This year marks the 375th anniversary for Connecticut, making it one of the oldest states. What the state lacks in size, it makes up for in stature, and its storied history has largely influenced not just its own people, but the nation as a whole.

Beginning as a spin-off of the Massachusetts Colony (stemming from a difference in governing styles combined with a clash of the clergymen), Connecticut quickly established its own ways of life and its own government. Settlers from Massachusetts negotiated with the Dutch already living here and obtained land -- sometimes amicably, but often forcibly -- from the Native American tribes also well-established here.

Settlements were built up around riverbanks and ports, and Connecticutters became the forefathers of Democracy, setting up representative government outside the bounds determined by the Fundamental Orders of the British government. In fact, Connecticut's own Fundamental Orders, written in 1638, are considered the first written constitution in the world, which is why our license plates say, "The Constitution State."

Nearby Fairfield reflects strong ties to the settling of Connecticut -- Roger Ludlow led colonists from Dorchester, Mass., to Windsor, Conn., in 1635.

Two years later in The Great Swamp Fight, Ludlow was among the British in Fairfield fighting the Pequot Indians, who had settled here after being driven from their homes along the state's eastern coast. The battle led to further settlement of the land along the southwestern coast, and from there, the colony's borders grew.

For such a small state, it has an immense history, and the list of its accomplishments and notable moments could go on for pages and pages -- from the secretive Charter Oak to crucial Revolutionary War battles, to Amistad, to the Freedom Trail.

It's been a captain of industry, from the beginnings of automobile industry to the beginnings of flight (Fairfield reportedly narrowly missed beating the Wright Brothers to the skies); from the revolutionary cotton gin to mass production of garments, machinery and watercraft.

Its people have also shaped this nation's history, artistically, politically and even athletically -- Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathan Hale, activist Prudence Crandall, P.T. Barnum, Katharine Hepburn, James Blake and J.J. Henry, to name very few.

Modern-day Connecticut continues to be on the forefront of national news, especially when most of the nation's health insurance companies are based right here. It is still small in size, but it is big in spirit, and will continue to be an important part of U.S. history.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell is hoping residents will start gathering their memories to contribute to this year-long celebration. Anyone wishing to volunteer for the effort is encouraged to e-mail at volunteer@CT375.com.

In the meantime, catch up on the state's great history by visiting http://www.ct375.com/.

There you will find links to all the people, places and events mentioned above, plus much, much more. The site also allows users to submit photos, stories and memories of Connecticut.

Updates about anniversary events, schedules and contests are available at ct375.com or on the state's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Readers can also look forward to Connecticut fun facts, which will appear throughout the paper this year.