Louisiana

Cities

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Louisiana

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South and South Central regions of the United States. It is the 20th-smallest by area and the 25th most populous of the 50 U.S. states. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties, making it one of only two U.S. states not subdivided into counties (the other being Alaska and its boroughs). The state’s capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Etymology

Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane. The suffix –ana (or –ane) is a Latin suffix that can refer to “information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place.” Thus, roughly, Louis + ana carries the idea of “related to Louis.” Once part of the French colonial empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present–day Mobile Bay to just north of the present–day Canada–United States border, including a small part of what are now the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Geography

Louisiana is bordered to the west by Texas; to the north by Arkansas; to the east by Mississippi; and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north (the region of North Louisiana), and the alluvial along the coast (the Central Louisiana, Acadiana, Florida Parishes, and Greater New Orleans regions). The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands that cover about 12,350 square miles (32,000 km2). This area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi (970 km) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico; also in the state are the Red River; the Ouachita River and its branches; and other minor streams (some of which are called bayous).

The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is 10–60 miles (15–100 km), and along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles (15 km) across. The Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its natural deposits (known as a levee), from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile (3 m/km). The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features.

Geology

The Gulf of Mexico did not exist 250 million years ago when there was but one supercontinent, Pangea. As Pangea split apart, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico opened. Louisiana slowly developed, over millions of years, from water into land, and from north to south. The oldest rocks are exposed in the north, in areas such as the Kisatchie National Forest. The oldest rocks date back to the early Cenozoic Era, some 60 million years ago. The history of the formation of these rocks can be found in D. Spearing's Roadside Geology of Louisiana.

The youngest parts of the state were formed during the last 12,000 years as successive deltas of the Mississippi River: the Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, Lafourche, the modern Mississippi, and now the Atchafalaya. The sediments were carried from north to south by the Mississippi River.

Climate

Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with long, hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. The subtropical characteristics of the state are due to its low latitude, low lying topography, and the influence of the Gulf of Mexico, which at its farthest point is no more than 200 mi (320 km) away.

Rain is frequent throughout the year, although from April to September is slightly wetter than the rest of the year, which is the state’s wet season. There is a dip in precipitation in October. In summer, thunderstorms build during the heat of the day and bring intense but brief, tropical downpours. In winter, rainfall is more frontal and less intense.

Summers in southern Louisiana have high temperatures from June through September averaging 90 °F (32 °C) or more, and overnight lows averaging above 70 °F (21 °C). At times, temperatures in the 90s °F (32–37 °C), combined with dew points in the upper 70s °F (24–26 °C), create sensible temperatures over 120 °F (49 °C). The humid, thick, jungle-like heat in southern Louisiana is a famous subject of countless stories and movies.

Major Cities

Louisiana contains 308 incorporated municipalities, consisting of four consolidated city-parishes, and 304 cities, towns, and villages. Louisiana’s municipalities cover only 7.9% of the state’s land mass but are home to 45.3% of its population. The majority of urban Louisianians live along the coast or in northern Louisiana. The oldest permanent settlement in the state is Nachitoches. Baton Rouge, the state capital, is the second-largest city in the state. The most populous city is New Orleans. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana contains nine metropolitan statistical areas. Major areas include Greater New Orleans, Greater Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport–Bossier City.

Demographics

Louisiana is the second-most populous of the South Central United States after Texas. The majority of the state’s growing population lives in southern Louisiana, spread throughout Greater New Orleans, the Florida Parishes, and Acadiana, while Central and North Louisiana have been losing population. At the 2020 United States census, Louisiana had an apportioned population of 4,661,468. Its resident population was 4,657,757 as of 2020. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the population of Louisiana was 4,648,794 on July 1, 2019, a 2.55% increase since the 2010 United States census. In 2010, the state of Louisiana had a population of 4,533,372, up from 76,556 in 1810.

The population density of the state is 104.9 people per square mile. The center of population of Louisiana is located in Pointe Coupee Parish, in the city of New Roads. According to the 2010 United States census, 5.4% of the population age 5 and older spoke Spanish at home, up from 3.5% in 2000; and 4.5% spoke French (including Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole), down from 4.8% in 2000.

Religion

Christians made up 84% of the adult population in 2014, making Louisiana one of the most predominantly-Christian states in the United States; at the 2020 Public Religion Research Institute study, 76.5% of the total adult population were Christian. In 2010, the largest Christian denominations by number of adherents were the Catholic Church with 1,200,900; Southern Baptist Convention with 709,650; and the United Methodist Church with 146,848. Non-denominational Evangelical Protestant churches had 195,903 members.

As in other southern U.S. states, the majority of Louisianians, particularly in the north of the state, belong to various Protestant denominations, with Protestants comprising 57% of the state’s adult population at the 2014 Pew Research Center study, and 53% at the 2020 Public Religion Research Institute’s study. Protestants are concentrated in North Louisiana, Central Louisiana, and the northern tier of the Florida Parishes. According to the 2014 study, Louisiana’s largest Protestant Christian denominations were the Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention USA, National Baptist Convention of America, Progressive National Baptist Convention, American Baptist Churches USA, non/interdenominational Evangelicals and mainline Protestants, the Assemblies of God USA, Church of God in Christ, African Methodist Episcopal and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches, and the United Methodist Church. 

Economy

Louisiana’s population, agricultural products, abundance of oil and natural gas, and southern Louisiana’s medical and technology corridors have contributed to its growing and diversifying economy. In 2014, Louisiana was ranked as one of the most small business friendly states, based on a study drawing upon data from more than 12,000 small business owners. The state’s principal agricultural products include seafood (it is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world, supplying approximately 90%), cotton, soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, dairy products, and rice. Among its energy and other industries, chemical products, petroleum and coal products, processed foods, transportation equipment, and paper products have contributed to a significant portion of the state’s GSP. Tourism and gaming are also important elements in the economy, especially in Greater New Orleans.

The Port of South Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, was the largest volume shipping port in the Western hemisphere and 4th largest in the world, as well as the largest bulk cargo port in the U.S. in 2004. The Port of South Louisiana continued to be the busiest port by tonnage in the U.S. through 2018. South Louisiana was number 15 among world ports in 2016.

Education

Louisiana is home to over 40 public and private colleges and universities including Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, and Tulane University in New Orleans. Louisiana State University is the largest and most comprehensive university in Louisiana; the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest by enrollment. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette became an R1 university in December 2021. Tulane University is a major private research university and the wealthiest university in Louisiana with an endowment over $1.1 billion. Tulane is also highly regarded for its academics nationwide, consistently ranked in the top 50 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best national universities.

Louisiana’s two oldest and largest HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) are Southern University in Baton Rouge and Grambling State University in Grambling. Both these Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) schools compete against each other in football annually in the much anticipated Bayou Classic during Thanksgiving weekend in the Superdome.

Transportation

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is the state government organization in charge of maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplain management, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and aviation which includes 69 airports.

Interstate Highways

The Intracoastal Waterway is an important means of transporting commercial goods such as petroleum and petroleum products, agricultural produce, building materials and manufactured goods. In 2018, the state sued the federal government to repair erosion along the waterway. In 2011, Louisiana ranked among the five deadliest states for debris/litter-caused vehicle accidents per total number of registered vehicles and population size. Figures derived from the NHTSA show at least 25 persons in Louisiana were killed per year in motor vehicle collisions with non-fixed objects, including debris, dumped litter, animals and their carcasses.

Mass Transit

Predominantly serving New Orleans, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is the largest transit agency in the state. Other transit organizations are St. Bernard Urban Rapid Transit, Jefferson Transit, Capital Area Transit System, Lafayette Transit System, Shreveport Area Transit System, and Monroe Transit, among others.

The Louisiana Transportation Authority (under the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development), was created in 2001, was created to "promote, plan, finance, develop, construct, control, regulate, operate and maintain any tollway or transitway to be constructed within its jurisdiction. Development, construction, improvement, expansion, and maintenance of an efficient, safe, and well-maintained intermodal transportation system is essential to promote Louisiana's economic growth and the ability of Louisiana's business and industry to compete in regional, national, and global markets and to provide a high quality of life for the people of Louisiana."

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