|Capital city||Baton Rouge|
|Biggest city||New Orleans|
|Length of highway network||1,594 km|
Louisiana is a state in the southern United States. The state is located on the Gulf of Mexico and has an area of 134,382 square kilometers, or more than three times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Baton Rouge and the largest city is New Orleans. The state has 4.6 million inhabitants (2021).
Louisiana is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States. The state is bordered by Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north and Mississippi to the east. The state consists largely of lowlands and is formed by the large delta of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi splits into several branches. The Red River also flows into the delta from the northwest, and the Sabine River forms part of the border with Texas. The coastal region consists largely of lowlands that slowly disappear into the sea. Large areas of Louisiana are densely forested, but there are also open areas, particularly around the Mississippi and Red Rivers, as well as the agricultural southwestern part of the state. Along the coast are large lagoons and lakes, of which Lake Pontchartrain is best known. The south of the state consists largely of wetlands and swamps and is poorly accessible by land. The Mississippi Delta has an extensive network of man-made canals dug for the oil and gas industry, but have largely fallen into disuse. An extensive network of dams and flood defenses is to protect the people of southern Louisiana from the water.
The state has a humid subtropical climate. There are long hot summers and short mild winters. Louisiana is one of the wettest states with high rainfall. The average maximum temperature in New Orleans is 17°C in winter and 33°C in summer, with annual precipitation of almost 1,600 mm, twice as much as the Netherlands. In northern Louisiana, sporadic snow falls in the winter. Louisiana is prone to extreme weather, especially from hurricanes from the Gulf of Mexico, with Hurricane Katrina causing massive damage in 2005. Hurricanes at sea can also cause major problems due to rising water. In addition, severe thunderstorms are frequent and tornadoes occur in Louisiana mainly in the winter and early spring.
I-110 at Baton Rouge.
Louisiana is economically diverse, with a lot of agriculture and fishing, but also a lot of industry, especially petrochemicals and oil and gas extraction. From southern Louisiana, oil and gas are extracted on a large scale in the Gulf of Mexico. The median income in Louisiana is relatively low and generally ranks among the lowest 10 states in the United States. Tourism is important in the state, especially the city of New Orleans attracts many tourists. There is hardly any coastal tourism as the coast is predominantly made up of swamps and other inaccessible wetlands, and there are few sandy beaches, the main one being the secluded Grand Isle.
The Mississippi River has a lot of heavy industry on the banks between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The riverbank here is dotted with large industrial complexes such as oil refineries, steel factories, coal processing and transhipment of raw materials from inland shipping onto seagoing vessels. This region is called the Port of South Louisiana. It is also the main export port for Midwestern grain and wheat, which is shipped to southern Louisiana via the Mississippi.
Louisiana is one of the few southern states with a slow-growing population. The state crossed the 1 million mark between 1880 and 1890 and the 2 million mark between 1920 and 1930. The 4 million mark was reached in the 1970s. Since then, population of Louisiana has grown at a much slower rate. Louisiana has a diverse population, with African Americans being a significant minority, about one-third of the population. Unlike Texas, there are relatively few Hispanics and Latinos.
The state has one major conurbation, that of New Orleans. The capital, Baton Rouge, is the state’s second largest city, and the city of Shreveport is the largest city in the north of the state. Other larger cities include Lafayette, Lake Charles and Alexandria. Other cities are smaller and have no more than a regional character. See list of cities in Louisiana. The region along the north side of Lake Pontchartrain is relatively densely populated, around Hammond, Covington and Slidell. The Mississippi Delta is sparsely populated. Large parts of the land here are not arable or are slowly disappearing below sea level.
The first Europeans reached present-day Louisiana before 1600. It was Spaniards who moved in from Mexico. At the end of the 17th century, the number of travelers from France and French-speaking Canada increased. They founded the first settlements there. In 1682, the Louisiana region was named after the French sun king Louis (Louis) XIV. Founded on the Red River in 1714, Natchitoches was the first permanent European settlement in Louisiana. The French wanted to limit the influence of the Spaniards. Mobile and later Biloxi were the first capitals of the Louisiana Territory. France and Spain tried to gain influence in the country west of the Mississippi River. In 1763, France had to cede most of the land east of the Mississippi to the British. and in 1765 many francophones migrated from what is now eastern Canada to Acadiana, in southwestern present-day Louisiana. In 1800, Napoleon regained Louisiana through a secret pact with Spain.
Louisiana at the time stretched west of the Misssippi River, far north into southern Canada. This included almost all the states on the Great Plains west of the Mississippi up to the Rocky Mountains. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase saw the United States purchase 1,200,000 km of land from France for $15 million ($240 million in 2015). The area of the United States doubled at that time. The area was then divided into several territories. Louisiana officially became a state of the United States in 1812.
New Orleans became a dominant city, in 1840 it was the third largest city in the country. In 1860, nearly half of Louisiana’s population were slaves. In 1861 it became a member of the Confederate States, but was quickly defeated in the American Civil War, the following year New Orleans was conquered by troops from the north. In the early 20th century, many blacks moved to industries in the northern United States. As a result, the proportion of African Americans declined somewhat. During World War II, many residents moved to California to work in the defense industry there. Public works significantly improved infrastructure in the state from the 1930s onwards, most notably through the construction of bridges over the inaccessible Mississippi River Delta. In August 2005, Louisiana and New Orleans were particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. Large areas of the city were under water and low-lying areas along the Gulf of Mexico were devastated by storm surges.