31 Important Facts About Mississippi

Last updated on May 19th, 2019

Mississippi is the 34th most populous and the 32nd most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the southeastern 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. With these facts about Mississippi, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

Mississippi facts

1. The French established the first permanent settlement in present-day Mississippi in 1699.[4] Before the arrival of the Europeans, three groups of people inhabited the place: the Natchez, the Chickasaw, and the Choctaw.

2. On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second southern state to declare its secession from the United States of America.[17]

3. 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”).[1] The Mississippi River forms the western boundary of the state and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.[2]

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

4. 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.[25]

5. On average, Mississippi is affected by 27 tornadoes each year. Also, note that two of the five deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history have occurred in the state.[1]

6. 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.[5]

7. 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, Mississippi.[8]

8. “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.[13]

Mississippi on the map 

9. Did you know that established in 1884, “Mississippi University for Women” was the first public college for Women in the United States?[24,26]

10. More than 50% of the area of the state is covered by wild or cultivated trees.[1]

11. Oprah Winfrey, the famous TV host was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States.[3]

12. The state has the highest population of black residents (more than 35%) of any U.S. state.[1,10]

13. It is noteworthy that Mississippi is home to NASA’s largest rocket engine test facility – The John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) located in Hancock County.[19]

14. Mississippi produces more than 50% of America’s farm-raised catfish. The other top catfish-producing states include Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas. Belzoni, Mississippi is also known as the “Catfish Capital of the World.”[4,6]

Flag of Mississippi

Mississippi flag

15. Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S. The state has the lowest average income among the 50 U.S. states. However, the state has some of the nicest and most generous people in the country.[7]

16. 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.[22]

17. 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.[9]

18. Did you know that the first bottling of coca-cola began in 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi?[14] 

19. Did you know that the name of the state’s capital city 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. See the full list of the presidents of the U.S. here.[18]

20. 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.  

21. Britney Spears, the famous American pop singer was born in McComb, MS.[21] 

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