Named for the river that runs along its western border, Mississippi was first explored by the Spanish before France claimed it and later gave it to America. For over a century, Mississippi was the U.S. center for cotton production, a crop that relied on slave labor. Mississippi’s economy was destroyed during the Civil War. Poverty remains an issue today.

Fun Facts

  • Mississippi comes from the Chippewa words for “great river.” The Mississippi River runs from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. This wide brown river has long been a trade route. During the 1800s, paddlewheel boats carried passengers up and down the river.
  • Mississippi is the country’s leading catfish producer. Farmers raise the catfish in large man-made ponds.
  • During Hurricane Katrina, 40 foot waves washed over the Marine Live Oceanarium in Gulfport. Eight dolphins were swept out to sea, along with several other animals. The dolphins and two sea lions were later rescued.
  • Armadillos, wild turkeys, swamp rabbits, white-tailed deer, skinks, and crawfish are just some of the animals that live in Mississippi.
  • Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Blues singer B.B. King is also from Mississippi.
  • Mississippi is a warm and humid southern state. It borders Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and the Gulf of Mexico.


Mississippi Quick Stats

Population: 2,967,297

State capital: Jackson (population, 173,514)

Largest city: Jackson (population, 173,514)

State bird: Mockingbird

State flower: Magnolia

Questions and Answers

Question: What is blues music?

Answer: Blues music became popular after the Civil War and comes from songs sung by slaves as they worked in the cotton fields.


Learn More

Watch a short video about Mississippi.