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Mississippi, US (Population: 2,910,540)
State Capitol: Jackson

Major Cities: Gulport, Biloxi, Hattiesburg, Greenville, Meridian, Tupelo, Southaven, Vicksburg, Pascagoula

State Nickname/Motto: Magnolia State – Virtue et armis: By Valor and Arms

Statehood Granted: December 10, 1817

History: Mississippi was part of the Mississippian culture in the early part of the 2nd millennium AD. Descendant American Indian tribes include the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi, and whose names became those of local towns, include the Natchez, the Yazoo, and the Biloxi. The first European expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of Hernando de Soto, who passed through in 1540. The first settlement was that of Ocean Springs (or Old Biloxi), settled by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in 1699. In 1716, Natchez was founded on the Mississippi River (as Fort Rosalie); it became the dominant town and trading post of the area. After spending some time under Spanish, British, and French nominal jurisdiction, the Mississippi area was deeded to the British after the French and Indian War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

When cotton was king during the 1850s, Mississippi plantation owners—especially those of the Delta and Black Belt regions—became increasingly wealthy due to the high fertility of the soil and the high price of cotton on the international market. The severe wealth imbalances and the necessity of large-scale slave populations to sustain such income played a heavy role in both state politics and in the support for secession. Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union as one of the Confederate States of America on January 9, 1861. During the Civil War the Confederate States were defeated. Under the terms of Reconstruction, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union on February 23, 1870.

Geography: Highest point: Woodall Mountain 806 feet. The highest point in Mississippi, part of the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains is Woodall Mountain. The lowest point is along the shore at the Gulf of Mexico; sea level. The Mean Elevation is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level. Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain, and the rest of the state is made up of a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The East Gulf Coastal Plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. Somewhat higher elevations are in the Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (99.1%), White (60.8%), Black or African American (36.5%), American Indian and Alaska Native (0.4%), Asian (0.8%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.0%), Some other race (0.7), Two or more races (0.7%), Hispanic or Latino (1.5%)*

Famous State People:

  • Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) Popular rock-and-roll singer; born in East Tupelo.
  • Tennessee Williams (1911 - 1983) Playwright, received Pulitzer prizes for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; born in Columbus.
  • William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897 - 1962)Author, famous for works such as The Sound in the Fury and Go Down, Moses; born in New Albany.
  • Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1885 - 1975) Inventor, developed the world's first useful antifungal antibiotic, nystatin.
  • B. B. King (1925 - ) Guitarist, often called the King of the Blues; born in Indianola.
  • Jimmy Buffett (1946 - ) Singer, songwriter; born in Pascagoula.
  • Bo Diddley (1928 - ) Guitarist; born in McComb.
  • James Earl Jones (1931 - ) Entertainer, possesses one of the most instantly recognizable voices in entertainment history; born in Arkabutla.
  • Jerry Rice (1962 - ) Football player, considered the greatest wide receiver ever to play in the NFL; born and raised in Crawford.
  • Oprah Winfrey (1954 - ) Talk-show host; born in Kosciusko.
  • Faith Hill (1967 - ) Famous singer; grew up in Star.
  • Hiram R. Revels (1822 - 1901) Clergyman, first African American to sit in the U.S. Senate (1870 - 1871).
  • Sela Ward - (1956 - ) Star of the 1990's sitcom hits Sisters and Once & Again; born in Meridian.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: Alcorn State University, Belhaven College, Blue Mountain College, Delta State University, East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women Pearl river Community College, Rust College, Magnolia Bible College, Mississippi College, University of Mississippi, The University of Southern Mississippi, Wesley Biblical Seminary, Wesley College, William Carey College

    State Parks: Lake Lincoln, Payne Cossar, Great River Road, Hugh White, Paul B. Johnson, Leroy Percy, Wall Doxey, J.P. Coleman, LeFleur’s Bluff, Percy Quin, Roosevelt, George Payne Cossar, Trace, Clarkco, Tishomingo, Tombigbee, Golden Memorial, Lake Lowndes State Park Horse Trail, Trace State Park Mountain Biking Trail, Winterville Mounds and Museum

    Misc: Mississippi's rank as one of the poorest states can be traced to the Civil War. Before the war, Mississippi was the fifth-wealthiest state in the nation. Slaves were then counted as valuable property and, in Mississippi, more than half the population was enslaved. The war cost the state 30,000 men. Plantation owners who survived the war were virtually bankrupted by the emancipation of slaves, and Union troops left widespread destruction in their wake.

    A decision in 1990 to legalize casino gambling along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast has led to economic gains for the state. However, an estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue was lost following Hurricane Katrina's severe damage to several coastal casinos in August 2005. Gambling towns in Mississippi include the Gulf Coast towns of Bay Saint Louis, Gulfport and Biloxi, and the Mississippi River towns of Tunica, Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez. Before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Mississippi was the second largest gambling state in the Union. On October 17, 2005, Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law allowing casinos in Hancock and Harrison counties to rebuild within 800 feet of water on land, The only exception is in Harrison County, where the new law states that casinos can be built to the southern boundary of U.S. Route 90.

    *U.S. Census - 2005