Michigan facts for kids
|State of Michigan|
|Nickname(s): "The Great Lake(s) State", "The Wolverine State", "The Mitten State", "Water (Winter) Wonderland"|
|Motto(s): 'Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice
(English: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you")
|Official language||None (English, de facto)|
|Spoken languages||English 91.11%
|Demonym||Michigander, Michiganian, Yooper (for residents of the Upper Peninsula)|
|Largest metro||Metro Detroit|
|- Total||96,716 sq mi
|- Width||386 miles (621 km)|
|- Length||456 miles (734 km)|
|- % water||41.5|
|- Latitude||41° 41' N to 48° 18' N|
|- Longitude||82° 7' W to 90° 25' W|
|Number of people||Ranked 10th|
|- Total||9,928,300 (2016 est)|
|- Density||174/sq mi (67.1/km2)
|- Average income||$54,203 (31st)|
|Height above sea level|
|- Highest point||Mount Arvon
1,979 ft (603 m)
|- Average||900 ft (270 m)|
|- Lowest point||Lake Erie
571 ft (174 m)
|Before statehood||Michigan Territory|
|Became part of the U.S.||January 26, 1837 (26th)|
|- most of state||Eastern: UTC −5/−4|
|- 4 U.P. counties (Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee)||Central: UTC −6/−5|
|Abbreviations||MI, Mich. US-MI|
|Michigan state symbols|
|Bird||American robin (Turdus migratorius)|
|Fish||Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)|
|Flower||Apple blossom (Malus domestica)
Wildflower: Dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris)
|Mammal||Unofficial: Wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus)
Game animal: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
|Reptile||Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)|
|Tree||Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)|
|Fossil||Mastodon (Mammut americanum)|
|Gemstone||Isle Royale greenstone|
|Song||"My Michigan" Archived December 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.|
|State route marker|
Released in 2004
|Lists of United States state symbols|
The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake".
Michigan is the only state to consist of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is often noted to be shaped like a mitten. The Upper Peninsula (often referred to as "the U.P.") is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km) channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The two peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge.
In 1805, the Michigan Territory was formed, which lasted until it was admitted into the Union on January 26, 1837, as the 26th state. The state of Michigan soon became an important center of industry and trade in the Great Lakes region and a popular immigrant destination.
Though Michigan has come to develop a diverse economy, it is widely known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, being home to the country's three major automobile companies (whose headquarters are all within the Detroit metropolitan area).
- Large cities, townships, and metropolitan areas
- State symbols and nicknames
- Sister regions
- Images for kids
- See also: History of Michigan
When the first European explorers arrived, the most populous tribes were Algonquian peoples, which include the Anishinaabe groups of Ojibwe (called "Chippewa" in French), Odaawaa/Odawa (Ottawa), and the Boodewaadamii/Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi). The three nations co-existed peacefully as part of a loose confederation called the Council of Three Fires. The Ojibwe, whose numbers are estimated to have been between 25,000 and 35,000, were the largest.
French voyageurs explored and settled in Michigan in the 17th century. The first Europeans to reach what became Michigan were those of Étienne Brûlé's expedition in 1622.
The first permanent European settlement was founded in 1668 on the site where Père Jacques Marquette established Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan as a base for Catholic missions. Missionaries in 1671–75 founded outlying stations at Saint Ignace and Marquette.
In 1701, French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit or "Fort Pontchartrain on-the-Strait" on the strait, known as the Detroit River, between lakes Saint Clair and Erie.
Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse Guyon, soon moved to Detroit, becoming one of the first European women to settle in the Michigan wilderness.
The town quickly became a major fur-trading and shipping post.
France offered free land to attract families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765, the largest city between Montreal and New Orleans.
From 1660 until the end of French rule, Michigan was part of the Royal Province of New France. In 1760, Montreal fell to the British forces ending the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Michigan and the rest of New France east of the Mississippi River passed to Great Britain. After the Quebec Act was passed in 1774, Michigan became part of the British Province of Quebec. By 1778, Detroit's population was up to 2,144 and it was the third largest city in Quebec.
During the American Revolutionary War, Detroit was an important British supply center.
Most of the inhabitants were French-Canadians or Native Americans, many of whom had been allied with the French.
Under terms negotiated in the 1794 Jay Treaty, Britain withdrew from Detroit and Michilimackinac in 1796.
During the War of 1812, Michigan Territory was surrendered after a nearly bloodless siege in 1812. An attempt to retake Detroit resulted in a severe American defeat in the River Raisin Massacre. Ultimately, Michigan was recaptured by Americans in 1813 after the Battle of Lake Erie.
The population grew slowly until the opening in 1825 of the Erie Canal connecting the Great Lakes and the Hudson River and New York City. The new route brought a large influx of settlers, who became farmers and merchants and shipped out grain, lumber, and iron ore. By the 1830s, Michigan had 80,000 residents, more than enough to apply and qualify for statehood.
In October 1835 the people approved the Constitution of 1835, thereby forming a state government, although Congressional recognition was delayed pending resolution of a boundary dispute with Ohio known as the Toledo War.
The Upper Peninsula proved to be a rich source of lumber, iron, and copper. Michigan led the nation in lumber production from the 1850s to the 1880s. Railroads became a major engine of growth from the 1850s onward, with Detroit the chief hub.
20th and 21st centuries
- See also: History of Ford Motor Company
Michigan's economy underwent a transformation at the turn of the 20th century. Many individuals, including Ransom E. Olds, John and Horace Dodge, Henry Leland, David Dunbar Buick, Henry Joy, Charles King, and Henry Ford, provided the concentration of engineering know-how and technological enthusiasm to start the birth of the automotive industry.
Ford's development of the moving assembly line in Highland Park marked the beginning of a new era in transportation. Like the steamship and railroad, it was a far-reaching development. More than the forms of public transportation, the automobile transformed private life. It became the major industry of Detroit and Michigan, and permanently altered the socio-economic life of the United States and much of the world.
With the growth, the auto industry created jobs in Detroit that attracted immigrants from Europe and migrants from across the United States, including those from the South.
By 1920, Detroit was the fourth-largest city in the US. Over the years immigrants and migrants contributed greatly to Detroit's diverse urban culture, including popular music trends, such as the influential Motown Sound of the 1960s led by a variety of individual singers and groups.
Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan, is also an important center of manufacturing. Since 1838, the city has also been noted for its furniture industry and is home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies. Grand Rapids is home to a number of major companies including Steelcase, Amway, and Meijer. Grand Rapids is also an important center for GE Aviation Systems.
In 1920 WWJ (AM) in Detroit became the first radio station in the United States to regularly broadcast commercial programs.
Agriculture also serves a significant role, making the state a leading grower of fruit in the US, including blueberries, cherries, apples, grapes and peaches.
Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between 82°30' to about 90°30' west longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac.
The 45th parallel north runs through the state—marked by highway signs and the Polar-Equator Trail—along a line including Mission Point Light near Traverse City, the towns of Gaylord and Alpena in the Lower Peninsula and Menominee in the Upper Peninsula.
With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land thus drained.
The Great Lakes that border Michigan from east to west are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. It has more public golf courses, registered boats, and lighthouses than any other state. The state is bounded on the south by the states of Ohio and Indiana, sharing land and water boundaries with both. Michigan's western boundaries are almost entirely water boundaries.
The heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The Porcupine Mountains, which are part of one of the oldest mountain chains in the world, rise to an altitude of almost 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level and form the watershed between the streams flowing into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The state's highest point, in the Huron Mountains northwest of Marquette, is Mount Arvon at 1,979 feet (603 m).
The peninsula is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined but has fewer than 330,000 inhabitants. They are sometimes called "Yoopers" (from "U.P.'ers"), and their speech (the "Yooper dialect") has been heavily influenced by the numerous Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants who settled the area during the lumbering and mining boom of the late 19th century.
The Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten and many residents hold up a hand to depict where they are from.
A feature of Michigan that gives it the distinct shape of a mitten is the Thumb. This peninsula projects out into Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay. The geography of the Thumb is mainly flat with a few rolling hills.
Numerous lakes and marshes mark both peninsulas, and the coast is much indented. Keweenaw Bay, Whitefish Bay, and the Big and Little Bays De Noc are the principal indentations on the Upper Peninsula. The Grand and Little Traverse, Thunder, and Saginaw bays indent the Lower Peninsula. Michigan has the second longest shoreline of any state—3,288 miles (5,292 km), including 1,056 miles (1,699 km) of island shoreline.
The state has numerous large islands, the principal ones being the North Manitou and South Manitou, Beaver, and Fox groups in Lake Michigan; Isle Royale and Grande Isle in Lake Superior; Marquette, Bois Blanc, and Mackinac islands in Lake Huron; and Neebish, Sugar, and Drummond islands in St. Mary's River.
Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, the most of any U.S. state. The first lighthouses in Michigan were built between 1818 and 1822. They were built to project light at night and to serve as a landmark during the day to safely guide the passenger ships and freighters traveling the Great Lakes. See Lighthouses in the United States.
The state's rivers are generally small, short and shallow, and few are navigable.
With 78 state parks, 19 state recreation areas, and 6 state forests, Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state. These parks and forests include Holland State Park, Mackinac Island State Park, Au Sable State Forest, and Mackinaw State Forest.
Michigan has a continental climate, although there are two distinct regions.
The southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula (south of Saginaw Bay and from the Grand Rapids area southward) have a warmer climate with hot summers and cold winters. The northern part of Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula has a more severe climate, with warm, but shorter summers and longer, cold to very cold winters.
The entire state averages 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. These can be severe, especially in the southern part of the state. The state averages 17 tornadoes per year, which are more common in the extreme southern portion of the state. Portions of the southern border have been almost as vulnerable historically as states further west and in Tornado Alley. For this reason, many communities in the very southern portions of the state are equipped with tornado sirens to warn residents of approaching tornadoes.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Michigan was 9,928,300 on July 1, 2016.
As of the 2010 American Community Survey for the U.S. Census, the state had a foreign-born population of 592,212, or 6.0% of the total. Michigan has the largest Dutch, Finnish, and Macedonian populations in the United States.
The 2010 Census reported:
- White American: 78.9% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 76.6%, White Hispanic: 2.3%)
- Black or African American: 14.2%
- American Indian: 0.6%
- Asian American: 2.4%
- Pacific Islander: <0.1%
- Some other race: 1.5%
- Multiracial: 2.3%
In the same year Hispanics or Latinos (of any race) made up 4.4% of the population.
The large majority of Michigan's population is Caucasian. Americans of European descent live throughout Michigan and most of Metro Detroit. Large European American groups include those of German, British, Irish, Polish and Belgian ancestry. People of Scandinavian descent, and those of Finnish ancestry, have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula. Western Michigan is known for the Dutch heritage of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in Holland and metropolitan Grand Rapids.
African-Americans, who came to Detroit and other northern cities in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, form a majority of the population of the city of Detroit and of other cities, including Flint and Benton Harbor.
As of 2007, almost 8,000 Hmong people lived in the State of Michigan, about double their 1999 presence in the state. As of 2007 most lived in northeastern Detroit, but they had been increasingly moving to Pontiac and Warren. By 2015 the number of Hmong in the Detroit city limits had significantly declined. Lansing hosts a statewide Hmong New Year Festival. The Hmong community also had a prominent portrayal in the 2008 film Gran Torino, which was set in Detroit.
As of 2015, 80% of Michigan's Japanese population lived in the counties of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. As of April 2013, the largest Japanese national population is in Novi, with 2,666 Japanese residents, and the next largest populations are respectively in Ann Arbor, West Bloomfield Township, Farmington Hills, and Battle Creek. The state has 481 Japanese employment facilities providing 35,554 local jobs.
A person from Michigan is called a Michigander or Michiganian; also at times, but rarely, a "Michiganite". Residents of the Upper Peninsula are sometimes referred to as "Yoopers" (a phonetic pronunciation of "U.P.ers"), and Upper Peninsula residents sometimes refer to those from the Lower Peninsula as "trolls" because they live below the bridge.
Products and services include automobiles, food products, information technology, aerospace, military equipment, furniture, and mining of copper and iron ore.
Michigan is the third leading grower of Christmas trees with 60,520 acres (245 km2) of land dedicated to Christmas tree farming.
The beverage Vernors was invented in Michigan in 1866, sharing the title of oldest soft drink with Hires Root Beer.
Faygo was founded in Detroit on November 4, 1907. Two of the top four pizza chains were founded in Michigan and are headquartered there: Domino's Pizza by Tom Monaghan and Little Caesars Pizza by Mike Ilitch.
A wide variety of commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, making it second only to California among U.S. states in the diversity of its agriculture.
The most valuable agricultural product is milk.
Leading crops include corn, soybeans, flowers, wheat, sugar beets and potatoes. Livestock in the state included 1 million cattle, 1 million hogs, 78,000 sheep and over 3 million chickens. Livestock products accounted for 38% of the value of agricultural products while crops accounted for the majority.
Michigan is a leading grower of fruit in the U.S., including blueberries, tart cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches. Plums, pears, and strawberries are also grown in Michigan. These fruits are mainly grown in West Michigan due to the moderating effect of Lake Michigan on the climate. There is also significant fruit production, especially cherries, but also grapes, apples, and other fruits, in Northwest Michigan along Lake Michigan.
Michigan produces wines, beers and a multitude of processed food products. Kellogg's cereal is based in Battle Creek, Michigan and processes many locally grown foods. Thornapple Valley, Ball Park Franks, Koegel Meat Company, and Hebrew National sausage companies are all based in Michigan.
Michigan is home to very fertile land in the Saginaw Valley and "Thumb" areas. Products grown there include corn, sugar beets, navy beans, and soy beans. Sugar beet harvesting usually begins the first of October. It takes the sugar factories about five months to process the 3.7 million tons of sugarbeets into 485,000 tons of pure, white sugar. Michigan's largest sugar refiner, Michigan Sugar Company is the largest east of the Mississippi River and the fourth largest in the nation.
Michigan is fifty percent forest land, much of it quite remote. The forests, lakes and thousands of miles of beaches are top attractions.
Event tourism draws large numbers to occasions like the Tulip Time Festival and the National Cherry Festival.
Tourism in metropolitan Detroit draws visitors to leading attractions, especially The Henry Ford, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Zoo, and to sports in Detroit. Other museums include the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, museums in the Cranbrook Educational Community, and the Arab American National Museum.
Hunting and fishing are significant industries in the state. Charter boats are based in many Great Lakes cities to fish for salmon, trout, walleye and perch. Michigan ranks first in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy.
The state has the highest number of golf courses and registered snowmobiles in the nation.
Canadian international crossings
Michigan has nine international road crossings with Ontario, Canada:
- Ambassador Bridge, North America's busiest international border, crossing the Detroit River
- Blue Water Bridge, a twin-span bridge (Port Huron, Michigan, and Point Edward, Ontario, but the larger city of Sarnia is usually referred to on the Canadian side)
- Blue Water Ferry (Marine City, Michigan, and Sombra, Ontario)
- Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel
- Detroit–Windsor Truck Ferry (Detroit and Windsor)
- Detroit–Windsor Tunnel
- International Bridge (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario)
- St. Clair River Railway Tunnel (Port Huron and Sarnia)
- Walpole Island Ferry (Algonac, Michigan, and Walpole Island First Nation, Ontario)
A second international bridge is currently under consideration between Detroit and Windsor.
Amtrak passenger rail services the state, connecting many southern and western Michigan cities to Chicago, Illinois. There are plans for commuter rail for Detroit and its suburbs (see SEMCOG Commuter Rail).
The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, located in the western suburb of Romulus, was in 2010 the 16th busiest airfield in North America measured by passenger traffic. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids is the next busiest airport in the state, served by eight airlines to 23 destinations. Flint Bishop International Airport is the third largest airport in the state, served by four airlines to several primary hubs. Smaller regional and local airports are located throughout the state including on several islands. Cherry Capital Airport is located in Traverse City.
Large cities, townships, and metropolitan areas
|Largest metropolitan areas in Michigan|
|Rank||Combined Statistical Area||Population|
Other economically significant cities include:
- Battle Creek, known as "Cereal City", is the headquarters of Kellogg.
- Benton Harbor–St. Joseph is the headquarters of Whirlpool Corporation.
- East Lansing is the home of Michigan State University.
- Holland is the home of Tulip Time, the largest tulip festival in the US.
- Jackson is the headquarters of CMS Energy.
- Manistee is home to the world's largest salt plant, owned by Morton Salt.
- Marquette is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula with 19,661 people and home of Northern Michigan University.
- Midland is the headquarters of the Dow Chemical Company and the Dow Corning Corporation.
- Sault Ste. Marie is the home of the Soo Locks and Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge.
- Traverse City is the "Cherry Capital of the World", making Michigan the nation's largest producer of cherries and is also the largest city in Northern Michigan.
Half of the wealthiest communities in the state are located in Oakland County, just north of Detroit. Another wealthy community is located just east of the city, in Grosse Pointe. Only three of these cities are located outside of Metro Detroit. The city of Detroit itself, with a per capita income of $14,717, ranks 517th on the list of Michigan locations by per capita income. Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of $8,965, while Barton Hills is the richest with a per capita income of $110,683.
State symbols and nicknames
Michigan is, by tradition, known as "The Wolverine State," and the University of Michigan takes the wolverine as its mascot. The association is well and long established: for example, many Detroiters volunteered to fight during the American Civil War and George Armstrong Custer, who led the Michigan Brigade, called them the "Wolverines". The origins of this association are obscure; it may derive from a busy trade in wolverine furs in Sault Ste. Marie in the 18th century or may recall a disparagement intended to compare early settlers in Michigan with the vicious mammal. Wolverines are, however, extremely rare in Michigan. A sighting in February 2004 near Ubly was the first confirmed sighting in Michigan in 200 years. The animal was found dead in 2010.
- State nicknames: Wolverine State, Great Lake State, Mitten State, Water-Winter Wonderland
- State motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (Latin: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you") adopted in 1835 on the coat-of-arms, but never as an official motto. This is a paraphrase of the epitaph of British architect Sir Christopher Wren about his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.
- State song: "My Michigan" (official since 1937, but disputed amongst residents), "Michigan, My Michigan" (Unofficial state song, since the civil war)
- State bird: American robin (since 1931)
- State animal: wolverine (traditional)
- State game animal: white-tailed deer (since 1997)
- State fish: brook trout (since 1965)
- State reptile: painted turtle (since 1995)
- State fossil: mastodon (since 2000)
- State flower: apple blossom (adopted in 1897, official in 1997)
- State wildflower: dwarf lake iris (since 1998) a federally listed threatened species
- State tree: white pine (since 1955)
- State stone: Petoskey stone (since 1965). It is composed of fossilized coral (Hexagonaria pericarnata) from long ago when the middle of the continent was covered with a shallow sea.
- State gem: Isle Royale greenstone (since 1973). Also called chlorastrolite (literally "green star stone"), the mineral is found on Isle Royale and the Keweenaw peninsula.
- State quarter: U.S. coin issued in 2004 with the Michigan motto "Great Lakes State".
- State soil: Kalkaska sand (since 1990), ranges in color from black to yellowish brown, covers nearly 1,000,000-acre (4,000 km2) in 29 counties.
Images for kids
Michigan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.