Mississippi

State of the United States of America
State of Mississippi
Flag of Mississippi State seal of Mississippi
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

“The Magnolia State”, “The Hospitality State”
Motto(s): Virtute et Armis
State song(s): “Go, Mississippi
Map of the United States with Mississippi highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Mississippian
Capital
.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
(and largest city)
Jackson
Largest metro Greater Jackson
Area Ranked 32nd
 • Total 48,430 sq mi
(125,443 km2)
 • Width 170 miles (275 km)
 • Length 340 miles (545 km)
 • % water 3%
 • Latitude 30° 12′ N to 35° N
 • Longitude 88° 06′ W to 91° 39′ W
Population Ranked 34th
 • Total 2,986,530 (2018)
 • Density 63.5/sq mi  (24.5/km2)
Ranked 32nd
 • Median household income $40,037[1] (51st)
Elevation
 • Highest point Woodall Mountain[2][3][4]
807 ft (246.0 m)
 • Mean 300 ft  (90 m)
 • Lowest point Gulf of Mexico[3]
Sea level
Before statehood Mississippi Territory
Admission to Union December 10, 1817 (20th)
Governor Phil Bryant (R)
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (R)
Legislature Mississippi Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
U.S. House delegation 1: Trent Kelly (R)
2: Bennie Thompson (D)
3: Michael Guest (R)
4: Steven Palazzo (R) (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-MS
Abbreviations MS, Miss.
Website www.ms.gov
Mississippi state symbols
Flag of Mississippi.svg

The Flag of Mississippi
Seal of Mississippi (2014–present).svg

The Seal of Mississippi
Coat of arms of Mississippi.svg

The Coat of arms of Mississippi
Living insignia
Bird
  • Northern mockingbird
  • (Mimus polyglottos)
Butterfly
  • Spicebush swallowtail
  • (Papilio troilus)
Fish
  • Largemouth bass
  • (Micropterus salmoides)
Flower Magnolia
Insect
  • Western honey bee
  • (Apis mellifera)
Mammal White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Reptile
  • American alligator
  • (Alligator mississippiensis)
Tree
  • Southern magnolia
  • (Magnolia grandiflora)
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Colors red and blue
Dance Clogging
Food Sweet potato
Gemstone Emerald
Mineral Gold
Rock Granite
Shell
  • Eastern oyster
  • (Crassostrea virginica)
Slogan First Flight (unofficial)
State route marker
Mississippi state route marker
State quarter
Mississippi quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Mississippi (/ˌmɪsɪˈsɪpi/ (About this soundlisten)) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state’s western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 167,000 people, is both the state’s capital and largest city.

The state is heavily forested outside the Mississippi Delta area, which is the area between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. Before the American Civil War, most development in the state was along riverfronts, as the waterways were critical for transportation. Large gangs of slaves were used to work on cotton plantations. After the war, freedmen began to clear the bottomlands to the interior, in the process selling off timber and buying property. By the end of the 19th century, African Americans made up two-thirds of the Delta’s property owners, but timber and railroad companies acquired much of the land after the financial crisis, which occurred when blacks were facing increasing racial discrimination and disfranchisement in the state.

Clearing of the land for plantations altered the Delta’s ecology, increasing the severity of flooding along the Mississippi by taking out trees and bushes that had absorbed excess waters. Much land is now held by agribusinesses. A largely rural state with agricultural areas dominated by industrial farms, Mississippi is ranked low or last among the states in such measures as health, educational attainment, and median household income.[5][6][7] The state’s catfish aquaculture farms produce the majority of farm-raised catfish consumed in the United States.[8]

Since the 1930s and the Great Migration of African Americans to the North and West, the majority of Mississippi’s population has been white, although the state still has the highest percentage of black residents of any U.S. state. From the early 19th century to the 1930s, its residents were majority black, and before the American Civil War that population was composed largely of African-American slaves. Democratic Party whites retained political power through disfranchisement and Jim Crow laws. In the first half of the 20th century, nearly 400,000 rural blacks left the state for work and opportunities in northern and midwestern cities, with another wave of migration around World War II to West Coast cities. In the early 1960s, Mississippi was the poorest state in the nation, with 86% of its non-whites living below the poverty level.[9]

In 2010, 37% of Mississippians were African Americans, the highest percentage of African Americans in any U.S. state. Since regaining enforcement of their voting rights in the late 1960s, most African Americans have supported Democratic candidates in local, state and national elections. Conservative whites have shifted to the Republican Party. African Americans are a majority in many counties of the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, an area of historic slave settlement during the plantation era.

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Major cities and towns
    • 2.2 Climate
    • 2.3 Ecology, flora, and fauna
    • 2.4 Ecological problems

      • 2.4.1 Flooding
  • 3 History

    • 3.1 Colonial era
    • 3.2 United States territory
    • 3.3 Statehood, 1817–1861
    • 3.4 Civil War to 20th century
    • 3.5 20th century to present
  • 4 Demographics

    • 4.1 Ancestry
    • 4.2 Language
    • 4.3 Religion
    • 4.4 Birth data
    • 4.5 LGBT
  • 5 Health
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Entertainment and tourism
    • 6.2 Manufacturing
    • 6.3 Taxation
    • 6.4 Federal subsidies and spending
  • 7 Politics and government

    • 7.1 Laws
  • 8 Political alignment
  • 9 Transportation

    • 9.1 Air
    • 9.2 Roads
    • 9.3 Rail

      • 9.3.1 Passenger
      • 9.3.2 Freight
    • 9.4 Water

      • 9.4.1 Major rivers
      • 9.4.2 Major bodies of water
  • 10 Education
  • 11 Culture

    • 11.1 Music
    • 11.2 Literature
    • 11.3 Sports
  • 12 Notable people
  • 13 See also
  • 14 Footnotes
  • 15 Further reading
  • 16 External links

Etymology

The state’s name is derived from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary. Settlers named it after the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (“Great River”).

Geography

Major highways and waterways in Mississippi

Bottomland hardwood swamp near Ashland, Mississippi

Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by Louisiana and a narrow coast on the Gulf of Mexico; and to the west, across the Mississippi River, by Louisiana and Arkansas.

In addition to its namesake, major rivers in Mississippi include the Big Black River, the Pearl River, the Yazoo River, the Pascagoula River, and the Tombigbee River. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake with the largest lake being Sardis Lake.

Mississippi is entirely composed of lowlands, the highest point being Woodall Mountain, in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, 807 feet (246 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Gulf Coast. The state’s mean elevation is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level.

Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. The coastal plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. The Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast have somewhat higher elevations. Yellow-brown loess soil is found in the western parts of the state. The northeast is a region of fertile black earth that extends into the Alabama Black Belt.

The coastline includes large bays at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico proper by the shallow Mississippi Sound, which is partially sheltered by Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East and West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island, and Cat Island.

The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The plain is narrow in the south and widens north of Vicksburg. The region has rich soil, partly made up of silt which had been regularly deposited by the flood waters of the Mississippi River.

Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:[10]

  • Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site near Baldwyn
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail in Tupelo
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Tupelo National Battlefield in Tupelo
  • Vicksburg National Military Park and Cemetery in Vicksburg

Major cities and towns

Jackson, Mississippi

Northwest view of Gulfport Harbor Square Commercial Historic District, Gulfport, Mississippi

Strawberry Patch Park in Madison, Mississippi

Map with all counties and many cities and towns labeled

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 50,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Jackson (166,965)
  2. Gulfport (71,822)
  3. Southaven (54,031)

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 20,000 but fewer than 50,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Hattiesburg (46,377)
  2. Biloxi (45,908)
  3. Tupelo (38,114)
  4. Meridian (37,940)
  5. Olive Branch (37,435)
  6. Greenville (30,686)
  7. Horn Lake (27,095)
  8. Pearl (26,534)
  9. Madison (25,627)
  10. Starkville (25,352)
  11. Clinton (25,154)
  12. Ridgeland (24,266)
  13. Columbus (24,041)
  14. Brandon (23,999)
  15. Oxford (23,639)
  16. Vicksburg (22,489)
  17. Pascagoula (21,733)

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 10,000 but fewer than 20,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[11]

  1. Gautier (18,512)
  2. Laurel (18,493)
  3. Ocean Springs (17,682)
  4. Hernando (15,981)
  5. Clarksdale (15,732)
  6. Long Beach (15,642)
  7. Natchez (14,886)
  8. Corinth (14,643)
  9. Greenwood (13,996)
  10. Moss Point (13,398)
  11. Bay St. Louis (13,043)
  12. McComb (12,799)
  13. Canton (12,725)
  14. Grenada (12,511)
  15. Brookhaven (12,173)
  16. Cleveland (11,729)
  17. Byram (11,671)
  18. D’Iberville (11,610)
  19. Yazoo City (10,987)
  20. West Point (10,675)
  21. Petal (10,633)
  22. Picayune (10,382)

(See: Lists of cities, towns and villages, census-designated places, metropolitan areas, micropolitan areas, and counties in Mississippi)

Climate

Montgomery County in autumn

Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate with long, hot and humid summers, and short, mild winters. Temperatures average about 81°F (about 27°C) in July and about 48 °F (about 9 °C) in January. The temperature varies little statewide in the summer; however, in winter, the region near Mississippi Sound is significantly warmer than the inland portion of the state. The recorded temperature in Mississippi has ranged from −19 °F (−28 °C), in 1966, at Corinth in the northeast, to 115 °F (46 °C), in 1930, at Holly Springs in the north. Heavy snowfall rarely occurs, but isn’t unheard of, such as during the New Year’s Eve 1963 snowstorm. Yearly precipitation generally increases from north to south, with the regions closer to the Gulf being the most humid. Thus, Clarksdale, in the northwest, gets about 50 inches (about 1,270 mm) of precipitation annually and Biloxi, in the south, about 61 inches (about 1,550 mm). Small amounts of snow fall in northern and central Mississippi; snow is occasional in the southern part of the state.

The late summer and fall is the seasonal period of risk for hurricanes moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico, especially in the southern part of the state. Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed 238 people in the state, were the most devastating hurricanes to hit the state. Both caused nearly total storm surge destruction of structures in and around Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.

As in the rest of the Deep South, thunderstorms are common in Mississippi, especially in the southern part of the state. On average, Mississippi has around 27 tornadoes annually; the northern part of the state has more tornadoes earlier in the year and the southern part a higher frequency later in the year. Two of the five deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history have occurred in the state. These storms struck Natchez, in southwest Mississippi (see The Great Natchez Tornado) and Tupelo, in the northeast corner of the state. About seven F5 tornadoes have been recorded in the state.

Monthly normal high and low temperatures (°F) for various Mississippi cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Gulfport 61/43 64/46 70/52 77/59 84/66 89/72 91/74 91/74 87/70 79/60 70/51 63/45
Jackson 55/35 60/38 68/45 75/52 82/61 89/68 91/71 91/70 86/65 77/52 66/43 58/37
Meridian 58/35 63/38 70/44 77/50 84/60 90/67 93/70 93/70 88/64 78/51 68/43 60/37
Tupelo 50/30 56/34 65/41 74/48 81/58 88/66 91/70 91/68 85/62 75/49 63/40 54/33
Source:[12]
Climate data for Mississippi (1980–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 54.3
(12.4)
58.7
(14.8)
67.2
(19.6)
75.2
(24.0)
82.6
(28.1)
88.9
(31.6)
91.4
(33.0)
91.5
(33.1)
86.3
(30.2)
76.9
(24.9)
66.5
(19.2)
56.6
(13.7)
74.7
(23.7)
Average low °F (°C) 33.3
(0.7)
36.7
(2.6)
43.8
(6.6)
51.3
(10.7)
60.3
(15.7)
67.6
(19.8)
70.6
(21.4)
69.7
(20.9)
63
(17)
51.9
(11.1)
43.1
(6.2)
35.7
(2.1)
52.3
(11.2)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.0
(130)
5.2
(130)
5.1
(130)
5.0
(130)
5.1
(130)
4.4
(110)
4.5
(110)
3.9
(99)
3.6
(91)
4.1
(100)
4.9
(120)
5.7
(140)
56.5
(1,420)
Source: USA.com[13]

Ecology, flora, and fauna

The Mississippi state sign located on Interstate 20 West from Alabama

Waterfall at Clark Creek Natural Area, in the deep loess region of western Wilkinson County

Mississippi is heavily forested, with over half of the state’s area covered by wild or cultivated trees. The southeastern part of the state is dominated by longleaf pine, in both uplands and lowland flatwoods and Sarracenia bogs. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain, or Delta, is primarily farmland and aquaculture ponds but also has sizeable tracts of cottonwood, willows, baldcypress, and oaks. A belt of loess extends north to south in the western part of the state, where the Mississippi Alluvial Plain reaches the first hills; this region is characterized by rich, mesic mixed hardwood forests, with some species disjunct from Appalachian forests.[14] Two bands of historical prairie, the Jackson Prairie and the Black Belt, run northwest to southeast in the middle and northeastern part of the state. Although these areas have been highly degraded by conversion to agriculture, a few areas remain, consisting of grassland with interspersed woodland of eastern redcedar, oaks, hickories, osage-orange, and sugarberry. The rest of the state, primarily north of Interstate 20 not including the prairie regions, consists of mixed pine-hardwood forest, common species being loblolly pine, oaks (e.g., water oak), hickories, sweetgum, and elm. Areas along large rivers are commonly inhabited by baldcypress, water tupelo, water elm, and bitter pecan. Commonly cultivated trees include loblolly pine, longleaf pine, cherrybark oak, and cottonwood.

There are approximately 3000 species of vascular plants known from Mississippi.[15] As of 2018, a project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation aims to update that checklist of plants with museum (herbarium) vouchers and create an online atlas of each species’s distribution.[16]

About 420 species of birds are known to inhabit Mississippi.

Mississippi has one of the richest fish faunas in the United States, with 204 native fish species.[17]

Mississippi also has a rich freshwater mussel fauna, with about 90 species in the primary family of native mussels (Unionidae).[18] Several of these species were extirpated during the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Mississippi is home to 63 crayfish species, including at least 17 endemic species.[19]

Mississippi is home to eight winter stonefly species.[20]

Ecological problems

Flooding

Due to seasonal flooding, possible from December to June, the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers and their tributaries created a fertile floodplain in the Mississippi Delta. The river’s flooding created natural levees, which planters had built higher to try to prevent flooding of land cultivated for cotton crops. Temporary workers built levees along the Mississippi River on top of the natural levees that formed from dirt deposited after the river flooded.

From 1858 to 1861, the state took over levee building, accomplishing it through contractors and hired labor. In those years, planters considered their slaves too valuable to hire out for such dangerous work. Contractors hired gangs of Irish immigrant laborers to build levees and sometimes clear land. Many of the Irish were relatively recent immigrants from the famine years who were struggling to get established.[21] Before the American Civil War, the earthwork levees averaged six feet in height, although in some areas they reached twenty feet.

Flooding has been an integral part of Mississippi history, but clearing of the land for cultivation and to supply wood fuel for steamboats took away the absorption of trees and undergrowth. The banks of the river were denuded, becoming unstable and changing the character of the river. After the Civil War, major floods swept down the valley in 1865, 1867, 1874 and 1882. Such floods regularly overwhelmed levees damaged by Confederate and Union fighting during the war, as well as those constructed after the war.[22] In 1877, the state created the Mississippi Levee District for southern counties.

In 1879, the United States Congress created the Mississippi River Commission, whose responsibilities included aiding state levee boards in the construction of levees. Both white and black transient workers were hired to build the levees in the late 19th century. By 1882, levees averaged seven feet in height, but many in the southern Delta were severely tested by the flood that year.[22] After the 1882 flood, the levee system was expanded. In 1884, the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee District was established to oversee levee construction and maintenance in the northern Delta counties; also included were some counties in Arkansas which were part of the Delta.[23]

Flooding overwhelmed northwestern Mississippi in 1912–1913, causing heavy damage to the levee districts. Regional losses and the Mississippi River Levee Association’s lobbying for a flood control bill helped gain passage of national bills in 1917 and 1923 to provide federal matching funds for local levee districts, on a scale of 2:1. Although U.S. participation in World War I interrupted funding of levees, the second round of funding helped raise the average height of levees in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta to 22 feet (6.7 m) in the 1920s.[24] Scientists now understand the levees have increased the severity of flooding by increasing the flow speed of the river and reducing the area of the floodplains. The region was severely damaged due to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which broke through the levees. There were losses of millions of dollars in property, stock and crops. The most damage occurred in the lower Delta, including Washington and Bolivar counties.[25]

Even as scientific knowledge about the Mississippi River has grown, upstream development and the consequences of the levees have caused more severe flooding in some years. Scientists now understand that the widespread clearing of land and building of the levees have changed the nature of the river. Such work removed the natural protection and absorption of wetlands and forest cover, strengthening the river’s current. The state and federal governments have been struggling for the best approaches to restore some natural habitats in order to best interact with the original riverine ecology.

History

Mississippi state symbols
Flag of Mississippi.svg

The Flag of Mississippi
Seal of Mississippi (2014–present).svg

The Seal of Mississippi
Living insignia
Bird Mockingbird (1944)
Wood duck (1974)
Butterfly Spicebush swallowtail (1991)
Fish Largemouth bass (1974)
Flower Magnolia (1952)
Coreopsis (tickseed) (1991)
Insect Honey bee (1980)
Mammal White-tailed deer (1974)
Red fox (1997)
Bottlenose dolphin (1974)
Reptile American alligator (2005)
Tree Magnolia (1938)
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk (1984)
Dance American folk dance (1995)
Fossil Basilosaurus (1981)
Zygorhiza (1981)
Rock Petrified wood (1976)
Shell Oyster (1974)
Slogan Virtute et armis
Soil Natchez silt loam (2003)
Song “Go, Mississippi” (1962)
Toy Teddy bear (2003)
Other Grand Opera House of Meridian (1993)
Tupelo Auto Museum (2003)
Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum (1972)
State route marker
Mississippi state route marker
State quarter
Mississippi quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Near 10,000 BC Native Americans or Paleo-Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the American South.[26] Paleo-Indians in the South were hunter-gatherers who pursued the megafauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. In the Mississippi Delta, Native American settlements and agricultural fields were developed on the natural levees, higher ground in the proximity of rivers. The Native Americans developed extensive fields near their permanent villages. Together with other practices, they created some localized deforestation but did not alter the ecology of the Mississippi Delta as a whole.[27]

After thousands of years, succeeding cultures of the Woodland and Mississippian culture eras developed rich and complex agricultural societies, in which surplus supported the development of specialized trades. Both were mound builder cultures. Those of the Mississippian culture were the largest and most complex, constructed beginning about 950CE. The peoples had a trading network spanning the continent from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. Their large earthworks, which expressed their cosmology of political and religious concepts, still stand throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

Choctaw Village near the Chefuncte, by Francois Bernard, 1869, Peabody Museum – Harvard University. The women are preparing dye in order to color cane strips for making baskets.

Descendant Native American tribes of the Mississippian culture in the Southeast include the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Other tribes who inhabited the territory of Mississippi (and whose names were honored by colonists in local towns) include the Natchez, the Yazoo, and the Biloxi.

The first major European expedition into the territory that became Mississippi was that of the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, who passed through the northeast part of the state in 1540, in his second expedition to the New World.

Colonial era

In April 1699, French colonists established the first European settlement at Fort Maurepas (also known as Old Biloxi), built in the vicinity of present-day Ocean Springs on the Gulf Coast. It was settled by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. In 1716, the French founded Natchez on the Mississippi River (as Fort Rosalie); it became the dominant town and trading post of the area. The French called the greater territory “New France”; the Spanish continued to claim part of the Gulf coast area (east of Mobile Bay) of present-day southern Alabama, in addition to the entire area of present-day Florida.

Pushmataha, Choctaw Principal Chief

Through the 18th century, the area was ruled variously by Spanish, French, and British colonial governments. The colonists imported African slaves as laborers. Under French and Spanish rule, there developed a class of free people of color (gens de couleur libres), mostly multiracial descendants of European men and enslaved or free black women, and their mixed-race children. In the early days the French and Spanish colonists were chiefly men. Even as more European women joined the settlements, the men had interracial unions among women of African descent (and increasingly, multiracial descent), both before and after marriages to European women. Often the European men would help their multiracial children get educated or gain apprenticeships for trades, and sometimes they settled property on them; they often freed the mothers and their children if enslaved, as part of contracts of plaçage. With this social capital, the free people of color became artisans, and sometimes educated merchants and property owners, forming a third class between the Europeans and most enslaved Africans in the French and Spanish settlements, although not so large a free community as in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

After Great Britain’s victory in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), the French surrendered the Mississippi area to them under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763). They also ceded their areas to the north that were east of the Mississippi River, including the Illinois Country and Quebec. After the Peace of Paris (1783), the lower third of Mississippi came under Spanish rule as part of West Florida. In 1819 the United States completed the purchase of West Florida and all of East Florida in the Adams–Onís Treaty, and in 1822 both were merged into the Florida Territory.

United States territory

After the American Revolution (1765–83), Britain ceded this area to the new United States of America. The Mississippi Territory was organized on April 7, 1798, from territory ceded by Georgia and South Carolina to the United States. Their original colonial charters theoretically extended west to the Pacific Ocean. The Mississippi Territory was later twice expanded to include disputed territory claimed by both the United States and Spain.

From 1800 to about 1830, the United States purchased some lands (Treaty of Doak’s Stand) from Native American tribes for new settlements of European Americans; they were mostly migrants from other Southern states, particularly Virginia and North Carolina, where soils were exhausted.[28] On September 27, 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed between the U.S. Government and the Choctaw. The Choctaw agreed to sell their traditional homelands in Mississippi and Alabama, for compensation and removal to reservations in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). This opened up land for sale to European-American immigrant settlement. Article 14 in the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in the state to become U.S. citizens, as they were considered to be giving up their tribal membership. They were the second major non-European ethnic group to do so (the Cherokee were the first).[29][30] Today approximately 9,500 Choctaw live in Neshoba, Newton, Leake, and Jones counties. Federally recognized tribes include the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Many slaveholders brought slaves with them or purchased them through the domestic slave trade, especially in New Orleans. Through the trade, an estimated nearly one million slaves were transported to the Deep South, including Mississippi, in a forced internal migration that broke up many slave families of the Upper South, where planters were selling excess slaves. The Southerners imposed slave laws and restricted the rights of free blacks, according to their view of white supremacy.

Beginning in 1822, slaves in Mississippi were protected by law from cruel and unusual punishment by their owners.[31] The Southern slave codes made the willful killing of a slave illegal in most cases.[32] For example, the 1860 Mississippi case of Oliver v. State charged the defendant with murdering his own slave.[33]

The Big House at D’Evereux Plantation. Built in 1840, the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Statehood, 1817–1861

On December 10, 1817, Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union. David Holmes was elected as the first governor of the state.[34] At that time, the state was still occupied as ancestral land by several Native American tribes, including the Choctaw, Natchez, Houma, Creek, and Chickasaw peoples.[35][36]

Plantations were developed primarily along the major rivers, where the waterfront provided access to the major transportation routes. This is also where early towns developed, linked by the steamboats that carried commercial products and crops to markets. The remainder of Native American ancestral land remained largely undeveloped but was sold through treaties until 1826, when the Choctaws and Chickasaws refused to sell more land.[37]
The combination of the Mississippi state legislature’s abolition of Choctaw Tribal Government in 1829,[38] President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek[39] of 1830, the Choctaw were effectively forced to sell their land and were transported to Oklahoma Territory. The forced migration of the Choctaw, together with other southeastern tribes removed as a result of the Act, became known as the Trail of Tears.

When cotton was king during the 1850s, Mississippi plantation owners—especially those of the Delta and Black Belt central regions—became wealthy due to the high fertility of the soil, the high price of cotton on the international market, and free labor gained through their holding enslaved African Americans. They used some of their profits to buy more cotton land and more slaves. The planters’ dependence on hundreds of thousands of slaves for labor and the severe wealth imbalances among whites, played strong roles both in state politics and in planters’ support for secession. Mississippi was a slave society, with the economy dependent on slavery. The state was thinly settled, with population concentrated in the riverfront areas and towns.

By 1860, the enslaved African-American population numbered 436,631 or 55% of the state’s total of 791,305 persons. Fewer than 1000 were free people of color.[40] The relatively low population of the state before the Civil War reflected the fact that land and villages were developed only along the riverfronts, which formed the main transportation corridors. Ninety percent of the Delta bottomlands were still frontier and undeveloped.[41] The state needed many more settlers for development. The land further away from the rivers was cleared by freedmen and white migrants during Reconstruction and later.[41]

Civil War to 20th century

Confederate dead after the Battle of Corinth. Photo taken October 5, 1862

The legislature of the State of Mississippi in 1890

On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to declare its secession from the Union, and it was one of the founding members of the Confederate States. The first six states to secede were those with the highest number of slaves. During the war, Union and Confederate forces struggled for dominance on the Mississippi River, critical to supply routes and commerce. More than 80,000 Mississippians fought in the Civil War, and casualties were extremely heavy. Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s long siege of Vicksburg finally gained the Union control of the river in 1863.

In the postwar period, freedmen withdrew from white-run churches to set up independent congregations. The majority of blacks left the Southern Baptist Church, sharply reducing its membership. They created independent black Baptist congregations. By 1895 they had established numerous black Baptist state associations and the National Baptist Convention of black churches.[42]

In addition, independent black denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 19th century) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (established in New York City), sent missionaries to the South in the postwar years. They quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of converts and founded new churches across the South. Southern congregations brought their own influences to those denominations as well.[42][43]

During Reconstruction, the first Mississippi constitutional convention in 1868, with delegates both black and white, framed a constitution whose major elements would be maintained for 22 years.[44] The convention was the first political organization in the state to include African-American representatives, 17 among the 100 members (32 counties had black majorities at the time). Some among the black delegates were freedmen, but others were educated free blacks who had migrated from the North. The convention adopted universal suffrage; did away with property qualifications for suffrage or for office, a change that also benefited both blacks and poor whites; provided for the state’s first public school system; forbade race distinctions in the possession and inheritance of property; and prohibited limiting civil rights in travel.[44] Under the terms of Reconstruction, Mississippi was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870.

Because the Mississippi Delta contained so much fertile bottomland that had not been developed before the Civil War, 90 percent of the land was still frontier. After the Civil War, tens of thousands of migrants were attracted to the area by higher wages offered by planters trying to develop land. In addition, black and white workers could earn money by clearing the land and selling timber, and eventually advance to ownership. The new farmers included many freedmen, who by the late 19th century achieved unusually high rates of land ownership in the Mississippi bottomlands. In the 1870s and 1880s, many black farmers succeeded in gaining land ownership.[41]

Around the start of the 20th century, two-thirds of the Mississippi farmers who owned land in the Delta were African American.[41] But many had become overextended with debt during the falling cotton prices of the difficult years of the late 19th century. Cotton prices fell throughout the decades following the Civil War. As another agricultural depression lowered cotton prices into the 1890s, numerous African-American farmers finally had to sell their land to pay off debts, thus losing the land which they had developed by hard, personal labor.[41]

Democrats had regained control of the state legislature in 1875, after a year of expanded violence against blacks and intimidation of whites in what was called the “white line” campaign, based on asserting white supremacy. Democratic whites were well armed and formed paramilitary organizations such as the Red Shirts to suppress black voting. From 1874 to the elections of 1875, they pressured whites to join the Democrats, and conducted violence against blacks in at least 15 known “riots” in cities around the state to intimidate blacks. They killed a total of 150 blacks, although other estimates place the death toll at twice as many. A total of three white Republicans and five white Democrats were reported killed. In rural areas, deaths of blacks could be covered up. Riots (better described as massacres of blacks) took place in Vicksburg, Clinton, Macon, and in their counties, as well-armed whites broke up black meetings and lynched known black leaders, destroying local political organizations.[45] Seeing the success of this deliberate “Mississippi Plan”, South Carolina and other states followed it and also achieved white Democratic dominance. In 1877 by a national compromise, the last of federal troops were withdrawn from the region.

Even in this environment, black Mississippians continued to be elected to local office. However, black residents were deprived of all political power after white legislators passed a new state constitution in 1890 specifically to “eliminate the nigger from politics”, according to the state’s Democratic governor, James K. Vardaman.[46] It erected barriers to voter registration and instituted electoral provisions that effectively disenfranchised most black Mississippians and many poor whites. Estimates are that 100,000 black and 50,000 white men were removed from voter registration rolls in the state over the next few years.[47]

The loss of political influence contributed to the difficulties of African Americans in their attempts to obtain extended credit in the late 19th century. Together with imposition of Jim Crow and racial segregation laws, whites increased violence against blacks, lynching mostly men, through the period of the 1890s and extending to 1930. Cotton crops failed due to boll weevil infestation and successive severe flooding in 1912 and 1913, creating crisis conditions for many African Americans. With control of the ballot box and more access to credit, white planters bought out such farmers, expanding their ownership of Delta bottomlands. They also took advantage of new railroads sponsored by the state.[41]

Child workers, Pass Christian, 1911, by Lewis Hine

20th century to present

In 1900, blacks made up more than half of the state’s population. By 1910, a majority of black farmers in the Delta had lost their land and become sharecroppers. By 1920, the third generation after freedom, most African Americans in Mississippi were landless laborers again facing poverty.[41] Starting about 1913, tens of thousands of black Americans left Mississippi for the North in the Great Migration to industrial cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York. They sought jobs, better education for their children, the right to vote, relative freedom from discrimination, and better living. In the migration of 1910–1940, they left a society that had been steadily closing off opportunity. Most migrants from Mississippi took trains directly north to Chicago and often settled near former neighbors.

Blacks also faced violence in the form of lynching, shooting, and the burning of churches. In 1923, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stated “the Negro feels that life is not safe in Mississippi and his life may be taken with impunity at any time upon the slightest pretext or provocation by a white man”.[48]

Dancing at a juke joint near Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1939, by Marion Post Wolcott.

In the early 20th century, some industries were established in Mississippi, but jobs were generally restricted to whites, including child workers. The lack of jobs also drove some southern whites north to cities such as Chicago and Detroit, seeking employment, where they also competed with European immigrants. The state depended on agriculture, but mechanization put many farm laborers out of work.

By 1900, many white ministers, especially in the towns, subscribed to the Social Gospel movement, which attempted to apply Christian ethics to social and economic needs of the day. Many strongly supported Prohibition, believing it would help alleviate and prevent many sins.[49]

African-American Baptist churches grew to include more than twice the number of members as their white Baptist counterparts. The African-American call for social equality resonated throughout the Great Depression in the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s.

The Second Great Migration from the South started in the 1940s, lasting until 1970. Almost half a million people left Mississippi in the second migration, three-quarters of them black. Nationwide during the first half of the 20th century, African Americans became rapidly urbanized and many worked in industrial jobs. The Second Great Migration included destinations in the West, especially California, where the buildup of the defense industry offered higher paying jobs to both African Americans and whites.

Blacks and whites in Mississippi generated rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, country music, jazz, blues and rock and roll. All were invented, promulgated or heavily developed by Mississippi musicians, many of them African American, and most came from the Mississippi Delta. Many musicians carried their music north to Chicago, where they made it the heart of that city’s jazz and blues.

So many African Americans left in the Great Migration that after the 1930s, they became a minority in Mississippi. In 1960 they made up 42% of the state’s population.[50] The whites maintained their discriminatory voter registration processes established in 1890, preventing most blacks from voting, even if they were well educated. Court challenges were not successful until later in the century. After World War II, African-American veterans returned with renewed commitment to be treated as full citizens of the United States and increasingly organized to gain enforcement of their constitutional rights.

The Civil Rights Movement had many roots in religion, and the strong community of churches helped supply volunteers and moral purpose for their activism. Mississippi was a center of activity, based in black churches, to educate and register black voters, and to work for integration. In 1954 the state had created the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a tax-supported agency, chaired by the Governor, that claimed to work for the state’s image but effectively spied on activists and passed information to the local White Citizens’ Councils to suppress black activism. White Citizens Councils had been formed in many cities and towns to resist integration of schools following the unanimous 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. They used intimidation and economic blackmail against activists and suspected activists, including teachers and other professionals. Techniques included loss of jobs and eviction from rental housing.

In the summer of 1964 students and community organizers from across the country came to help register black voters in Mississippi and establish Freedom Schools. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was established to challenge the all-white Democratic Party of the Solid South. Most white politicians resisted such changes. Chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and its sympathizers used violence against activists, most notably the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964 during the Freedom Summer campaign. This was a catalyst for Congressional passage the following year of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Mississippi earned a reputation in the 1960s as a reactionary state.[51][52]

After decades of disenfranchisement, African Americans in the state gradually began to exercise their right to vote again for the first time since the 19th century, following the passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, which ended de jure segregation and enforced constitutional voting rights. Registration of African-American voters increased and black candidates ran in the 1967 elections for state and local offices. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party fielded some candidates. Teacher Robert G. Clark of Holmes County was the first African American to be elected to the State House since Reconstruction. He continued as the only African American in the state legislature until 1976 and was repeatedly elected into the 21st century, including three terms as Speaker of the House.[53]

In 1966, the state was the last to repeal officially statewide prohibition of alcohol. Before that, Mississippi had taxed the illegal alcohol brought in by bootleggers. Governor Paul Johnson urged repeal and the sheriff “raided the annual Junior League Mardi Gras ball at the Jackson Country Club, breaking open the liquor cabinet and carting off the Champagne before a startled crowd of nobility and high-ranking state officials”.[54]

On August 17, 1969, Category 5 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast, killing 248 people and causing US$1.5 billion in damage (1969 dollars).

Mississippi was the last state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in March 1984, granting women the right to vote.[55]

In 1987, 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 1967’s Loving v. Virginia that a similar Virginian law was unconstitutional, Mississippi repealed its ban on interracial marriage (also known as miscegenation), which had been enacted in 1890. It also repealed the segregationist-era poll tax in 1989. In 1995, the state symbolically ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, which had abolished slavery in 1865. Though ratified in 1995, the state never officially notified the U.S. archivist, which kept the ratification unofficial until 2013, when Ken Sullivan contacted the office of Secretary of State of Mississippi, Delbert Hosemann, who agreed to file the paperwork and make it official.[56][57][58] In 2009, the legislature passed a bill to repeal other discriminatory civil rights laws, which had been enacted in 1964, the same year as the federal Civil Rights Act, but ruled unconstitutional in 1967 by federal courts. Republican Governor Haley Barbour signed the bill into law.[59]

The end of legal segregation and Jim Crow led to the integration of some churches, but most today remain divided along racial and cultural lines, having developed different traditions. After the Civil War, most African Americans left white churches to establish their own independent congregations, particularly Baptist churches, establishing state associations and a national association by the end of the century. They wanted to express their own traditions of worship and practice.[60] In more diverse communities, such as Hattiesburg, some churches have multiracial congregations.[61]

Hurricane Katrina approaching the Gulf Coast on August 28, 2005.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, though a Category 3 storm upon final landfall, caused even greater destruction across the entire 90 miles (145 km) of the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 7,600
1810 31,306 311.9%
1820 75,448 141.0%
1830 136,621 81.1%
1840 375,651 175.0%
1850 606,526 61.5%
1860 791,305 30.5%
1870 827,922 4.6%
1880 1,131,597 36.7%
1890 1,289,600 14.0%
1900 1,551,270 20.3%
1910 1,797,114 15.8%
1920 1,790,618 −0.4%
1930 2,009,821 12.2%
1940 2,183,796 8.7%
1950 2,178,914 −0.2%
1960 2,178,141 0.0%
1970 2,216,912 1.8%
1980 2,520,638 13.7%
1990 2,573,216 2.1%
2000 2,844,658 10.5%
2010 2,967,297 4.3%
Est. 2018 2,986,530 0.6%
Source: 1910–2010[62]
2018 estimate[63]

The center of population of Mississippi is located in Leake County, in the town of Lena.[64]

Mississippi population density map

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Mississippi was 2,986,530 on July 1, 2018, a 0.65% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[63] The state’s economist characterized the state as losing population as job markets elsewhere have caused 3.2 per 1000 to migrate recently.[65]

From 2000 to 2010, the United States Census Bureau reported that Mississippi had the highest rate of increase in people identifying as mixed-race, up 70 percent in the decade; it amounts to a total of 1.1 percent of the population.[61] In addition, Mississippi led the nation for most of the last decade in the growth of mixed marriages among its population. The total population has not increased significantly, but is young. Some of the above change in identification as mixed race is due to new births. But, it appears mostly to reflect those residents who have chosen to identify as more than one race, who in earlier years may have identified by just one ethnicity. A binary racial system had been in place since slavery times and the days of racial segregation. In the civil rights era, people of African descent banded together in an inclusive community to achieve political power and gain restoration of their civil rights.

As the demographer William Frey noted, “In Mississippi, I think it’s [identifying as mixed race] changed from within.”[61] Historically in Mississippi, after Indian removal in the 1830s, the major groups were designated as black (African American), who were then mostly enslaved, and white (primarily European American). Matthew Snipp, also a demographer, commented on the increase in the 21st century in the number of people identifying as being of more than one race: “In a sense, they’re rendering a more accurate portrait of their racial heritage that in the past would have been suppressed.”[61]

After having comprised a majority of the state’s population since well before the Civil War and through the 1930s, today African Americans comprise approximately 37 percent of the state’s population. Most have ancestors who were enslaved, with many forcibly transported from the Upper South in the 19th century to work on the area’s new plantations. Some of these slaves were mixed race, with European ancestors, as there were many children born into slavery with white fathers. Some also have Native American ancestry.[66] During the first half of the 20th century, a total of nearly 400,000 African Americans left the state during the Great Migration, for opportunities in the North, Midwest and West. They became a minority in the state for the first time since early in its development.

The state has had conservative laws related to sexuality. The state’s sodomy law criminalized consensual sex between adults of the same gender until 2003 (but was seldom enforced),[citation needed] when such laws were voided by the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. In 2004, voters in Mississippi approved Amendment 1, amending the state’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage; the measure passed with 86% of the vote, the highest margin of victory in the nation. This law was overturned by Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court making same-sex marriage a constitutional right.[67]

Despite conservative laws, same-sex couples were forming families in the state. According to the 2010 census, approximately 33% of households led by same-sex couples in Mississippi included at least one child, the highest such percentage in the nation.[68]

Ancestry

At the 2010 U.S. census, the racial makeup of the population was:

  • 59.1% White American (58.0% non-Hispanic white, 1.1% White Hispanic)
  • 37.0% African American or Black
  • 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 0.9% Asian American
  • 1.1% Multiracial American
  • 1.4% Other

Ethnically, 2.7% of the total population, among all racial groups, was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).[69] As of 2011, 53.8% of Mississippi’s population younger than age 1 were minorities, meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white.[70] For more information on racial and ethnic classifications in the United States see race and ethnicity in the United States Census.

Mississippi Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[71] 2000[72] 2010[73]
White 63.5% 61.4% 59.1%
Black 35.6% 36.3% 37.0%
Asian 0.5% 0.7% 0.9%
Native 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Other race 0.1% 0.5% 1.3%
Two or more races 0.7% 1.2%

Americans of Scots-Irish, English and Scottish ancestry are present throughout the state. It is believed that there are more people with such ancestry than identify as such on the census, in part because their immigrant ancestors are more distant in their family histories. English, Scottish and Scots-Irish are generally the most under-reported ancestry groups in both the South Atlantic States and the East South Central States. The historian David Hackett Fischer estimated that a minimum 20% of Mississippi’s population is of English ancestry, though the figure is probably much higher, and another large percentage is of Scottish ancestry. Many Mississippians of such ancestry identify simply as American on questionnaires, because their families have been in North America for centuries.[74][75] In the 1980 census 656,371 Mississippians of a total of 1,946,775 identified as being of English ancestry, making them 38% of the state at the time.[76]

The state in 2010 had the highest proportion of African Americans in the nation. The African-American percentage of population has begun to increase due mainly to a younger population than the whites (the total fertility rates of the two races are approximately equal). Due to patterns of settlement and whites putting their children in private schools, in almost all of Mississippi’s public school districts, a majority of students are African American. African Americans are the majority ethnic group in the northwestern Yazoo Delta, and the southwestern and the central parts of the state. These are areas where, historically, African Americans owned land as farmers in the 19th century following the Civil War, or worked on cotton plantations and farms.[77]

People of French Creole ancestry form the largest demographic group in Hancock County on the Gulf Coast. The African-American; Choctaw, mostly in Neshoba County; and Chinese-American portions of the population are also almost entirely native born.

Chinese came to Mississippi as indentured laborers from Cuba during the 1870s, with others coming from mainland China in the later 19th century. The majority entering the state immigrated directly from China to Mississippi between 1910 and 1930, when they were recruited by planters as laborers. While most first worked as sharecroppers, the Chinese worked as families to improve their lives. Many became small merchants and especially grocers in small towns throughout the Delta.[78] In these roles, the ethnic Chinese carved out a niche in the state between black and white, where they were concentrated in the Delta. These small towns have declined since the late 20th century, and many ethnic Chinese have joined the exodus to larger cities, including Jackson. Their population in the state overall has increased in the 21st century.[79][80][81]

In the early 1980s many Vietnamese immigrated to Mississippi and other states along the Gulf of Mexico, where they became employed in fishing-related work.[82]

Language

In 2000, 96.4% of Mississippi residents five years old and older spoke only English in the home, a decrease from 97.2% in 1990.[83] English is largely Southern American English, with some South Midland speech in northern and eastern Mississippi. There is a common absence of final /r/ and the lengthening and weakening of the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /ɔɪ/ as in ‘ride’ and ‘oil’. South Midland terms in northern Mississippi include: tow sack (burlap bag), dog irons (andirons), plum peach (clingstone peach), snake doctor (dragonfly), and stone wall (rock fence).[83]

Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in Mississippi
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[84]
Spanish 1.9%
French 0.4%
German, Vietnamese, and Choctaw (tied) 0.2%
Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, Italian (tied) 0.1%
Arabic 0.0%

Religion

Under French and Spanish rule beginning in the 17th century, European colonists were mostly Roman Catholics. The growth of the cotton culture after 1815 brought in tens of thousands of Anglo-American settlers each year, most of whom were Protestants from Southeastern states. Due to such migration, there was rapid growth in the number of Protestant churches, especially Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist.[85]

Liberty Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church, the largest Protestant denomination in Mississippi, in Liberty (Amite County), Mississippi

The revivals of the Great Awakening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries initially attracted the “plain folk” by reaching out to all members of society, including women and blacks. Both slaves and free blacks were welcomed into Methodist and Baptist churches. Independent black Baptist churches were established before 1800 in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia, and later developed in Mississippi as well.

In the post-Civil War years, religion became more influential as the South became known as the “Bible Belt”.

Since the 1970s, fundamentalist conservative churches have grown rapidly, fueling Mississippi’s conservative political trends among whites.[85] In 1973 the Presbyterian Church in America attracted numerous conservative congregations. As of 2010 Mississippi remained a stronghold of the denomination, which originally was brought by Scots immigrants. The state has the highest adherence rate of the PCA in 2010, with 121 congregations and 18,500 members. It is among the few states where the PCA has higher membership than the PC(USA).[86]
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the Southern Baptist Convention had 907,384 adherents and was the largest religious denomination in the state, followed by the United Methodist Church with 204,165, and the Roman Catholic Church with 112,488.[87] Other religions have a small presence in Mississippi; as of 2010, there were 5,012 Muslims; 4,389 Hindus; and 816 Bahá’í.[87]

Public opinion polls have consistently ranked Mississippi as the most religious state in the United States, with 59% of Mississippians considering themselves “very religious”. The same survey also found that 11% of the population were non-Religious.[88] In a 2009 Gallup poll, 63% of Mississippians said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly – the highest percentage of all states (U.S. average was 42%, and the lowest percentage was in Vermont at 23%).[89] Another 2008 Gallup poll found that 85% of Mississippians considered religion an important part of their daily lives, the highest figure among all states (U.S. average 65%).[90]

Religious affiliation in Mississippi (2014)[91]
Affiliation % of Mississippi population
Christian 83 83

 
Protestant 77 77

 
Evangelical Protestant 41 41

 
Mainline Protestant 12 12

 
Black church 24 24

 
Catholic 4 4

 
Mormon 1 1

 
Jehovah’s Witnesses 0.5 0.5

 
Eastern Orthodox 0.5 0.5

 
Other Christian 0.5 0.5

 
Unaffiliated 14 14

 
Nothing in particular 11 11

 
Agnostic 3 3

 
Atheist 1 1

 
Non-Christian faiths 2 2

 
Jewish 0.5 0.5

 
Muslim 0.5 0.5

 
Buddhist 0.5 0.5

 
Hindu 0.5 0.5

 
Other Non-Christian faiths 0.5 0.5

 
Don’t know/refused answer 1 1

 
Total 100 100

 

Birth data

Note: Births in table don’t add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Race 2013[92] 2014[93] 2015[94] 2016[95] 2017[96]
White: 20,818 (53.9%) 20,894 (53.9%) 20,730 (54.0%)
> Non-Hispanic White 19,730 (51.0%) 19,839 (51.3%) 19,635 (51.1%) 19,411 (51.2%) 18,620 (49.8%)
Black 17,020 (44.0%) 17,036 (44.0%) 16,846 (43.9%) 15,879 (41.9%) 16,087 (43.1%)
Asian 504 (1.3%) 583 (1.5%) 559 (1.5%) 475 (1.3%) 502 (1.3%)
American Indian 292 (0.7%) 223 (0.6%) 259 (0.7%) 215 (0.6%) 225 (0.6%)
Hispanic (of any race) 1,496 (3.9%) 1,547 (4.0%) 1,613 (4.2%) 1,664 (4.4%) 1,650 (4.4%)
Total Mississippi 38,634 (100%) 38,736 (100%) 38,394 (100%) 37,928 (100%) 37,357 (100%)
  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

LGBT

The 2010 United States Census counted 6,286 same-sex unmarried-partner households in Mississippi, an increase of 1,512 since the 2000 United States census.[97] 33% contained at least one child, giving Mississippi the distinction of leading the nation in the percentage of same-sex couples raising children.[98] Mississippi has the largest percentage of African-American same-sex couples among total households. The state capital, Jackson, ranks tenth in the nation in concentration of African-American same-sex couples. The state ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of Hispanic same-sex couples among all Hispanic households and ninth in the highest concentration of same-sex couples who are seniors.[99] With the passing of HB 1523 in April 2016, from July it became legal in Mississippi to refuse service to same-sex couples, based on one’s religious beliefs.[100][101] The bill has become the subject of controversy.[102] A federal judge blocked the law in July,[103] however it was challenged and a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the law in October 2017.[104][105]

Health

The state is ranked 50th or last place among all the states for health care, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation working to advance performance of the health care system.[106]

Mississippi has the highest rate of infant and neonatal deaths of any U.S. state. Age-adjusted data also shows Mississippi has the highest overall death rate, and the highest death rate from heart disease, hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, influenza and pneumonia.[107]

In 2011, Mississippi (and Arkansas) had the fewest dentists in the United States.[108]

For three years in a row, more than 30 percent of Mississippi’s residents have been classified as obese. In a 2006 study, 22.8 percent of the state’s children were classified as such. Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity of any U.S. state from 2005 to 2008, and also ranks first in the nation for high blood pressure, diabetes, and adult inactivity.[109][110] In a 2008 study of African-American women, contributing risk factors were shown to be: lack of knowledge about body mass index (BMI), dietary behavior, physical inactivity and lack of social support, defined as motivation and encouragement by friends.[111] A 2002 report on African-American adolescents noted a 1999 survey which suggests that a third of children were obese, with higher ratios for those in the Delta.[112]

The study stressed that “obesity starts in early childhood extending into the adolescent years and then possibly into adulthood.” It noted impediments to needed behavioral modification, including the Delta likely being “the most underserved region in the state” with African Americans the major ethnic group; lack of accessibility and availability of medical care; and an estimated 60% of residents living below the poverty level.[112] Additional risk factors were that most schools had no physical education curriculum and nutrition education is not emphasized. Previous intervention strategies may have been largely ineffective due to not being culturally sensitive or practical.[112] A 2006 survey found nearly 95 percent of Mississippi adults considered childhood obesity to be a serious problem.[113]

Economy

A Mississippi U.S. quarter

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Mississippi’s total state product in 2010 was $98 billion.[114] GDP growth was .5 percent in 2015 and is estimated to be 2.4 in 2016 according to Dr. Darrin Webb, the state’s chief economist, who noted it would make two consecutive years of positive growth since the recession.[115] Per capita personal income in 2006 was $26,908, the lowest per capita personal income of any state, but the state also has the nation’s lowest living costs. 2015 data records the adjusted per capita personal income at $40,105.[115] Mississippians consistently rank as one of the highest per capita in charitable contributions.[116]

At 56 percent, the state has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the country. Approximately 70,000 adults are disabled, which is 10 percent of the workforce.[115]

Mississippi’s rank as one of the poorest states is related to its dependence on cotton agriculture before and after the Civil War, late development of its frontier bottomlands in the Mississippi Delta, repeated natural disasters of flooding in the late 19th and early 20th century that required massive capital investment in levees, and ditching and draining the bottomlands, and slow development of railroads to link bottomland towns and river cities.[117] In addition, when Democrats regained control of the state legislature, they passed the 1890 constitution that discouraged corporate industrial development in favor of rural agriculture, a legacy that would slow the state’s progress for years.[118]

Before the Civil War, Mississippi was the fifth-wealthiest state in the nation, its wealth generated by the labor of slaves in cotton plantations along the rivers.[119]
Slaves were counted as property and the rise in the cotton markets since the 1840s had increased their value. By 1860, a majority – 55 percent – of the population of Mississippi was enslaved.[120] Ninety percent of the Delta bottomlands were undeveloped and the state had low overall density of population.

Sharecropper’s daughter, Lauderdale County, 1935

Largely due to the domination of the plantation economy, focused on the production of agricultural cotton, the state’s elite was reluctant to invest in infrastructure such as roads and railroads. They educated their children privately. Industrialization did not reach many areas until the late 20th century. The planter aristocracy, the elite of antebellum Mississippi, kept the tax structure low for their own benefit, making only private improvements. Before the war the most successful planters, such as Confederate President Jefferson Davis, owned riverside properties along the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers in the Mississippi Delta. Away from the riverfronts, most of the Delta was undeveloped frontier.

During the Civil War, 30,000 Mississippi soldiers, mostly white, died from wounds and disease, and many more were left crippled and wounded. Changes to the labor structure and an agricultural depression throughout the South caused severe losses in wealth. In 1860 assessed valuation of property in Mississippi had been more than $500 million, of which $218 million (43 percent) was estimated as the value of slaves. By 1870, total assets had decreased in value to roughly $177 million.[121]

Poor whites and landless former slaves suffered the most from the postwar economic depression. The constitutional convention of early 1868 appointed a committee to recommend what was needed for relief of the state and its citizens. The committee found severe destitution among the laboring classes.[122] It took years for the state to rebuild levees damaged in battles. The upset of the commodity system impoverished the state after the war. By 1868 an increased cotton crop began to show possibilities for free labor in the state, but the crop of 565,000 bales produced in 1870 was still less than half of prewar figures.[123]

Blacks cleared land, selling timber and developing bottomland to achieve ownership. In 1900, two-thirds of farm owners in Mississippi were blacks, a major achievement for them and their families. Due to the poor economy, low cotton prices and difficulty of getting credit, many of these farmers could not make it through the extended financial difficulties. Two decades later, the majority of African Americans were sharecroppers. The low prices of cotton into the 1890s meant that more than a generation of African Americans lost the result of their labor when they had to sell their farms to pay off accumulated debts.[41]

After the Civil War, the state refused for years to build human capital by fully educating all its citizens. In addition, the reliance on agriculture grew increasingly costly as the state suffered loss of cotton crops due to the devastation of the boll weevil in the early 20th century, devastating floods in 1912–1913 and 1927, collapse of cotton prices after 1920, and drought in 1930.[117]

It was not until 1884, after the flood of 1882, that the state created the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta District Levee Board and started successfully achieving longer term plans for levees in the upper Delta.[23] Despite the state’s building and reinforcing levees for years, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 broke through and caused massive flooding of 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) throughout the Delta, homelessness for hundreds of thousands, and millions of dollars in property damages. With the Depression coming so soon after the flood, the state suffered badly during those years. In the Great Migration, hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated North and West for jobs and chances to live as full citizens.

Entertainment and tourism

The legislature’s 1990 decision to legalize casino gambling along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast has led to increased revenues and economic gains for the state. Gambling towns in Mississippi have attracted increased tourism: they include the Gulf Coast resort towns of Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Biloxi, and the Mississippi River towns of Tunica (the third largest gaming area in the United States), Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez.

Before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Mississippi was the second-largest gambling state in the Union, after Nevada and ahead of New Jersey.[citation needed] An estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue was lost following Hurricane Katrina’s severe damage to several coastal casinos in Biloxi in August 2005.[124] Because of the destruction from this hurricane, on October 17, 2005, Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law that allows casinos in Hancock and Harrison counties to rebuild on land (but within 800 feet (240 m) of the water). The only exception is in Harrison County, where the new law states that casinos can be built to the southern boundary of U.S. Route 90.[citation needed]

In 2012, Mississippi had the sixth largest gambling revenue of any state, with $2.25 billion.[125] The federally recognized Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has established a gaming casino on its reservation, which yields revenue to support education and economic development.[citation needed]

Momentum Mississippi, a statewide, public–private partnership dedicated to the development of economic and employment opportunities in Mississippi, was adopted in 2005.[126]

Manufacturing

2014 Toyota Corolla built by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi on display at the Tupelo Automobile Museum

Mississippi, like the rest of its southern neighbors, is a right-to-work state. It has some major automotive factories, such as the Toyota Mississippi Plant in Blue Springs and a Nissan Automotive plant in Canton. The latter produces the Nissan Titan.

Taxation

Mississippi collects personal income tax in three tax brackets, ranging from 3% to 5%. The retail sales tax rate in Mississippi is 7%. Tupelo levies a local sales tax of 2.5%.[127] State sales tax growth was 1.4 percent in 2016 and estimated to be slightly less in 2017.[115] For purposes of assessment for ad valorem taxes, taxable property is divided into five classes.[128]

On August 30, 2007, a report by the United States Census Bureau indicated that Mississippi was the poorest state in the country. Major cotton farmers in the Delta have large, mechanized plantations, and they receive the majority of extensive federal subsidies going to the state, yet many other residents still live as poor, rural, landless laborers. The state’s sizable poultry industry has faced similar challenges in its transition from family-run farms to large mechanized operations.[129] Of $1.2 billion from 2002 to 2005 in federal subsidies to farmers in the Bolivar County area of the Delta, only 5% went to small farmers. There has been little money apportioned for rural development. Small towns are struggling. More than 100,000 people have left the region in search of work elsewhere.[130] The state had a median household income of $34,473.[131]

As of December 2018, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.7%, the seventh highest in the country after Arizona (4.9%), Louisiana (4.9%), New Mexico (5.0%), West Virginia (5.1%), District of Columbia (5.4%) and Alaska (6.5%).[132]

Federal subsidies and spending

With Mississippi’s fiscal conservatism, in which Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, and other social programs are often cut, eligibility requirements are tightened, and stricter employment criteria are imposed, Mississippi ranks as having the second-highest ratio of spending to tax receipts of any state. In 2005, Mississippi citizens received approximately $2.02 per dollar of taxes in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state 2nd highest nationally, and represents an increase from 1995, when Mississippi received $1.54 per dollar of taxes in federal spending and was 3rd highest nationally.[133] This figure is based on federal spending after large portions of the state were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, requiring large amounts of federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, from 1981 to 2005, it was at least number four in the nation for federal spending vs. taxes received.[134]

A proportion of federal spending in Mississippi is directed toward large federal installations such as Camp Shelby, John C. Stennis Space Center, Meridian Naval Air Station, Columbus Air Force Base, and Keesler Air Force Base. Three of these installations are located in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Politics and government

Five Governors of Mississippi in 1976, from left to right: Ross Barnett, James P. Coleman, William L. Waller, John Bell Williams, and Paul B. Johnson Jr.

As with all other U.S. states and the federal government, Mississippi’s government is based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power. Executive authority in the state rests with the Governor, currently Phil Bryant (R). The Lieutenant Governor, currently Tate Reeves (R), is elected on a separate ballot. Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected to four-year terms of office. Unlike the federal government, but like many other U.S. States, most of the heads of major executive departments are elected by the citizens of Mississippi rather than appointed by the governor.

Mississippi is one of five states that elects its state officials in odd-numbered years (the others are Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia). Mississippi holds elections for these offices every four years, always in the year preceding Presidential elections.

Laws

In 2004, Mississippi voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and prohibiting Mississippi from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The amendment passed 86% to 14%, the largest margin in any state.[135][136] Same-sex marriage became legal in Mississippi on June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court invalidated all state-level bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges.[137]

Mississippi is one of 31 states which have capital punishment as a legal sentence (see Capital punishment in Mississippi).

Section 265 of the Constitution of the State of Mississippi declares that “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”[138] This religious test restriction was held to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961).

Political alignment

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Mississippi led the South in developing a disfranchising constitution, passing it in 1890. By raising barriers to voter registration, the state legislature disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, excluding them from politics until the late 1960s. It established a one-party state dominated by white Democrats.

In the 1980s whites divided evenly between the parties. In the 1990s those voters shifted their allegiance to the Republican Party, first for national and then for state offices.[139] Most blacks were still disenfranchised under the state’s 1890 constitution and discriminatory practices, until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and concerted grassroots efforts to achieve registration and encourage voting.

Transportation

Air

Mississippi has six airports with commercial passenger service, the busiest in Jackson (Jackson-Evers International Airport) and one in Gulfport (Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport)

Roads

The Vicksburg Bridge carries I-20 and U.S. 80 across the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.

Mississippi is served by nine interstate highways:

and fourteen main U.S. Routes:

as well as a system of State Highways.

Rail

Passenger

Amtrak provides scheduled passenger service along two routes, the Crescent and City of New Orleans. Prior to severe damage from Hurricane Katrina, the Sunset Limited traversed the far south of the state; the route originated in Los Angeles, California and it terminated in Florida.

Freight

All but two of the United States Class I railroads serve Mississippi (the exceptions are the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific):

  • Canadian National Railway’s Illinois Central Railroad subsidiary provides north-south service.
  • BNSF Railway has a northwest-southeast line across northern Mississippi.
  • Kansas City Southern Railway provides east-west service in the middle of the state and north-south service along the Alabama state line.
  • Norfolk Southern Railway provides service in the extreme north and southeast.
  • CSX has a line along the Gulf Coast.

Water

Major rivers

  • Mississippi River
  • Big Black River
  • Pascagoula River
  • Pearl River
  • Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
  • Yazoo River

Major bodies of water

The Ross Barnett Reservoir at sunset.

  • Arkabutla Lake – 19,550 acres (79.1 km2) of water; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[140]
  • Bay Springs Lake – 6,700 acres (27 km2) of water and 133 miles (214 km) of shoreline; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Grenada Lake – 35,000 acres (140 km2) of water; became operational in 1954; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[141]
  • Ross Barnett Reservoir – Named for Ross Barnett, the 52nd Governor of Mississippi; 33,000 acres (130 km2) of water; became operational in 1966; constructed and managed by The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, a state agency; Provides water supply for the City of Jackson.
  • Sardis Lake – 98,520 acres (398.7 km2) of water; became operational in October 1940; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District[142]
  • Enid Lake – 44,000 acres (180 km2) of water; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army

http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Enid-Lake/

Education

School students in their library, Tupelo, Mississippi, 1936

Until the Civil War era, Mississippi had a small number of schools and no educational institutions for African Americans. The first school for black students was not established until 1862.

During Reconstruction in 1871, black and white Republicans drafted a constitution that was the first to provide for a system of free public education in the state. The state’s dependence on agriculture and resistance to taxation limited the funds it had available to spend on any schools. In the early 20th century, there were still few schools in rural areas, particularly for black children. With seed money from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, many rural black communities across Mississippi raised matching funds and contributed public funds to build new schools for their children. Essentially, many black adults taxed themselves twice and made significant sacrifices to raise money for the education of children in their communities, in many cases donating land and/or labor to build such schools.[143]

Blacks and whites attended segregated and separate public schools in Mississippi until the late 1960s, although such segregation had been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in its 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. In the majority-black Mississippi Delta counties, white parents worked through White Citizens’ Councils to set up private segregation academies, where they enrolled their children. Often funding declined for the public schools.[144]

But in the state as a whole, only a small minority of white children were withdrawn from public schools. State officials believed they needed to maintain public education to attract new businesses. After several years of integration, whites often dominated local systems anyway, maintaining white supremacy. Many black parents complained that they had little representation in school administration, and that many of their former administrators and teachers had been pushed out. They have had to work to have their interests and children represented.[144]

In the late 1980s, the state had 954 public elementary and secondary schools, with a total yearly enrollment of about 369,500 elementary pupils and about 132,500 secondary students. Some 45,700 students attended private schools.

In the 21st century, 91% of white children in the state attend public schools and most of the black children.[145] In 2008, Mississippi was ranked last among the fifty states in academic achievement by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Report Card on Education,[146] with the lowest average ACT scores and sixth-lowest spending per pupil in the nation. In contrast, Mississippi had the 17th-highest average SAT scores in the nation. As an explanation, the Report noted that 92% of Mississippi high school graduates took the ACT, but only 3% of graduates took the SAT, apparently a self-selection of higher achievers. This breakdown compares to the national average of high school graduates taking the ACT and SAT, of 43% and 45%, respectively.[146]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is common in Mississippi, with 31,236 public school students[147] paddled at least one time.[148] A greater percentage of students were paddled in Mississippi than in any other state, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[148]

In 2007, Mississippi students scored the lowest of any state on the National Assessments of Educational Progress in both math and science.[149]

Jackson, the state’s capital city, is the site of the state residential school for deaf and hard of hearing students. The Mississippi School for the Deaf was established by the state legislature in 1854 before the civil war.

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) is a public residential high school for academically gifted students. It is located in Columbus, Mississippi on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women. MSMS was founded in 1987 by appropriations from the Mississippi Legislature and it is the fourth public, residential high school for academically gifted students in the United States.[3] The school enrolls students only in the last two years of high school. Rising tenth-grade students from across the state apply and are selected on a competitive basis.

The Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) is an upper high school of literary, visual, and performing arts on the historic Whitworth College Campus in Brookhaven, Mississippi, about sixty miles (97 km) south of Jackson, Mississippi.[1] MSA teaches 11th and 12th grade students. The campus has six buildings designated as Mississippi Landmarks, and is itself an historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]

The Mississippi School of the Arts provides advanced, residential programs of study in visual arts, vocal music, theatre, dance, and literary arts for “artistically gifted” 11th/12th grade students from throughout Mississippi.[3][1] The comprehensive residential and academic curriculum prepares students for further studies or to pursue employment. Some non-arts courses (some math, science, etc.) are taught in conjunction with Brookhaven High School, 6 blocks away, to provide a wider curriculum.[1] Students apply for admission during their second year.[1]

Culture

While Mississippi has been especially known for its music and literature, it has embraced other forms of art. Its strong religious traditions have inspired striking works by Outsider Artists who have been shown nationally.

The Mississippi State Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016

Jackson established the USA International Ballet Competition, which is held every four years. This ballet competition attracts the most talented young dancers from around the world.[150]

The Magnolia Independent Film Festival, still held annually in Starkville, is the first and oldest in the state.

George Ohr, known as the “Mad Potter of Biloxi” and the father of abstract expressionism in pottery, lived and worked in Biloxi, MS.

Music

Musicians of the state’s Delta region were historically significant to the development of the blues. Although by the end of the 19th century, two-thirds of the farm owners were black, continued low prices for cotton and national financial pressures resulted in most of them losing their land. More problems built up with the boll weevil infestation, when thousands of agricultural jobs were lost.

Jimmie Rodgers, a native of Meridian and guitarist/singer/songwriter known as the “Father of Country Music”, played a significant role in the development of the blues. He and Chester Arthur Burnett were friends and admirers of each other’s music. Their friendship and respect is an important example of Mississippi’s musical legacy. While the state has had a reputation for being the most racist in the United States, individual musicians created an integrated music community. Mississippi musicians created new forms by combining and creating variations on musical traditions from Africa with the musical traditions of white Southerners, a tradition largely rooted in Scots–Irish music.

The state is creating a Mississippi Blues Trail, with dedicated markers explaining historic sites significant to the history of blues music, such as Clarksdale’s Riverside Hotel, where Bessie Smith died after her auto accident on Highway 61. The Riverside Hotel is just one of many historical blues sites in Clarksdale. The Delta Blues Museum there is visited by tourists from all over the world. Close by is “Ground Zero”, a contemporary blues club and restaurant co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

Elvis Presley, who created a sensation in the 1950s as a crossover artist and contributed to rock ‘n’ roll, was a native of Tupelo. From opera star Leontyne Price to the alternative rock band 3 Doors Down, to gulf and western singer Jimmy Buffett, modern rock/jazz/world music guitarist-producer Clifton Hyde, to rappers David Banner, Big K.R.I.T. and Afroman, Mississippi musicians have been significant in all genres.

Literature

Sports

Mississippi Braves outfielder Cody Johnson at Trustmark Park

  • Biloxi is home to the Biloxi Shuckers baseball team, a AA minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and member of the Southern League are currently located in Biloxi at MGM Park
  • Clinton is home to the Mississippi Brilla soccer team. The Brilla are a member of the USL Premier Development League.
  • Pearl is home to the Mississippi Braves baseball team. The Braves are an AA minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. They play in the Southern League.
  • Southaven is home to the Memphis Hustle basketball team. The Hustle are an affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies. They play in the NBA G League.

Notable people

See also

  • Index of Mississippi-related articles
  • Outline of Mississippi – organized list of topics about Mississippi

Footnotes

  1. ^ “Median Annual Household Income”. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved December 9, 2016..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
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  77. ^ James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity (1994) p. 244
  78. ^ Wong, Vivian Wu (Summer 1996). “Somewhere between White and Black: The Chinese in Mississippi”. Oah Magazine of History. 10 (4): 33–36. JSTOR 25163098.
  79. ^ Thornell, John G. 2008. “A Culture in Decline: The Mississippi Delta Chinese”, Southeast Review of Asian Studies 30: 196–202
  80. ^ Loewen, James W. 1971. The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  81. ^ Quan, Robert Seto. 1982. Lotus Among the Magnolias: The Mississippi Chinese, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
  82. ^ Judge, Phoebe. “Vietnamese Shrimpers May Lose Way Of Life Again”. NPR. May 16, 2010. Retrieved on March 26, 2013.
  83. ^ ab “Mississippi – Languages”. city-data.com. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
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  85. ^ ab “Mississippi History Now – Religion in Mississippi”. Mshistory.k12.ms.us. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  86. ^ “Presbyterian Church in America – Religious Groups – The Association of Religion Data Archives”. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  87. ^ ab “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report”. www.thearda.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  88. ^
    Frank Newport (March 27, 2012). “Mississippi is The Most Religious U.S. State”. Gallup.
  89. ^ Mississippians Go to Church the Most; Vermonters, Least. Gallup.com. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  90. ^ State of the States: Importance of Religion. Gallup.com. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  91. ^ “Adults in Mississippi”. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. May 11, 2015.
  92. ^ “National Vital Statistics Reports Volumne 64, Number 1, January 15, 2015” (PDF).
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  94. ^ “National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 66, Number 1, January 5, 2017” (PDF).
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  96. ^ https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf
  97. ^ “Census.gov: Married-Couple and Unmarried-Partner Households 2000” (PDF). Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  98. ^ “Mississippi leads nation in same-sex child rearing”. Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. August 26, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  99. ^ Ost, Jason. “Facts and Findings from ”The Gay and Lesbian Atlas””. Urban.org. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  100. ^ “LGBT couples can be refused service under new Mississippi law”. The Guardian. April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  101. ^ “Mississippi law opens a new front in the battle over gay rights”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  102. ^ “Mississippi passes controversial ‘religious freedom’ bill”. BBC News. April 5, 2016.
  103. ^ Park, Madison (July 1, 2016). “Judge blocks controversial Mississippi law”. CNN.com. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  104. ^ Willie James Inman (October 4, 2017). “Major religious freedom law set to take effect, unless Supreme Court intervenes”. foxnews.com. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  105. ^ Campbell, Larrison (October 1, 2017). “Religious freedom law,’ House Bill 1523, will take effect Oct. 6; appeal planned”. mississippitoday.org. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  106. ^ “Commonwealth Fund, ”Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance”, 2009″. Commonwealthfund.org. August 3, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  107. ^ “Deaths: Final Data for 2013, table 18” (PDF). CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. May 30, 2014.
  108. ^ “Health, United States, 2014” (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. May 2015.
  109. ^ Ronni Mott (December 3, 2008). “We-the-Fat”. Jackson Free Press. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  110. ^ Thomas M. Maugh (August 28, 2007). “Mississippi heads list of fattest states”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
    [dead link]
  111. ^ Victor Sutton, PhD, and Sandra Hayes, MPH, Bureau of Health Data and Research, Mississippi Department of Health (October 29, 2008). “Impact of Social, Behavioral and Environmental Factors on Overweight and Obesity among African American Women in Mississippi”. American Public Health Association: APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing at 2008 136th Annual Meeting. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  112. ^ abc Gail D. Hughes, DrPH, MPH and Gloria Areghan, MSN both with Department of Preventive Medicine-Epidemiology, University of Mississippi Medical Centre; Bern’Nadette Knight, MSPH with Department of General Internal Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center and Abiodun A. Oyebola, MD with Department of Public Health, Jackson State University (November 11, 2008). “Obesity and the African American Adolescent, The Mississippi Delta Report”. American Public Health Association: 2002 130th Annual APHA Meeting. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  113. ^ Lei Zhang, PhD MBA, Office of Health Data and Research, Mississippi State Department of Health; Jerome Kolbo, PhD ACSW, College of Health, Bonnie Harbaugh, PhD RN, School of Nursing and Charkarra Anderson-Lewis, PhD MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi (October 29, 2008). “Public Perception of Childhood Obesity among Mississippi Adults”. American Public Health Association: : APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing at 2008 136th Annual Meeting. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  114. ^ “GDP by State”. Greyhill Advisors. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  115. ^ abcd Pender, 2017.
  116. ^ “Generosity Index”. Catalogueforphilanthropy.org. Archived from the original on December 4, 2002. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  117. ^ ab John Otto Solomon,The Final Frontiers, 1880–1930: Settling the Southern Bottomlands. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999, pp.10–11, 42–43, 50–51, and 70
  118. ^ Naipaul, V.S. (1990). A Turn in the South. Vintage. p. 216. ISBN 978-0679724889. The people who wrote the constitution wanted the state to remain ‘a pastoral state, an agricultural state.’ They didn’t want big business or the corporations coming in, encouraging ‘unfavorable competition for jobs with the agricultural community.’
  119. ^ “Mississippi Almanac Entry”. The New York Times. July 15, 2004. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2010., The New York Times Travel Almanac (2004)
  120. ^ “Historical Census Browser”. Fisher.lib.virginia.edu. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
    [permanent dead link]
  121. ^ W. E. B. DuBois,Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1935; reprint New York: The Free Press, 1998, p. 432
  122. ^ Du Bois (1935), Black Reconstruction, p. 437
  123. ^ Du Bois (1935), Black Reconstruction, pp. 432, 434
  124. ^ Katrina Stats. City of Biloxi. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  125. ^ 2013 edition of State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. American Gaming Association. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  126. ^ “Mississippi Direct Financial Incentives 2011 – Mississippi, Momentum Mississippi”. Area Development Online. March 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  127. ^ “Local Sales Taxes Add Significant Burden on Consumers”. The Tax Foundation. September 22, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  128. ^ “Ad Valorem Tax”. Mississippi Department of Revenue. Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  129. ^ Stuesse, Angela and Laura Helton. “Low-Wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor History”, Southern Spaces, December 31, 2013, “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  130. ^ Gilbert M. Gaul and Dan Morgan (June 19, 2007), “A Slow Demise in the Delta: US Farm Subsidies Favor Big Over Small and White Over Blacks”, The Washington Post, accessed March 29, 2008
  131. ^ Les Christie (August 30, 2007). “The Richest (and Poorest) Places in the U.S”. CNNMoney.com. Archived from the original on September 14, 2007. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  132. ^ “Unemployment Rates for States, Seasonally Adjusted, December 2018”. Local Area Unemployment Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
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  134. ^ “Federal Taxes Paid Vs Federal Spending Received State 1981–2005”.
  135. ^ “Amendment banning gay marriage passes”. USA Today. November 2, 2004. Retrieved October 12, 2007.
  136. ^ “Voters pass all 11 bans on gay marriage”. MSNBC. Associated Press. November 3, 2004. Retrieved December 7, 2007.
  137. ^ “Mississippi’s Ban on Gay Marriage Officially Lifted”. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  138. ^ “Mississippi State Constitution”. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  139. ^ Alexander P. Lamis (1999). Southern Politics in the 1990s. LSU Press. p. 425.
  140. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Arkabutla Lake Archived July 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  141. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Grenada Lake Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  142. ^ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District: Sardis Lake Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  143. ^ James D. Anderson,The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, pp. 160–161
  144. ^ ab Bolton, Charles C. The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle Over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870–1980. University Press of Mississippi, 2005, pp. 136, 178–179.
    ISBN 1604730609, 9781604730609.
  145. ^ Bolton (2005). The Hardest Deal of All. pp. 178–179.
  146. ^ ab “Report Card on Education” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 7, 2011.
  147. ^ Please note this figure refers to only the number of students paddled, regardless of whether a student was spanked multiple times in a year, and does not refer to the number of instances of corporal punishment, which would be substantially higher.
  148. ^ ab Farrell, Colin (February 2016). “Corporal punishment in US schools”. World Corporal Punishment Research. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  149. ^ Dillon, Sam (November 14, 2007). “Study Compares States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries“. The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010., The New York Times (2007)
  150. ^ “USA International Ballet Competition”. Usaibc.com. Retrieved July 30, 2010.

Further reading

  • Dennis J. Mitchell, A New History of Mississippi. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2014.

External links

  • Official website
  • Mississippi Travel and Tourism
  • Mississippi Development Authority
  • The “Mississippi Believe It” Campaign
  • USDA Mississippi State Facts
  • University Press of Mississippi
  • Ecoregions of Mississippi
  • Mississippi at Curlie
  • Mississippi as Metaphor State, Region, and Nation in Historical Imagination”, Southern Spaces, October 23, 2006.
  • Geographic data related to Mississippi at OpenStreetMap
  • Mississippi State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Mississippi state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.

Preceded by
Indiana
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on December 10, 1817 (20th)
Succeeded by
Illinois

Coordinates: 33°N 90°W / 33°N 90°W / 33; -90


Arkansas

State of the United States of America

State of Arkansas
Flag of Arkansas State seal of Arkansas
Flag Great Seal
Nickname(s):

The Natural State (current)
The Bear State (former)
Motto(s): Regnat populus (Latin: The People Rule)
State song(s): “Arkansas”, “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)”, “Oh, Arkansas”, and “The Arkansas Traveler
Map of the United States with Arkansas highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Arkansan
Arkansawyer
Arkanite[1]
Capital
.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
(and largest city)
Little Rock
Largest metro Central Arkansas
Area Ranked 29th
 • Total 53,180 sq mi
(137,733 km2)
 • Width 270 miles (435 km)
 • Length 240 miles (386 km)
 • % water 2.09
 • Latitude 33° 00′ N to 36° 30′ N
 • Longitude 89° 39′ W to 94° 37′ W
Population Ranked 33rd
 • Total 3,004,279 (2017 est.)[2]
 • Density 56.4/sq mi  (21.8/km2)
Ranked 34th
 • Median household income $40,531 (48th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Mount Magazine[3][4][a][b]
2,753 ft (839 m)
 • Mean 650 ft  (200 m)
 • Lowest point Ouachita River at Louisiana border[4][a]
55 ft (17 m)
Before statehood Arkansas Territory
Admission to Union June 15, 1836 (25th)
Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin (R)
Legislature Arkansas General Assembly
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators John Boozman (R)
Tom Cotton (R)
U.S. House delegation 4 Republicans (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-AR
Abbreviations AR, Ark.
Website www.arkansas.gov
Arkansas state symbols
Flag of Arkansas.svg

The Flag of Arkansas
Seal of Arkansas.svg

The Seal of Arkansas
Living insignia
Bird Mockingbird
Butterfly Diana fritillary
Flower Apple blossom
Insect Western honeybee
Mammal White-tailed deer
Tree Pine tree
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food Pecan
Gemstone Diamond
Mineral Quartz
Rock Bauxite
Soil Stuttgart
Other South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato (state fruit and vegetable)
State route marker
Arkansas state route marker
State quarter
Arkansas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

Arkansas (/ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw)[c] is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2017.[7][8] Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians.[9] The state’s diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Arkansas is the 29th largest by area and the 33rd most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, located in the central portion of the state, a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government. The northwestern corner of the state, such as the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is a population, education, and economic center. The largest city in the state’s eastern part is Jonesboro. The largest city in the state’s southeastern part is Pine Bluff.

The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836.[10] In 1861, Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. On returning to the Union in 1868, the state continued to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slavery and the plantation economy, causing the state to fall behind economically and socially. White rural interests continued to dominate the state’s politics until the civil rights movement. Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and relies on its service industry, aircraft, poultry, steel, tourism, cotton, and rice.

The culture of Arkansas is observable in museums, theaters, novels, television shows, restaurants, and athletic venues across the state. Arkansas’s enduring image has earned the state “a special place in the American consciousness”.[11] People such as politician and educational advocate William Fulbright; former President Bill Clinton who served as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas; his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark, Walmart magnate Sam Walton;[12] singer-songwriters Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, and Glen Campbell; the poet C. D. Wright; and physicist William L. McMillan, who was a pioneer in superconductor research; have all lived in Arkansas.

Contents

  • 1 Etymology and pronunciation
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Boundaries
    • 2.2 Terrain
    • 2.3 Hydrology
    • 2.4 Flora and fauna
    • 2.5 Climate
  • 3 History

    • 3.1 Early Arkansas
    • 3.2 Purchase by the United States
    • 3.3 Statehood
    • 3.4 Civil War and Reconstruction
    • 3.5 End of the Reconstruction
    • 3.6 Rise of the Jim Crow laws
    • 3.7 Fall of segregation
    • 3.8 Prominent American figures from Arkansas
  • 4 Cities and towns
  • 5 Demographics

    • 5.1 Population
    • 5.2 Ancestry
    • 5.3 Religion
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Industry and commerce
  • 7 Media
  • 8 Culture

    • 8.1 Sports and recreation
  • 9 Health
  • 10 Education

    • 10.1 Educational attainment
    • 10.2 Funding
    • 10.3 Timeline
  • 11 Transportation
  • 12 Law and government

    • 12.1 Executive
    • 12.2 Legislative
    • 12.3 Judicial
    • 12.4 Federal
    • 12.5 Politics
  • 13 Attractions
  • 14 See also
  • 15 Notes
  • 16 References

    • 16.1 Bibliography
  • 17 Further reading
  • 18 External links

Etymology and pronunciation

Pronunciation of state name. A popular comedic Vine addresses the pronunciation. on YouTube

The name Arkansas was initially applied to the Arkansas River and derives from a French term, Arcansas, the plural term for Quapaws,[13] a Dhegiha Siouan-speaking Native American people who settled in Arkansas around the 13th century. This comes from an Algonquian term, /akansa/, for the Quapaws, and is likely also the root term for Kansas.[13]

The name has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions.[c] In 1881, the pronunciation of Arkansas with the final “s” being silent was made official by an act of the state legislature after a dispute arose between Arkansas’s two U.S. senators as one favored the pronunciation as /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw while the other favored /ɑːrˈkænzəs/ ar-KAN-zəs.[c]

In 2007, the state legislature passed a non-binding resolution declaring that the possessive form of the state’s name is Arkansas’s, which has been followed increasingly by the state government.[15]

Geography

View from the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway in Boxley Valley

The Ozarks: bend in the Buffalo River from an overlook on the Buffalo River Trail near Steel Creek

The flat terrain and rich soils of the Arkansas Delta near Arkansas City are in stark contrast to the northwestern part of the state.

Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

Boundaries

Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi to the east. The United States Census Bureau classifies Arkansas as a southern state, sub-categorized among the West South Central States.[8] The Mississippi River forms most of Arkansas’s eastern border, except in Clay and Greene, counties where the St. Francis River forms the western boundary of the Missouri Bootheel, and in many places where the channel of the Mississippi has meandered (or been straightened by man) from its original 1836 course.

Terrain

Arkansas can generally be split into two halves, the highlands in the northwest half and the lowlands of the southeastern half.[16] The highlands are part of the Southern Interior Highlands, including The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains. The southern lowlands include the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta.[17] This dual split can yield to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are broad and not defined along county lines. Arkansas has seven distinct natural regions: the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas River Valley, Gulf Coastal Plain, Crowley’s Ridge, and the Arkansas Delta, with Central Arkansas sometimes included as a blend of multiple regions.[18]

The southeastern part of Arkansas along the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is sometimes called the Arkansas Delta. This region is a flat landscape of rich alluvial soils formed by repeated flooding of the adjacent Mississippi. Farther away from the river, in the southeast portion of the state, the Grand Prairie consists of a more undulating landscape. Both are fertile agricultural areas. The Delta region is bisected by a geological formation known as Crowley’s Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley’s Ridge rises from 250 to 500 feet (76 to 152 m) above the surrounding alluvial plain and underlies many of the major towns of eastern Arkansas.[19]

Northwest Arkansas is part of the Ozark Plateau including the Ozark Mountains, to the south are the Ouachita Mountains, and these regions are divided by the Arkansas River; the southern and eastern parts of Arkansas are called the Lowlands.[20] These mountain ranges are part of the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.[21] The highest point in the state is Mount Magazine in the Ouachita Mountains,[22] which rises to 2,753 feet (839 m) above sea level.[6]

Hydrology

The Buffalo National River is one of many attractions that give the state its nickname, The Natural State.

Arkansas has many rivers, lakes, and reservoirs within or along its borders. Major tributaries of the Mississippi River include the Arkansas River, the White River, and the St. Francis River.[23] The Arkansas is fed by the Mulberry River and the Fourche LaFave River in the Arkansas River Valley, which is also home to Lake Dardanelle. The Buffalo River, Little Red River, Black River and Cache River all serve as tributaries to the White River, which also empties into the Mississippi. The Saline River, Little Missouri River, Bayou Bartholomew, and the Caddo River all serve as tributaries to the Ouachita River in south Arkansas, which eventually empties into the Mississippi in Louisiana. The Red River briefly serves as the state’s boundary with Texas.[24] Arkansas has few natural lakes and many reservoirs,[quantify] such as Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Ouachita, Greers Ferry Lake, Millwood Lake, Beaver Lake, Norfork Lake, DeGray Lake, and Lake Conway.[25]

Arkansas is home to many caves, such as Blanchard Springs Caverns. More than 43,000 Native American living, hunting and tool making sites, many of them Pre-Columbian burial mounds and rock shelters, have been cataloged by the State Archeologist. Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro is the world’s only diamond-bearing site accessible to the public for digging.[26][27] Arkansas is home to a dozen Wilderness Areas totaling 158,444 acres (641.20 km2).[28] These areas are set aside for outdoor recreation and are open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and primitive camping. No mechanized vehicles nor developed campgrounds are allowed in these areas.[29]

Flora and fauna

The White River in eastern Arkansas

Arkansas is divided into three broad ecoregions, the Ozark, Ouachita-Appalachian Forests, Mississippi Alluvial and Southeast USA Coastal Plains, and the Southeastern USA Plainsand two biomes, the subtropical coniferous forest and the temperate deciduous forest.[30] The state is further divided into seven subregions: the Arkansas Valley, Boston Mountains, Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Mississippi Valley Loess Plain, Ozark Highlands, Ouachita Mountains, and the South Central Plains.[31] A 2010 United States Forest Service survey determined 18,720,000 acres (7,580,000 ha) of Arkansas’s land is forestland, or 56% of the state’s total area.[32] Dominant species in Arkansas’s forests include Quercus (oak), Carya (hickory), Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine).[33][34]

Arkansas’s plant life varies with its climate and elevation. The pine belt stretching from the Arkansas delta to Texas consists of dense oak-hickory-pine growth. Lumbering and paper milling activity is active throughout the region.[35] In eastern Arkansas, one can find Taxodium (cypress), Quercus nigra (water oaks), and hickories with their roots submerged in the Mississippi Valley bayous indicative of the deep south.[36] Nearby Crowley’s Ridge is only home of the tulip tree in the state, and generally hosts more northeastern plant life such as the beech tree.[37] The northwestern highlands are covered in an oak-hickory mixture, with Ozark white cedars, cornus (dogwoods), and Cercis canadensis (redbuds) also present. The higher peaks in the Arkansas River Valley play host to scores of ferns, including the Woodsia scopulina and Adiantum (maidenhair fern) on Mount Magazine.[38]

Climate

Climate types in Arkansas.

Devil’s Den State Park, a state park in Washington County, in the fall.

Winter at Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas generally has a humid subtropical climate. While not bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Arkansas is still close enough to this warm, large body of water for it to influence the weather in the state. Generally, Arkansas has hot, humid summers and slightly drier, mild to cool winters. In Little Rock, the daily high temperatures average around 93 °F (34 °C) with lows around 73 °F (23 °C) in July. In January highs average around 51 °F (11 °C) and lows around 32 °F (0 °C). In Siloam Springs in the northwest part of the state, the average high and low temperatures in July are 89 and 67 °F (32 and 19 °C) and in January the average high and lows are 44 and 23 °F (7 and −5 °C). Annual precipitation throughout the state averages between about 40 and 60 inches (1,000 and 1,500 mm); somewhat wetter in the south and drier in the northern part of the state.[39] Snowfall is infrequent but most common in the northern half of the state.[23] The half of the state south of Little Rock is more apt to see ice storms. Arkansas’s all-time record high is 120 °F (49 °C) at Ozark on August 10, 1936; the all-time record low is −29 °F (−34 °C) at Gravette, on February 13, 1905.[40]

Arkansas is known for extreme weather and frequent storms. A typical year brings thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow and ice storms. Between both the Great Plains and the Gulf States, Arkansas receives around 60 days of thunderstorms. Arkansas is located in Tornado Alley, and as a result, a few of the most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history have struck the state. While sufficiently far from the coast to avoid a direct hit from a hurricane, Arkansas can often get the remnants of a tropical system, which dumps tremendous amounts of rain in a short time and often spawns smaller tornadoes.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Arkansas Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Avg
Fayetteville[41] 44/24
(7/-4)
51/29
(10/-2)
59/38
(15/3)
69/46
(20/8)
76/55
(24/13)
84/64
(29/18)
89/69
(32/20)
89/67
(32/19)
81/59
(27/15)
70/47
(21/9)
57/37
(14/3)
48/28
(9/-2)
68/47
(20/8)
Jonesboro[42] 45/26
(7/-3)
51/30
(11/-1)
61/40
(16/4)
71/49
(22/9)
80/58
(26/15)
88/67
(31/19)
92/71
(34/22)
91/69
(33/20)
84/61
(29/16)
74/49
(23/9)
60/39
(15/4)
49/30
(10/-1)
71/49
(21/9)
Little Rock[43] 51/31
(11/-1)
55/35
(13/2)
64/43
(18/6)
73/51
(23/11)
81/61
(27/16)
89/69
(32/21)
93/73
(34/23)
93/72
(34/22)
86/65
(30/18)
75/53
(24/12)
63/42
(17/6)
52/34
(11/1)
73/51
(23/11)
Texarkana[44] 53/31
(11/-1)
58/34
(15/1)
67/42
(19/5)
75/50
(24/10)
82/60
(28/16)
89/68
(32/20)
93/72
(34/22)
93/71
(34/21)
86/64
(30/18)
76/52
(25/11)
64/41
(18/5)
55/33
(13/1)
74/52
(23/11)
Monticello[45] 52/30
(11/-1)
58/34
(14/1)
66/43
(19/6)
74/49
(23/10)
82/59
(28/15)
89/66
(32/19)
92/70
(34/21)
92/68
(33/20)
86/62
(30/17)
76/50
(25/10)
64/41
(18/5)
55/34
(13/1)
74/51
(23/10)
Fort Smith[46] 48/27
(8/-2)
54/32
(12/0)
64/40
(17/4)
73/49
(22/9)
80/58
(26/14)
87/67
(30/19)
92/71
(33/21)
92/70
(33/21)
84/62
(29/17)
75/50
(23/10)
61/39
(16/4)
50/31
(10/0)
72/50
(22/10)
Average high °F/average low °F (average high °C/average low°C)

History

Early Arkansas

Platform mounds, such as this one at Toltec Mounds near Scott, were constructed frequently during the Woodland and Mississippian periods

Before European settlement of North America, Arkansas was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. The Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw peoples encountered European explorers. The first of these Europeans was Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541, who crossed the Mississippi and marched across central Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. After finding nothing he considered of value and encountering native resistance the entire way, he and his men returned to the Mississippi River where de Soto fell ill. From his deathbed he ordered his men to massacre all of the men of the nearby village of Anilco, who he feared had been plotting with a powerful polity down the Mississippi River, Quigualtam. His men obeyed and did not stop with the men, but were said to have massacred women and children as well. He died the following day in what is believed to be the vicinity of modern-day McArthur, Arkansas in May 1542. His body was weighted down with sand and he was consigned to a watery grave in the Mississippi River under cover of darkness by his men. De Soto had attempted to deceive the native population into thinking he was an immortal deity, sun of the sun, in order to forestall attack by outraged Native Americans on his by then weakened and bedraggled army. In order to keep the ruse up, his men informed the locals that de Soto had ascended into the sky. His will at the time of his death listed: “four Indian slaves, three horses and 700 hogs.” which were auctioned off to his men. His starving men, who had been living off maize stolen from Native Americans and who had not been allowed to eat the enormous herd of hogs but had had to care for them, immediately started to butcher them. Later on his remaining men, now commanded by his aide de camp Moscoso, attempted an overland return to Mexico. They made it as far as Texas before running into territory too dry for maize farming and too thinly populated to sustain themselves by stealing food from the locals. The expedition promptly backtracked to Arkansas. After building a small fleet of boats they then headed down the Mississippi River and eventually on to Mexico by water.[47][48]

Later explorers included the French Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673, and Frenchmen Robert La Salle and Henri de Tonti in 1681.[49][50] Tonti established Arkansas Post at a Quapaw village in 1686, making it the first European settlement in the territory.[51] The early Spanish or French explorers of the state gave it its name, which is probably a phonetic spelling of the Illinois tribe’s name for the Quapaw people, who lived downriver from them.[52][c] The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on July 4, 1819, with the territory admitted to the United States as the state of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/, /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, and several other variants. Historically and modernly, the people of Arkansas call themselves either “Arkansans” or “Arkansawyers”. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Arkansas Code 1-4-105 (official text):

Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants.

Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.

Citizens of the state of Kansas often pronounce the Arkansas River as /ɑːrˈkænzəs ˈrɪvər/, in a manner similar to the common pronunciation of the name of their state.

Settlers, such as fur trappers, moved to Arkansas in the early 18th century. These people used Arkansas Post as a home base and entrepôt.[51] During the colonial period, Arkansas changed hands between France and Spain following the Seven Years’ War, although neither showed interest in the remote settlement of Arkansas Post.[53] In April 1783, Arkansas saw its only battle of the American Revolutionary War, a brief siege of the post by British Captain James Colbert with the assistance of the Choctaw and Chickasaw.[54]

Purchase by the United States

Evolution from the Territory of Arkansaw to State of Arkansas, 1819–1836

Napoleon Bonaparte sold French Louisiana to the United States in 1803, including all of Arkansas, in a transaction known today as the Louisiana Purchase. French soldiers remained as a garrison at Arkansas Post. Following the purchase, the balanced give-and-take relationship between settlers and Native Americans began to change all along the frontier, including in Arkansas.[55] Following a controversy over allowing slavery in the territory, the Territory of Arkansas was organized on July 4, 1819.[c] Gradual emancipation in Arkansas was struck down by one vote, the Speaker of the House Henry Clay, allowing Arkansas to organize as a slave territory.[56]

Slavery became a wedge issue in Arkansas, forming a geographic divide that remained for decades. Owners and operators of the cotton plantation economy in southeast Arkansas firmly supported slavery, as they perceived slave labor as the best or “only” economically viable method of harvesting their commodity crops.[57] The “hill country” of northwest Arkansas was unable to grow cotton and relied on a cash-scarce, subsistence farming economy.[58]

As European Americans settled throughout the East Coast and into the Midwest, in the 1830s the United States government forced the removal of many Native American tribes to Arkansas and Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

Additional Native American removals began in earnest during the territorial period, with final Quapaw removal complete by 1833 as they were pushed into Indian Territory.[59] The capital was relocated from Arkansas Post to Little Rock in 1821, during the territorial period.[60]

Statehood

Lakeport Plantation, c. 1859 and built south of Lake Village, is the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Many planters became wealthy from the cotton industry in southern Arkansas.

When Arkansas applied for statehood, the slavery issue was again raised in Washington, D.C.. Congress eventually approved the Arkansas Constitution after a 25-hour session, admitting Arkansas on June 15, 1836 as the 25th state and the 13th slave state, having a population of about 60,000.[61] Arkansas struggled with taxation to support its new state government, a problem made worse by a state banking scandal and worse yet by the Panic of 1837.

Civil War and Reconstruction

In early antebellum Arkansas, the southeast Arkansas slave based economy developed rapidly. On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, enslaved African Americans numbered 111,115 people, just over 25% of the state’s population.[62] Plantation agriculture set the state and region behind the nation for decades.[63] The wealth developed among planters of southeast Arkansas caused a political rift to form between the northwest and southeast.[64]

Many politicians were elected to office from the Family, the Southern rights political force in antebellum Arkansas. Residents generally wanted to avoid a civil war. When the Gulf states seceded in early 1861, Arkansas voted to remain in the Union.[64] Arkansas did not secede until Abraham Lincoln demanded Arkansas troops be sent to Fort Sumter to quell the rebellion there. On May 6, a state convention voted to terminate Arkansas’s membership in the Union and join the Confederate States of America.[64]

Arkansas held a very important position for the Rebels, maintaining control of the Mississippi River and surrounding Southern states. The bloody Battle of Wilson’s Creek just across the border in Missouri shocked many Arkansans who thought the war would be a quick and decisive Southern victory. Battles early in the war took place in northwest Arkansas, including the Battle of Cane Hill, Battle of Pea Ridge, and Battle of Prairie Grove. Union General Samuel Curtis swept across the state to Helena in the Delta in 1862. Little Rock was captured the following year. The government shifted the state Confederate capital to Hot Springs, and then again to Washington from 1863–1865, for the remainder of the war. Throughout the state, guerrilla warfare ravaged the countryside and destroyed cities.[65] Passion for the Confederate cause waned after implementation of programs such as the draft, high taxes, and martial law.

Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress declared Arkansas restored to the Union in June 1868, after the Legislature accepted the 14th Amendment. The Republican-controlled reconstruction legislature established universal male suffrage (though temporarily disfranchising former Confederate Army officers, who were all Democrats), a public education system for blacks and whites, and passed general issues to improve the state and help more of the population. The State soon came under control of the Radical Republicans and Unionists, and led by Governor Powell Clayton, they presided over a time of great upheaval as Confederate sympathizers and the Ku Klux Klan fought the new developments, particularly voting rights for African Americans.

End of the Reconstruction

In 1874, the Brooks-Baxter War, a political struggle between factions of the Republican Party shook Little Rock and the state governorship. It was settled only when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered Joseph Brooks to disperse his militant supporters.[66]

Following the Brooks-Baxter War, a new state constitution was ratified, re-enfranchising former Confederates.

In 1881, the Arkansas state legislature enacted a bill that adopted an official pronunciation of the state’s name, to combat a controversy then simmering. (See Law and Government below.)

After Reconstruction, the state began to receive more immigrants and migrants. Chinese, Italian, and Syrian men were recruited for farm labor in the developing Delta region. None of these nationalities stayed long at farm labor; the Chinese especially quickly became small merchants in towns around the Delta. Many Chinese became such successful merchants in small towns that they were able to educate their children at college.[67]

Some early 20th-century immigration included people from eastern Europe. Together, these immigrants made the Delta more diverse than the rest of the state. In the same years, some black migrants moved into the area because of opportunities to develop the bottomlands and own their own property.

Wife and children of a sharecropper in Washington County, Arkansas, c. 1935

Construction of railroads enabled more farmers to get their products to market. It also brought new development into different parts of the state, including the Ozarks, where some areas were developed as resorts. In a few years at the end of the 19th century, for instance, Eureka Springs in Carroll County grew to 10,000 people, rapidly becoming a tourist destination and the fourth-largest city of the state. It featured newly constructed, elegant resort hotels and spas planned around its natural springs, considered to have healthful properties. The town’s attractions included horse racing and other entertainment. It appealed to a wide variety of classes, becoming almost as popular as Hot Springs.

Rise of the Jim Crow laws

In the late 1880s, the worsening agricultural depression catalyzed Populist and third party movements, leading to interracial coalitions. Struggling to stay in power, in the 1890s the Democrats in Arkansas followed other Southern states in passing legislation and constitutional amendments that disfranchised blacks and poor whites. Democrats wanted to prevent their alliance.[citation needed] In 1891 state legislators passed a requirement for a literacy test, knowing that it would exclude many blacks and whites. At the time, more than 25% of the population could neither read nor write. In 1892, they amended the state constitution to require a poll tax and more complex residency requirements, both of which adversely affected poor people and sharecroppers, forcing most blacks and many poor whites from voter rolls.

By 1900 the Democratic Party expanded use of the white primary in county and state elections, further denying blacks a part in the political process. Only in the primary was there any competition among candidates, as Democrats held all the power. The state was a Democratic one-party state for decades, until after passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enforce constitutional rights.[68]

Between 1905 and 1911, Arkansas began to receive a small immigration of German, Slovak, and Scots-Irish from Europe. The German and Slovak peoples settled in the eastern part of the state known as the Prairie, and the Irish founded small communities in the southeast part of the state. The Germans were mostly Lutheran and the Slovaks were primarily Catholic. The Irish were mostly Protestant from Ulster, of Scots and Northern Borders descent.

Based on the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt given shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, nearly 16,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the West Coast of the United States and incarcerated in two internment camp located in the Arkansas Delta.[69] The Rohwer Camp in Desha County operated from September 1942 to November 1945 and at its peak interned 8,475 prisoners.[69] The Jerome War Relocation Center in Drew County operated from October 1942 to June 1944 and held c. 8,000 prisoners.[69]

Fall of segregation

After the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954 that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, some students worked to integrate schools in the state. The Little Rock Nine brought Arkansas to national attention in 1957 when the Federal government had to intervene to protect African-American students trying to integrate a high school in the Arkansas capital. Governor Orval Faubus had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to aid segregationists in preventing nine African-American students from enrolling at Little Rock’s Central High School. After attempting three times to contact Faubus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 1000 troops from the active-duty 101st Airborne Division to escort and protect the African-American students as they entered school on September 25, 1957. In defiance of federal court orders to integrate, the governor and city of Little Rock decided to close the high schools for the remainder of the school year. By the fall of 1959, the Little Rock high schools were completely integrated.[70]

Prominent American figures from Arkansas

Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was born in Hope. Before his presidency, Clinton served as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas, a total of nearly 12 years.

Cities and towns

Cleveland County Courthouse in Rison

Little Rock has been Arkansas’s capital city since 1821 when it replaced Arkansas Post as the capital of the Territory of Arkansas.[71] The state capitol was moved to Hot Springs and later Washington during the Civil War when the Union armies threatened the city in 1862, and state government did not return to Little Rock until after the war ended. Today, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a population of 724,385 in 2013.[72]

The Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area is the second-largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, growing at the fastest rate due to the influx of businesses and the growth of the University of Arkansas and Walmart.[73]

The state has eight cities with populations above 50,000 (based on 2010 census). In descending order of size, they are: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, and Rogers. Of these, only Fort Smith and Jonesboro are outside the two largest metropolitan areas. Other cities are located in Arkansas such as Pine Bluff, Crossett, Bryant, Lake Village, Hot Springs, Bentonville, Texarkana, Sherwood, Jacksonville, Russellville, Bella Vista, West Memphis, Paragould, Cabot, Searcy, Van Buren, El Dorado, Blytheville, Harrison, Dumas, Rison, Warren, and Mountain Home.

Demographics

Population

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Map of Arkansas, showing density of population by county.
Map of Arkansas, with many southern and eastern counties recording population losses with the rest of the state showing moderate gains. Benton and Faulkner counties were the most rapidly growing in population between 2000–2010.
Left: Arkansas’s population distribution. Red indicates high density in urban areas, green indicates low density in rural areas.
Right: Map showing population changes by county between 2000 and 2010. Blue indicates population gain, purple indicates population loss, and shade indicates magnitude.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Arkansas was 2,978,204 on July 1, 2015, a 2.14% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[75]

As of 2015, Arkansas has an estimated population of 2,978,204.[75] From fewer than 15,000 in 1820, Arkansas’s population grew to 52,240 during a special census in 1835, far exceeding the 40,000 required to apply for statehood.[76] Following statehood in 1836, the population doubled each decade until the 1870 Census conducted following the Civil War. The state recorded growth in each successive decade, although it gradually slowed in the 20th century.

It recorded population losses in the 1950 and 1960 Censuses. This outmigration was a result of multiple factors, including farm mechanization, decreasing labor demand, and young educated people leaving the state due to a lack of non-farming industry in the state.[77] Arkansas again began to grow, recording positive growth rates ever since and exceeding the 2 million mark during the 1980 Census.[78] Arkansas’s rate of change, age distributions, and gender distributions mirror national averages. Minority group data also approximates national averages. There are fewer people in Arkansas of Hispanic or Latino origin than the national average.[79] The center of population of Arkansas for 2000 was located in Perry County, near Nogal.[80]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,062
1820 14,273 1,244.0%
1830 30,388 112.9%
1840 97,574 221.1%
1850 209,897 115.1%
1860 435,450 107.5%
1870 484,471 11.3%
1880 802,525 65.6%
1890 1,128,211 40.6%
1900 1,311,564 16.3%
1910 1,574,449 20.0%
1920 1,752,204 11.3%
1930 1,854,482 5.8%
1940 1,949,387 5.1%
1950 1,909,511 −2.0%
1960 1,786,272 −6.5%
1970 1,923,295 7.7%
1980 2,286,435 18.9%
1990 2,350,725 2.8%
2000 2,673,400 13.7%
2010 2,915,918 9.1%
Est. 2018 3,013,825 3.4%
Source: 1910–2010[81]
2018 estimate[75]

Ancestry

In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 80.1% white (74.2% non-Hispanic white), 15.6% black or African American, 0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.3% Asian, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 6.6% of the population.[82]

As of 2011, 39.0% of Arkansas’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[83]

Arkansas Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[84] 2000[85] 2010[86]
White 82.7% 80.0% 77.0%
African American 15.9% 15.7% 15.4%
Asian 0.5% 0.8% 1.2%
Native 0.5% 0.7% 0.8%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.2%
Other race 0.3% 1.5% 3.4%
Two or more races 1.3% 2.0%

European Americans have a strong presence in the northwestern Ozarks and the central part of the state. African Americans live mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Arkansans of Irish, English and German ancestry are mostly found in the far northwestern Ozarks near the Missouri border. Ancestors of the Irish in the Ozarks were chiefly Scots-Irish, Protestants from Northern Ireland, the Scottish lowlands and northern England part of the largest group of immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland before the American Revolution. English and Scots-Irish immigrants settled throughout the backcountry of the South and in the more mountainous areas. Americans of English stock are found throughout the state.[87]

A 2010 survey of the principal ancestries of Arkansas’s residents revealed the following:[88]

  • 15.5% African American
  • 12.3% Irish
  • 11.5% German
  • 11.0% American
  • 10.1% English
  • 4.7% Mexican
  • 2.1% French
  • 1.7% Scottish
  • 1.7% Dutch
  • 1.6% Italian
  • 1.4% Scots-Irish

Most of the people identifying as American are of English descent and/or Scots-Irish descent. Their families have been in the state so long, in many cases since before statehood, that they choose to identify simply as having American ancestry or do not in fact know their own ancestry. Their ancestry primarily goes back to the original 13 colonies and for this reason many of them today simply claim American ancestry. Many people who identify themselves as Irish descent are in fact of Scots-Irish descent.[89][90][91][92]

According to the 2006–2008 American Community Survey, 93.8% of Arkansas’s population (over the age of five) spoke only English at home. About 4.5% of the state’s population spoke Spanish at home. About 0.7% of the state’s population spoke any other Indo-European languages. About 0.8% of the state’s population spoke an Asian language, and 0.2% spoke other languages.[clarification needed dubious]

Religion

Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant. The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Southern Baptist Convention with 661,382; the United Methodist Church with 158,574; non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 129,638; the Catholic Church with 122,662; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 31,254. There are some residents of the state who live by other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Wicca, Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism or who claim no religious affiliation.[93]

Religion in Arkansas (2014)[94]
Religion Percent
Protestant
70%
None
18%
Catholic
8%
Muslim
2%
Mormon
1%
Other
1%

Economy

The Simmons Tower is the state’s tallest building.

Once a state with a cashless society in the uplands and plantation agriculture in the lowlands, Arkansas’s economy has evolved and diversified. The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $119 billion in 2015.[95] Six Fortune 500 companies are based in Arkansas, including the world’s #1 retailer, Walmart; Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt, Dillard’s, Murphy USA, and Windstream are also headquartered in the state.[96] The per capita personal income in 2015 was $39,107, ranking forty-fifth in the nation.[97] The median household income from 2011–15 was $41,371, ranking forty-ninth in the nation.[98] The state’s agriculture outputs are poultry and eggs, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, cotton, rice, hogs, and milk. Its industrial outputs are food processing, electric equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, and paper products. Mines in Arkansas produce natural gas, oil, crushed stone, bromine, and vanadium.[99] According to CNBC, Arkansas ranks as the 20th best state for business, with the 2nd-lowest cost of doing business, 5th-lowest cost of living, 11th best workforce, 20th-best economic climate, 28th-best educated workforce, 31st-best infrastructure and the 32nd-friendliest regulatory environment.[citation needed] Arkansas gained twelve spots in the best state for business rankings since 2011.[100] As of 2014, Arkansas was the most affordable U.S. state to live in.[101]

As of November 2016, the state’s unemployment rate is 4.0%[102]

Industry and commerce

Arkansas’s earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture, with development of cotton plantations in the areas near the Mississippi River. They were dependent on slave labor through the American Civil War.

Today only approximately 3% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector,[103] it remains a major part of the state’s economy, ranking 13th in the nation in the value of products sold.[104] The state is the U.S.’s largest producer of rice, broilers, and turkeys,[105] and ranks in the top three for cotton, pullets, and aquaculture (catfish).[104] Forestry remains strong in the Arkansas Timberlands, and the state ranks fourth nationally and first in the South in softwood lumber production.[106] Automobile parts manufacturers have opened factories in eastern Arkansas to support auto plants in other states. Bauxite was formerly a large part of the state’s economy, mined mostly around Saline County.[107]

Tourism is also very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname “The Natural State” was created for state tourism advertising in the 1970s, and is still used to this day. The state maintains 52 state parks and the National Park Service maintains seven properties in Arkansas. The completion of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock has drawn many visitors to the city and revitalized the nearby River Market District. Many cities also hold festivals, which draw tourists to Arkansas culture, such as The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Ozark Folk Festival, Toad Suck Daze, and Tontitown Grape Festival.

Media

As of 2010 many Arkansas local newspapers are owned by WEHCO Media, Alabama-based Lancaster Management, Kentucky-based Paxton Media Group, Missouri-based Rust Communications, Nevada-based Stephens Media, and New York-based GateHouse Media.[108]

Culture

Arkansas state symbols
Flag of Arkansas.svg

The Flag of Arkansas
Living insignia
Bird Northern mockingbird
Butterfly Diana fritillary
Flower Apple blossom
Insect Western honey bee
Mammal White-tailed deer
Tree Loblolly pine
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato
Gemstone Diamond
Instrument Fiddle
Mineral Quartz
Rock Bauxite
Soil Stuttgart
Song “Arkansas”,
“Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)”,
“Oh, Arkansas”,
“The Arkansas Traveler”
Tartan Arkansas Traveler Tartan
State route marker
Arkansas state route marker
State quarter
Arkansas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

One of the bridge pavilions over Crystal Spring at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

The culture of Arkansas is available to all in various forms, whether it be architecture, literature, or fine and performing arts. The state’s culture also includes distinct cuisine, dialect, and traditional festivals. Sports are also very important to the culture of Arkansas, ranging from football, baseball, and basketball to hunting and fishing. Perhaps the best-known piece of Arkansas’s culture is the stereotype of its citizens as shiftless hillbillies.[109] The reputation began when the state was characterized by early explorers as a savage wilderness full of outlaws and thieves.[110] The most enduring icon of Arkansas’s hillbilly reputation is The Arkansas Traveller, a painted depiction of a folk tale from the 1840s.[111] Although intended to represent the divide between rich southeastern plantation Arkansas planters and the poor northwestern hill country, the meaning was twisted to represent a Northerner lost in the Ozarks on a white horse asking a backwoods Arkansan for directions.[112] The state also suffers from the racial stigma common to former Confederate states, with historical events such as the Little Rock Nine adding to Arkansas’s enduring image.[113]

Art and history museums display pieces of cultural value for Arkansans and tourists to enjoy. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville was visited by 604,000 people in 2012, its first year.[114] The museum includes walking trails and educational opportunities in addition to displaying over 450 works covering five centuries of American art.[115] Several historic town sites have been restored as Arkansas state parks, including Historic Washington State Park, Powhatan Historic State Park, and Davidsonville Historic State Park.

Arkansas features a variety of native music across the state, ranging from the blues heritage of West Memphis, Pine Bluff, Helena–West Helena to rockabilly, bluegrass, and folk music from the Ozarks. Festivals such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival and Bikes, Blues, and BBQ pay homage to the history of blues in the state. The Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View is a celebration of Ozark culture and often features folk and bluegrass musicians. Literature set in Arkansas such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and A Painted House by John Grisham describe the culture at various time periods.

Sports and recreation

The flooded forested bottomlands of east Arkansas attract wintering waterfowl (Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge).

Sports have become an integral part of the culture of Arkansas, and her residents enjoy participating in and spectating various events throughout the year.

Team sports and especially collegiate football have been important to Arkansans. College football in Arkansas began from humble beginnings. The University of Arkansas first fielded a team in 1894 when football was a very dangerous game. Recent studies of the damage to team members from the concussions common in football make it clear that the danger persists.

“Calling the Hogs” is a cheer that shows support for the Razorbacks, one of the two NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in the state. High school football also began to grow in Arkansas in the early 20th century. Over the years, many Arkansans have looked to the Razorbacks football team as the public image of the state. Following the Little Rock Nine integration crisis at Little Rock Central High School, Arkansans looked to the successful Razorback teams in the following years to repair the state’s reputation. Although the University of Arkansas is based in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks have always played at least one game per season at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock in an effort to keep fan support in central and south Arkansas.

Arkansas State University joined the University of Arkansas in FBS (then known as Division I-A) in 1992 after playing in lower divisions for nearly two decades. The two schools have never played each other, due to the University of Arkansas’s policy of not playing intrastate games.[116] Two other campuses of the University of Arkansas System are Division I members. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, a league whose members all play football in the second-level Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a member of the FBS Sun Belt Conference, but is one of two conference schools that has no football program. The state’s other Division I member is the University of Central Arkansas, which is a full member (including football) of the FCS Southland Conference.

Seven of Arkansas’s smaller colleges play in NCAA Division II, with six in the Great American Conference and one in the Heartland Conference. Two other small Arkansas colleges compete in NCAA Division III, in which athletic scholarships are prohibited.

Baseball runs deep in Arkansas and has been popular before the state hosted Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training in Hot Springs from 1886 to the 1920s. Two minor league teams are based in the state. The Arkansas Travelers play at Dickey–Stephens Park in North Little Rock, and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals play in Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. Both teams compete in the Texas League.

Related to the state’s frontier past, hunting continues in the state. The state created the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1915 to regulate hunting and enforce those regulations.[117] Today a significant portion of Arkansas’s population participates in hunting duck in the Mississippi flyway and deer across the state.[118] Millions of acres of public land are available for both bow and modern gun hunters.[118]

Fishing has always been popular in Arkansas, and the sport and the state have benefited from the creation of reservoirs across the state. Following the completion of Norfork Dam, the Norfork Tailwater and the White River have become a destination for trout fishers. Several smaller retirement communities such as Bull Shoals, Hot Springs Village, and Fairfield Bay have flourished due to their position on a fishing lake. The Buffalo National River has been preserved in its natural state by the National Park Service and is frequented by fly fishers annually.

Health

UAMS Medical Center, Little Rock

As of 2012, Arkansas, as with many Southern states, has a high incidence of premature death, infant mortality, cardiovascular deaths, and occupational fatalities compared to the rest of the United States.[119] The state is tied for 43rd with New York in percentage of adults who regularly exercise.[120] Arkansas is usually ranked as one of the least healthy states due to high obesity, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle rates.[119] However, a Gallup poll demonstrates that Arkansas made the most immediate progress in reducing its number of uninsured residents following the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The percentage of uninsured in Arkansas dropped from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in August 2014.[121]

The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect in 2006, a statewide smoking ban excluding bars and some restaurants.[122]

Healthcare in Arkansas is provided by a network of hospitals as members of the Arkansas Hospital Association. Major institutions with multiple branches include Baptist Health, Community Health Systems, and HealthSouth. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock operates the UAMS Medical Center, a teaching hospital ranked as high performing nationally in cancer and nephrology.[123] The pediatric division of UAMS Medical Center is known as Arkansas Children’s Hospital, nationally ranked in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.[124] Together, these two institutions are the state’s only Level I trauma centers.[125]

Education

Arkansas has 1,064 state-funded kindergartens, elementary, junior- and senior high schools.[126]

The state supports a network of public universities and colleges, including two major university systems: Arkansas State University System and University of Arkansas System. The University of Arkansas, flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System in Fayetteville was ranked #63 among public schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[127] Other public institutions include University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas Tech University, Henderson State University, Southern Arkansas University, and University of Central Arkansas across the state. It is also home to 11 private colleges and universities including Hendrix College, one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report.[128]

In the 1920s the state required all children to attend public schools. The school year was set at 131 days, although some areas were unable to meet that requirement.[129][130]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is not uncommon in Arkansas, with 20,083 public school students[131]paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[132] The rate of corporal punishment in public schools is higher only in Mississippi.[132]

Educational attainment

Arkansas is one of the most under-educated states in the Union. It ranks near the bottom in terms of percentage of the population with either a high school or college degree. The state’s educational system has a history of under-funding, low teachers’ salaries and political meddling in the curriculum.[133]

Educational statistics during these early days are fragmentary and unreliable. Many counties did not submit full reports to the Secretary of State who did double-duty as Commissioner of Common Schools. However, the percentage of Whites over twenty years of age who were illiterate was given as:

  • 1840 21%
  • 1850 25%
  • 1860 17%

[134]

In 2010 Arkansas students earned an average score of 20.3 on the ACT exam, just below the national average of 21. These results were expected due to the large increase in the number of students taking the exam since the establishment of the Academic Challenge Scholarship.[135] Top high schools receiving recognition from the U.S. News & World Report are spread across the state, including Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, KIPP Delta Collegiate in Helena-West Helena, Bentonville, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Valley Springs, Searcy, and McCrory.[136] A total of 81 Arkansas high schools were ranked by the U.S. News & World Report in 2012.[137]

Old Main, part of the Campus Historic District at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville

Arkansas ranks as the 32nd smartest state on the Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, 44th in percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma, and 48th in percentage of bachelor’s degree attainment.[138][139] Arkansas has been making strides in education reform. Education Week has praised the state, ranking Arkansas in the top 10 of their Quality Counts Education Rankings every year since 2009 while scoring it in the top 5 during 2012 and 2013.[140][141][142] Arkansas specifically received an A in Transition and Policy Making for progress in this area consisting of early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness.[143] Governor Mike Beebe has made improving education a major issue through his attempts to spend more on education.[144] Through reforms, the state is a leader in requiring curricula designed to prepare students for postsecondary education, rewarding teachers for student achievement, and providing incentives for principals who work in lower-tier schools.[145]

Funding

As an organized territory, and later in the early days of statehood, education was funded by the sales of Federally-controlled public lands. This system was inadequate and prone to local graft. In an 1854 message to the Legislature, Governor Elias N. Conway said, “We have a common-school law intended as a system to establish common schools in all part of the state; but for the want of adequate means there are very few in operation under this law.” At this time, only about a quarter of children were enrolled in school.
[146] By the beginning of the American Civil War, the state had only twenty-five publicly-funded common schools.[147]

In 1867, the state legislature was still controlled by ex-Confederates. It passed a Common Schools Law that allowed public funded but limited schools to White children.

The 1868 legislature banned former Confederates and passed a more wide-ranging law detailing funding and administrative issues and allowing Black children to attend school. In furtherance of this, the postwar 1868 state constitution was the first to permit a personal-property tax to fund the lands and buildings for public schools. With the 1868 elections, the first county school commissioners took office.[148]

In 2014, the state spent $9,616 per student, compared with a national average of about $11,000 putting Arkansas in nineteenth place.[149]

Timeline

1829 Territorial legislature permits townships to establish schools.
[146]

1868 State law required racial segregation of schools.

1871 University of Arkansas established.

1873 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff established as a school to train Black teachers.

1877 Philander Smith College established as a school for Black students.

1890 Henderson State University established as a private school. The state assumed responsibility for it in 1929 as Henderson State Teachers College.

1885 Arkansas School for the Deaf and Arkansas School for the Blind established.

1909 Arkansas Tech University, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Monticello and Arkansas State University established as schools offering high school diplomas and vocational training.

c. 1920 Schooling made compulsory.[133]

1925 University of Central Arkansas established as Arkansas State Normal School established.

1948 University of Arkansas School of Law admits a Black student

1957 Governor Orval Faubus used National Guard troops to oppose racial integration of Little Rock Central High School.

1958 In Cooper v. Aaron the United States Supreme Court ruled the state was bound to integrate school despite the opposition of the governor and legislature.

1983 The Arkansas State Supreme Court ruled the state’s funding of education was Constitutionally deficient.[133]

Transportation

The Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River, August 2009

The Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad

Transportation in Arkansas is overseen by the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), headquartered in Little Rock. Several main corridors pass through Little Rock, including Interstate 30 (I-30) and I-40 (the nation’s 3rd-busiest trucking corridor).[150] In northeast Arkansas, I-55 travels north from Memphis to Missouri, with a new spur to Jonesboro (I-555). Northwest Arkansas is served by I-540 from Fort Smith to Bella Vista, which is a segment of future I-49. The state also has the 13th largest state highway system in the nation.[151]

Arkansas is served by 2,750 miles (4,430 km) of railroad track divided among twenty-six railroad companies including three Class I railroads.[152] Freight railroads are concentrated in southeast Arkansas to serve the industries in the region. The Texas Eagle, an Amtrak passenger train, serves five stations in the state Walnut Ridge, Little Rock, Malvern, Arkadelphia, and Texarkana.

Arkansas also benefits from the use of its rivers for commerce. The Mississippi River and Arkansas River are both major rivers. The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, allowing barge traffic up the Arkansas River to the Port of Catoosa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There are four airports with commercial service: Clinton National Airport, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, Fort Smith Regional Airport, and Texarkana Regional Airport, with dozens of smaller airports in the state.

Public transit and community transport services for the elderly or those with developmental disabilities are provided by agencies such as the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and the Ozark Regional Transit, organizations that are part of the Arkansas Transit Association.

Law and government

As with the federal government of the United States, political power in Arkansas is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each officer’s term is four years long. Office holders are term-limited to two full terms plus any partial terms before the first full term.[153]

Executive

The Governor of Arkansas is Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who was inaugurated on January 13, 2015.[154][155] The six other elected executive positions in Arkansas are lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and land commissioner.[156] The governor also appoints qualified individuals to lead various state boards, committees, and departments. Arkansas governors served two-year terms until a referendum lengthened the term to four years, effective with the 1986 general election.

In Arkansas, the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor and thus can be from a different political party.[157]

Legislative

The Arkansas General Assembly is the state’s bicameral bodies of legislators, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate contains 35 members from districts of approximately equal population. These districts are redrawn decennially with each US census, and in election years ending in “2”, the entire body is put up for reelection. Following the election, half of the seats are designated as two-year seats and are up for reelection again in two years, these “half-terms” do not count against a legislator’s term limits. The remaining half serve a full four-year term. This staggers elections such that half the body is up for re-election every two years and allows for complete body turnover following redistricting.[158] Arkansas voters selected a 21–14 Republican majority in the Senate in 2012. Arkansas House members can serve a maximum of three two-year terms. House districts are redistricted by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment. Following the 2012 elections, Republicans gained a 51–49 majority in the House of Representatives.[159]

The Republican Party majority status in the Arkansas State House of Representatives following the 2012 elections is the party’s first since 1874. Arkansas was the last state of the old Confederacy to never have Republicans control either chamber of its house since the Civil War.[160]

Following the term limits changes, studies have shown that lobbyists have become less influential in state politics. Legislative staff, not subject to term limits, have acquired additional power and influence due to the high rate of elected official turnover.[161]

Judicial

Arkansas’s judicial branch has five court systems: Arkansas Supreme Court, Arkansas Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, District Courts and City Courts.

Most cases begin in district court, which is subdivided into state district court and local district court. State district courts exercise district-wide jurisdiction over the districts created by the General Assembly, and local district courts are presided over by part-time judges who may privately practice law. 25 state district court judges preside over 15 districts, with more districts created in 2013 and 2017. There are 28 judicial circuits of Circuit Court, with each contains five subdivisions: criminal, civil, probate, domestic relations, and juvenile court. The jurisdiction of the Arkansas Court of Appeals is determined by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and there is no right of appeal from the Court of Appeals to the high court. The Arkansas Supreme Court can review Court of Appeals cases upon application by either a party to the litigation, upon request by the Court of Appeals, or if the Arkansas Supreme Court feels the case should have been initially assigned to it. The twelve judges of the Arkansas Court of Appeals are elected from judicial districts to renewable six-year terms.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state, composed of seven justices elected to eight-year terms. Established by the Arkansas Constitution in 1836, the court’s decisions can be appealed to only the Supreme Court of the United States.

Federal

Both of Arkansas’s U.S. Senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, are Republicans. The state has four seats in U.S. House of Representatives. All four seats are held by Republicans: Rick Crawford (1st district), French Hill (2nd district), Steve Womack (3rd district), and Bruce Westerman (4th district).[162]

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 60.57% 684,872 33.65% 380,494
2012 60.57% 647,744 36.88% 394,409
2008 58.72% 638,017 38.86% 422,310
2004 54.31% 572,898 44.55% 469,953
2000 51.31% 472,940 45.86% 422,768
1996 36.80% 325,416 53.74% 475,171
1992 35.48% 337,324 53.21% 505,823
1988 56.37% 466,578 42.19% 349,237
1984 60.47% 534,774 38.29% 338,646
1980 48.13% 403,164 47.52% 398,041
1976 34.93% 268,753 64.94% 499,614
1972 68.82% 445,751 30.71% 198,899

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton brought national attention to the state with a long speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention endorsing Michael Dukakis. Some journalists suggested the speech was a threat to his ambitions; Clinton defined it “a comedy of error, just one of those fluky things”.[163] Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President the following cycle. Presenting himself as a “New Democrat” and using incumbent George H. W. Bush’s broken promise against him, Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.0% of the vote) against Republican Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire populist Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote).

Most Republican strength traditionally lay mainly in the northwestern part of the state, particularly Fort Smith and Bentonville, as well as North Central Arkansas around the Mountain Home area. In the latter area, Republicans have been known to get 90 percent or more of the vote, while the rest of the state was more Democratic. After 2010, Republican strength expanded further to the Northeast and Southwest and into the Little Rock suburbs. The Democrats are mostly concentrated to central Little Rock, the Mississippi Delta, the Pine Bluff area, and the areas around the southern border with Louisiana.

Arkansas has only elected three Republicans to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction: Tim Hutchinson, who was defeated after one term by Mark Pryor; John Boozman, who defeated incumbent Blanche Lincoln; and Tom Cotton, who defeated Mark Pryor in the 2014 elections. Before 2013, the General Assembly had not been controlled by the Republican Party since Reconstruction, with the GOP holding a 51-seat majority in the state House and a 21-seat (of 35) in the state Senate following victories in 2012. Arkansas was one of just three states among the states of the former Confederacy that sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate (the others being Florida and Virginia) for any period during the first decade of the 21st century.

In 2010, Republicans captured three of the state’s four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2012, Republicans won election for all four House seats. Arkansas held the distinction of having a U.S. House delegation composed entirely of military veterans (Rick Crawford – Army; Tim Griffin – Army Reserve; Steve Womack – Army National Guard, Tom Cotton- Army). In 2014, the last Democrat in Arkansas’s Congressional Delegation, Mark Pryor, was defeated in his campaign to win a third term in the U.S. Senate, leaving the entire congressional delegation in GOP hands for the first time since Reconstruction.

Reflecting the state’s large evangelical population, the state has a strong social conservative bent. Under the Arkansas Constitution Arkansas is a right to work state, its voters passed a ban on same-sex marriage with 75% voting yes,[164] and the state is one of a handful with legislation on its books banning abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.

Attractions

Blanchard Springs Caverns in Stone County is a tourist destination.

Arkansas is home to many areas protected by the National Park System. These include:[165]

  • Arkansas Post National Memorial at Gillett
  • Blanchard Springs Caverns
  • Buffalo National River
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Hot Springs National Park
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
  • Pea Ridge National Military Park
  • President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
  • Arkansas State Capitol Building
  • List of Arkansas state parks

See also

  • Flag of Arkansas.svg Arkansas portal
  • Outline of Arkansas – organized list of topics about Arkansas
  • Index of Arkansas-related articles

Notes

  1. ^ ab Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  2. ^ The Geographic Names Index System (GNIS) of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that the official name of this feature is Magazine Mountain, not “Mount Magazine”. Although not a hard and fast rule, generally “Mount X” is used for a peak and “X Mountain” is more frequently used for ridges, which better describes this feature. Magazine Mountain appears in the GNIS as a ridge,[5] with Signal Hill identified as its summit.[6] “Mount Magazine” is the name used by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which follows what the locals have used since the area was first settled.
  3. ^ abcde The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on July 4, 1819, but the territory was admitted to the United States as the state of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/, /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, and several other variants. Historically and modernly, the people of Arkansas call themselves either “Arkansans” or “Arkansawyers”. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the following concurrent resolution, now Arkansas Code 1 April 105:[14].mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}

    Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

    And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants..

    Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is discouraged by Arkansans.

    Despite this, the state’s name is still frequently mispronounced, especially by non-Americans; in fact, it is spelled in Cyrillic with the ar-KAN-zəs pronunciation.

    Citizens of the state of Kansas often pronounce the Arkansas River as /ɑːrˈkænzəs/, in a manner similar to the common pronunciation of the name of their state.

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  88. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau (2010). “Arkansas – Selected Social Characteristics in the United States”. American Community Survey. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  89. ^ Sharing the Dream: White Males in a Multicultural America By Dominic J. Pulera.
  90. ^ Reynolds Farley, ‘The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?’, Demography, Vol. 28, No. 3 (August 1991), pp. 414, 421.
  91. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Lawrence Santi, ‘The Use of Nativity Data to Estimate Ethnic Characteristics and Patterns’, Social Science Research, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1985), pp. 44–6.
  92. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Mary C. Waters, ‘Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 487, No. 79 (September 1986), pp. 82–86.
  93. ^ “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State membership Report”. www.Thearda.com. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  94. ^ “Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics – Pew Research Center”.
  95. ^ “Graph: Total Gross Domestic Product by State for Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  96. ^ “Fortune 500”. Forbes. 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  97. ^ “Graph: Per Capita Personal Income in Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  98. ^ “Quick Facts, Income and Poverty”. United States Census Bureau. 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  99. ^ “The Mineral Industry of Arkansas” (PDF). 2008 Minerals Yearbook. United States Geological Survey. August 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  100. ^ “Arkansas #20”. America’s Best States for Business 2012. CNBC. 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  101. ^ EZ Landlord Forms. “Cost To Rent A Home”. ezlandlordforms.com. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  102. ^ “Graph: Unemployment Rate in Arkansas”. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. November 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  103. ^ “Selected Economic Characteristics 2006–2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates”. United States Census Bureau. 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  104. ^ ab “Arkansas State Profile” (PDF). Census of Agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  105. ^ U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Poultry – Production and Value, 2010 Summary, data indicates Arkansas led the nation in 2008, 2009, and 2010, in both broilers and turkeys.
  106. ^ Pelkki, Matthew H. “An Economic Assessment of Arkansas’ Forest Industries: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century” (PDF). University of Arkansas-Monticello School of Forest Resources, Arkansas Forest Resources Center, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  107. ^ Bush, William V. “History of Bauxite in Arkansas” (PDF). Arkansas Geological Survey. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  108. ^ C. Dennis Schick, “Mass Media”, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Central Arkansas Library System, retrieved March 24, 2017
  109. ^ Arnold et al. 2002, p. 115.
  110. ^ Blevins 2009, p. 15.
  111. ^ Blevins 2009, p. 30.
  112. ^ Sutherlin 1996, p. 20.
  113. ^ Sutherlin 1996, p. 17.
  114. ^ Bartels, Chuck (November 12, 2012). “600K visitors later, Crystal Bridges turns 1”. News Ok. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  115. ^ Reynolds, Chris (October 14, 2012). “Crystal Bridges art museum is reshaping Wal-Mart’s hometown”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  116. ^ “Arkansas matchup is not likely soon”. Sun Herald. July 20, 2003. p. 9B.
  117. ^ Griffee, Carol. “Odyssey Of Survival, A History of the Arkansas Conservation Sales Tax” (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  118. ^ ab Sutherlin 1996, p. 164.
  119. ^ ab “Arkansas”. America’s Health Rankings. United Health Foundation. 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  120. ^ “Physical exercise (most recent) by state”. Health Statistics. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  121. ^ Wilson, Reid. “Arkansas is the Best State in America”. www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  122. ^ “Arkansas Smoking Ban”. KLRT-TV. July 22, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  123. ^ “University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences”. Health & Hospitals. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  124. ^ “Arkansas Children’s Hospital”. Health & Hospitals. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  125. ^ “Designated Trauma Centers”. Arkansas Department of Health. December 17, 2012. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  126. ^ “Arkansas K-12 Profile: 2016–2017”. Arkansas State Board of Education. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  127. ^ “Top Public Schools”. College Ranking Lists. U.S. News & World Report. 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  128. ^ “National Liberal Arts College Rankings”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  129. ^ Holley, Marc J. “Encyclopedia of Arkansas”. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  130. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. Page.
  131. ^ Please note this figure refers to only the number of students paddled, regardless of whether a student was spanked multiple times in a year, and does not refer to the number of instances of corporal punishment, which would be substantially higher.
  132. ^ ab Farrell, Colin (February 2016). “Corporal punishment in US schools”. World Corporal Punishment Research. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  133. ^ abc Holley, Marc J. “Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture”. Education Reform. University of Arkansas. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  134. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 7.
  135. ^ “Arkansas’ ACT score slips in 2010”. Arkansas Public School Resource Center. August 18, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  136. ^ “Best High Schools in Arkansas”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  137. ^ “Arkansas High Schools”. U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Archived from the original on August 30, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  138. ^ “2006–2007 Smartest State Award”. Morgan Quitno Press. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  139. ^ “Educational Attainment, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates”. 2010 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  140. ^ “Quality Counts 2009 – State Report Cards – Education Week”. www.edweek.org.
  141. ^ “Quality counts” (PDF). www.edweek.org. 2012.
  142. ^ “Qua;ity counts” (PDF). www.edweek.org. 2013.
  143. ^ Hightower, Amy M. “States Show Spotty Progress on Education Gauges”. Education Week. pp. 42, 44. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  144. ^ Blagg, Brenda (April 12, 2007). “Lawsuit may go way of Lake View district”. DeWitt, Arkansas: Dewitt Era-Enterprise. p. 4A.
  145. ^ Sauter, Michael; Weigley, Samuel (January 30, 2013). “The states with the best and worst schools”. Yahoo. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  146. ^ ab Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 3.
  147. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 8.
  148. ^ Wilson, William Oscar (August 30, 1918). History of Public School Education in Arkansas; 1900–1918. University of Chicago, Department of Education. p. 4.
  149. ^ “Education Spending Per Student by State”. Governing. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  150. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., Sutapa. “Memphis: The Number One City of Chemical Related Incidents in Tennessee” (PDF). Tennessee Department of Health. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  151. ^ Hartgen, David T.; Karanam, M. Gregory; Fields; Kerscher, Travis A. (September 2010). “19th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984–2008)” (PDF) (PDF). Reason Foundation. p. 46.
  152. ^ “Arkansas State Rail Plan” (PDF). Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. 2002. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  153. ^ English, Art; Weberg, Brian (2005). “Term Limits in the Arkansas General Assembly: A Citizen Legislature Responds” (PDF). Joint Project on Term Limits. National Conference of State Legislatures. p. 1. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  154. ^ “Winners in ’06 Governors races” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 28, 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  155. ^ “Arkansas.gov Administration page for Governor”. Dwe.arkansas.gov. March 16, 2007. Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  156. ^ Arkansas Code 7 May 806.
  157. ^ “Office of Lieutenant Governor”. Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. The Pryor Center. February 28, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  158. ^ Greenberg, Dan. “The Dangers of Diluting Term Limits”. Arkansas Policy Center. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  159. ^ Cooke, Mallory. “Republicans Take Control of Arkansas House, Senate”. KFSM-TV. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  160. ^ “Arkansas Senate flips; first time since Reconstruction”. The Courier. November 7, 2012. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  161. ^ English, Art; Weberg, Brian (2005). “Term Limits in the Arkansas General Assembly: A Citizen Legislature Responds” (PDF). Joint Project on Term Limits. National Conference of State Legislatures. pp. 33–34. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  162. ^ Urban, Peter (January 4, 2013). “New Arkansas Rep. Cotton Draws Spotlight; 113th Congress Sworn In”. The Times-Record. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  163. ^ Kornacki, Steve. “When Bill Clinton died onstage”. Salon. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  164. ^ “CNN: Election 2004 – Ballot Measures”.
  165. ^ “Arkansas”. National Park Service. Retrieved July 15, 2008.

Bibliography

  • Arnold, Morris S (Spring 1992). “The Significance of the Arkansas Colonial Experience”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 51: 69–82.
  • Arnold, Morris S.; DeBlack, Thomas A; Sabo III, George; Whayne, Jeannie M (2002). Arkansas: A narrative history (1st ed.). Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-724-3. OCLC 49029558.
  • Blevins, Brooks (2009). Arkansas/Arkansaw, How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies & Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-952-0
  • Bolton, S. Charles (Spring 1999). “Slavery and the Defining of Arkansas”. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 58.
  • Fletcher, John Gould (1989). Carpenter, Lucas, ed. Arkansas. 2. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-040-4. OCLC 555740849.
  • Johnson, William R. (Spring 1965). “Prelude to the Missouri Compromise: A New York Congressman’s Effort to Exclude Slavery from Arkansas Territory”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 24: 47–66.
  • Scroggs, Jack B (Autumn 1961). “Arkansas Statehood: A Study in State and National Political Schism”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 20: 227–244.
  • Smith, Richard M. (1989). The Atlas of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1557280473.
  • White, Lonnie J. (Autumn 1962). “Arkansas Territorial Indian Affairs”. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 21: 193–212.
  • Sutherlin, Diann (1996). The Arkansas Handbook (2nd ed.). Little Rock, Arkansas: Fly By Night Press. ISBN 978-0-932531-03-2. LCCN 95-90761.
  • The WPA Guide to 1930s Arkansas. Federal Writers’ Project (1st paperback ed.). Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1987 [1941]. ISBN 978-0700603411. LCCN 87-81307.

Further reading

.mw-parser-output .refbegin{font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul{list-style-type:none;margin-left:0}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd{margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-100{font-size:100%}

  • Blair, Diane D. & Jay Barth Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule? (2005)
  • Deblack, Thomas A. With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861–1874 (2003)
  • Donovan, Timothy P. and Willard B. Gatewood Jr., eds. The Governors of Arkansas (1981)
  • Dougan, Michael B. Confederate Arkansas (1982),
  • Duvall, Leland. ed., Arkansas: Colony and State (1973)
  • Hamilton, Peter Joseph. The Reconstruction Period (1906), full length history of era; Dunning School approach; 570 pp; ch 13 on Arkansas
  • Hanson, Gerald T. and Carl H. Moneyhon. Historical Atlas of Arkansas (1992)
  • Key, V. O. Southern Politics (1949)
  • Kirk, John A., Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940–1970 (2002).
  • McMath, Sidney S. Promises Kept (2003)
  • Moore, Waddy W. ed., Arkansas in the Gilded Age, 1874–1900 (1976).
  • Peirce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (1974).
  • Thompson, Brock. The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South (2010)
  • Thompson, George H. Arkansas and Reconstruction (1976)
  • Whayne, Jeannie M. Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives (2000)
  • White, Lonnie J. Politics on the Southwestern Frontier: Arkansas Territory, 1819–1836 (1964)
  • Williams, C. Fred. ed. A Documentary History Of Arkansas (2005)

External links

  • Arkansas.gov – Official State Website
  • Arkansas State Facts from USDA
  • Official State tourism website
  • The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
  • Energy & Environmental Data for Arkansas
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • 2000 Census of Population and Housing for Arkansas, U.S. Census Bureau
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Arkansas
  • Arkansas Summer Camps
  • Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre
  • Arkansas at Ballotpedia
  • Arkansas at Curlie
  • Geographic data related to Arkansas at OpenStreetMap
  • Arkansas State Code (the state statutes of Arkansas)
  • Arkansas State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Arkansas state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.

Preceded by
Missouri
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on June 15, 1836 (25th)
Succeeded by
Michigan

Coordinates: 34°48′N 92°12′W / 34.8°N 92.2°W / 34.8; -92.2


Nevada

State of the United States of America
State of Nevada
Flag of Nevada State seal of Nevada
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

Silver State (official);
Sagebrush State; Battle Born State
Motto(s): All for Our Country
State song(s): “Home Means Nevada
Map of the United States with Nevada highlighted
Official language None
Demonym Nevadan
Capital Carson City
Largest city Las Vegas
Largest metro Las Vegas Valley
Area Ranked 7th
 • Total 110,577 sq mi
(286,382 km2)
 • Width 322 miles (519 km)
 • Length 492 miles (787 km)
 • % water 0.72
 • Latitude 35° N to 42° N
 • Longitude 114° 2′ W to 120° W
Population Ranked 33rd
 • Total 3,060,150 (2018 est.)[1]
 • Density 26.8/sq mi  (10.3/km2)
Ranked 42nd
 • Median household income $55,431 [2] (34th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Boundary Peak[3][4][5][a]
13,147 ft (4007.1 m)
 • Mean 5,500 ft  (1680 m)
 • Lowest point Colorado River at California border[4][5]
481 ft (147 m)
Before statehood Nevada Territory, Utah Territory, Arizona Territory
Admission to Union October 31, 1864 (36th)
Governor Steve Sisolak (D)
Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall (D)
Legislature Nevada Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house Assembly
U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
Jacky Rosen (D)
U.S. House delegation 1: Dina Titus (D)
2: Mark Amodei (R)
3: Susie Lee (D)
4: Steven Horsford (D) (list)
Time zones  
 • state Pacific: UTC −8/−7
 • West Wendover Mountain: UTC −7/−6
ISO 3166 US-NV
Abbreviations NV, Nev.
Website www.nv.gov
Nevada state symbols
Flag of Nevada.svg

The Flag of Nevada
Nevada-StateSeal.svg

The Seal of Nevada
Living insignia
Bird Mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
Fish Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi)
Flower Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Mammal Desert bighorn sheep
Reptile Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Tree Bristlecone pine (Pinus monophylla)
Inanimate insignia
Mineral Silver
Rock Sandstone
State route marker
Nevada state route marker
State quarter
Nevada quarter dollar coin

Released in 2006
Lists of United States state symbols

Nevada (/nɪˈvædə/) is a state in the Western United States.[6] It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast and Utah to the east. Nevada is the 7th most extensive, the 34th most populous, but the 9th least densely populated of the U.S. states. Nearly three-quarters of Nevada’s people live in Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas–Paradise metropolitan area[7] where three of the state’s four largest incorporated cities are located.[8] Nevada’s capital, however, is Carson City.

Nevada is officially known as the “Silver State” because of the importance of silver to its history and economy. It is also known as the “Battle Born State”, because it achieved statehood during the Civil War (the words “Battle Born” also appear on the state flag); as the “Sagebrush State”, for the native plant of the same name; and as the “Sage-hen State”.[9]

Nevada is largely desert and semi-arid, much of it within the Great Basin. Areas south of the Great Basin are within the Mojave Desert, while Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada lie on the western edge. About 86% of the state’s land is managed by various jurisdictions of the U.S. federal government, both civilian and military.[10]

Before European contact, Native Americans of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes inhabited the land that is now Nevada. The first Europeans to explore the region were Spanish. They called the region Nevada (snowy) because of the snow which covered the mountains in winter. The area formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and became part of Mexico when it gained independence in 1821. The United States annexed the area in 1848 after its victory in the Mexican–American War, and it was incorporated as part of Utah Territory in 1850. The discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1859 led to a population boom that became an impetus to the creation of Nevada Territory out of western Utah Territory in 1861. Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864, as the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War (the first being West Virginia).[11]

Nevada has a reputation for its libertarian laws. In 1940, with a population of just over 110,000 people, Nevada was by far the least-populated state, with less than half the population of the next least-populated state.[12] However, legalized gambling and lenient marriage and divorce laws transformed Nevada into a major tourist destination in the 20th century.[13][14] Nevada is the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal, though it is illegal in Clark County (Las Vegas), Washoe County (Reno) and Carson City (which, as an independent city, is not within the boundaries of any county). The tourism industry remains Nevada’s largest employer,[15] with mining continuing as a substantial sector of the economy: Nevada is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world.[16]

Mountains west of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert

Contents

  • 1 Etymology and pronunciation
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Climate
    • 2.2 Flora and fauna
  • 3 Counties
  • 4 History

    • 4.1 Before 1861
    • 4.2 Separation from Utah Territory
    • 4.3 Statehood (1864)

      • 4.3.1 Gambling and labor
      • 4.3.2 Nuclear testing
  • 5 Demographics

    • 5.1 Population
    • 5.2 Settlements
    • 5.3 Locations by GDP per capita
    • 5.4 Religion
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Mining
    • 6.2 Cattle ranching
    • 6.3 Largest employers
  • 7 Transportation
  • 8 Law and government

    • 8.1 Government

      • 8.1.1 State agencies
    • 8.2 Law

      • 8.2.1 Prostitution
      • 8.2.2 Divorce
      • 8.2.3 Taxes
      • 8.2.4 Gay rights
      • 8.2.5 Incorporation
      • 8.2.6 Financial institutions
      • 8.2.7 Alcohol and other drugs
      • 8.2.8 Smoking
      • 8.2.9 Crime
  • 9 Politics

    • 9.1 State politics
    • 9.2 National politics
    • 9.3 Voting
  • 10 Education

    • 10.1 Public school districts
    • 10.2 Colleges and universities
    • 10.3 Research institutes
  • 11 Parks and recreation areas

    • 11.1 Recreation areas maintained by the federal government

      • 11.1.1 Northern Nevada
      • 11.1.2 Southern Nevada
    • 11.2 Wilderness
    • 11.3 State parks
  • 12 Culture

    • 12.1 Entertainment and tourism
    • 12.2 Sports

      • 12.2.1 List of teams

        • 12.2.1.1 Major professional teams
        • 12.2.1.2 Minor professional teams
        • 12.2.1.3 Amateur teams
        • 12.2.1.4 College teams
  • 13 Military
  • 14 Future issues
  • 15 State symbols
  • 16 See also
  • 17 Notes
  • 18 References
  • 19 External links

Etymology and pronunciation

The name “Nevada” comes from the Spanish nevada [neˈβaða], meaning “snow-covered”, [17] after the Sierra Nevada (“snow-covered mountains”).

Most Nevadans pronounce the second syllable of their state name using the .mw-parser-output .smallcaps{font-variant:small-caps}TRAP vowel (/nɪˈvædə/). Many from outside the Western United States pronounce it with the PALM vowel (/nɪˈvɑːdə/). Although the latter pronunciation is closer to the Spanish pronunciation, it is not the pronunciation preferred by most Nevadans. State Assemblyman Harry Mortenson proposed a bill to recognize the alternate (quasi-Spanish) pronunciation of Nevada,[18] though the bill was not supported by most legislators and never received a vote. The Nevadan pronunciation is the de facto official one, since it is the one used by the state legislature. At one time, the state’s official tourism organization, TravelNevada, stylized the name of the state as “Nevăda”, with a breve mark over the a indicating the locally preferred pronunciation[19] which is also available as a license plate design.

Geography

A topographic map of Nevada

Nevada is almost entirely within the Basin and Range Province, and is broken up by many north-south mountain ranges. Most of these ranges have endorheic valleys between them, which belies the image portrayed by the term Great Basin.

Much of the northern part of the state is within the Great Basin, a mild desert that experiences hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Occasionally, moisture from the Arizona Monsoon will cause summer thunderstorms; Pacific storms may blanket the area with snow. The state’s highest recorded temperature was 125 °F (52 °C) in Laughlin (elevation of 605 feet or 184 meters) on June 29, 1994.[20] The coldest recorded temperature was −52 °F (−47 °C) set in San Jacinto in 1972, in the northeastern portion of the state.[20]

The Humboldt River crosses the state from east to west across the northern part of the state, draining into the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock. Several rivers drain from the Sierra Nevada eastward, including the Walker, Truckee, and Carson rivers. All of these rivers are endorheic basins, ending in Walker Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the Carson Sink, respectively. However, not all of Nevada is within the Great Basin. Tributaries of the Snake River drain the far north, while the Colorado River, which also forms much of the boundary with Arizona, drains much of southern Nevada.

The mountain ranges, some of which have peaks above 13,000 feet (4,000 m), harbor lush forests high above desert plains, creating sky islands for endemic species. The valleys are often no lower in elevation than 3,000 feet (910 m), while some in central Nevada are above 6,000 feet (1,800 m).

The southern third of the state, where the Las Vegas area is situated, is within the Mojave Desert. The area receives less rain in the winter but is closer to the Arizona Monsoon in the summer. The terrain is also lower, mostly below 4,000 feet (1,200 m), creating conditions for hot summer days and cool to chilly winter nights.

Nevada and California have by far the longest diagonal line (in respect to the cardinal directions) as a state boundary at just over 400 miles (640 km). This line begins in Lake Tahoe nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) offshore (in the direction of the boundary), and continues to the Colorado River where the Nevada, California, and Arizona boundaries merge 12 miles (19 km) southwest of the Laughlin Bridge.

The largest mountain range in the southern portion of the state is the Spring Mountain Range, just west of Las Vegas. The state’s lowest point is along the Colorado River, south of Laughlin.

Nevada has 172 mountain summits with 2,000 feet (610 m) of prominence. Nevada ranks second in the United States by number of mountains, behind Alaska, and ahead of California, Montana, and Washington. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the contiguous United States.

Climate

Köppen climate types in Nevada

Nevada is the driest state in the United States.[21] It is made up of mostly desert and semi-arid climate regions, and, with the exception of the Las Vegas Valley, the average summer diurnal temperature range approaches 40 °F (22 °C) in much of the state. While winters in northern Nevada are long and fairly cold, the winter season in the southern part of the state tends to be of short duration and mild. Most parts of Nevada receive scarce precipitation during the year. Most rain that falls in the state falls on the lee side (east and northeast slopes) of the Sierra Nevada.

The average annual rainfall per year is about 7 inches (180 mm); the wettest parts get around 40 inches (1,000 mm). Nevada’s highest recorded temperature is 125 °F (52 °C) at Laughlin on June 29, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature is −50 °F (−46 °C) at San Jacinto on January 8, 1937. Nevada’s 125 °F (52 °C) reading is the third highest statewide record high temperature of a U.S. state, just behind Arizona’s 128 °F (53 °C) reading and California’s 134 °F (57 °C) reading.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Nevada[22]
Location July (°F) July (°C) December (°F) December (°C)
Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min
Las Vegas 104 81 40 27 56 38 13 3
Reno 92 57 33 14 45 25 7 –4
Carson City 89 52 32 11 45 22 7 –5
Elko 90 50 32 10 37 14 2 –9
Fallon 92 54 33 12 45 19 7 –7
Winnemucca 93 52 34 11 41 17 5 –8

Flora and fauna

The vegetation of Nevada is diverse and differs by state area. Nevada contains six biotic zones: alpine, sub-alpine, ponderosa pine, pinion-juniper, sagebrush and creosotebush.[23]

Counties

The Las Vegas Strip looking South.

Carson City Mint in Carson City. Carson City is an independent city and the capital of Nevada.

Nevada is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. Carson City is officially a consolidated municipality; however, for many purposes under state law it is considered to be a county. As of 1919 there were 17 counties in the state, ranging from 146 to 18,159 square miles (380 to 47,030 km2).

Lake County, one of the original nine counties formed in 1861, was renamed Roop County in 1862. Part of the county became Lassen County, California in 1864. In 1883, Washoe County annexed the portion that remained in Nevada.[24]

In 1969, Ormsby County was dissolved and the Consolidated Municipality of Carson City was created by the Legislature in its place co-terminous with the old boundaries of Ormsby County.

Bullfrog County was formed in 1987 from part of Nye County. After the creation was declared unconstitutional, the county was abolished in 1989.[24]

Humboldt county was designated as a county in 1856 by Utah Territorial Legislature and again in 1861 by the new Nevada Legislature.

Clark County is the most populous county in Nevada, accounting for nearly three-quarters of its residents. Las Vegas, Nevada’s most populous city, has been the county seat since the county was created in 1909 from a portion of Lincoln County, Nevada. Before that, it was a part of Arizona Territory. Clark County attracts numerous tourists: An estimated 44 million people visited Clark County in 2014.[25]

Washoe County is the second most populous county of Nevada. Its county seat is Reno. Washoe County includes the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area.

Lyon County is the third most populous county. It was one of the nine original counties created in 1861. It was named after Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General to be killed in the Civil War. Its current county seat is Yerington. Its first county seat was established at Dayton on November 29, 1861.[26]

Nevada counties
County name County seat Year founded 2010 population[27] Percent of total Area (mi2) Percent of total Population density (/mi2)
Carson City Carson City 1861 55,274 2.63 % 146 0.13 % 378.59
Churchill Fallon 1861 24,877 0.92 % 5,023 4.54 % 4.95
Clark Las Vegas 1908 1,951,269 72.25 % 8,091 7.32 % 241.17
Douglas Minden 1861 46,997 1.74 % 738 0.67 % 63.68
Elko Elko 1869 48,818 1.81 % 17,203 15.56 % 2.84
Esmeralda Goldfield 1861 783 0.03 % 3,589 3.25 % 0.22
Eureka Eureka 1869 1,987 0.07 % 4,180 3.78 % 0.48
Humboldt Winnemucca 1856/1861 16,528 0.61 % 9,658 8.74 % 1.71
Lander Battle Mountain 1861 5,775 0.21 % 5,519 4.99 % 1.05
Lincoln Pioche 1867 5,345 0.20 % 10,637 9.62 % 0.50
Lyon Yerington 1861 51,980 1.92 % 2,016 1.82 % 25.78
Mineral Hawthorne 1911 4,772 0.18 % 3,813 3.45 % 1.25
Nye Tonopah 1864 43,946 1.63 % 18,159 16.43 % 2.42
Pershing Lovelock 1919 6,753 0.25 % 6,068 5.49 % 1.11
Storey Virginia City 1861 4,010 0.15 % 264 0.24 % 15.19
Washoe Reno 1861 421,407 15.60 % 6,551 5.93 % 64.32
White Pine Ely 1869 10,030 0.37 % 8,897 8.05 % 1.12
Totals Counties: 17 2,700,551 110,552 24.43

History

Before 1861

Mexico in 1824. Alta California included today’s Nevada.

Francisco Garcés was the first European in the area,[28] Nevada was annexed as a part of the Spanish Empire in the northwestern territory of New Spain. Administratively, the area of Nevada was part of the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Nevada became a part of Alta California (Upper California) province in 1804 when the Californias were split. With the Mexican War of Independence won in 1821, the province of Alta California became a territory (state) of Mexico, with a small population. Jedediah Smith entered the Las Vegas Valley in 1827, and Peter Skene Ogden traveled the Humboldt River in 1828. When the Mormons created the State of Deseret in 1847, they laid claim to all of Nevada within the Great Basin and the Colorado watershed. They also founded the first white settlement in what is now Nevada, Mormon Station (modern day Genoa), in 1851. In June 1855, William Bringhurst and 29 fellow Mormon missionaries from Utah arrived at a site just northeast of downtown Las Vegas and built a 150-foot square adobe fort, the first permanent structure erected in the valley, which remained under the control of Salt Lake City until the winter of 1858–1859.

As a result of the Mexican–American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico permanently lost Alta California in 1848. The new areas acquired by the United States continued to be administered as territories. As part of the Mexican Cession (1848) and the subsequent California Gold Rush that used Emigrant Trails through the area, the state’s area evolved first as part of the Utah Territory, then the Nevada Territory (March 2, 1861; named for the Sierra Nevada).[29]

Sculpture representing a steam locomotive, in Ely, Nevada. Early locomotives played an important part in Nevada’s mining industry

See History of Utah, History of Las Vegas, and the discovery of the first major U.S. deposit of silver ore in Comstock Lode under Virginia City, Nevada in 1859.

Separation from Utah Territory

Nevada territory in 1861

On March 2, 1861, the Nevada Territory separated from the Utah Territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for “snow-covered mountain range”).

The 1861 southern boundary is commemorated by Nevada Historical Markers 57 and 58 in Lincoln and Nye counties.

Statehood (1864)

Eight days before the presidential election of 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the union. Rather than sending the Nevada State Constitution to Washington DC by Pony Express to save time the full text of the State Constitution was sent by Telegraph at a cost of $3,416.77—the most costly telegraph on file for a single dispatch. Finally the response from Washington DC on October 31, 1864 was “the pain is over, the child is born, Nevada this day was admitted into the Union”. Statehood was rushed to the date of October 31 to help ensure Abraham Lincoln’s reelection on November 8 and post-Civil War Republican dominance in Congress,[30] as Nevada’s mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union. As it turned out, however, Lincoln and the Republicans won the election handily, and did not need Nevada’s help.

Nevada is one of only two states to significantly expand its borders after admission to the Union. (The other is Missouri, which acquired additional territory in 1837 due to the Platte Purchase.)

In 1866 another part of the western Utah Territory was added to Nevada in the eastern part of the state, setting the current eastern boundary.

Nevada achieved its current southern boundaries on January 18, 1867, when it absorbed the portion of Pah-Ute County in the Arizona Territory west of the Colorado River, essentially all of present-day Nevada south of the 37th parallel. The transfer was prompted by the discovery of gold in the area, and officials thought Nevada would be better able to oversee the expected population boom. This area includes most of what is now Clark County and the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Mining shaped Nevada’s economy for many years (see Silver mining in Nevada). When Mark Twain lived in Nevada during the period described in Roughing It, mining had led to an industry of speculation and immense wealth. However, both mining and population declined in the late 19th century. However, the rich silver strike at Tonopah in 1900, followed by strikes in Goldfield and Rhyolite, again put Nevada’s population on an upward trend.

Gambling and labor

Gambling erupted once more following a recession in the early 20th century, helping to build the city of Las Vegas

Unregulated gambling was commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide anti-gambling crusade. Because of subsequent declines in mining output and the decline of the agricultural sector during the Great Depression, Nevada again legalized gambling on March 19, 1931, with approval from the legislature. Governor Fred B. Balzar’s signature enacted the most liberal divorce laws in the country and open gambling. The reforms came just eight days after the federal government presented the $49 million construction contract for Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam).[31]

Nuclear testing

The Nevada Test Site, 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the city of Las Vegas, was founded on January 11, 1951, for the testing of nuclear weapons. The site consists of about 1,350 square miles (3,500 km2) of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a 1 kiloton of TNT (4.2 TJ) bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat on January 27, 1951. The last atmospheric test was conducted on July 17, 1962, and the underground testing of weapons continued until September 23, 1992. The location is known for having the highest concentration of nuclear-detonated weapons in the U.S.

Over 80% of the state’s area is owned by the federal government. The primary reason for this is homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that prevail throughout desert Nevada. Instead, early settlers would homestead land surrounding a water source, and then graze livestock on the adjacent public land, which is useless for agriculture without access to water (this pattern of ranching still prevails).

Demographics

Population

Population density map of Nevada

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 6,857
1870 42,941 526.2%
1880 62,266 45.0%
1890 47,355 −23.9%
1900 42,335 −10.6%
1910 81,875 93.4%
1920 77,407 −5.5%
1930 91,058 17.6%
1940 110,247 21.1%
1950 160,083 45.2%
1960 285,278 78.2%
1970 488,738 71.3%
1980 800,493 63.8%
1990 1,201,833 50.1%
2000 1,998,257 66.3%
2010 2,700,551 35.1%
Est. 2018 3,034,392 12.4%
Source: 1910–2010[32]
2018 estimate.[33]

The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of Nevada on July 1, 2016 was 2,940,058, an increase of 56,300 residents (1.95%) since the 2015 US Census estimate and an increase of 239,367 residents (8.86%) since the 2010 United States Census.[33] Nevada had the second highest percentage growth in population from 2015 to 2016. At the 2010 Census, 6.9% of the state’s population were reported as under 5, 24.6% were under 18, and 12.0% were 65 or older. Females made up about 49.5% of the population.

Since the 2010 census, the population of Nevada had a natural increase of 87,581 (the net difference between 222,508 births and 134,927 deaths); and an increase due to net migration of 146,626 (of which 104,032 was due to domestic and 42,594 was due to international migration).[34]

The center of population of Nevada is in southern Nye County.[35] In this county, the unincorporated town of Pahrump, 60 miles (97 km) west of Las Vegas on the California state line, has grown very rapidly from 1980 to 2010. At the 2010 census, the town had 36,441 residents.[36] Las Vegas grew from a gulch of 100 people in 1900 to 10,000 by 1950 to 100,000 by 1970, and was America’s fastest-growing city and metropolitan area from 1960 to 2000.

From about the 1940s until 2003, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the US percentage-wise. Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada’s population increased 66%, while the US’s population increased 13%. Over two thirds of the population of the state lives in Clark County, which is coextensive with the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Thus, in terms of population, Nevada is one of the most centralized states in the nation.

Henderson and North Las Vegas are among the top 20 fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations of over 100,000. The rural community of Mesquite 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Las Vegas was an example of micropolitan growth in the 1990s and 2000s. Other desert towns like Indian Springs and Searchlight on the outskirts of Las Vegas have seen some growth as well.

Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which led some locals to feel their state is being “Californicated”.[37]

The table below shows the racial composition of Nevada’s population as of 2016.

Nevada racial composition of population[38]
Race Population (2016 est.) Percentage
Total population 2,839,172 100%
White 1,933,057 68.1%
  Non-Hispanic White 1,455,508 51.3%
  White Hispanic 477,549 16.8%
Black or African American 243,552 8.6%
American Indian and Alaska Native 31,927 1.1%
Asian 222,612 7.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 18,334 0.6%
Some other race 260,654 9.2%
Two or more races 129,036 4.5%

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 27.8% of Nevada’s population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (21.3%), Puerto Rican (0.9%), Cuban (0.9%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (4.7%).[38] The five largest non-Hispanic White ancestry groups were: German (11.3%), Irish (9.0%), English (6.9%), Italian (5.8%), and American (4.7%).[39]

In 1980, non-Hispanic whites made up 83.3% of the state’s population.[40]

Nevada historical racial composition
Racial composition 1970[40] 1990[40] 2000[41] 2010[42]
White 86.7% 78.7% 65.2% 66.2%
Black 5.7% 6.6% 6.8% 8.1%
Asian 0.7% 3.2% 4.5% 7.2%
Native 1.6% 1.6% 1.3% 1.2%
Other race 0.3% 4.4% 8.0% 12.0%
Two or more races 3.8% 4.7%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 5.6% 10.4% 19.7% 26.5%

As of 2011, 63.6% of Nevada’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[43]. Las Vegas is a minority majority city. According to the United States Census Bureau estimates, as of July 1, 2017, non-Hispanic Whites made up 49.1% of Nevada’s population.[44] This would make Nevada a majority minority state joining California, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.[45]

In Douglas, Mineral, and Pershing counties, a plurality of residents are of Mexican ancestry. In Nye County and Humboldt County, residents are mostly of German ancestry; Washoe County has many Irish Americans. Americans of English descent form pluralities in Lincoln County, Churchill County, Lyon County, White Pine County, and Eureka County.

Asian Americans lived in the state since the California Gold Rush of the 1850s brought thousands of Chinese miners to Washoe county. They were followed by a few hundred Japanese farm workers in the late 19th century. By the late 20th century, many immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam came to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The city now has one of America’s most prolific Asian American communities, with a mostly Chinese and Taiwanese area known as “Chinatown” west of I-15 on Spring Mountain Road. Filipino Americans form the largest Asian American group in the state, with a population of more than 113,000. They comprise 56.5% of the Asian American population in Nevada and constitute about 4.3% of the entire state’s population.[46][citation needed]

Largely African American sections of Las Vegas and Reno can be found. Many current African-American Nevadans are newly transplanted residents from California.[citation needed]

Las Vegas was a major destination for immigrants from South Asia and Latin America seeking employment in the gaming and hospitality industries during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, but farming and construction are the biggest employers of immigrant labor.

The religious makeup of Nevadans includes large communities of Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Evangelicals; each is known for higher birth rates and a younger than national average age. American Jews represent a large proportion of the active adult retirement community.[citation needed]

Birth data

Note: Births within the table do not add up, due to Hispanics being counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Race 2013[47] 2014[48] 2015[49] 2016[50]
White: 27,293 (77.9%) 27,638 (77.1%) 27,648 (76.2%)
> Non-Hispanic White 14,951 (42.7%) 15,151 (42.2%) 14,937 (41.2%) 13,918 (38.4%)
Black 4,215 (12.0%) 4,603 (12.8%) 4,803 (13.2%) 4,205 (11.6%)
Asian 3,097 (8.8%) 3,145 (8.8%) 3,337 (9.2%) 2,666 (7.3%)
Pacific Islander 308 (0.8%)
American Indian 425 (1.2%) 475 (1.3%) 510 (1.4%) 303 (0.8%)
Hispanic (of any race) 12,718 (36.3%) 13,006 (36.3%) 13,225 (36.4%) 13,391 (36.9%)
Total Nevada 35,030 (100%) 35,861 (100%) 36,298 (100%) 36,260 (100%)
  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Settlements

The Winnemucca Sand Dunes, north of Winnemucca

Downtown Reno

East Las Vegas suburbs

A small percentage of Nevada’s population lives in rural areas. The culture of these places differs significantly from the major metropolitan areas. People in these rural counties tend to be native Nevada residents, unlike in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, where the vast majority of the population was born in another state. The rural population is also less diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Mining plays an important role in the economies of the rural counties, with tourism being less prominent.[52] Ranching also has a long tradition in rural Nevada.[53]

Locations by GDP per capita

Ranked by per capita income in 2000
Rank Place GDP per capita County
1 Incline Village-Crystal Bay $52,521 Washoe
2 Kingsbury $41,421 Douglas
3 Mount Charleston $38,821 Clark
4 Verdi-Mogul $38,233 Washoe
5 Zephyr Cove-Round Hill Village $37,218 Douglas
6 Summerlin South $33,017 Clark
7 Blue Diamond $30,479 Clark
8 Minden $30,405 Douglas
9 Boulder City $29,770 Clark
10 Spanish Springs $26,908 Washoe

Religion

Religion in Nevada[54]
religion percent
Protestant
35%
No religion
28%
Catholic
25%
Mormon
4%
Jewish
2%
Buddhist
0.5%
Hindu
0.1%
Muslim
0.1%

Church attendance in Nevada is among the lowest of all U.S. states. In a 2009 Gallup poll only 30% of Nevadans said they attended church weekly or almost weekly, compared to 42% of all Americans (only four states were found to have a lower attendance rate than Nevada).[55]

Major religious affiliations of the people of Nevada are: Protestant 35%, no religion 28%, Roman Catholic 25%, Latter-day Saint 4%, Jewish 2%, Hindu less than 1%, Buddhist 0.5% and Islam less than 0.1%. Parts of Nevada (in the eastern parts of the state) are situated in the Mormon Corridor.

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 451,070; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 175,149; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 45,535; Buddhist congregations 14,727; Bahá’í 1,723; and Muslim 1,700.[56] The Jewish community is represented by The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and Chabad.[57][58]

Economy

Nevada quarter

MGM Grand, with sign promoting it as The City of Entertainment

Lake Tahoe on the Nevada-California border

Goldstrike (Post-Betze) Mine in the Carlin Trend, the largest Carlin-type deposit in the world, containing more than 35,000,000 troy ounces (1,100 t) gold.[59]

Cattle near the Bruneau River in Elko County

Ranching in Washoe County

The economy of Nevada is tied to tourism (especially entertainment and gambling related), mining, and cattle ranching. Nevada’s industrial outputs are tourism, mining, machinery, printing and publishing, food processing, and electric equipment. The Bureau of Economic Analysis[60][61] estimates Nevada’s total state product in 2010 was $126 billion. The state’s per capita personal income in 2009 was $38,578, ranking nineteenth in the nation.[62] Nevada’s state debt in 2012 was calculated to be $7.5 billion, or $3,100 per taxpayer.[63] As of December 2014, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.8%.[64]

The economy of Nevada has long been tied to vice industries. “[Nevada was] founded on mining and refounded on sin—beginning with prizefighting and easy divorce a century ago and later extending to gaming and prostitution”, said the August 21, 2010 issue of The Economist.[65]

Mining

In portions of the state outside of the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas mining plays a major economic role. By value, gold is by far the most important mineral mined. In 2004, 6,800,000 ounces (190,000,000 g) of gold worth $2.84 billion were mined in Nevada, and the state accounted for 8.7% of world gold production (see Gold mining in Nevada). Silver is a distant second, with 10,300,000 ounces (290,000,000 g) worth $69 million mined in 2004 (see Silver mining in Nevada).[66] Other minerals mined in Nevada include construction aggregates, copper, gypsum, diatomite and lithium. Despite its rich deposits, the cost of mining in Nevada is generally high, and output is very sensitive to world commodity prices.

Cattle ranching

Cattle ranching is a major economic activity in rural Nevada. Nevada’s agricultural outputs are cattle, hay, alfalfa, dairy products, onions, and potatoes. As of January 1, 2006, there were an estimated 500,000 head of cattle and 70,000 head of sheep in Nevada.[67] Most of these animals forage on rangeland in the summer, with supplemental feed in the winter. Calves are generally shipped to out-of-state feedlots in the fall to be fattened for market. Over 90% of Nevada’s 484,000 acres (196,000 ha) of cropland is used to grow hay, mostly alfalfa, for livestock feed.

Largest employers

The largest employers in the state, as of the first fiscal quarter of 2011, are the following, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation:[68]

Rank Employer
1 Clark County School District
2 Washoe County School District
3 Clark County
4 Wynn Las Vegas
5 Bellagio LLC
6 MGM Grand Hotel/Casino
7 Aria Resort & Casino LLC
8 Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
9 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
10 Caesars Palace
11 University of Nevada, Las Vegas
12 The Venetian Casino Resort
13 The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
14 The Mirage Casino-Hotel
15 University of Nevada, Reno
16 University Medical Center of Southern Nevada
17 The Palazzo Casino Resort
18 Flamingo Las Vegas Operating Company LLC
19 Encore Las Vegas
20 Luxor Las Vegas

Transportation

State route shield

U.S. Route 50, also known as “The Loneliest Road in America”

Road from Carrara, Nevada towards the marble quarry in the background.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr train uses the Union Pacific’s original transcontinental railroad line in daily service from Chicago to Emeryville, California, serving Elko, Winnemucca, and Reno. Las Vegas has had no passenger train service since Amtrak’s Desert Wind was discontinued in 1997. Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches provide connecting service from Las Vegas to trains at Needles, California, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield, California; and from Stateline, Nevada, to Sacramento, California. There have been a number of proposals to re-introduce service to either Los Angeles or Southern California.

The Union Pacific Railroad has some railroads in the north and south of Nevada. Greyhound Lines provide some bus service to the state.

Interstate 15 passes through the southern tip of the state, serving Las Vegas and other communities. I-215 and spur route I-515 also serve the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Interstate 80 crosses through the northern part of Nevada, roughly following the path of the Humboldt River from Utah in the east and the Truckee River westward through Reno into California. It has a spur route, I-580. Nevada also is served by several U.S. highways: US 6, US 50, US 93, US 95 and US 395. There are also 189 Nevada state routes. Many of Nevada’s counties have a system of county routes as well, though many are not signed or paved in rural areas. Nevada is one of a few states in the U.S. that does not have a continuous interstate highway linking its two major population centers—the road connection between the Las Vegas and Reno areas is a combination of Interstate and U.S. highways.

The state is one of just a few in the country to allow semi-trailer trucks with three trailers—what might be called a “road train” in Australia. But American versions are usually smaller, in part because they must ascend and descend some fairly steep mountain passes.

RTC Transit is the public transit system in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The agency is the largest transit agency in the state and operates a network of bus service across the Las Vegas Valley, including the use of The Deuce, double-decker buses, on the Las Vegas Strip and several outlying routes. RTC RIDE operates a system of local transit bus service throughout the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. Other transit systems in the state include Carson City’s JAC. Most other counties in the state do not have public transportation at all.

Additionally, a 4-mile (6.4 km) monorail system provides public transportation in the Las Vegas area. The Las Vegas Monorail line services several casino properties and the Las Vegas Convention Center on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip, running near Paradise Road, with a possible future extension to McCarran International Airport. Several hotels also run their own monorail lines between each other, which are typically several blocks in length.

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the busiest airport serving Nevada. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport (formerly known as the Reno Cannon International Airport) is the other major airport in the state.

Law and government

Government

A view of the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City

Under the Constitution of the State of Nevada, the powers of the Nevada government are divided among three separate departments: the Executive consisting of the Governor of Nevada and their cabinet along with the other elected constitutional officers; the Legislative consisting of the Nevada Legislature, which includes the Assembly and the Senate; and the Judicial consisting of the Supreme Court of Nevada and lower courts.

The Governor of Nevada is the chief magistrate of Nevada,[69] the head of the executive department of the state’s government,[69] and the commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces.[70] The current Governor of Nevada is Steve Sisolak, a Democract.

The Nevada Legislature is a bicameral body divided into an Assembly and Senate. Members of the Assembly serve for 2 years, and members of the Senate serve for 4 years. Both houses of the Nevada Legislature will be impacted by term limits starting in 2010, as Senators and Assemblymen/women will be limited to a maximum of 12 years service in each house (by appointment or election which is a lifetime limit)—a provision of the constitution which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court of Nevada in a unanimous decision. Each session of the Legislature meets for a constitutionally mandated 120 days in every odd-numbered year, or longer if the Governor calls a special session.

On December 18, 2018, Nevada the first in the United States with a female majority in its legislature. Females hold nine of the 21 seats in the Nevada Senate, and 23 of the 42 seats in the Nevada Assembly.[71]

The Supreme Court of Nevada is the state supreme court and the head of the Nevada Judiciary. Original jurisdiction is divided between the district courts (with general jurisdiction), and justice courts and municipal courts (both of limited jurisdiction). Appeals from District Courts are made directly to the Nevada Supreme Court, which under a deflective model of jurisdiction, has the discretion to send cases to the Court of Appeals for final resolution.[72]

Incorporated towns in Nevada, known as cities, are given the authority to legislate anything not prohibited by law. A recent movement has begun to permit home rule in incorporated Nevada cities to give them more flexibility and fewer restrictions from the Legislature. Town Boards for unincorporated towns are limited local governments created by either the local county commission, or by referendum, and form a purely advisory role and in no way diminish the responsibilities of the county commission that creates them.

State agencies

State departments and agencies:

  • Attorney General
  • Department of Business & Industry
  • Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
  • Consumer Health Assistance
  • Controller’s Office
  • Department of Corrections
  • Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Nevada Commission on Economic Development
  • Department of Education
  • Nevada Secretary of State, Election Division
  • Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation
  • Gaming Control Board
  • Governor’s Office
  • Nevada Film Office
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Information Technology
  • Department of Justice
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Nevada Military Department
  • Division of Minerals, Commission on Mineral Resources
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Department of Personnel
  • Advisory Council for Prosecuting Attorneys
  • Public Employees Benefit Program
  • Public Employees Retirement System
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Nevada Public Utilities Commission
  • Department of Secretary of State
  • Department of Taxation
  • Commission on Tourism
  • Department of Transportation
  • Nevada State Treasurer
  • Universities and Community Colleges of Nevada
  • Nevada Office of Veterans’ Services
  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
  • Nevada Department of Wildlife

Law

The courthouse of the Supreme Court of Nevada

In 1900, Nevada’s population was the smallest of all states and was shrinking, as the difficulties of living in a “barren desert” began to outweigh the lure of silver for many early settlers. Historian Lawrence Friedman has explained what happened next:

Nevada, in a burst of ingenuity, built an economy by exploiting its sovereignty. Its strategy was to legalize all sorts of things that were illegal in California … after easy divorce came easy marriage and casino gaming. Even prostitution is legal in Nevada, in any county that decides to allow it. Quite a few of them do.[73]

With the advent of air conditioning for summertime use and Southern Nevada’s mild winters, the fortunes of the state began to turn around, as it did for Arizona, making these two states the fastest growing in the Union.

Prostitution

Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal (under the form of licensed brothels).

Prostitution is specifically illegal by state law in the state’s larger jurisdictions, which include Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), Washoe County (which contains Reno), and the independent city of Carson City. Otherwise, it is legal in those counties which specifically vote to permit it. When permitted, brothels are only in rural or isolated parts of counties.

Divorce

Nevada’s early reputation as a “divorce haven” arose from the fact that, before the no-fault divorce revolution in the 1970s, divorces were difficult to obtain in the United States. Already having legalized gambling and prostitution, Nevada continued the trend of boosting its profile by adopting one of the most liberal divorce statutes in the nation. This resulted in Williams v. North Carolina (1942), 317 U.S. 287 (1942), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled North Carolina had to give “full faith and credit” to a Nevada divorce. The Court modified its decision in Williams v. North Carolina (1945), 325 U.S. 226 (1945), by holding a state need not recognize a Nevada divorce unless one of the parties was domiciled there at the time the divorce was granted and the forum state was entitled to make its own determination.

As of 2009, Nevada’s divorce rate was above the national average.[74]

Taxes

Nevada’s tax laws are intended to draw new residents and businesses to the state. Nevada has no personal income tax or corporate income tax.[75] Since Nevada does not collect income data it cannot share such information with the federal government, the IRS.[76]

The state sales tax (similar to VAT or GST) in Nevada is variable depending upon the county. The statewide tax rate is 6.85%, with five counties (Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, and Mineral) charging this amount. Counties may impose additional rates via voter approval or through approval of the state legislature; therefore, the applicable sales tax will vary by county from 6.85% to 8.1% (Clark County). In Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, imposes four separate county option taxes in addition to the statewide rate – 0.25% for flood control, 0.50% for mass transit, 0.25% for infrastructure, and 0.25% for more cops. In Washoe County, which includes Reno, the sales tax rate is 7.725 percent, due to county option rates for flood control, the ReTRAC train trench project, mass transit, and an additional county rate approved under the Local Government Tax Act of 1991.[77] The minimum Nevada sales tax rate changed on July 1, 2009.[78]

The lodging tax rate in unincorporated Clark County, which includes the Las Vegas Strip, is 12%. Within the boundaries of the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, the lodging tax rate is 13%.

Corporations such as Apple Inc. allegedly have set up investment companies and funds in Nevada to avoid paying taxes.[79]

Gay rights

In 2009, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill creating a domestic partnership registry that enables gay couples to enjoy the same rights as married couples. As of 2019, gay marriage is legal in Nevada.

Incorporation

Nevada provides friendly environment for the formation of corporations, and many (especially California) businesses have incorporated in Nevada to take advantage of the benefits of the Nevada statute. Nevada corporations offer great flexibility to the Board of Directors and simplify or avoid many of the rules that are cumbersome to business managers in some other states. In addition, Nevada has no franchise tax, although it does require businesses to have a license for which the business has to pay the state.

Financial institutions

Similarly, many U.S. states have usury laws limiting the amount of interest a lender can charge, but federal law allows corporations to ‘import’ these laws from their home state.

Alcohol and other drugs

Nevada has very liberal alcohol laws. Bars are permitted to remain open 24 hours, with no “last call”. Liquor stores, convenience stores and supermarkets may also sell alcohol 24 hours per day, and may sell beer, wine and spirits.

In 2016, Nevada voters approved Question 2, which legalized the possession, transportation and cultivation of personal use amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 years and older, and authorized the creation of a regulated market for the sale of marijuana to adults age 21 years and older through state-licensed retail outlets.[80] Nevada voters had previously approved medical marijuana in 2000, but rejected marijuana legalization in a similar referendum in 2006. Marijuana in all forms remains illegal under federal law.

Aside from cannabis legalization, non-alcohol drug laws are a notable exception to Nevada’s otherwise libertarian principles. It is notable for having the harshest penalties for drug offenders in the country. Nevada remains the only state to still use mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for possession of drugs.[81]

Smoking

Nevada voters enacted a smoking ban (“The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act”) in November 2006 that became effective on December 8, 2006. It outlaws smoking in most workplaces and public places. Smoking is permitted in bars, but only if the bar serves no food, or the bar is inside a larger casino. Smoking is also permitted in casinos, certain hotel rooms, tobacco shops, and brothels.[82] However, some businesses do not obey this law and the government tends not to enforce it.[83] In 2011, smoking restrictions in Nevada were loosened for certain places which allow only people age 21 or older inside.[84]

Crime

In 2006, the crime rate in Nevada was about 24% higher than the national average rate, though crime has since decreased. Property crimes accounted for about 85% of the total crime rate in Nevada, which was 21% higher than the national rate. The remaining 20.3% were violent crimes.[85] A complete listing of crime data in the state for 2013 can be found here:[86]

Politics

Qualified political parties in Nevada [87]
Party Status
Democratic Major
Republican Major
Libertarian Minor
Green Minor
Independent American Minor
Transhumanist Minor
Nevada registered voters as of October 2017[88]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 636,935 38.88%
Republican 537,500 32.80%
Nonpartisan 355,676 21.70%
Independent American 73,735 4.49%
Libertarian 16,120 0.98%
Other 18,651 1.13%
Total 1,638,617 100%

State politics

Party registration by county (November 2018):

  Democrat >= 40%
  Republican >= 30%
  Republican >= 40%
  Republican >= 50%
  Republican >= 60%

Due to heavy growth in the southern portion of the state, there is a noticeable divide between politics of northern and southern Nevada. The north has long maintained control of key positions in state government, even while the population of southern Nevada is larger than the rest of the state combined. The north sees the high population south becoming more influential and perhaps commanding majority rule. The south sees the north as the “old guard” trying to rule as an oligarchy. This has fostered some resentment, however, due to a term limit amendment passed by Nevada voters in 1994, and again in 1996, some of the north’s hold over key positions will soon be forfeited to the south, leaving northern Nevada with less power.

Historically, northern Nevada has been very Republican. The more rural counties of the north are among the most conservative regions of the country. Carson City, the state’s capital, is a Republican-leaning swing city/county. Washoe County, home to Reno, has historically been strongly Republican, but now has become more of a Democratic-leaning swing county. Clark County, home to Las Vegas, has been a stronghold for the Democratic Party since it was founded in 1909, having voted Republican only six times and once for a third party candidate.
Clark and Washoe counties have long dominated the state’s politics. Between them, they cast 87 percent of Nevada’s vote, and elect a substantial majority of the state legislature. The last Republican to carry Clark County was George H.W. Bush in 1988, and the last Republican to carry Washoe County was George W. Bush in 2004. The great majority of the state’s elected officials are either from Las Vegas or Reno.

National politics

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Presidential election results
Year Democratic Republican
2016 47.92% 539,260 45.50% 512,058
2012 52.36% 531,373 45.68% 463,567
2008 55.15% 533,736 42.65% 412,827
2004 47.88% 397,190 50.47% 418,690
2000 45.94% 279,978 49.49% 301,575
1996 45.60% 203,388 44.55% 198,775
1992 37.41% 189,148 34.71% 175,828

Nevada voted for the winner in every presidential election from 1912 to 2012, except in 1976 when it voted for Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. This includes Nevada supporting Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960 and 1964, respectively. Republican Richard Nixon in 1968 and in 1972, Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 and in 1984, Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988, Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and Democrat Barack Obama winning the state in both 2008 and 2012. This gives the state status as a political bellwether. From 1912 to 2012, Nevada has been carried by the presidential victor the most out of any state (26 of 27 elections). In 2016, Nevada lost its bellwether status when it narrowly cast its votes for Hillary Clinton. Nevada was one of only three states won by John F. Kennedy in the American West in the election of 1960, albeit narrowly.[89]

The state’s U.S. Senators are Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. The Governorship is held by Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.

Voting

Nevada is the only U.S. state to have a none of the above option available on its ballots. Officially called None of These Candidates, the option was first added to the ballot in 1975 and is used in all statewide elections, including president, US Senate and all state constitutional positions. In the event “None of These Candidates” receives a plurality of votes in the election, the candidate with the next-highest total is elected.[90]

Education

Education in Nevada is achieved through public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges and universities.

A May 2015 educational reform law expanded school choice options to 450,000 Nevada students who are at up to 185% of the federal poverty level. Education savings accounts (ESAs) are enabled by the new law to help pay the tuition for private schools. Alternatively, families “can use funds in these accounts to also pay for textbooks and tutoring.”[91][92]

Public school districts

Public school districts in Nevada include:

  • Carson City School District
  • Churchill County School District
  • Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the United States
  • Douglas County School District
  • Elko County School District
  • Esmeralda County School District
  • Eureka County School District
  • Humboldt County School District
  • Lander County School District
  • Lincoln County School District
  • Lyon County School District
  • Mineral County School District
  • Nye County School District
  • Pershing County School District
  • Storey County School District
  • Washoe County School District
  • White Pine County School District

Colleges and universities

  • Nevada System of Higher Education

    • University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
    • University of Nevada, Reno (Nevada)
    • Nevada State College
    • Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC)
    • Great Basin College
    • College of Southern Nevada (CSN)
    • Western Nevada College (WNC)
  • Sierra Nevada College
  • Touro University Nevada
  • Roseman University of Health Sciences

Research institutes

  • Desert Research Institute

The Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame provides educational resources and promotes the aerospace and aviation history of the state.[93]

Parks and recreation areas

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Calico basin

Great Basin National Park

The quartzite of Jeff Davis Peak in Great Basin National Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Mount Charleston

Recreation areas maintained by the federal government

Northern Nevada

  • California National Historic Trail
  • Humboldt National Forest
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail

Southern Nevada

  • Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve
  • Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park
  • Toiyabe National Forest
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Mount Charleston and the Mount Charleston Wilderness
  • Spring Mountains and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Death Valley National Park

Wilderness

There are 68 designated wilderness areas in Nevada, protecting some 6,579,014 acres (2,662,433 ha) under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.[94]

State parks

The Nevada state parks comprise protected areas managed by the state of Nevada, including state parks, state historic sites, and state recreation areas. There are 24 state park units, including Van Sickle Bi-State Park which opened in July 2011 and is operated in partnership with the state of California.[95]

Culture

Entertainment and tourism

Resort areas like Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Laughlin attract visitors from around the nation and world. In FY08 the total of 266 casinos with gaming revenue over $1m for the year, brought in revenue of $12 billion in gaming revenue, and $13 billion in non-gaming revenue. A review of gaming statistics can be found at Nevada gaming area.

Nevada has by far the most hotel rooms per capital in the United States. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, there were 187,301 rooms in 584 hotels (of 15 or more rooms). The state is ranked just below California, Texas, Florida, and New York in total number of rooms, but those states have much larger populations. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, far above the national average of one hotel room per 67 residents.[96]

Prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada in licensed brothels, but only counties with populations under 400,000 have the option to legalize it. Although prostitution is not a major part of the Nevada economy, employing roughly 300 women as independent contractors, it is a very visible endeavor. Of the 14 counties permitted to legalize prostitution under state law, 8 have chosen to legalize brothels. State law prohibits prostitution in Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), and Washoe County (which contains Reno). However, prostitution is legal in Storey County, which is part of the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area.

Sports

Nevada is not well known for its professional sports teams, mainly because major league sports in the past feared having direct involvement with the sports gambling industry. However, this situation lessened after they embraced daily fantasy sports (DFS) in 2014. The Las Vegas Valley is home to the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League who began play in the 2017-18 NHL season at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. The Golden Knights are the only major North American professional sports franchise in Nevada.

They will be joined by the Oakland Raiders who at the start of the 2016 NFL season expressed interest in moving their team to Las Vegas, and announced in January 2017 they would do so in either 2019 or 2020.

Nevada takes pride in college sports, most notably its college football. College teams in the state include the Nevada Wolf Pack (representing the University of Nevada, Reno) and the UNLV Rebels (representing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas), both in the Mountain West Conference (MW).

UNLV is most remembered for its men’s basketball program, which experienced its height of supremacy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Coached by Jerry Tarkanian, the Runnin’ Rebels became one of the most elite programs in the country. In 1990, UNLV won the Men’s Division I Championship by defeating Duke 103–73, which set tournament records for most points scored by a team and largest margin of victory in the national title game.

In 1991, UNLV finished the regular season undefeated, a feat that would not be matched in Division I men’s basketball for more than 20 years. Forward Larry Johnson won several awards, including the Naismith Award. UNLV reached the Final Four yet again, but lost their national semifinal against Duke 79–77. The Runnin’ Rebels were the Associated Press pre-season No. 1 back to back (1989–90, 1990–91). North Carolina is the only other team to accomplish that (2007–08, 2008–09).

The state’s involvement in major-college sports is not limited to its local schools. In the 21st century, the Las Vegas area has become a significant regional center for college basketball conference tournaments. The MW, West Coast Conference, and Western Athletic Conference all hold their men’s and women’s tournaments in the area, and the Pac-12 holds its men’s tournament there as well. The Big Sky Conference, after decades of holding its men’s and women’s conference tournaments at campus sites, began holding both tournaments in Reno in 2016.

Las Vegas has hosted several professional boxing matches, most recently at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with bouts such as Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield, Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao and at the newer T-Mobile Arena with Canelo Álvarez vs. Amir Khan.

Along with significant rises in popularity in mixed martial arts (MMA), a number of fight leagues such as the UFC have taken interest in Las Vegas as a primary event location due to the number of suitable host venues. The Mandalay Bay Events Center and MGM Grand Garden Arena are among some of the more popular venues for fighting events such as MMA and have hosted several UFC and other MMA title fights. The city has held the most UFC events with 86 events.

The state is also home to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which hosts the Kobalt Tools 400. Two venues in the immediate Las Vegas area host major annual events in rodeo. The Thomas & Mack Center, built for UNLV men’s basketball, hosts the National Finals Rodeo. The PBR World Finals, operated by the bull riding-only Professional Bull Riders, was also held at the Thomas & Mack Center before moving to T-Mobile Arena in 2016. Finally, Sam Boyd Stadium, home to the UNLV football team, also hosts the country’s biggest rugby event, the USA Sevens tournament in the World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as the AMA Supercross Championship.

The state is also home to one of the most famous tennis players of all time, Andre Agassi, and current baseball superstar Bryce Harper.

List of teams

Major professional teams
Team Sport League Venue (capacity) Established Titles
Las Vegas Raiders Football NFL Las Vegas Stadium (65,000) 2020 (planned) 0
Vegas Golden Knights Ice hockey NHL T-Mobile Arena (17,500) 2017 0
Las Vegas Aces Basketball WNBA Mandalay Bay Events Center (12,000) 2018 0
Minor professional teams
Team Sport League Venue (capacity) Established Titles
Las Vegas Aviators Baseball MiLB (AAA-PCL) Las Vegas Ballpark (10,000) 1983 2
Reno Aces Greater Nevada Field (9,013) 2009 2
Mesquite Desert Dogs Basketball TBL Rising Star Sports Ranch (600) 2018 0
Las Vegas Lights FC Soccer USLC Cashman Field (9,334) 0
Reno 1868 FC Greater Nevada Field (9,013) 2015 0
Reno Express Indoor football AWFC Reno Events Center (7,000) 2019 (planned) 0
Amateur teams
Team Sport League Venue (capacity) Established Titles
Las Vegas Jesters Ice hockey MWHL City National Arena (600) 2012 0
Nevada Coyotes FC Soccer UPSL Rio Vista Sports Complex 2016 0
Summerlin Red Rocks FC 2018 0
College teams
School Team League Division Conference
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) UNLV Rebels NCAA NCAA Division I Mountain West
University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Nevada Wolf Pack
College of Southern Nevada (CSN) CSN Coyotes NJCAA NJCAA Division I Scenic West
Western Nevada College (WNC) WNC Wildcats

Military

Several United States Navy ships have been named USS Nevada in honor of the state. They include:

  • USS Nevada (1865)
  • USS Nevada (BM-8)
  • USS Nevada (BB-36)
  • USS Nevada (SSBN-733)

Area 51 is near Groom Lake, a dry salt lake bed. The much smaller Creech Air Force Base is in Indian Springs, Nevada; Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne; the Tonopah Test Range near Tonopah; and Nellis AFB in the northeast part of the Las Vegas Valley. Naval Air Station Fallon in Fallon; NSAWC, (pronounced “EN-SOCK”) in western Nevada. NSAWC consolidated three Command Centers into a single Command Structure under a flag officer on July 11, 1996. The Naval Strike Warfare Center (STRIKE “U”) based at NAS Fallon since 1984, was joined with the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (TOPDOME) which both moved from NAS Miramar as a result of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision in 1993 which transferred that installation back to the Marine Corps as MCAS Miramar. The Seahawk Weapon School was added in 1998 to provide tactical training for Navy helicopters.

These bases host a number of activities including the Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Nevada Test and Training Range, Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the United States Air Force Warfare Center, the United States Air Force Weapons School, and the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School.

Future issues

Nevada enjoys many economic advantages, and the southern portion of the state enjoys mild winter weather, but rapid growth has led to some overcrowded roads and schools. Nevada has the nation’s 5th largest school district in the Clark County School District (projected fall 2007 enrollment is 314,000 students grades K-12).[97]

Coyote Springs is a proposed community for 240,000 inhabitants in Clark and Lincoln counties. It would be Nevada’s largest planned city. The town is being developed by Harvey Whittemore and has generated some controversy because of environmental concerns and allegations of political favoritism.[98]

State symbols

Playa areas of Nevada

  • State animal: desert bighorn sheep
  • State artifact: Tule duck decoy
  • State bird: mountain bluebird
  • State colors: silver and blue
  • State fish: Lahontan cutthroat trout
  • State flower: sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
  • State fossil: ichthyosaur
  • State grass: Indian ricegrass
  • State march: “Silver State Fanfare” by Gerald G. Willis[99]
  • State metal: silver (Ag)
  • State mottos: “Battle Born” and “All For Our Country”
  • State precious gemstone: Virgin Valley black fire opal
  • State semiprecious gemstone: Nevada turquoise
  • State slogan: “The Battle Born State”
  • State song: “Home Means Nevada” by Bertha Raffetto
  • State reptile: desert tortoise
  • State rock: sandstone
  • State soil: Orovada series
  • State tartan: A particular tartan designed for Nevada by Richard Zygmunt Pawlowski
  • State trees: single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)

See also

  • Index of Nevada-related articles
  • Outline of Nevada – organized list of topics about Nevada

Notes

  1. ^ The distinction of highest point in Nevada goes to the summit of Boundary Peak, so named because it is very near the Nevada-California border, at the northern terminus of the White Mountains. However, Boundary Peak can be considered a subsidiary summit of Montgomery Peak, whose summit is in California, since the topographic prominence of Boundary Peak is only 253 feet (77 m), which falls under the often used 300-foot (91 m) cutoff for an independent peak. Also, Boundary Peak is less than 1 mile (1.6 km) away from its higher neighbor. Hence Boundary Peak can be described as not being wholly within Nevada. By contrast, the prominence of Wheeler Peak, 13,063 feet (3,982 m), is quite large and in fact it is the twelfth largest in the contiguous United States. Wheeler Peak is the highest point in a radius of more than 200 square miles (520 km2) and is entirely within the state of Nevada.

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  68. ^ “Nevada’s Largest Employers – Statewide Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.” Nevada Workforce Informer. Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
  69. ^ ab NV Const. art. V, § 1.
  70. ^ NV Const. art. V, § 5.
  71. ^ Price, Michelle L. (2018-12-18). “Click to copyhttps://apnews.com/8bebc3041f564d449365feff713bf7a4”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2018-12-20. External link in |title= (help)
  72. ^ “Court of Appeals”. Nevada Judiciary. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  73. ^ Lawrence M. Friedman, American Law in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 596–597.
  74. ^ “Nevada’s divorce rate exceeds national average – News – ReviewJournal.com”. Lvrj.com. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  75. ^ “The Tax Foundation – Tax Research Areas > Nevada”. Tax Foundation. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  76. ^ Nicholas Shaxson: Treasure Islands, Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World; The Bodley Head, London, 2011
  77. ^ “Sales Tax Map” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 29, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  78. ^ “Taxation Publications”. Tax.state.nv.us. Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  79. ^ “The Agony and Ecstasy—and ‘Disgrace’—of Steve Jobs”. The Nation. November 9, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  80. ^ “Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana”. Nevada Secretary of State. April 23, 2014. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  81. ^ “Las Vegas, Nevada “Possession of a Controlled Substance (Drug)” Laws”. www.shouselaw.com. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  82. ^ “State smoking ban sparks zone-change request for Gardnerville parcel Nevada Appeal serving Carson City, Nevada”. Nevadaappeal.com. October 6, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  83. ^ “Have Nevada bars given up the smoking habit?”. Kvbc.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  84. ^ “Black & LoBello smoking ban loosened Archives ” Black & LoBello”. Blacklobellolaw.com. June 17, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  85. ^ “Overview of Nevada’s CorrectionalSystem”. NICIC. January 4, 2009. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2009.
  86. ^ “2013 Crime In Nevada Annual Report” (PDF). NV Repository. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  87. ^ “Nevadan political parties” (aspx). Nevada Secretary of State / Party & Committee Information / Organized political parties. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  88. ^ “Office of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara K. Cegavske October 2017 Voter Registration Statistics Total Voters by County and Party”.
  89. ^ southdem (November 9, 2012). “2012 vs 1960”. Daily Kos. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  90. ^ “Not a fan of any candidate? In Nevada, you can vote for ‘None of These Candidates“. PBS NewsHour. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  91. ^
    “School Choice: Full Education Competition Comes To Nevada”. Investors Business Daily. June 1, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  92. ^ “Nevada – Education Savings Accounts”. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  93. ^ “Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame”. Nvahof.org. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  94. ^ “Wilderness.net”. Wilderness.net. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  95. ^ O’Daly Lisa. “Van Sickle Bi-State Park – Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide”. Sierranevadageotourism.org. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  96. ^ “State-by-State Fact Sheets on Lodging Industry”. Archived from the original on May 2, 2010.
  97. ^ “Clark County School District: Overview”. Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  98. ^ Brean, Henry (July 6, 2006). “Lovefest’ for Coyote Springs”. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on July 17, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2006.
  99. ^ NRS 235.035

External links

  • “Nevada” (official state website).
  • “Nevada State Guide”. Library of Congress.
  • “Nevada State Databases”. ALA. Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Nevada state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • State Tourism website
  • Nevada State Library and Archives
  • Energy Profile for Nevada
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Nevada
  • US Census Bureau
  • 1875 County Map at Texas Tech Southwest Collection
  • County Maps of Nevada Full color maps. List of cities, towns and county seats
  • Nevada State Facts from USDA
  • Forgotten Nevada – Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Nevada
  • Nevada’s Historical Markers
  • Navada State Seal
  • Nevada at Curlie
  • Geographic data related to Nevada at OpenStreetMap
  • Online Nevada Encyclopedia, Nevada Humanities

Preceded by
West Virginia
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on October 31, 1864 (36th)
Succeeded by
Nebraska

Coordinates: 39°N 117°W / 39°N 117°W / 39; -117


New Mexico

State of the United States of America

State of New Mexico
Nuevo México  (Spanish)
Yootó Hahoodzo  (Navajo)
Flag of New Mexico State seal of New Mexico
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

Land of Enchantment
Motto(s): Crescit eundo (English: It grows as it goes)
State song(s): “O Fair New Mexico” and “Así Es Nuevo México
Map of the United States with New Mexico highlighted
Spoken languages
  • English 69.7%
  • Spanish 28.5%
  • Navajo 3.5%
  • other 4.1%[1]
Demonym New Mexican (Spanish: Neomexicano, Neomejicano)[2]
Capital Santa Fe
Largest city Albuquerque
Largest metro Greater Albuquerque
Area Ranked 5th
 • Total 121,699 sq mi
(315,198 km2)
 • Width 343 miles (551 km)
 • Length 370 miles (595 km)
 • % water 0.2
 • Latitude 31° 20′ N to 37° N
 • Longitude 103° W to 109° 3′ W
Population Ranked 36th
 • Total 2,088,070 (2017 est.)[3]
 • Density 17.2/sq mi  (6.62/km2)
Ranked 45th
 • Median household income $45,119[4] (46th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Wheeler Peak[5][6][7]
13,167 ft (4013.3 m)
 • Mean 5,700 ft  (1,740 m)
 • Lowest point Red Bluff Reservoir on Texas border[6][7]
2,844 ft (867 m)
Before statehood Nuevo México (1598-1848)
New Mexico Territory (1850-1912)
Admission to Union January 6, 1912 (47th)
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales (D)
Legislature New Mexico Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators
  • Tom Udall (D)
  • Martin Heinrich (D)
U.S. House delegation
  • 1: Deb Haaland (D)
  • 2: Xochitl Torres Small (D)
  • 3: Ben R. Luján (D)

(list)

Time zones  
 • all of state (legally) Mountain: UTC −7/−6
 • Nara Visa (informally) Central: UTC -6/-7
ISO 3166 US-NM
Abbreviations NM, N.M., N.Mex.
Website www.newmexico.gov
New Mexico state symbols
Flag of New Mexico.svg

The Flag of New Mexico
Seal of New Mexico.svg

The Seal of New Mexico
Living insignia
Bird Greater roadrunner
Fish Rio Grande cutthroat trout
Flower Yucca
Grass Blue grama
Mammal American black bear
Reptile New Mexico whiptail
Tree Two-needle piñon
Inanimate insignia
Colors Red and yellow
Food Chile peppers, pinto beans, and biscochitos
Fossil Coelophysis
Gemstone Turquoise
State route marker
New Mexico state route marker
State quarter
New Mexico quarter dollar coin

Released in 2008
Lists of United States state symbols

New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo México pronounced [ˈnweβo ˈmexiko], Navajo: Yootó Hahoodzo pronounced [jòːtxó xɑ̀xʷòːtsò]) is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México (itself established as a province of New Spain in 1598), while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,590 sq mi (314,900 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

The economy of New Mexico is dependent on oil drilling, mineral extraction, dryland farming, cattle ranching, lumber milling, and retail trade. As of 2016–2017, its total gross domestic product (GDP) was $95 billion with a GDP per capita of $45,465. New Mexico’s status as a tax haven yields low to moderate personal income taxes on residents and military personnel, and gives tax credits and exemptions to favorable industries. Because of this, its film industry has grown and contributed $1.23 billion to its overall economy. Due to its large area and economic climate, New Mexico has a large U.S. military presence marked notably with the White Sands Missile Range. Various U.S. national security agencies base their research and testing arms in New Mexico such as the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. During the 1940s, Project Y of the Manhattan Project developed and built the country’s first atomic bomb and nuclear test, Trinity.

Inhabited by Native Americans for many thousands of years before European exploration, it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1563, it was named Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of Mexico by Spanish settlers, more than 250 years before the establishment and naming of the present-day country of Mexico; thus, the present-day state of New Mexico was not named after the country today known as Mexico.[8][9] After Mexican independence in 1824, New Mexico became a Mexican territory with considerable autonomy. This autonomy was threatened, however, by the centralizing tendencies of the Mexican government from the 1830s onward, with rising tensions eventually leading to the Revolt of 1837. At the same time, the region became more economically dependent on the United States. At the conclusion of the Mexican–American War in 1848, the United States annexed New Mexico as the U.S. New Mexico Territory. It was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912.

Its history has given New Mexico the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans as a population proportion (after Alaska).[10] New Mexico is home to part of the Navajo Nation, 19 federally recognized Pueblo communities of Puebloan peoples, and three different federally recognized Apache tribes. In prehistoric times, the area was home to Ancestral Puebloans, Mogollon, and the modern extant Comanche and Utes[11] inhabited the state. The largest Hispanic and Latino groups represented include the Hispanos of New Mexico, Chicanos, and Mexican Americans. The flag of New Mexico features the state’s Spanish origins with the same scarlet and gold coloration as Spain’s Cross of Burgundy, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Puebloan tribe.[12] These indigenous, Hispanic, Mexican, Latin, and American frontier roots are reflected in the eponymous New Mexican cuisine and the New Mexico music genre.

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Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Climate
    • 2.2 Flora and fauna
  • 3 History

    • 3.1 1848 cession of land
    • 3.2 20th century to present
  • 4 Demographics

    • 4.1 Population
    • 4.2 Birth data
    • 4.3 Settlements
    • 4.4 Ancestry
    • 4.5 Languages

      • 4.5.1 Official language
    • 4.6 Religion
  • 5 Economy

    • 5.1 Economic indicators
    • 5.2 Oil and gas production
    • 5.3 Federal government
    • 5.4 Economic incentives
    • 5.5 Taxation
  • 6 Transportation

    • 6.1 Road
    • 6.2 Urban mass transit
    • 6.3 Rail

      • 6.3.1 Freight
      • 6.3.2 Passenger
    • 6.4 Aerospace
  • 7 Government and politics

    • 7.1 Government
    • 7.2 Politics
  • 8 Education

    • 8.1 Primary and secondary education
    • 8.2 Postsecondary education

      • 8.2.1 Lottery scholarship
      • 8.2.2 Major state universities
  • 9 Culture

    • 9.1 Art and literature
    • 9.2 Sports
  • 10 See also
  • 11 References
  • 12 Further reading
  • 13 External links

    • 13.1 State Government
    • 13.2 US Government
    • 13.3 Tourism

Etymology

New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821. Spanish explorers recorded this region as New Mexico (Nuevo México in Spanish) in 1563. In 1581, the Chamuscado and Rodríguez Expedition named the region north of the Rio Grande “San Felipe del Nuevo México”.[13] The Spaniards hoped to find wealthy Mexican Indian cultures there similar to those of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire of the Valley of Mexico. The indigenous cultures of New Mexico, however, proved to be unrelated to the Aztecs, and were not wealthy.[14][15] Before statehood, the name “New Mexico” was applied to various configurations of the U.S. territory, to a Mexican state, and to a province of New Spain, all in the same general area, but of varying extensions.[16]

Geography

Wheeler Peak in the Sangre de Cristo Range

Chaco Canyon

Carlsbad Caverns

White Sands National Monument

Rio Grande Gorge

Shiprock

With a total area of 121,699 square miles (315,200 km2),[17] the state is the fifth-largest state of the US, and slightly larger than British Isles. New Mexico’s eastern border lies along 103°W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and (due to a 19th-century surveying error)[18] 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometres) west of 103°W longitude with Texas.[19] On the southern border, Texas makes up the eastern two-thirds, while the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora make up the western third, with Chihuahua making up about 90% of that. The western border with Arizona runs along the 109° 03’W longitude.[17] The southwestern corner of the state is known as the Bootheel. The 37°N parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. New Mexico, although a large state, has very little water. Its surface water area is about 250 square miles (650 km2).

The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico’s arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north–south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico’s rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is tied for the fourth-longest river in the United States.[20]

The U.S. government protects millions of acres of New Mexico as national forests, including:[21]

  • Carson National Forest
  • Cibola National Forest (headquartered in Albuquerque)
  • Lincoln National Forest
  • Santa Fe National Forest (headquartered in Santa Fe)
  • Gila National Forest
  • Gila Wilderness

Areas managed by the National Park Service include:[22]

  • Aztec Ruins National Monument at Aztec
  • Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos
  • Capulin Volcano National Monument near Capulin
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park near Carlsbad
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park at Nageezi
  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
  • El Malpais National Monument in Grants
  • El Morro National Monument in Ramah
  • Fort Union National Monument at Watrous
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument near Silver City
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park
  • Pecos National Historical Park in Pecos
  • Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque
  • Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument at Mountainair
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail
  • White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo
  • Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve

Visitors also frequent the surviving native pueblos of New Mexico. Tourists visiting these sites bring significant money to the state. Other areas of geographical and scenic interest include Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and the Gila Wilderness in the southwest of the state.[23]

Climate

Köppen climate types of New Mexico

The climate of New Mexico is generally semiarid to arid, though areas of continental and alpine climates exist, and its territory is mostly covered by mountains, high plains, and desert. The Great Plains (High Plains) are in eastern New Mexico, similar to the Colorado high plains in eastern Colorado. The two states share similar terrain, with both having plains, mountains, basins, mesas, and desert lands. New Mexico’s statewide average precipitation is 13.9 inches (350 mm) a year, with average monthly amounts peaking in the summer, as at Albuquerque, and Las Cruces in the south. The average annual temperatures can range from 64 °F (18 °C) in the southeast to below 40 °F (4 °C) in the northern mountains.[17] During the summer, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100 °F (38 °C) at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the average high temperature in July ranges from 97 °F (36 °C) at the lower elevations down to 78 °F (26 °C) at the higher elevations. In the colder months of November to March, many cities in New Mexico can have nighttime temperature lows in the teens above zero, or lower. The highest temperature recorded in New Mexico was 122 °F (50 °C) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Loving on June 27, 1994, and the lowest recorded temperature is −50 °F (−46 °C) at Gavilan on February 1, 1951.[24]

Astronomical observatories in New Mexico take advantage of unusually clear skies, including the Apache Point Observatory, the Very Large Array, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, and others.[25][26]

Flora and fauna

Greater roadrunner (the state bird of New Mexico)

New Mexico has five unique floristic zones, providing diverse sets of habitats for many plants and animals. The Llano Estacado (or Shortgrass Prairie) in the eastern part of the state is dominated by sod-forming short grasses such as blue grama, and it used to sustain bison. The Chihuahuan Desert extends through the south of the state and is dominated by shrubby creosote. The Colorado Plateau in the northwest corner of New Mexico is high desert with cold winters, and is characterized by sagebrush, shadescale, greasewood, and other plants adapted to the saline and seleniferous soil. The mountainous Mogollon Plateau in the west-central of the state and southern Rocky Mountains in the north-central, have a wide range in elevation (4,000 to 13,000 ft or 1,200 to 4,000 m), with vegetation types corresponding to elevation gradients, such as piñon-juniper woodlands near the base, through evergreen conifers, spruce-fir and aspen forests, Krummholz, and alpine tundra. The Apachian zone tucked into the southwestern bootheel of the state has high-calcium soil, oak woodlands, and Arizona cypress, and other plants that are not found in other parts of the state.[27][28]

Some of the native wildlife includes black bears, bighorn sheep, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, deer, elk, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, javelina, porcupines, pronghorn antelope, roadrunners, western diamondbacks, wild turkeys,[29][30][31] and the endangered Mexican gray wolf and Rio Grande silvery minnow.[32]

History

Ancestral Pueblo territory shown in pink over New Mexico

The first known inhabitants of New Mexico were members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians.[33]:19 Later inhabitants include American Indians of the Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo peoples cultures.[34]:52 By the time of European contact in the 16th century, the region was settled by the villages of the Pueblo peoples and groups of Navajo, Apache, and Ute.[33]:6,48

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mythical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza.[34]:19–24 The name Nuevo México was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra, who explored far to the north of New Spain in 1563 and reported his findings as being in “a New Mexico”.[35]Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598.[34]:36–37 The same year, he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros colony, the first permanent European settlement in the future state of New Mexico,[36] on the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.[34]:37 Oñate extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Royal Road of the Interior, by 700 miles (1,100 km) from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua, to his remote colony.[37]:49

The settlement of Santa Fe was established at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains, around 1608.[37]:182 The city, along with most of the settled areas of the state, was abandoned by the Spanish for 12 years (1680–92) as a result of the successful Pueblo Revolt.[38] After the death of the Pueblo leader Popé, Diego de Vargas restored the area to Spanish rule.[34]:68–75 While developing Santa Fe as a trade center, the returning settlers founded Albuquerque in 1706 from existing surrounding communities,[34]:84 naming it for the viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque.[39]

Territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México when it belonged to Mexico in 1824

As a part of New Spain, the claims for the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence.[34]:109 The Republic of Texas claimed the portion east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836, when it incorrectly assumed the older Hispanic settlements of the upper Rio Grande were the same as the newly established Mexican settlements of Texas. Texas’ only attempt to establish a presence or control in the claimed territory was the failed Texan Santa Fe Expedition. Their entire army was captured and jailed by Hispanic New Mexico militia.

At the turn of the 19th century, the extreme northeastern part of New Mexico, north of the Canadian River and east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, was still claimed by France, which sold it in 1803 to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The United States assigned this portion of New Mexico as part of the Louisiana Territory until 1812; that year, Louisiana was admitted as a state. The US then reclassified this area as part of the Missouri Territory. This region of the state (along with territory that makes up present-day southeastern Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, and southwestern Kansas) was ceded to Spain under the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819.

The independent Republic of Texas also claimed this portion of New Mexico. By 1800, the Spanish population had reached 25,000, but Apache and Comanche raids on Hispanic settlers were common until well into the period of U.S. occupation.[40]

1848 cession of land

Following the victory of the United States in the Mexican–American War (1846–48), under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded its northern holdings, today known as the American Southwest and California, to the United States of America.[34]:132 The United States vowed to accept the residents’ claims to their lands and to accept them as full citizens with rights of suffrage. This acquisition of territory and residents resulted in Mexicans legally being classified as white, since at that time, in most of the southern United States, only whites could vote. Nevertheless, Texas and other western states raised barriers to voting and political participation by ethnic Mexicans, including barring them from serving on juries.

After Texas was admitted as a state to the Union, it continued to claim the northeastern portion of present-day New Mexico. Finally, in the Compromise of 1850, Texas ceded these claims to the United States of the area in New Mexico lying east of the Rio Grande, in exchange for $10 million.[34]:135

Congress established the separate New Mexico Territory in September 1850.[41] It included most of the present-day states of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado. When the boundary was fixed, a surveyor’s error awarded the Permian Basin to the State of Texas.[dubious ] New Mexico dropped its claims to the Permian in a bid to gain statehood in 1911.

In 1853, the United States acquired the mostly desert southwestern bootheel of the state and southern Arizona south of the Gila River in the Gadsden Purchase. It wanted to control lands needed for the right-of-way to encourage construction of a transcontinental railroad.[34]:136

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Civil war effects in New Mexico
New Mexico territory included Arizona, 1860
Territories now divided, 1867

New Mexico played a role in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Both Confederate and Union governments claimed ownership and territorial rights over New Mexico Territory. In 1861, the Confederacy claimed the southern tract as its own Arizona Territory and waged the ambitious New Mexico Campaign in an attempt to control the American Southwest and open up access to Union California. Confederate power in the New Mexico Territory was effectively broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. However, the Confederate territorial government continued to operate out of Texas, and Confederate troops marched under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Additionally, more than 8,000 men from New Mexico Territory served in the Union Army.[42]

In the late 19th century, the majority of officially European-descended residents in New Mexico were ethnic Mexicans, many of whom had deep roots in the area from early Spanish colonial times. Politically, they still controlled most of the town and county offices through area elections, and wealthy sheepherder families commanded considerable influence. The Anglo-Americans tended to have more ties to the territorial governor and judges, who were appointed by officials out of the region. The two groups struggled for power and the future of the territory. The Anglo minority was “outnumbered, but well-organized and growing”.[43] Anglo-Americans made distinctions between the wealthy Mexicans and poor, ill-educated laborers.

20th century to present

Homesteader and his children in Pie Town, New Mexico, 1940

Congress admitted New Mexico as the 47th state in the Union on January 6, 1912.[34]:166

European-American settlers in the state had an uneasy relationship with the large Native American tribes, most of whose members lived on reservations at the beginning of the 20th century. Although Congress passed a law in 1924 that granted all Native Americans U.S. citizenship, as well as the right to vote in federal and state elections, New Mexico was among several states that restricted Indian voting by raising barriers to voter registration. Their constitution said that Indians who did not pay taxes could not vote, in their interpretation disqualifying those Native Americans who lived on reservations (but only the land was tax free).[44]

A major oil discovery in 1928 brought prosperity to the state, especially Lea County and the town of Hobbs. The town was named after James Hobbs, a homesteader there in 1907.[45] The Midwest State No. 1 well, begun in late 1927 with a standard cable-tool drilling rig, revealed the first signs of oil from the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928. Drilled to 4,330 feet and completed a few months later, the well produced 700 barrels of oil per day on state land. The Midwest Refining Company’s Hobbs well produced oil until 2002. The New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources called it “the most important single discovery of oil in New Mexico’s history”.[46]

During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos, a site developed by the federal government specifically to support a high-intensity scientific effort to rapidly complete research and testing of this weapon. The first bomb was tested at Trinity site in the desert between Socorro and Alamogordo on what is now White Sands Missile Range.[34]:179–180

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 61,547
1860 93,516 51.9%
1870 91,874 −1.8%
1880 119,565 30.1%
1890 160,282 34.1%
1900 195,310 21.9%
1910 327,301 67.6%
1920 360,350 10.1%
1930 423,317 17.5%
1940 531,818 25.6%
1950 681,187 28.1%
1960 951,023 39.6%
1970 1,017,055 6.9%
1980 1,303,302 28.1%
1990 1,515,069 16.2%
2000 1,819,046 20.1%
2010 2,059,179 13.2%
Est. 2017 2,088,070 1.4%
Source: 1910–2010[47]
2015 estimate[48]

Native Americans from New Mexico fought for the United States in both the First and Second World Wars. Veterans were disappointed to return and find their civil rights limited by state discrimination. In Arizona and New Mexico, veterans challenged state laws or practices prohibiting them from voting. In 1948, after veteran Miguel Trujillo, Sr. of Isleta Pueblo was told by the county registrar that he could not register to vote, he filed suit against the county in federal district court. A three-judge panel overturned as unconstitutional New Mexico’s provisions that Indians who did not pay taxes (and could not document if they had paid taxes) could not vote.[44]

Judge Phillips wrote:

Any other citizen, regardless of race, in the State of New Mexico who has not paid one cent of tax of any kind or character, if he possesses the other qualifications, may vote. An Indian, and only an Indian, in order to meet the qualifications to vote must have paid a tax. How you can escape the conclusion that makes a requirement with respect to an Indian as a qualification to exercise the elective franchise and does not make that requirement with respect to the member of any race is beyond me.[44]

New Mexico has benefited greatly from federal government spending on major military and research institutions in the state. It is home to three Air Force bases, White Sands Missile Range, and the federal research laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The state’s population grew rapidly after World War II, growing from 531,818 in 1940 to 1,819,046 in 2000.[49] Both residents and businesses moved to the state; some northerners came at first for the mild winters; others for retirement.

In the late 20th century, Native Americans were authorized by federal law to establish gaming casinos on their reservations under certain conditions, in states which had authorized such gaming. Such facilities have helped tribes close to population centers to generate revenues for reinvestment in economic development and welfare of their peoples.

In the 21st century, employment growth areas in New Mexico include microelectronics, call centers, and Indian casinos.[50]

Demographics

New Mexico population density map

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of New Mexico was 2,085,109 on July 1, 2015, a 1.26% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[48] The 2000 United States Census recorded the population of New Mexico to be 1,819,046; ten years later the 2010 United States Census recorded a population of 2,059,179, an 11.7% increase.[51]

Of the people residing in New Mexico, 51.4% were born in New Mexico, 37.9% were born in a different US state, 1.1% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 9.7% were foreign born.[52]

As of May 1, 2010, 7.5% of New Mexico’s population was reported as under 5 years of age, 25% under 18, and 13% were 65 or older; women make up around 51% of the population.[53]

As of 2000, 8% of the residents of the state were foreign-born.[53]

Among U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanic ancestry, at 47% (as of July 1, 2012). This classification covers people of very different cultures and histories, including descendants of Spanish colonists with deep roots in the region, and recent immigrants from a variety of nations in Latin America, each with their own cultures.

According to the United States Census Bureau Model-based Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, the number of persons in poverty has increased to 400,779 (19.8% of the population) persons in 2010 from 2000. At that time, the estimated number of persons in poverty was recorded at 309,193 (17.3% of the population). The latest available data for 2014 estimate the number of persons in poverty at 420,388 (20.6% of the population).[51]

Birth data

Note: Births in table do not add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Race 2013[54] 2014[55] 2015[56] 2016[57]
White: 21,325 (80.9%) 21,161 (81.2%) 21,183 (82.0%)
> Non-Hispanic White 7,428 (28.2%) 7,222 (27.7%) 7,157 (27.7%) 7,004 (28.4%)
American Indian 3,763 (14.3%) 3,581 (13.7%) 3,452 (13.4%) 2,827 (11.4%)
Asian 597 (2.3%) 578 (2.2%) 517 (2.0%) 425 (1.7%)
Black 669 (2.5%) 732 (2.8%) 664 (2.6%) 354 (1.4%)
Hispanic (of any race) 14,402 (54.6%) 14,449 (55.5%) 14,431 (55.9%) 13,639 (55.2%)
Total New Mexico 26,354 (100%) 26,052 (100%) 25,816 (100%) 24,692 (100%)
  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Settlements

Ancestry

Race/Ethnicity in New Mexico (2010)[58]
White 68.4%
• Non-Hispanic white 40.5%
• White Hispanic 28.1%
Native American 9.4%
Black/African American 2.1%
Asian 1.4%
Pacific Islander 0.1%
Other 15.0%
Two or more races 3.7%
Hispanic/Latino 46.3%

New Mexico is a majority-minority state.[59]

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 48% of the total 2015 population was Hispanic or Latino of any race, the highest of any state. The majority of Hispanics in New Mexico claim to be descendants of Spanish colonists who settled here during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. They speak New Mexican Spanish or English at home.[53]

The state also has a large Native American population, second in percentage behind that of Alaska.[53][60] The 2016 racial composition of the population was estimated to be:[61]

  • 82.6% White American
  • 10.6% Native American and Alaska Native
  • 2.5% Black or African American
  • 1.7% Asian
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • 2.5% Two or more races
  • 48.5% Hispanic or Latino
  • 38.1% White alone
New Mexico Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1970[62] 1990[62] 2000[63] 2010[64]
White 90.1% 75.6% 66.7% 68.6%
Native 7.2% 8.9% 9.5% 9.4%
Black 1.9% 2.0% 1.9% 2.1%
Asian 0.2% 0.9% 1.1% 1.4%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1%
Other race 0.6% 12.6% 17.0% 15.0%
Two or more races 3.6% 3.7%

According to the United States Census Bureau, 1.5% of the population identifies as multiracial/mixed-race, a population larger than both the Asian and NHPI population groups.[53] In 2008, New Mexico had the highest percentage (47%) of Hispanics (of any race) of any state,[53] with 83% native-born and 17% foreign-born.[65]

According to the 2000 United States Census,[66]:6
the most commonly claimed ancestry groups in New Mexico were:

  • Mexican (16.3%)
  • Native American (10.3%)
  • German (9.8%),
  • Spanish (9.3%) and
  • English (7.2%).

Languages

Languages Spoken in New Mexico
English only 64%
Spanish 28%
Navajo 4%

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 28.45% of the population aged 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 3.50% speak Navajo.[67] Speakers of New Mexican Spanish dialect are mainly descendants of Spanish colonists who arrived in New Mexico in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.[68] New Mexican Spanish is an archaic form of 17th-century Castilian Spanish.[69]

Official language

The original state constitution of 1912 provided for a bilingual government with laws being published in both English and Spanish;[70] this requirement was renewed twice, in 1931 and 1943.[71] Nonetheless, the constitution does not declare any language as “official”.[72] While Spanish was permitted in the legislature until 1935, all state officials are required to have a good knowledge of English. Cobarrubias and Fishman therefore argue that New Mexico cannot be considered a bilingual state as not all laws are published in both languages.[71] Others, such as Juan Perea, claim that the state was officially bilingual until 1953.[73]

With regard to the judiciary, witnesses have the right to testify in either of the two languages, and monolingual speakers of Spanish have the same right to be considered for jury-duty as do speakers of English.[72][74] In public education, the state has the constitutional obligation to provide for bilingual education and Spanish-speaking instructors in school districts where the majority of students are hispanophone.[72]

In 1995, the state adopted an official bilingual song, “New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo México”.[75]:75,81 In 1989, New Mexico became the first state to officially adopt the English Plus resolution,[76] and in 2008, the first to officially adopt a Navajo textbook for use in public schools.[77]

Religion

San Miguel Chapel, built in 1610 in Santa Fe, is the oldest church structure in the U.S.

Religion in New Mexico (2014)[78]
Religion Percent
Protestant
38%
Catholic
34%
None
21%
Mormon
2%
Jehovah’s Witness
1%
Buddhist
1%
Other faith
3%

According to Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), the largest denominations in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 684,941; the Southern Baptist Convention with 113,452; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 67,637, and the United Methodist Church with 36,424 adherents.[79] According to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center, the most common self-reported religious affiliation of New Mexico residents are mentioned in reference.[citation needed]

Within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, New Mexico belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe. New Mexico has three dioceses, one of which is an archdiocese:[80]Archdiocese of Santa Fe,
Diocese of Gallup,
Diocese of Las Cruces.

Economy

New Mexico state quarter circulated in April 2008

Oil and gas production, tourism, and federal government spending are important drivers of the state economy. State government has an elaborate system of tax credits and technical assistance to promote job growth and business investment, especially in new technologies.

Economic indicators

In 2010, New Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product was $80 billion, and an estimated $85 billion for 2013.[81] In 2007, the per capita personal income was $31,474 (rank 43rd in the nation).[82] In 2005, the percentage of persons below the poverty level was 18.4%.[83]
The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates that in Fiscal Year 2006, the travel industry in New Mexico generated expenditures of $6.5 billion.[84] As of April 2012[update], the state’s unemployment rate was 7.2%.[85] During the late-2000s recession, New Mexico’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.0% for the period June–October 2010.[86]

Oil and gas production

New Mexico is the third-largest crude oil and ninth-largest natural gas producer in the United States.[87] The Permian and San Juan Basins, which are located partly in New Mexico, account for some of these natural resources. In 2000 the value of oil and gas produced was $8.2 billion,[88] and in 2006, New Mexico accounted for 3.4% of the crude oil, 8.5% of the dry natural gas, and 10.2% of the natural gas liquids produced in the United States.[89] However, the boom in hydraulic fracturing and horizonal drilling beginning in the mid-2010s led to a large increase in the production of crude oil from the Permian Basin and other U.S. sources; these developments allowed the United States to again become the world’s largest producer of crude oil, in 2018.[90][91][92][93] New Mexico’s oil and gas operations contribute to the state’s above-average release of the greenhouse gas methane, including from a national methane hot spot in the Four Corners area.[94][95][96][97]

Federal government

The F-22 Raptor is flown by the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB.

Federal government spending is a major driver of the New Mexico economy. In 2005, the federal government spent $2.03 on New Mexico for every dollar of tax revenue collected from the state. This rate of return is higher than any other state in the Union.[98]

Many of the federal jobs relate to the military; the state hosts three air force bases (Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base); a testing range (White Sands Missile Range); and an army proving ground and maneuver range (Fort Bliss – McGregor Range). A May 2005 estimate by New Mexico State University is that 11.65% of the state’s total employment arises directly or indirectly from military spending.[99]
Other federal installations include the technology labs of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

Economic incentives

Albuquerque Studios, built in 2007 for the rising demand of film production in the state

New Mexico provides a number of economic incentives to businesses operating in the state, including various types of tax credits and tax exemptions. Most of the incentives are based on job creation.[100]

New Mexico law allows governments to provide land, buildings, and infrastructure to businesses to promote job creation. Several municipalities have imposed an Economic Development Gross Receipts Tax (a form of Municipal Infrastructure GRT) that is used to pay for these infrastructure improvements and for marketing their areas.[101]

The state provides financial incentives for film production.[102][103] The New Mexico Film Office estimated at the end of 2007 that the incentive program had brought more than 85 film projects to the state since 2003 and had added $1.2 billion to the economy.[104]

Taxation

Since 2008, personal income tax rates for New Mexico have ranged from 1.7% to 4.9%, within four income brackets.[105] As of 2007, active-duty military salaries are exempt from state income tax.[106] New Mexico is one of the largest tax havens in the U.S., offering numerous economic incentives and tax breaks on personal and corporate income.[107][108] It does not have inheritance tax, estate tax, or sales taxes.[105][109]

New Mexico imposes a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on many transactions, which may even include some governmental receipts. This resembles a sales tax but, unlike the sales taxes in many states, it applies to services as well as tangible goods. Normally, the provider or seller passes the tax on to the purchaser, however legal incidence and burden apply to the business, as an excise tax. GRT is imposed by the state and there may an additional locality component to produce a total tax rate.[110] As of July 1, 2013 the combined tax rate ranged from 5.125% to 8.6875%.[111]

Property tax is imposed on real property by the state, by counties, and by school districts. In general, personal-use personal property is not subject to property taxation. On the other hand, property tax is levied on most business-use personal property. The taxable value of property is 1/3 of the assessed value. A tax rate of about 30 mills is applied to the taxable value, resulting in an effective tax rate of about 1%. In the 2005 tax year, the average millage was about 26.47 for residential property, and 29.80 for non-residential property. Assessed values of residences cannot be increased by more than 3% per year unless the residence is remodeled or sold. Property tax deductions are available for military veterans and heads of household.[112]

Transportation

Santa Fe Trail in Cimarron, New Mexico

In this photo, the US-Mexico border divides Sunland Park and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

New Mexico has long been an important corridor for trade and migration. The builders of the ruins at Chaco Canyon also created a radiating network of roads from the mysterious settlement.[113] Chaco Canyon’s trade function shifted to Casas Grandes in the present-day Mexican state of Chihuahua, however, north-south trade continued. The pre-Columbian trade with Mesoamerican cultures included northbound exotic birds, seashells and copper. Turquoise, pottery, and salt were some of the goods transported south along the Rio Grande. Present-day New Mexico’s pre-Columbian trade is especially remarkable for being undertaken on foot. The north-south trade route later became a path for colonists with horses arriving from New Spain as well as trade and communication. The route was called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.[114]

The Santa Fe Trail was the 19th-century US territory’s vital commercial and military highway link to the Eastern United States.[115] All with termini in Northern New Mexico, the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the Old Spanish Trail are all recognized as National Historic Trails. New Mexico’s latitude and low passes made it an attractive east-west transportation corridor.[116] As a territory, the Gadsden Purchase increased New Mexico’s land area for the purpose of the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad, that of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Another transcontinental railroad was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The railroads essentially replaced the earlier trails but brought on a population boom. Early transcontinental auto trails later crossed the state bringing more migrants. Railroads were later supplemented or replaced by a system of highways and airports. Today, New Mexico’s Interstate Highways approximate the earlier land routes of the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the transcontinental railroads.

Road

Map of New Mexico highways

New Mexico has had a problem with drunk driving, but that has lessened. According to the Los Angeles Times, for years the state had the highest alcohol-related crash rates in the U.S., but ranked 25th in alcohol-related fatal crash rates, as of July 2009[update].[117]

The automobile changed the character of New Mexico, marking the start of large-scale immigration to the state from elsewhere in the United States. Settlers moving West during the Great Depression and post-World War II American culture immortalized the National Old Trails Highway, later U.S. Route 66. Today, New Mexico relies heavily upon the automobile for transportation.

New Mexico had 59,927 route miles of highway as of 2000[update], of which 7,037 receive federal aid.[118] In that same year there were 1,003 miles (1,614 km) of freeways, of which 1000 were the route miles of Interstate Highways 10, 25 and 40.[119] The former number has increased with the upgrading of roads near Pojoaque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces to freeways. The highway traffic fatality rate was 1.9 fatalities per million miles traveled in 2000, the 13th highest rate among U.S. states.[120] Notable bridges include the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos. As of 2001[update], 703 highway bridges, or one percent, were declared “structurally deficient” or “structurally obsolete”.[121]

Rural and intercity public transportation by road is provided by Americanos USA, LLC, Greyhound Lines and several government operators.

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail operation train that runs along the Central Rio Grande Valley.

Urban mass transit

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail system serving the metropolitan area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It began operation on July 14, 2006.[122] The system runs from Belen to downtown Santa Fe. Larger cities in New Mexico typically have some form of public transportation by road; ABQ RIDE is the largest such system in the state.[123]

Rail

The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

There were 2,354 route miles of railroads in the year 2000; this number increased with the opening of the Rail Runner’s extension to Santa Fe.[124] In addition to local railroads and other tourist lines, the state jointly owns and operates a heritage narrow-gauge steam railroad, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, with the state of Colorado. Narrow gauge railroads once connected many communities in the northern part of the state, from Farmington to Santa Fe.[125]:110 No fewer than 100 railroads of various names and lineage have operated in the jurisdiction at some point.[125]:8 New Mexico’s rail transportation system reached its height in terms of length following admission as a state; in 1914 eleven railroads operated 3124 route miles.[125]:10

Railroad surveyors arrived in New Mexico in the 1850s.[126] The first railroads incorporated in 1869.[125]:9 The first operational railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), entered the territory by way of the lucrative and contested Raton Pass in 1878. It eventually reached El Paso, Texas in 1881 and with the Southern Pacific Railroad created the nation’s second transcontinental railroad with a junction at Deming. The Southern Pacific Railroad entered the territory from the Territory of Arizona in 1880.[125]:9, 18, 58–59[126] The Denver & Rio Grande Railway, who would generally use narrow gauge equipment in New Mexico, entered the territory from Colorado and began service to Española on December 31, 1880.[125]:95–96[126] These first railroads were built as long-distance corridors, later railroad construction also targeted resource extraction.[125]:8–11

Freight

New Mexico is served by two class I railroads, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. Combined, they operate 2,200 route miles of railway in the state.[124]

Passenger

Downtown Santa Fe train station

A commuter rail operation, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects the state’s capital, its largest city, and other communities.[127] The privately operated state owned railroad began operations in July 2006.[122] The BNSF Railway’s entire line from Belen to Raton, New Mexico was sold to the state, partially for the construction of phase II of this operation, which opened in December 2008.[128] Phase II of Rail Runner extended the line northward to Santa Fe from the Sandoval County station, the northernmost station under Phase I service. The service now connects Santa Fe, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia counties. The trains connect Albuquerque’s population base and central business district to downtown Santa Fe with up to eight roundtrips in a day. The section of the line running south to Belen is served less frequently.[129] Rail Runner operates scheduled service seven days per week.[130]

The railway station in Tucumcari

With the rise of rail transportation many settlements grew or were founded and the territory became a tourist destination. As early as 1878, the ATSF promoted tourism in the region with emphasis on Native American imagery.[131]:64Named trains often reflected the territory they traveled: Super Chief, the streamlined successor to the Chief;[131]Navajo, an early transcontinental tourist train; and Cavern, a through car operation connecting Clovis and Carlsbad (by the early 1950s as train 23–24),[125]:49–50[132]:51 were some of the named passenger trains of the ATSF that connoted New Mexico.

Passenger train service once connected nine of New Mexico’s present ten most populous cities (the exception is Rio Rancho), while today passenger train service connects two: Albuquerque and Santa Fe.[127] With the decline of most intercity rail service in the United States in the late 1960s, New Mexico was left with minimal services. No less than six daily long-distance roundtrip trains supplemented by many branch line and local trains served New Mexico in the early 1960s. Declines in passenger revenue, but not necessarily ridership, prompted many railroads to turn over their passenger services in truncated form to Amtrak, a state owned enterprise. Amtrak, also known as the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, began operating the two extant long-distance routes in May 1971.[125][131][132] Resurrection of passenger rail service from Denver to El Paso, a route once plied in part by the ATSF’s El Pasoan,[132]:37 has been proposed over the years. As early as the 1980s, former Governor Toney Anaya proposed building a high-speed rail line connecting the two cities with New Mexico’s major cities.[133]Front Range Commuter Rail is a project to connect Wyoming and New Mexico with high-speed rail.[134]

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passes through daily at stations in Gallup, Albuquerque, Lamy, Las Vegas, and Raton, offering connections to Los Angeles, Chicago and intermediate points.[135] The Southwest Chief is a fast Amtrak long distance train, being permitted a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h) in various places on the tracks of the BNSF Railway.[136] It also operates on New Mexico Rail Runner Express trackage. The Southwest Chief is the successor to the Super Chief and El Capitan.[132]:115 The streamliner Super Chief, a favorite of early Hollywood stars, was one of the most famous named trains in the United States and one of the most esteemed for its luxury and exoticness—train cars were named for regional Native American tribes and outfitted with the artwork of many local artists—but also for its speed: as few as 39 hours 45 minutes westbound.[131]

A sign in Southern New Mexico indicating the “future site of the New Mexico Spaceport”

The Sunset Limited makes stops three times a week in both directions at Lordsburg, and Deming, serving Los Angeles, New Orleans and intermediate points.[137] The Sunset Limited is the successor to the Southern Pacific Railroad’s train of the same name and operates exclusively on Union Pacific trackage in New Mexico.

Aerospace

The Albuquerque International Sunport is the state’s primary port of entry for air transportation.

Upham, near Truth or Consequences, is the location of the world’s first operational and purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America.[138][139][140]Rocket launches began in April 2007.[140] It is undeveloped and has one tenant, UP Aerospace, launching small payloads.[141]Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, plans to make this their primary operating base.[139][142]

Government and politics

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)

Government

The Constitution of New Mexico established New Mexico’s governmental structure. The executive branch of government is fragmented as outlined in the state constitution. The executive is composed of the Governor and other statewide elected officials including the Lieutenant Governor (elected on the same ticket as the Governor), Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Public Lands. The governor appoints a cabinet that leads agencies statutorily designated under their jurisdiction. The New Mexico Legislature consists of the House of Representatives and Senate. The judiciary is composed of the New Mexico Supreme Court and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, municipalities and special districts.[143]

Politics

Party registration by county (November 2018):

  Democrat >= 30%
  Democrat >= 40%
  Democrat >= 50%
  Democrat >= 60%
  Democrat >= 70%
  Republican >= 40%
  Republican >= 50%

Current Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales (D), were first elected in 2018. Terms for both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor expire in January 2023. Governors serve a term of four years, and may seek re-election for one additional term (limit of two terms). Other constitutional officers, all of whose terms also expire in January 2023, include Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D),[144] Attorney General Hector Balderas (D),[145] State Auditor Brian Colón (D),[146] State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard (D),[147] and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg (D).[148]

State Executive Officers
Office Name Party
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Democrat
Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales Democrat
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Democrat
Attorney General Hector Balderas Democrat
Auditor Brian Colón Democrat
Treasurer Tim Eichenberg Democrat
Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard Democrat
Qualified political parties in New Mexico [149]
Party Status
Democratic Major
Republican Major
Libertarian Major
Green Minor
Constitution Minor
Better for America Minor
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of November 3, 2016[update][150]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 599,813 47%
Republican 399,930 31%
Unaffiliated 242,106 19%
Minor parties 47,571 4%
Total 1,289,420 100%

Currently, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature have Democratic majorities. There are 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the Senate, and 38 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

New Mexico’s members of the United States Senate are Democrats Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. Democrats represent the state’s three United States House of Representatives congressional districts, with Deb Haaland, Xochitl Torres Small and Ben Ray Luján representing the first, second and third districts respectively.[151][152] See New Mexico congressional map.

New Mexico had been considered a swing state, whose population has favored both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, but it became more of a Democratic stronghold after the presidential election of 2008. The governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who succeeded Susana Martinez (R) on January 1, 2019 after she served two terms as governor from 2011 to 2019. Gary Johnson served as governor from 1995 to 2003. Johnson served as a Republican, but in 2012 and 2016, he ran for President from the Libertarian Party. In previous presidential elections, Al Gore carried the state (by 366 votes) in 2000; George W. Bush won New Mexico’s five electoral votes in 2004, and the state’s electoral votes were won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Since achieving statehood in 1912, New Mexico has been carried by the national popular vote victor in every presidential election of the past 104 years, except 1976, when Gerald Ford won the state by 2%, but lost the national popular vote by 2%.[153]

Gubernatorial election results
Year Republican Democratic
2018 42.08% 298,091 57.02% 398,368
2014 57.34% 288,549 42.66% 214,636
2010 53.29% 321,219 46.55% 280,614
2006 31.18% 174,364 68.82% 384,806
2002 39.05% 189,074 55.49% 268,693
1998 54.53% 271,948 45.47% 226,755
1994 49.81% 232,945 39.92% 186,686
1990 45.15% 185,692 54.61% 224,564
1986 53.05% 209,455 46.95% 185,378
Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 40.04% 319,685 48.25% 385,232
2012 42.84% 335,788 52.99% 415,335
2008 41.78% 346,832 56.91% 472,422
2004 49.8% 376,930 49.1% 370,942
2000 47.85% 286,417 47.91% 286,783
1996 42% 232,751 49% 273,495
1992 37% 212,617 46% 261,617
1988 51% 270,341 46% 244,49
1984 59% 307,101 39% 201,769
1980 55% 250,779 36% 167,826
1976 50% 211,419 48% 201,148
1972 60% 235,606 36% 141,084

Democratic strongholds in the state include the Santa Fe Area, various areas of the Albuquerque Metro Area (such as the southeast and central areas, including the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood and the vicinity of the University of New Mexico), Northern and West Central New Mexico, and most of the Native American reservations, particularly the Navajo Nation. Republicans have traditionally had their strongholds in the eastern and southern parts of the state, the Farmington area, Rio Rancho, and the newly developed areas in the Northwest mesa. Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights have historically leaned Republican, but have become a key swing area for Democrats in recent election cycles. While registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 200,000, New Mexico voters have favored moderate to conservative candidates of both parties at the state and federal levels.

On major political issues, New Mexico abolished its death penalty statute, though not retroactively, effective July 1, 2009. This means individuals on New Mexico’s Death Row can still be executed. On March 18, 2009, then Governor Bill Richardson signed the law abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico following the assembly and senate vote the week before, thus becoming the 15th U.S. state to abolish the penalty.[154]

On gun control, New Mexico arguably has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the country. State law pre-empts all local gun control ordinances. Unlike states with strong gun control laws, a New Mexico resident may purchase any firearm deemed legal under federal law. There are no waiting periods under state law for picking up a firearm after it has been purchased, and there are no restrictions on magazine capacity. Additionally, New Mexico allows open carry of a loaded firearm without a permit, and is “shall-issue” for concealed carry permits.

Before December 2013, New Mexico law neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited same-sex marriage. Policy concerning the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was determined at the county level; that is, some county clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others did not. In December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling directing all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, thereby making New Mexico the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriage at the statewide level.

Education

The New Mexico Public Education Department is situated in Santa Fe.

Due to its relatively low population, in combination with numerous federally funded research facilities, New Mexico had the highest concentration of PhD holders of any state in 2000.[155] Despite this, the state routinely ranks near the bottom in surveys of the quality of primary and secondary school education.[156] In a landmark decision, a state judge ruled in 2018 that “New Mexico is violating the constituional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with sufficient education,”[157] and ordered that the governor and Legislature provide an adequate system by April 2019.[157][158]

New Mexico has a higher concentration of persons who do not finish high school or have some college without a degree than the nation as a whole. For the state, 23.9% of people over 25 years of age have gone to college but not earned a degree.[51] This is compared with 21.0% of the nation as a whole according to United States Census Bureau 2014 American Community Survey estimates.[159]Los Alamos County has the highest number percent of post secondary degree holders of any county in New Mexico with 38.7% of the population (4,899 persons) estimated by the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.[160]

Primary and secondary education

The New Mexico Public Education Department oversees the operation of primary and secondary schools; individual school districts directly operate and staff said schools.

Postsecondary education

Lottery scholarship

New Mexico is one of eight states that funds college scholarships through the state lottery.[161][162][163] The state of New Mexico requires that the lottery put 30% of its gross sales into the scholarship fund.[164]
The scholarship is available to residents who graduated from a state high school, and attend a state university full-time while maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher.[165]
It covered 100% of tuition when it was first instated in 1996,[166] decreased to 90%, then dropped to 60% in 2017.[162] The value slightly increased in 2018, and new legislation was passed to outline what funds are available per type of institution.[166]

Major state universities

  • University of New Mexico at Albuquerque
  • New Mexico State University throughout the state
  • Eastern New Mexico University at Portales
  • New Mexico Highlands University at Las Vegas
  • Western New Mexico University at Silver City
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology at Socorro