierce, journalist Horace Greeley, and author Dan Brown.
—Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth—the site of the state’s original settlement—has 32 historic buildings where people can watch costumed performers act out life from colonial times.
—Mount Washington held the record for over half a century for highest surface wind speed (231 mph, 371 kph), comparable to winds in Category 5 hurricanes and F4 tornadoes.