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The state of Louisiana is located in the Deep South at the mouth of the Mississippi River and shares its borders with Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. For millennia, it has been home to numerous Native American tribes, including the Atakapa, the Choctaw, the Chitimacha, the Natchez and the Tunica. The region was colonized by the French in the early 18th century, and by the Spanish for a brief period, who later gave it back to the French at the end of the 18th century.
Louisiana became part of the United States in 1803 after the historic Louisiana purchase that nearly doubled the size of the country. It is reported that Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, had only wanted to buy New Orleans for its strategic and economic importance as a port but the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte insisted on selling the entire territory.
The state is home to Baton Rouge, the state capital and an important economic and educational hub of the American South, and to the historic port city of New Orleans, which is famous for its spectacular cuisine, jazz and for hosting the magnificent Mardi Gras festival every year.
Louisiana is home to a diverse array of cultures, the most prominent of which are the Creoles (peoples with a mixed Spanish, French, Caribbean, African and Indian background) and the Cajuns (descendants of French-speaking Acadians from Canada.) French colonists had also brought in a large number of slaves, most of them from the west coast of Africa, to work in the cotton and sugarcane plantations. This led to the development of a distinct West African culture in the Territory of Louisiana.
Louisiana was the 18th state to be admitted to the Union in 1812. During the Civil War, the state joined the other southern states in forming the Confederacy, but the capture of New Orleans by Union forces quickly led to its defeat and subsequent readmission into the Union in 1868. The state’s economy was destroyed during the Reconstruction but picked up with the discovery of oil and natural gas in the 20th century. Tourism has become an important industry in Louisiana, with New Orleans being a major draw, thanks to the charming French Quarter and the Mardi Gras festival, held annually since 1838.
The French, Spanish, African, and Native American influences are highly visible in the culture and discourse of Louisiana. Louisianians speak their own language, have a distinct style of music and a deliciously unique cuisine. The state has never had an official language and its constitution promotes “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”
Want to know more about Louisiana? Here are some interesting facts about the Pelican State.
Source: United States Postal Service – Abbreviations
Source: Resident Population Data – 2010 Census
|Governor||Bobby Jindal (Republican, to January 2016)|
|Entered the Union||April 30, 1812|
as the 18th state
|Motto||Union, Justice, and Confidence|
|Nickname||The Pelican State, The Sportsman’s Paradise, The Creole State, The Sugar State|
|Song||Give Me Louisiana and You Are My Sunshine|
|Professional Sports Teams||New Orleans Saints (Football); New Orleans Hornets (Men’s Basketball)|
(sports listing policy)
|Origin of Name||Named in honor of Louis XIV of France|
|Historical Sites||French Quarter (New Orleans), Plantation Homes, Cajun country (Mississippi delta region), Chalmette National Historical Park|
|Points of Interest||Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, Kisatchie National Forest, Confederate Museum(New Orleans), Superdome (New Orleans)|
|Bordering States||Lousiana borders Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas.|
Follow these links to read articles about Louisiana from Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Official State Links
- Louisiana.gov: The Official Web site of the State of Louisiana
This is the official website for the State of Louisiana.
- State Library of Louisiana
Here is the homepage for the Louisiana State Library.
- Louisiana Historical Society
Here is the homepage for the Louisiana State Historical Society.
- Louisiana State Museum
Here is the homepage for the Louisiana State Museum.
- The Louisiana State Archives
Here is the homepage for the Louisiana State Archives.
- Louisiana State Parks
Here is the homepage for Louisiana State Parks.
- Louisiana Travel
Here is the official state tourism website for Louisiana.
- Louisiana Kids Page
Here is a special page for kids from the Louisiana Governor’s Office.
Other State Links
- 50states.com: Louisiana
The site provides a wealth of information about Louisiana. It includes everything from the highest point to county profile to climate.
- Roadside America: Louisiana Attractions
Roadside America describes itself as an online guide to offbeat attractions. This site offers reviews of “weird sites along the highway” in Louisiana.
- Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture
Here is a guide to everything you ever wanted to know about Cajun culture.
- Real Cajun Recipes
Try your hand at Cajun cooking with this constantly growing collection of Cajun recipes, gathered from hundreds of Cajun cooks. Be sure to check out the Heritage link at the top to learn all about Acadiana, the Cajun Heartland.
Did You Know
- Mardi Gras is a celebration that is known world wide. It is an ancient custom that originated in southern Europe. It celebrates food and fun just before the 40 days of Lent: a Catholic time of prayer and sacrifice. This custom was brought to Louisiana by the French.
- Louisiana marshes supply most of the nation’s muskrat fur as well as that of opossum, raccoon, mink, and otter, and large numbers of game birds.
- The state tree is the Bald cypress, state insect is the Honeybee, state dog is the Catahoula Leopard Dog, state gemstone is Agate, state fossil is Petrified palmwood, and the state colors are gold, white, and blue.
- Planters initially produced indigo and tobacco, but these crops were replaced by cotton in north Louisiana and sugar cane in the more tropical southern Louisiana. Today, Louisiana is among the top ten states in the production of sugar cane (2nd), sweet potatoes (2nd), rice (3rd), cotton (5th) and pecans (5th).
- Louisiana has the greatest concentration of crude oil refineries, natural gas processing plants and petrochemical production facilities in the Western Hemisphere.
- Louisiana is the nation’s largest handler of grain for export to world markets. More than 40 percent of the U.S. grain exports move through Louisiana ports.
- Because of its many bays and sounds, Louisiana has the longest coastline (15,000 miles) of any state and 41 percent of the nation’s wetlands.
Some Famous People from this State
- Louis Armstrong (1900 – 1971), jazz musician and entertainer.
- Sieur de Jean Baptiste le Moyne Bienville (1680 – 1768), explorer, governor of Louisiana colony, founder of New Orleans, and referred to as the “Father of Louisiana.”
- Fats Domino, musician.
- Bryant Gumbel, TV newscaster.
- John James Audubon (1785 – 1851), naturalist and artist, some of whose paintings for Birds of America were done in Louisiana.
- Truman Capote (1924 – 1984), writer, noted for evocative prose style.