Michigan (State)

State Of Michigan


Thousands of years before Europeans came here, Michigan was home to several Indian tribes: the Ojibway, the Menominee, the Ottawa, the Miami, and the Potawatomi. They were all Algonquin, a group of indigenous peoples of North America, united by their language kinship. The only exceptions were the Wyandots (Huron), who belonged to the Iroquois tribe and lived in the area of present-day Detroit. The total number of the indigenous population before the arrival of the Europeans reached 35 thousand people.

French explorers and hunters were the first Europeans to arrive here. In 1622, the Frenchman Etienne Brûlé visited the area and explored the Great Lakes and the Upper Peninsula. But 40 years later, in 1668, the first permanent settlement – the Catholic Mission of Salt St. Mary in the Upper Peninsula founded by the Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette – was established. The name of this distinguished explorer of North America is greatly honored in the state: the county, city, island, university, and schools are named after him. Today, Salt St. Mary is a thriving city, the oldest in the Midwestern United States.

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, settlements appeared along the entire Michigan coast of the Great Lakes. In 1701, French officer Antoine de la Motte Cadillac established a fort on the Lower Peninsula that later became Detroit, one of the largest industrial cities in the United States.

At that time the territory of Michigan was part of the province of Louisiana, which in turn was part of the colony of New France. The French did little economic development in the area, preferring fur trading and missionary activities.

As a result of a series of wars between the few French colonists and the regular English army in the second half of the 18th century, Michigan became British property. The English held the territory until the very end of the 18th century, even after the defeat in the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and recognition of the United States as an independent state.

During the wars with the British Indian tribes sided with the British. After the war, the American government forced the Indians to sell their land for next to nothing and move it to reservations in the western United States.

Michigan’s population began to grow dramatically when the Erie Canal was opened in 1825, connecting the Hudson River and New York City to the Great Lakes. Michigan became the twenty-sixth state in the United States in 1837.

In the mid-nineteenth century iron and copper were found in the Upper Peninsula, launching the development of the mining industry.

In the nineteenth century Michigan was America’s first for lumbering. Michiganders joined the Army of the North en masse during the American Civil War, 1861-1865.

Michigan’s first Oldsmobile automobile plant opened in Lansing in 1897, Ford settled in Detroit in 1903, and General Motors in 1908. Michigan became the center of the U.S. auto industry.

It remains so today, despite economic and social crises.

In the 1960s, a significant number of blacks from the southern United States settled in Michigan. They were dissatisfied with unemployment, and in 1967 there was a civil unrest in Detroit known as the 12th Street Riot. “The Detroit Riot is one of the largest cases of civil disobedience in U.S. history: forty-three people were killed and more than two thousand buildings were destroyed.


Michigan’s nickname: “The Great Lakes State.” Forty percent of the state is covered with water: lakes, rivers, and ponds. Only Alaska has more water.

The upper peninsula is lowland and marshy, taking up one-third of Michigan’s land area. The lower peninsula is flat with low hills, nicknamed “the mitten” for its peculiar shape. It has more than 6,000 lakes.

The Upper and Lower Peninsulas are separated by the Makino Strait, which is called a “canal” here. It also connects the two Great Lakes, Huron and Michigan. The minimum width of the strait is 8 km, and it has four islands: two inhabited and two not. There are four lighthouses along the shores of the strait, which are a historical landmark of the state. In total, Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, more than any other state in the United States.

The Upper Peninsula is sparsely populated, and here nature has been preserved in almost pristine condition. About a third of the peninsula is covered with dense forests. The local fauna is astonishingly diverse for such an industrialized state as Michigan. The forests are home to bears, elk, deer, wolves, foxes, otters, martens, bobcats, coyotes, hares, chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons. A lot of birds: hawks, gulls, warblers. You can see here a rare white-headed eagle large birds of prey family of hawks, which is one of the national symbols of the United States Rivers and lakes of the Upper Peninsula abound with fish. Anglers from all over the United States come here to fish for pikeperch, trout, and salmon.


Michigan’s industry, mostly automotive, is concentrated in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula. The Detroit area is home to the headquarters of the “big three” American automakers: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. In total, there are more than 4,000 plants and factories related to the automobile industry in the state.

In addition to cars, Michigan is known for the production of industrial lasers and home appliances. The leading companies in the field of information technology have also settled here: “IBM, Google, Hewlett-Packard.

Michigan has a long history of mining: copper, nickel, and silver. But the state has long since given up its leading position in mining, and these days the old mines have been adapted into original museums and attractions for tourists.

Because Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, water transportation plays an important role in the state’s economy. The port of Detroit is one of the largest in the United States.

There are thirty-eight ports in Michigan. Passengers depart from here by boat on Great Lakes cruises with access on the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic. Various cargoes are also shipped and delivered through these ports.


Michigan’s population is predominantly European, most of them descended from Scandinavian settlers, mainly Finns, who made their home in the Upper Peninsula.

Michiganders are known for their sense of humor and their ability to play jokes on each other. They call the Upper Peninsula people “Yupers” (from Upper Peninsula “Upper Peninsula”), and the Lower Peninsula people “Trolls” (because they live below the Mackinac Bridge that connects the peninsulas).

Michigan is also the center of higher education in the United States. The University of Michigan in East Lansing is world-famous for its 50,000 students. Founded in 1855 as the first agricultural college in the United States, today it is the ninth largest university in the United States.

General Information

  • Location: North America.
  • Official name: Michigan.
  • Largest state east of the Mississippi River: 11th-largest in the United States.
  • Form of government: governor, senate, and house of representatives.
  • Administrative divisions: 83 counties, 1,240 townships, 276 cities, 257 rural communities.
  • Capital city: Lansing, 114,297 (2010).
  • Language: English.
  • Ethnicity: White 79.8%, African-American 14.2%, Native American 0.6%, Asian 2.4%, Métis 1.5%, and Other 1.5% (2010).
  • Religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Judaism, and Islam.
  • Currency: U.S. dollar.
  • Descendants of immigrants: Scandinavians, Germans, Irish, English, Poles, French, and Italians.
  • Big cities: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights.
  • Most important port: Detroit.
  • Major airports: Detroit-Metropolitan Wayne County (Detroit), Bishop (Flint), Gerald R. Ford (Grand Rapids), Kalamazoo-Battle Creek (Kalamau), Lansing, Sawyer (Marquette).
  • Major rivers: Michigamme, Manistee, O-Sable, Shiawassee, Huron, Kalamazoo, Grand River, Muskegon.
  • Largest lakes: Michigan, Superior, Guron, Erie, Godzbeak, St. Clair, Houghton, Higgins, Mule, Burt.
  • The largest islands are North and South Manitou (Lake Michigan), Royal and Grand Island (Lake Superior), and Bois Blanc and Maquino (Lake Huron).
  • Area: 250,493 km2.
  • Water surface area: 41.5%.
  • Population: 9,876,187 (2011).
  • Population density: 67.4 people/km2.
  • Average altitude of the area: 270 m.
  • Highest point: Mount Arvon (603 m).
  • Lowest point: Lake Erie (174 m).
  • Total coastline length: 5.2 thousand km (the longest among the states with no access to the ocean).


  • GDP: $372.4 billion (2010).
  • Industries: automotive industry, iron and steel, information technology, electronics, defense industry, chemical industry, timber industry.
  • Agriculture: plant growing (grain and leguminous crops, horticulture, cultivation of forest berries), cattle breeding (cattle).
  • Sphere of services: tourism, transport (water, rail, automobile, aviation), financial.

Climate and weather

  • Humid continental climate. Considerable influence of Great Lakes.
  • Average temperature in January: +7.5°C.
  • Average temperature of July: +19°C.
  • Average annual rainfall: 800 mm.
  • Relative humidity: 70%.
  • Frequent and heavy snowfalls and blizzards in winter (“Lake snow effect”).
  • Tornadoes and thunderstorms in summer.


  • Museums: Museum of Motown (Detroit), Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn), Great Lakes Museum and Aquarium (Belle Isle)
  • Car plants in Dearborn, Detroit, Flint, Laxing and Pontiac
  • Great Lakes Coast
  • Isle Royale National Park (Lake Superior)
  • Michigan Space Center (Jackson)
  • Mackinac Bridge
  • Tuckwamenon Falls
  • Reconstructed Greenfield Village (near Dearborn)
  • Deswan Windmill
  • Soo’s locks on the navigation channel at St. Mary’s Falls
  • Mackinac Island and Fort
  • Cave paintings and Sleeping Bear dunes
  • Renaissance Center (Detroit)

Fun Facts

  • Takwamenon Falls (22 m high) is distinguished by the fact that its flow is colored golden brown. Upstream are marshes, and the riverbanks are covered with cedars, spruces, and hemlock trees, which cause a significant amount of tannins to enter the water. Takwamenon is the largest naturally colored waterfall in the United States.
  • As a consequence of Michigan being on two peninsulas with major economic differences between them, there have been several attempts in the state’s history to make Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (and part of Wisconsin) a separate state. They even came up with a name for it; Upper, after Lake Superior.
  • Anyone in Michigan would be no further than 10 km from the inland body of water and no more than 137 km from the Great Lakes.
  • It takes seven years to completely paint the Mackinac Bridge over the Mackinac Strait and then begin again.
  • The motto of the state of Michigan, translated from the Latin, is “If you’re looking for an interesting peninsula, look around.”
  • Symbols of Michigan are the white eastern pine, apple blossom, wolverine, and wandering thrush.
  • The name of the city of Detroit is of French origin and reads “detroit” and translates to “strait” because Detroit is also the river connecting Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, for which the city is named.
  • The city of Cadillac in Michigan and the famous American car brand are named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. Mr. Cadillac’s wife, Marie-Thérèse Guyon, was one of the first European women to arrive in the Michigan wilderness in the 18th century.
  • The state’s residents are called “Michiganders” or “Michiganians.
  • Michigan is home to the world’s only floating post office, the J.W. Westcott Second. The ship delivers mail to ships on the Great Lakes that do not make port stops. This post office has been in operation since 1874.
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