Connecticut is the third smallest state of the Union, with an area of only 14,356 sq km (5,543 sq mi), including 417 sq km (161 sq mi) of inland water and 1,393 sq km (538 sq mi) of coastal water over which it has jurisdiction. Connecticut is roughly rectangular in shape, except for a narrow strip of land in the southwest that projects westward to within about 19 km (about 12 mi) of New York City. The state has a maximum distance from east to west of 163 km (101 mi) and a greatest distance north to south of 117 km (73 mi). The mean elevation of Connecticut is approximately 150 m (500 ft).
Connecticut can be divided into four major natural regions. They are the Taconic Range; the New England Highland, or Upland, consisting of the Eastern Highland and the Western Highland; the Connecticut Valley Lowland; and the Seaboard Lowland, all of which form part of the New England province, which in turn forms part of the Appalachian Region.
In the northwest the Connecticut portion of the Taconic Range forms the highest section of the state. From there the land slopes gradually southeastward across the long forested ridges and rolling hills of the Eastern and Western highlands to the narrow Seaboard Lowland along Long Island Sound.
The Taconic Range, or Taconics, occupy only a small area in Connecticut but include some of the wildest and most rugged parts of the state. Much of the region is forested. The principal ranges extend from northeast to southwest and in many places rise to more than 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level. On the southern slope of Mount Frissell, which lies on the Massachusetts state line, is Connecticut’s highest point, at 725 m (2,380 ft) above sea level.
The New England Highland, or Upland, can be divided into the Western Highland and the Eastern Highland. In the Western Highland, a rugged and rocky area, the principal ranges are the Litchfield Hills, which form a southward continuation of the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts, and the Norfolk Hills. The Housatonic River and its tributaries, which drain most of the Western Highland, flow southward in deep river valleys. Forests and small patches of woodland cover much of this area.
The Eastern Highland is a region of low, wooded hills. The highest points are little more than 300 m (1,000 ft) above sea level in the north and less than 60 m (200 ft) in the south, where the highland merges with the Seaboard Lowland. Granites, schists, and other hard, ancient rocks frequently show through the thin soil cover, and piles of boulders and stones, left by retreating glaciers, give the wooded Eastern Highland an often rocky and rugged appearance.
The Connecticut Valley Lowland is a broad lowland, which lies between the Eastern and Western highlands. The lowland is formed of reddish sandstones and shales, which are less resistant than the crystalline rock found on either side and consequently have been worn down to form low-lying land. The principal river is the Connecticut, which occupies the lowland as far south as Middletown. There the river turns southeastward across the Eastern Highland. The southern part of the lowland is drained principally by the Quinnipiac River. Because the Connecticut River leaves the lowlands, the Connecticut Valley Lowland is not identical with the Connecticut River valley.
Within the sandstones of the lowland are beds of trap, or traprock, which form prominent, steep-sided ridges. The ridges are generally forested and extend across the lowland in a north-south direction. The Seaboard Lowland is a narrow strip of land between the Eastern and Western highlands and the coast. It is broken near New Haven by the southern Connecticut Valley Lowland. Most of the region is less than 150 m (500 ft) above sea level. "Connecticut" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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