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State of Mississippi
State flag of Mississippi State seal of Mississippi
(Flag of Mississippi) (Seal of Mississippi)
State nickname: Magnolia State
Map of the U.S. with Mississippi highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Jackson
Largest city Jackson
Governor Haley Barbour (R)
Senators Thad Cochran (R)

Trent Lott (R)

Official language(s) English
Area 125,546 km² (32nd)
 - Land 121,606 km²
 - Water 3,940 km² (3%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 2,697,243 (31st)
 - Density 23.42 /km² (32nd)
Admission into Union
 - Date December 10, 1817
 - Order 20th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Latitude 30°13'N to 35°N
Longitude 88°7'W to 91°41'W
Width 275 km
Length 545 km
 - Highest point Woodall Mt (246 m) m
 - Mean 90 m
 - Lowest point Gulf of Mexico (0) m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-MS
Web site www.state.ms.us

Mississippi is a Southern state of the United States.

Postal abbreviation: MS. Official (long) name: State of Mississippi.

The state takes its name from the Mississippi River, which flows along the western boundary. The name itself probably means "big waters" in an old form of Ojibwe, a Native American language spoken around the river's headwaters. Other nicknames attached to Mississippi are the Magnolia State and the Hospitality State.

USS Mississippi was named in honor of this state.



Main article: History of Mississippi

Mississippi was part of the Mississippian culture in the early part of the second millennium AD; descendant Native American tribes include the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi (and gave their names to local towns) include the Natchez, the Yazoo, and the Biloxi.

The first expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of Hernando de Soto, who passed through in 1540. However, 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 United States after the French and Indian War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

The Mississippi Territory was organized on April 7, 1798, from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina; it was later twice expanded to include disputed territory claimed by both the U.S. and Spain. Land was purchased (generally through unequal treaties) from Native American tribes from 1800 to about 1830.

Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union, on December 10, 1817.

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.

Mississippi was considered to typify the Deep South during the era of Jim Crow. A series of increasingly restrictive racial segregation laws enacted during the first part of the 20th century resulted in the emigration of almost half a million people, three-quarters of them black, in the 1940s. However, at the same time, Mississippi became a center of rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, jazz music, blues, and rock and roll all were invented, promulgated, or heavily developed by Mississippi musicians. Mississippi was also noted for its authors in the early twentieth century, especially William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.

Mississippi was a center of the civil rights movement. While many in the state supported the effort to secure voting and other rights for African-Americans, the vocal opposition of many politicians and officials and the violent tactics of Ku Klux Klan members and sympathizers gave Mississippi a reputation as a reactionary state during the 1960s.

The state was the last to repeal prohibition and to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, in 1966 and 1995 respectively.

On August 17, 1969, Category 5 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast killing 248 people and causing US$1.5 billion in damage (1969 dollars).

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused even greater destruction across the entire 90 miles of Mississippi Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama.

In recent years, Mississippi has been noted for its political conservatism, improved civil rights record, and increasing industrialization. In addition, a decision in 1990 to legalize riverboat gambling 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 riverboat casinos in August 2005. Gambling towns in Mississippi include the Gulf Coast towns of Gulfport and Biloxi, and the 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, ahead of New Jersey and behind Nevada.

On October 17, 2005, Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law which allows casinos in Hancock and Harrison counties to rebuild on land, but within 800 feet of the water. The only exception is in Harrison County, where the new law states that casinos can be built to the southern boundary of U.S. Highway 90.

The Old Capitol in Jackson served as the Capitol Building from 1839 until its replacement in 1903.
The Old Capitol in Jackson served as the Capitol Building from 1839 until its replacement in 1903.

Law and government

After the Civil War, mistreatment of Southerners during Reconstruction by the federally-appointed Republican governors led to considerable resentment toward the Republican Party. As a result, Mississippi's state government had a very long unbroken record of single-party dominance. For 116 years, from 1876 to 1992 Mississippians only elected Democratic governors. For most of that time period, Democrats also held the majority of seats in the state legislature (which they still do) not to mention most other elected offices, including the state's federal representation (although some Republicans began to win Congressional elections in the 1970s).

As with all other U.S. States and the federal government, Mississippi's government is based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power. Executive authority in the state rests with the Governor, currently Haley Barbour (Republican). The Lieutenant Governor, currently Amy Tuck (originally elected as a Democrat, she switched to the Republican Party in 2002), is elected on a separate ballot. Both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected to four-year terms of office. Unlike the federal government, but like many other U.S. States, most of the heads of major executive departments are elected by the citizens of Mississippi, rather than appointed by the governor.

(See: List of Governors of Mississippi)
(See: List of Lt. Governors of Mississippi)
(See: List of State Treasurers of Mississippi)
(See: Mississippi general election results, 2003)

Legislative authority resides in the state legislature, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate, while the House of Representatives selects their own Speaker. The state Constitution permits the legislature to establish by law the number of Senators and Representatives, up to a maximum of 52 Senators and 122 Representatives. Current state law sets the number of Senators at 52 and Representatives at 122. The term of office for Senators and Representatives is four years.

(See: List of state legislatures of the United States.)

Supreme Judicial authority rests with the state Supreme Court, which has statewide authority. In addition, there is a statewide Court of Appeals, as well as Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts and Justice Courts, which have more limited geographical jurisdiction. The nine Judges of the Supreme Court are elected from three districts (three Judges per district) by the state's citizens in non-partisan elections to eight-year staggered terms. The ten Judges of the Court of Appeals are elected from five districts (two Judges per district) for eight-year staggered terms. Judges for the smaller courts are elected to four-year terms by the state's citizens who live within that court's jurisdiction.

At the federal level, Mississippi's two U.S. senators are Trent Lott (Republican) and Thad Cochran (Republican). As of the 2001 reapportionment, the state has 4 congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(See: List of United States Representatives from Mississippi)

Mississippi has 82 counties. Citizens of Mississippi counties elect the five members of their county Board of Supervisors from single-member districts, as well as other county officials.

(See: List of Mississippi counties)


Fishing Boats in Biloxi
Fishing Boats in Biloxi

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Mississippi's total state product in 2003 was $72 billion. Per capital personal income in 2003 was $23,466, 51st in the nation (ranking includes the District of Columbia).

Mississippi's rank as the poorest state can be traced to the Civil War. Before the Civil War, Mississippi was the fifth-wealthiest state in the nation. The war cost the state 30,000 men. Plantaton owners who survived the war were virtually bankrupted by the emancipation of slaves, and Union troops left widespread destruction in their wake.


Mississippi is served by six Interstate highways

and fourteen main U.S. Highways

as well as a system of State Highways.

For more information, visit the Mississippi Department of Transportation website.



Historical populations

1800 7,600
1810 31,306
1820 75,448
1830 136,621
1840 375,651
1850 606,526
1860 791,305
1870 827,922
1880 1,131,597
1890 1,289,600
1900 1,551,270
1910 1,797,114
1920 1,790,618
1930 2,009,821
1940 2,183,796
1950 2,178,914
1960 2,178,141
1970 2,216,912
1980 2,520,638
1990 2,573,216
2000 2,844,658
  • The 2000 Census reported Mississippi's population as 2,844,658 [1]. 2004 estimates show the population as having risen to 2,902,966. [2]

Racial Makeup and Ancestry

The Census Bureau considers race and Hispanic origin to be two separate categories. This data, however, is only for non-Hispanic members of each group: non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks, etc. For more information on race and the Census, see here.

2000 Census [3] 2003 Estimate [4]
White 60.7% 60.0%
Black 36.2% 36.8%
Hispanic 1.4% 1.5%
Asian 0.7% 0.8%
Two or More Races 0.5% 0.6%
Native American and Inuit 0.4% 0.4%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.02% 0.02%

Until about 1940, Blacks made up a majority of Mississippians. Their share of the population has since declined, but has in recent years begun to increase, due mainly to a younger Black age structure caused by a relatively high Black birthrate, although this has subsided somewhat in recent years. In Mississippi's public school system, the majority of students are Black. [5] Blacks currently predominate in the northwestern Yazoo Delta, the southwestern, and central parts of the state.

Nearly 10,000 Native Americans (mostly Choctaw) live in the east central section of the state. The small Chinese population found in the Delta is descended from farm laborers brought there from California in the 1870s. The Chinese did not adjust well to the Mississippi plantation system, however, and most of them became small merchants. The coastal fishing industry has attracted Southeast Asian refugees.

The white population of Mississippi is remarkably homogeneous and mostly of American ancestry. More than 98 percent native-born, predominantly of Northern European descent, especially British (namely English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish). There are also French and Italian populations. French Creoles are the largest demographic group in Hancock County on the Gulf Coast. The black, Choctaw Indian (in Neshoba County), and Chinese segments of the population are also almost entirely native-born.


Mississippi's religious affiliations principally consist of evangelical Protestant denominations, particularly the Baptists (Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, etc.), along with Methodists and Presbyterians. The small Roman Catholic population is found primarily in urban areas and on the Gulf Coast, and the tiny Jewish population is also mainly concentrated in urban areas.

The current religious affiliations of the people of Mississippi are as follows:

Important cities and towns


Colleges and universities

Miscellaneous information

State motto: "Virtute et Armis" (By Valor and Arms)
State song: "Go, Mississippi", adopted 1962
Patron saint: Our Lady of Sorrows
State flower and state tree: Magnolia
State bird: Mockingbird
State beverage: Milk
State fish: Largemouth Bass
State insect: Honeybee
State water mammal: Bottlenose Dolphin
State shell: Oyster
State fossil: A whale fossil nicknamed "ziggy"
State land mammal: White-tailed Deer
State waterfowl: Wood duck
State stone: Petrified wood
State wildflower: Coreopsis
State butterfly: Spicebush Swallowtail
State dance: Square Dance
Statehood Quarter was minted in 2002.

Pledge to the Flag: "I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God."

External links

Flag of Mississippi

State of Mississippi
Regions | Largest Cities | Smaller Cities | Governors | Lieutenant Governors | Legislature | State Parks | Music | History |

Capital: Jackson
Regions: The Delta - Golden Triangle - Gulf Coast - Jackson Metro - Memphis Metro - Natchez District - Pine Belt
Largest cities: Biloxi - Clinton - Columbus - Greenville - Gulfport - Hattiesburg - Jackson - Meridian - Pascagoula - Southaven - Tupelo - Vicksburg
Smaller cities: Brandon - Brookhaven - Canton - Clarksdale - Cleveland - Corinth - Gautier - Greenwood - Grenada - Horn Lake - Indianola - Laurel - Long Beach - Madison - McComb - Moss Point - Natchez - Ocean Springs - Olive Branch - Oxford - Pearl - Picayune - Ridgeland - Starkville - West Hattiesburg (Oak Grove) - West Point - Yazoo City

Adams - Alcorn - Amite - Attala - Benton - Bolivar - Calhoun - Carroll - Chickasaw - Choctaw - Claiborne - Clarke - Clay - Coahoma - Copiah - Covington - DeSoto - Forrest - Franklin - George - Greene - Grenada - Hancock - Harrison - Hinds - Holmes - Humphreys - Issaquena - Itawamba - Jackson - Jasper - Jefferson - Jefferson Davis - Jones - Kemper - Lafayette - Lamar - Lauderdale - Lawrence - Leake - Lee - Leflore - Lincoln - Lowndes - Madison - Marion - Marshall - Monroe - Montgomery - Neshoba - Newton - Noxubee - Oktibbeha - Panola - Pearl River - Perry - Pike - Pontotoc - Prentiss - Quitman - Rankin - Scott - Sharkey - Simpson - Smith - Stone - Sunflower - Tallahatchie - Tate - Tippah - Tishomingo - Tunica - Union - Walthall - Warren - Washington - Wayne - Webster - Wilkinson - Winston - Yalobusha - Yazoo

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