84 Interesting Facts About Mississippi

Last updated on December 12th, 2023

Mississippi is the 34th most populous and the 32nd most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the south-eastern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on December 10, 1817, becoming the 20th state to join the union. Its four bordering states are Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas. See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Mississippi (nicknamed: the Magnolia State and the Hospitality State) has 82 counties. The state’s capital is Jackson. The abbreviation for Mississippi is MS. With these facts about Mississippi, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

Mississippi state facts

1. Descendants of the Paleo-Indians were the first people to live in the area now known as Mississippi. They were hunter-gatherers who first appeared about 18,000 years ago.

2. The French established the first permanent settlement in present-day Mississippi in 1699. Before the arrival of the Europeans, three groups of people inhabited the place: the Natchez, the Chickasaw, and the Choctaw.

3. On January 9, 1861, MS became the second southern state to declare its secession from the United States of America.

4. The name of the state is derived from the Mississippi River. The settlers in the region named the state from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (meaning “Great River”).The Mississippi River forms the western boundary of the state and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi on the map


5. After the Missouri River, the Mississippi River is the second largest river of the United States. It is 3,778 km long. The Mississippi River lies entirely within the United States.

6. Did you know that the name of the state’s capital city –Jackson was adopted from the name of General Andrew Jackson (was honored for his role in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812)? Andrew Jackson later became the 7th president of the United States. See the full list of the presidents of the U.S. here.

7. Mississippi is 340 miles long and 170 miles wide.

8. The world’s first human lung transplant was performed by Dr. James Hardy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson on June 11, 1963. However, the recipient, unfortunately, survived for only 18 days.

9. James Hardy performed the first heart transplant on a human at the University of Mississippi Medical Center on January 23, 1964. A Chimpanzee’s heart was used, and the patient lived for 90 minutes.

Curtiss Robin J-1 Deluxe "Ole Miss" at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Photo taken by Eric Long. Photo taken on August 15, 2017.
Curtiss Robin J-1 Deluxe “Ole Miss” at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Photo taken by Eric Long on August 15, 2017.

10. Did you know that the world record for keeping an airplane airborne for the longest duration is held by Brothers Fred and Al Key, aka “the Flying Keys” of Meridian, Mississippi? The duo was able to accomplish the longest airborne flight and keep the airplane airborne for 27 days, 5 hours, and 34 minutes. After two failed attempts, they took off from Meridian Municipal Airport on June 4, 1935, and landed the plane safely on July 1, 1935. The airport was later renamed Key Field in their honor.

11. A brilliant physicist from Jackson, Mississippi, Henry Sampson, is credited with inventing the gamma-electric cell. He created it in the 1970s.

12. Elizabeth Hazen, a native of Mississippi, and another researcher, Rachel Brown developed the anti-fungal antibiotic nystatin. It was a long-distance research relationship, and they shared results through the mail services.

13. The National Geographic Magazine used to be printed in Corinth, Mississippi. About nine million copies were printed every month.

14. Even though shoes were sold everywhere for many years, the first pair of shoes was sold in the US in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1884.

Mississippi on the map with bordering states

Mississippi on the map
Mississippi (in red) on the map with bordering states.

15. Did you know that established in 1884, “Mississippi University for Women” was the first public college for Women in the United States?

16. The National Space Grant is awarded to the Mississippi State University for space-related research. Sixteen Community Colleges and universities are involved with the state wide space grant consortium.

17. Children relied on their parents to tutor them at home in Mississippi before 1821. That changed for boys when the Franklin Academy for Boys was established.

18. The most extensive collection of original manuscripts of children’s literature can be found at the University of Southern Mississippi. The collection also includes videos, toys, CD-Roms, and audio cassettes.

Coca Cola

19. Did you know that the first bottling of Coca-Cola began in 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi?

20. The first nuclear submarine built in the South was the USS Nautilus. The keel was laid in 1952, and the submarine was commissioned in 1954.

21. The well-known sledges from Blazon-Flexible Flyer Inc. were made in Westpoint, Mississippi. It provided millions of kids with endless hours of fun.

22. “Memorial Day” or “Decoration Day” finds its origin in Columbus, MS. Women on April 25, 1866, decorated the graves of both the Confederate and Union soldiers in Friendship Cemetery in the city, marking the beginning of the celebration of the day in the honor of those who lost their lives while serving in the United States armed forces.

23. Did you know that more than 750 Civil War battles were fought in Mississippi? And unfortunately, the capital city Jackson was burnt down three times during the period.

24. More than 38 percent of the men from D’Lo in Simpson County, Mississippi, were sent to participate in World War Two. That was more than any other town of the same size.

25. Liberty, Mississippi, is where Borden’s condensed milk was first canned in the US. Two factories were opened in 1853 to create a shelf-stable milk product.

26. In 1929, a Jackson, Mississippi native, Harry Cole, invented Pine Sol. Now you know why this area smells so fresh and lemony.

soft toilet seat cover

27. Did you know that the patent for soft toilet seat cover belongs to David Harrison of Columbus, Mississippi? At least 1 million of these covers are sold every year. He was granted the patent on Feb 4, 1975.

28. Edward Adolf Barq is the man who invented root beer in 1898 in Biloxi, Mississippi. That was after he bought the Artesian Bottling Works on Keller Avenue.

29. The first topographical map made of a US state was made by Gail Bordon in 1838. Bordon settled in Mississippi and worked as a surveyor.

30. The first football player seen on a Wheaties box was one of the game’s best running backs, Walter Paton, in 1986. He was born in Columbia, Mississippi.

31. While hunting in Onwa, Mississippi, President Roosevelt refused to kill a trapped bear. The event occurred in 1902, and the story spread throughout the country.

32. Captain Isaac Ross from Lorman, Mississippi, freed all his slaves in 1834. He arranged for them to return to Africa, where they found Liberia.

33. Casey Jones, a famous railroad engineer, died in a train accident when he collided with a stalled train at Vaughan, Mississippi, on April 30, 1900.

Dollar sign
Image credit – Marco Verch Pro

34. Oliver Pollock, who first used the dollar sign, is buried near Pinckneyville in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. He created the sign by accident.

35. The famous hatmaker, John Stetson, learned his trade in Dunn’s Falls close to Meridian, Mississippi. He also practiced the trade here for a while.

36. More than 63 percent of Mississippi residents attend church weekly or almost every week. In 2008 and 2009, they were the most in the whole of America.

37. The state has the highest percentage of black residents (more than 35%) of any U.S. state.

38. Did you know that life expectancy at birth in Mississippi is the lowest of all states and has historically been low?

39. Elvis Presley (“The King of Rock and Roll”), born on January 08, 1935, regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century was born in Tupelo, MS.

40. Britney Spears, the famous American pop singer was born in McComb, MS.

Kermit the frog
Kermit the frog

41. Jim Henson, the voice of the famous frog, Kermit, is a native of Greenville, Mississippi. It is the place where the creator of Kermit played as a child.

42. Rock and Roll is a world-famous music genre, which was first coined in Cleveland. Some people think that Chuck Berry innovated this music. However, disc jockey Alan Freed was the one who played this music style the very first time in 1951. Many of you already know that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also situated in Mainland.

43. The music genre known as Delta Blues, one of the oldest Blues styles, started in the Mississippi Delta. It emerged as a recognizable style around 1880 or 1890.

44. Another interesting fact is that the University of Mississippi Blues Archives in Oxford has the largest Blues music collection. There are more than 60,000 sound recordings.

45. Natchez is home town of Black-Swan, the pseudonym of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield. She was the first African American singer of Classic music. She was known as the best concert singer at that time. In October 1851, she gave an astounding performance in Buffalo, New York. Her appearance caused a great buzz since it was the first time in the history that a black singer appeared in a concert. A reporter from the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser dubbed her as the “Black Swan – that name stayed with her till her death.

46. Jackson, Miss. along with Helsinki (Finland), Moscow (Russia) and Varna (Bulgaria) are the only 4 cities in the world officially sanctioned to host the International Ballet Competition. In 1978, the non-profit corporation, Mississippi Ballet International, Inc. (MBI), was created to produce the first International Ballet Competition in the United States.

47. Oprah Winfrey, the famous TV host was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States.

48. If you have read the novel “The Optimist’s Daughter by Welty,” you should know that Author Eudora Welty was born and raised in Jackson, Miss., in 1909. She is one of the renowned writers of the 20th Century. For this novel, she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and honored the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and later, she received the National Medal of Arts (it is the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government.)

Alice in Wonderland
For illustrative purposes only. Image credit – cea +

49. Are you ready for a surprising fact about Oxford, Mississippi? Well, Alice from Alice in Wonderland was a real girl, Alice Liddel, living in Oxford with her father, Christ Church’s Dean. He has a friend named Charles Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carrol. Lewis spent much time with Alice and her family. Therefore he based a leading character of his novel in 1865 on that girl. Interesting, isn’t it?

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