15 Fascinating Facts About Mississippi

Were you aware that Mississippi typically encounters an average of 27 tornadoes annually?

Mississippi, also known as “The Hospitality State” and nicknamed “The Magnolia State,” became the 20th state to join the United States on December 10, 1817. It has a population of 2,976,149 (as of 2019), making it the 34th most populous state. Mississippi is bordered by Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee and covers a total of 48,430 square miles (125,443 square kilometers) of land and water, ranking it as the 32nd largest state. The capital of Mississippi is Jackson, which is located in the center of the state.

But now, let’s explore some of the more intriguing facts about the Magnolia State!

Mississippi derives its name from the Mississippi River.

That’s right, the river’s name came before the state’s!

French explorers who encountered the Anishinaabe people named the Mississippi River “Misi-ziibi,” which means “Great River.”

People have inhabited Mississippi for over 10,000 years.

The Paleo Indians, a group of hunter-gatherers, were the first to populate the Americas. They migrated to the Americas during the Ice Age via the Bering Strait, which served as a land crossing between the far east of modern-day Russia and the westernmost tip of Alaska. Their descendants, who hunted megafauna such as mammoths and mastodons, were the first to reach the Mississippi region and settled throughout the Americas, including modern-day Mississippi.

When Europeans arrived, there were numerous Native American tribes in Mississippi.

By the time Europeans reached the Americas, many different cultures were thriving throughout the land. In Mississippi, there were at least seven unique tribes within the region when Europeans first made contact, including the Taensa, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Yazoo, Natchez, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. The Mississippian culture, a civilization of mound-building people who were the predominant culture in the region between 800 to 1600 AD, originated from a different region and isn’t actually from what is now known as Mississippi. The Plaquemine culture was the older culture in the region, and its practices were still carried on by the Natchez and Taensa at the time of European arrival.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to reach the Mississippi region.

Hernando de Soto, the famed Spanish explorer and conquistador, led the first expedition into modern-day Mississippi in the early 1540s. He embarked on this famously disastrous expedition with two goals in mind: to search for both a passage through to the Pacific coast and large amounts of gold, which various Native American tribes and other explorers had heard rumors of. While on this expedition, he crossed modern-day Mississippi, constantly clashing with numerous tribes, ultimately leading to his death on the western banks of the Mississippi River. The expedition found neither gold nor a passage through to the west coast.

The French were the first to settle in Mississippi, with Hernando de Soto’s expedition being a failure, causing Spain to temporarily lose interest in the region. Over a hundred years later, France claimed Mississippi as part of New France and founded the first white settlement, Fort Maurepas. Mississippi changed hands multiple times before becoming part of the United States, with Britain gaining control after the Seven Year’s War but losing it to the US after the American Civil War. Mississippi became a land of opportunity for cotton farmers after the invention of the cotton gin, leading to an explosion in population that was mostly enslaved African Americans. By 1860, over half of the population were slaves, with the cotton industry’s reliance on slavery leading to Mississippi’s secession from the US in 1861. Mississippi contributed over 80,000 troops to the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

In Mississippi, during the American Civil War, 23% of white Mississippians fought in the war, while the remaining 77% consisted of women, children, and seniors. This suggests that almost all able-bodied men in Mississippi fought for the right to own slaves, resulting in heavy casualties. Mississippi was one of the wealthiest states before the Civil War, ranking at number 5 on the list, due to the cotton industry that relied heavily on slave labor. Unfortunately, after their defeat and abolition of slavery, Mississippi slid into economic depression, which was worsened by natural disasters. However, Mississippi is also known for its contributions to history, such as the origins of the teddy bear, blues music, and its forested land. Surprisingly, more than half of Mississippi is still covered in trees, including various hardwoods. Furthermore, it is a requirement in Mississippi’s constitution that a person must be religious to run for office.

The constitution of Mississippi states that only those who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being are eligible to hold office in the state. However, in 1961, the US supreme court declared this restriction as unconstitutional. It raises the question of what defines a Supreme Being. Despite its tumultuous history, Mississippi has a unique beauty and wants to move forward.


1. What is the capital of Mississippi?

The capital of Mississippi is Jackson, which is the largest city in the state. It was named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States.

2. How did Mississippi get its name?

The name Mississippi comes from the Ojibwe word “misi-ziibi” meaning “Great River” or “Gathering of Waters.” The state is named after the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary.

3. What is the state bird of Mississippi?

The state bird of Mississippi is the Northern Mockingbird. It is known for its beautiful singing and can imitate the songs of other birds.

4. What is the state flower of Mississippi?

The state flower of Mississippi is the Magnolia. It is a large, fragrant flower that is commonly found throughout the state.

5. What is the highest point in Mississippi?

The highest point in Mississippi is Woodall Mountain, which has an elevation of 807 feet. It is located in the northeastern part of the state near the Alabama border.

6. What is the largest city in Mississippi?

The largest city in Mississippi is Jackson, which is also the state capital. It has a population of over 160,000 people.

7. What is the state motto of Mississippi?

The state motto of Mississippi is “Virtute et Armis,” which means “By Valor and Arms.” It was adopted in 1894 and is a reference to the state’s history of military service.

8. What is the most popular sport in Mississippi?

The most popular sport in Mississippi is football. The state has a strong tradition of high school and college football, and many of its towns and cities are known for their passionate support of local teams.

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