The Green Mountain State
The word "Vermont" is derived from French for "green mountains", and the Green Mountains range running down the center of Vermont is the state's distinguishing characteristic. As mountains go, the Greens are not very tall, so their rounded tops are covered with the trees that give them their name rather than snow and ice --75% of Vermont is forested. Most visitors to Vermont come for the mountains. They come for the skiing in winter, both downhill and cross country; for the hiking and mountain biking in summer; and in the fall, for the spectacle of foliage changing from green to red, orange, and yellow.
The state tree is the Sugar Maple, which produces Vermont's famed maple syrup. Vermont is also known for its dairy cows -- half the milk consumed in New England comes from Vermont. However, the state's largest industry is manufacturing, especially electronic goods.
The permanent residents of Vermont are legendary for their independent streak. After the American Revolutionary War, Vermont became an autonomous republic, delaying entry into the Union for several years. In contemporary times, Vermont has been on the cutting edge of environmental legislation for decades -- an anti-billboard statute passed in the 1960s continues to thwart would-be defilers of Vermont's serene beauty.
The largest city in Vermont, Burlington, is not large by the standards of most other states, with a population of only 40,000. The capital of Montpelier, with fewer than 9,000 residents, owns the distinction of "least populous state capital". However, there are several states with total populations smaller than Vermont's -- it's just that Vermont has lots of small towns.