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Origin of Name: An early French explorer, Robert de LaSalle, named Louisiana for Louis XIV, King of France

The site of the oldest known Louisiana civilization is Poverty Point in West Carroll Parish where an Indian village existed 2,700 years ago.

Parish instead of County
In Louisiana, local governmental units, known elsewhere as counties, are called parishes. Originally they were church units set up by the Spanish provisional governor of Louisiana in 1669

Time Zone: Louisiana is part of the Central Time Zone

It was in 1682 that Robert Cavelier de La Salle, a Frenchman, claimed this territory for France. The Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, had discovered the area known now as northern Louisiana before this time, but La Salle drove in the cross that gave the land to France. He was also responsible for establishing the first permanent settlement in 1714. This settlement was at Natchitoches. Not many came to the colony for several years. In 1718, Jean-Baptist Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville founded New Orleans which led the way for more settlers to come. In the 1760's, the territory's population expanded greatly with the coming of the Acadians, the French-speaking Cajuns, who had to leave Nova Scotia after being expelled by the British. Their settlements were mostly in the eastern prairies, along Lafourche and the lower Mississippi.

Things changed again in 1762 when France ceded the colony to Spain while trying to reduce expenses to finance the French and Indian War. Spain then proceeded to push out the British from the local area. They didn't stop with Louisiana but pushed on to eventually rule the entire Gulf Coast. After the French and Indian War was over, France decided that they wanted Louisiana back. Somehow, Napoleon Bonaparte was able to convince Spain to return the colony in 1800. Then Napoleon, wanting more funds to fight the British, turned around in April 1803 and sold the Louisiana colony to the United States for 15 million dollars.

Louisiana became a state on April 30, 1812. This statehood did not come without much conflict. In the War of 1812, the British had felt the control of the Mississippi would give then greater control of the interior. Though the treaty was signed in Ghent, Belgium, those in the colonies did not hear about it quickly. Consequently, 15 days after the treaty was signed in Belgium, the British invaded New Orleans. Though outnumbered in this "Battle of New Orleans," leader, General Andrew Jackson, assisted by Pirate Jean Lafitte, was able to defeat the British.

In the next half century, the Louisiana area grew much, from 50,000 to over 700,000. This was due mostly from plantation agriculture. Cotton and sugarcane were the principle crops on the plantations. The plantation owners, counting their slaves as part of their population, grew strong and gained the control of the local and state governments. The balance was very lopsided as the merchants and farmers had no representation. The Civil War in the mid-1800's, devastated Louisiana as plantations, homes and crops were destroyed. After the war, recovery was difficult as the economy was in ruins. The political system was also corrupt from the plantation days, leading to increasing debt and hampered reconstruction.

In the years following the Civil War, the lumber industry and industrialization were factors in improving the economy. The drilling of the first oil well in 1901 helped to uncover the vast stores of natural resources in Louisiana. Off-shore production began in these early years of the century. Petroleum, salt and sulphur companies were everywhere.

In 1928, Huey P. Long campaigned for Governor. He promised much to his constituents and then proceeded to work on these things after being elected. He improved the state's highways and educational systems. There were free textbooks for the children and a free state hospital. Unfortunately, along with the improvements also came some negatives. Long, also known as "the Kingfish," replaced all the local government leaders with his own "people." One of his programs, "Share the Wealth" was heard about all over the nation. He gained much popularity in this area and in the nation. It was said that he could probably have run for and won the presidency of the United States. Unfortunately, he was killed by an assassin in September 1935.

After World War II, the petroleum industry gave the area a great boost. During the same period, tourism here was being developed. When the huge downturn came in the oil industry in the early 1980's, Louisiana was saved from economic disaster by this burgeoning tourist industry. Among the many things which attract tourists to Louisiana are the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Mardi Gras and Cajun cuisine.



Louisiana has over 7,500 miles of navigable waterways. The rivers are the first that come to mind - The Mississippi, Ouachita and the Red River. All these run toward the southern bayous and marshlands. Islands and Bayous are plentiful in this area. Some of the larger bayous are Boeuf, Lafourche, Plaquemine and Teche. Larger lakes of the area are: Bourgne, Calcasieu, Maurepas, Pontchartrain and Sabine. Most of these are actually enclosed tidal bays. Further north are upland areas of low pine hills. The Kisatchie National Forest is found in this area. South of the Red River there is prairie land which eventually blends into a 30 miles wide band of marshland nearer to the coast. Over 40 percent of the state is swamp or alluvial land. Louisiana has 2,482 islands, covering nearly 1.3 million acres.

The highest point in Louisiana: Driskill Mountain at 535 feet above sea level
The lowest point in Louisiana: New Orleans at 8 feet below sea level
Average elevation: 100 feet above sea level

Longitude: 89°W to 94°W
Latitude: 29°N to 33°N
Geographic Center: 3 miles SE of Marksville in Avoyelles Parish at Longitude: 92° 32.2'W Latitude: 30° 58.1'N
Length: 380 miles
Width: 130 miles

Total land area: 43,566 square miles
Total water area: 8,277 square miles
Total area: 51,843 square miles, the 31st largest state in size

Borders:  The Gulf of Mexico is to the south of Louisiana.  On the east is Mississippi and on the north is Arkansas.  To the west is Texas.

Climate & Weather:

Generally, The climate in Louisiana is Semitropical and humid. Snow is rare in the southern portion of the state with small amounts falling in the northern areas.
Average annual temperature: 67.4 F. For the southern portion the average is about 69 while in the north it is about 66.

Coldest month: January (average 50.7 F.)
Warmest months: July and August (average 82 F)
In the northern regions, the number of days over 90 degrees are 102, while only 57 days are over that mark in the New Orleans area.
Record high temperature: 114 degrees, F. on 10 August 1936 at Plain Dealing
Record low temperature: -16 degrees, F. on 13 February 1899 at Minden

Average annual rainfall: 55.45 inches. The northern areas average about 46 inches while some southern areas on the coast average as high as 66 inches each year.

Average Temperatures statewide:
Winter: 48 F.
Spring: 66 F.
Summer: 81 F.
Fall: 66 F.

Other Facts:

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, with a length of 23.87 miles, is the world's longest bridge built entirely over water.

Place to Contact about Louisiana:

State Information Number - (504) 342-6600

The State Seal: Louisiana has had many state seals over the years. Though, since 1804, the great seal has always featured a pelican. Some versions had many pelican chicks in the nest with the mother, but normally, a pelican has no more than three eggs at a time.

Directory of Louisiana Museums and Historic Sites
Louisiana Association of Museums
P.O. Box 3494
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Phone: (504) 343-4341



For more information about Louisiana, please contact:

the Louisiana Office of Tourism
P.O. Box 94291
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Phone: 504-342-8119
Toll-free: 800-33-GUMBO (334-8626)

Government Links page for Louisiana
Great links page for all levels of government in Louisiana


Learn more about Mardi Gras in Louisiana and how it originated.


Learn more about the Louisiana State Capitol - the tallest state capitol building in the USA.


The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial website

Louisiana Historical Society
Phone: 504-866-3049


Learn about Louisiana Fairs and Festivals - there are over 400 held every year! This page lists many fairs, festivals and other activities.



International Student Exchange Programs
South Texas and Louisiana Area
Rachel Cywinski, Area Coordinator


the History of the Acadian-Cajun People.

Acadian Genealogy

Louisiana GenWeb Project


Find the weather for anyplace in the USA


This page was created 22 February 1999

This page was last updated 16 September 2006 at 10:06 pm

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