Long inhabited by Native Americans, the area that is now Louisiana was explored by the French in 1528, but settled by the French in the mid-17th century. They named Louisiana after the French King Louis XIV. The United States gained Louisiana with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
- When the British exiled French-speaking people from Acadia, now part of Canada, they settled in the bayou area of Louisiana. Their descendants, Cajuns, are known for their lively music and spicy food.
- The Mississippi River runs along Louisiana’s entire eastern border to the Gulf of Mexico, and provides an important shipping route for trade. American products leave this port headed to many destinations around the world.
- The Gulf of Mexico is important to Louisiana’s economy. Fishermen catch shrimp and fish, while oil rigs drill for oil.
- Hurricanes are a frequent part of life in Louisiana. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina broke through levees (dams), causing massive flooding and destruction.
- New Orleans is known for its lively, frolicking atmosphere, especially during Mardi Gras.
- Beavers, alligators, muskrats, swamp rabbits, and coral snakes are some of the animals that live in Louisiana.
- Ellen DeGeneres is from Louisiana.
Louisiana Quick Stats
State Capital: Baton Rouge (population, 229,493)
Largest City: New Orleans (population, 343,829)
Largest Metro: Greater New Orleans
State Bird: brown pelican
State Flower: magnolia
Admission to Union: April 30, 1812
Questions and Answers
Question: What is Mardi Gras?
Answer: Mardi Gras began as a religious celebration in Italy and France. Today it is a huge party and carnival that takes place in New Orleans and other places around the world.
Watch a video about Louisiana.