Originally part of one of the original 13 colonies (Massachusetts), Maine has a long and rich history of involvement in the creation, growth, and evolution of the United States. Since its ratification of statehood in 1820, Maine has undergone several economic and social transformations as the state works to keep up with economic changes at the national level. Maine’s chief source of economic development is its natural resources, which it holds in abundance.
Maine's fisheries represent one of the earliest and most continuous economic uses of its natural resources. Reductions in fish populations, and increases in the mining and ship building industries, led to Maine's commercial fisheries declining in importance to the state's overall economy. A recent emphasis on tourism and sport fishing has revitalized interest in Maine’s fisheries and elevated Maine to world renowned status as a source of some of the best sport fishing in the world. Lobster fishing remains a highly profitable part of Maine’s fisheries, with Maine’s lobsters considered some of the finest available. Maine consistently holds the highest lobster harvest numbers of all the states.
Maine is covered in eighty percent forest, and for much of its early history was a major producer of lumber products. With a serious decline in the number of white pines in the state, and reduced demand for the lumber that was once used for ship building, Maine has become a major producer of wood pulp and wood pulp products. These products are not reliant upon traditional lumbering practices and allow Maine to continue large scale production of wood products through renewable practices.
Main is geologically rich, with the majority of its mineral wealth still untapped by development. Maine is a leading exporter of high quality granite, and produces gravel, zinc, and peat as well. Granite quarrying in Maine began in the 1830s, and today Maine produces some of the best quality granite, including decorative quality granite that is prized by builders. Maine also produces gemstones including amethyst, topaz, and tourmaline, and holds large untapped reserves of valuable metals such as copper. Tourmaline is the state mineral, and the quality of tourmaline mined from Maine is considered to rival that imported from Brazil or the Himalayas.