Coordinates: 33°N 90°W / 33°N 90°W / 33; -90 (State of Mississippi)
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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Trad. abbreviation
Latitude30°12′ N to 35° N
Longitude88°6′ W to 91°39′ W
State symbols of Mississippi
Living insignia
BirdNorthern mockingbird
(Mimus polyglottos)
ButterflySpicebush swallowtail
(Papilio troilus)
FishLargemouth bass
(Micropterus salmoides)
InsectWestern honey bee
(Apis mellifera)
MammalWhite-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
ReptileAmerican alligator
(Alligator mississippiensis)
TreeSouthern magnolia
(Magnolia grandiflora)
Inanimate insignia
Color(s)red and blue
FoodSweet potato
ShellEastern oyster
(Crassostrea virginica)
ToyTeddy Bear[5]
State route marker
Route marker
State quarter
Mississippi quarter dollar coin
Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Mississippi (

35th-most populous of the 50 U.S. states and has the lowest per-capita income in the United States. Jackson is both the state's capital and largest city. Greater Jackson is the state's most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 591,978 in 2020.[7]

On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union. By 1860, Mississippi was the nation's top cotton-producing state and slaves accounted for 55% of the state population.[8] Mississippi declared its secession from the Union on January 9, 1861, and was one of the seven original Confederate States, which constituted the largest slaveholding states in the nation. Following the Civil War, it was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870.[9] Mississippi was the site of many prominent events during the civil rights movement, including the Ole Miss riot of 1962, the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, and the 1964 Freedom Summer murders.

Mississippi ranks among the lowest of U.S. states in measures of health, education, development, and income.[10][11][12][13] Top economic industries in Mississippi today are agriculture and forestry. Mississippi produces more than half of the country's farm-raised catfish, and is also a top producer of sweet potatoes, cotton and pulpwood. Other main industries in Mississippi include advanced manufacturing, utilities, transportation, and health services.[14]

Mississippi is almost entirely within the east

lowland plains and low hills. The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Mississippi's highest point is Woodall Mountain at 807 feet (246 m) above sea level adjacent to the Cumberland Plateau; the lowest is the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate


The state's name is derived from the Mississippi River, which flows along and defines its western boundary. European-American settlers named it after the Ojibwe word ᒥᓯ-ᓰᐱ misi-ziibi (English: great river).


Near 10,000 BC Native Americans or Paleo-Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the American South.[15] 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.[16]

After thousands of years, succeeding cultures of the

Ohio River

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.


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

Gulf coast area (east of Mobile Bay) of present-day southern Alabama, in addition to the entire area of present-day Florida. The British assumed control of the French territory after the French and Indian War

Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw

During the

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 (1775–83), 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 (

migrant settlement.

Article 14 in the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in the states to become U.S. citizens, as they were considered to be giving up their tribal membership. They were the second major Native American ethnic group to do so (some Cherokee were the first, who chose to stay in North Carolina and other areas during rather than join the removal).[18][19] Today their descendants include approximately 9,500 persons identifying as Choctaw, who live in Neshoba, Newton, Leake, and Jones counties. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reorganized in the 20th century and is a Federally recognized tribe.

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

Beginning in 1822, slaves in Mississippi were protected by law from cruel and unusual punishment by their owners.[20] The Southern slave codes made the willful killing of a slave illegal in most cases.[21] For example, the 1860 Mississippi case of Oliver v. State charged the defendant with murdering his own slave.[22]

D'Evereux Hall in Natchez. Built in 1840, the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Statehood to Civil War

Mississippi became the 20th state on December 10, 1817. David Holmes was the first governor.[23] The state was still occupied as ancestral land by several Native American tribes, including Choctaw, Natchez, Houma, Creek, and Chickasaw.[24][25]

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.[26] The combination of the Mississippi state legislature's abolition of Choctaw Tribal Government in 1829,[27] President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830,[28] 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.[29] The relatively low population of the state before the American 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.[30] 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.[30]

Civil War through late 19th century

Confederate lines, Vicksburg, May 19, 1863. Shows assault by US 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry.

On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to declare its secession from the

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 Convention, 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.[32]

In addition, independent black denominations, such as the

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.[32][33]


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.[34]
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 American 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.[30]

The legislature of the state of Mississippi in 1890

Around the start of the 20th century, two-thirds of the Mississippi farmers who owned land in the Delta were

African American.[30] 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.[30]

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

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.[35] 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

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.[37]

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, with lynchings occurring through the period of the 1890s and extending to 1930.

20th century to present

Child workers, Pass Christian, 1911, by Lewis Hine

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 became

sharecroppers. By 1920, the third generation after freedom, most African Americans in Mississippi were landless laborers again facing poverty.[30] 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.

Cotton crops failed due to

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".[38]

African American man at the Knowlton Plantation, Perthshire, Mississippi, in 1939, by Marion Post Wolcott
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.[39] Mississippi became a dry state in 1908 by an act of the state legislature.[40] It remained dry until the legislature passed a local option bill in 1966.[41]

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.[42] 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.


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.[43][44]

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.[45]

In 1966, the state was the last to repeal officially statewide

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".[46]

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 20th century. They wanted to express their own traditions of worship and practice.[47] In more diverse communities, such as Hattiesburg, some churches have multiracial congregations.[48]

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 ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in March 1984, which had already entered into force by August 1920; granting women the right to vote.[49]

Flagpoles standing behind Hattiesburg, Mississippi sign, 2016

In 1987, 20 years after the

poll tax in 1989. In 1995, the state symbolically ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, which had abolished slavery in 1865. 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.[50]

On August 29, 2005,

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.

The previous flag of Mississippi, used until June 30, 2020, featured the Confederate battle flag.

The previous flag of Mississippi, used until June 30, 2020, featured the Confederate battle flag. Mississippi became the last state to remove the Confederate battle flag as an official state symbol on June 30, 2020, when Governor Tate Reeves signed a law officially retiring the second state flag. The current flag, The "New Magnolia" flag, was selected via referendum as part of the general election on November 3, 2020.[51][52] It officially became the state flag on January 11, 2021, after being signed into law by the state legislature and governor.


Bottomland hardwood swamp near Ashland
Map of the Mississippi Delta Region (outlined in green)

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

Pearl River, the Yazoo River, the Pascagoula River, and the Tombigbee River. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla, Sardis, and Grenada
, with the largest being Sardis Lake.

Mississippi is entirely composed of

Gulf Coast
. The state's mean elevation is 300 ft (91 m) above sea level.

Most of Mississippi is part of the east

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 uplands, a geology that extend into the Alabama Black Belt

The coastline includes large bays at


The northwest remainder of the state consists of the

flood waters
of the Mississippi River.

Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:[53]

Major cities and towns

Map with all counties and their county seats

Mississippi City Population Rankings of at least 50,000 (United States Census Bureau as of 2017):[54]

  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):[54]

  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):[54]

  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. McComb (13,267)
  12. Bay St. Louis (13,043)
  13. Canton (12,725)
  14. Grenada (12,267)
  15. Brookhaven (12,173)
  16. Cleveland (11,729)
  17. Byram (11,671)
  18. D'Iberville (11,610)
  19. Picayune (11,008)
  20. West Point (10,675)
  21. Yazoo City (11,018)
  22. Petal (10,633)

(See: Lists of

in Mississippi)


Köppen climate types of Mississippi, using 1991-2020 climate normals

Mississippi has a

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 in (1,300 mm) of precipitation annually and Biloxi
, in the south, about 61 in (1,500 mm). Small amounts of snow fall in northern and central Mississippi; snow is occasional in the southern part of the state.

Hurricanes Camille (left) and Katrina from satellite imagery, as they approached the Mississippi Gulf Coast

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

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
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
Average low °F (°C) 33.3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.0
Source: USA.com[56]

Climate change

Climate change in Mississippi encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of Mississippi.

Studies show that Mississippi is among a string of "Deep South" states that will experience the worst effects of climate change in the United States.[57] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports:

"In the coming decades, Mississippi will become warmer, and both floods and droughts may be more severe. Unlike most of the nation, Mississippi did not become warmer during the last 50 to 100 years. But soils have become drier, annual rainfall has increased, more rain arrives in heavy downpours, and sea level is rising about one inch every seven years. The changing climate is likely to increase damages from tropical storms, reduce crop yields, harm livestock, increase the number of unpleasantly hot days, and increase the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses".[58]

Ecology, flora, and fauna

Leaving Tennessee on US Highway 61
Clark Creek Natural Area, 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

bald cypress, 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.[60] 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.[61]

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.[62]

Mississippi also has a rich

Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway

Mississippi is home to 63

endemic species.[64]

Mississippi is home to eight winter stonefly species.[65]

Ecological problems


Due to seasonal flooding, possible from December to June, the

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.[66] 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.[67] In 1877, the state created the Mississippi Levee District for southern counties.

In 1879, 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.[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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.[70]

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.


Historical population
2022 (est.)2,940,057−0.7%
Source: 1910–2020[71]
Mississippi population density map

Mississippi's population has remained from 2 million people at the 1930 U.S. census, to 2.9 million at the 2020 census.[73] In contrast with Alabama to its east, and Louisiana to its west, Mississippi has been the slowest growing of the three Gulf coast states by population.[74] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mississippi's center of population is located in Leake County, in the town of Lena.[75]

According to HUD's 2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, there were an estimated 1,196 homeless people in Mississippi.[76][77]

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.[48] 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 race or ethnicity. A binary racial system had been in place since slavery times and the days of official government 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 H. Frey noted, "In Mississippi, I think it's [identifying as mixed race] changed from within."[48] 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."[48]

After having accounted for a majority of the state's population since well before the American Civil War and through the 1930s, today

African Americans constitute approximately 37.8 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. Many 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.[78] 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.[79]

In 2018, The top countries of origin for Mississippi's immigrants were Mexico, Guatemala, India, the Philippines and Vietnam.[80]

Race and ethnicity

Map of counties in Mississippi by racial plurality, per the 2020 U.S. census
Racial and ethnic composition as of the 2020 census
Race and ethnicity[73] Alone Total
White (non-Hispanic)
55.4% 55.4
57.9% 57.9
African American (non-Hispanic) 36.4% 36.4
37.6% 37.6
Hispanic or Latino[b] 3.6% 3.6
Asian 1.1% 1.1
1.5% 1.5
Native American 0.5% 0.5
1.6% 1.6
Pacific Islander 0.04% 0.04
0.1% 0.1
Other 0.2% 0.2
0.7% 0.7
Historical racial and ethnic composition from 1990 to 2010
Racial composition 1990[81] 2000[82] 2010[83]
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 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.[84][85] In the 1980 U.S. 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.[86]

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.[87]

People of

Chinese American
portions of the population are also almost entirely native born.

The Chinese first came to Mississippi as

contract workers from Cuba and California in the 1870s, and they originally worked as laborers on the cotton plantations. However, most Chinese families came later between 1910 and 1930 from other states, and most operated small family-owned groceries stores in the many small towns of the Delta.[88] 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.[89][90][91][92]

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.[93]

Italians were one of the largest immigrant groups in the state during the first three decades of the twentieth century.[94]

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.[95]

Birth data

Ethnic origins in Mississippi

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
2013[96] 2014[97] 2015[98] 2016[99] 2017[100] 2018[101] 2019[102] 2020[103] 2021[104]
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%) 18,597 (50.2%) 18,229 (49.8%) 17,648 (49.8%) 17,818 (50.7%)
Black 17,020 (44.0%) 17,036 (44.0%) 16,846 (43.9%) 15,879 (41.9%) 16,087 (43.1%) 15,797 (42.7%) 15,706 (42.9%) 15,155 (42.7%) 14,619 (41.6%)
Asian 504 (1.3%) 583 (1.5%) 559 (1.5%) 475 (1.3%) 502 (1.3%) 411 (1.1%) 455 (1.2%) 451 (1.3%) 404 (1.1%)
American Indian 292 (0.7%) 223 (0.6%) 259 (0.7%) 215 (0.6%) 225 (0.6%) 238 (0.6%) 242 (0.7%) 252 (0.7%) 227 (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%) 1,666 (4.5%) 1,709 (4.7%) 1,679 (4.7%) 1,756 (5.0%)
Total Mississippi 38,634 (100%) 38,736 (100%) 38,394 (100%) 37,928 (100%) 37,357 (100%) 37,000 (100%) 36,636 (100%) 35,473 (100%) 35,156 (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 community

The 2010 United States census counted 6,286 same-sex unmarried-partner households in Mississippi, an increase of 1,512 since the

Hispanic same-sex couples among all Hispanic households and ninth in the highest concentration of same-sex couples who are seniors.[107]


Top 10 non-English languages spoken in Mississippi
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[108]
Spanish 1.9%
French 0.4%
German, Vietnamese, and Choctaw (tied) 0.2%
Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, Italian (tied) 0.1%

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.[109] English is largely Southern American English, with some South Midland speech in northern and eastern Mississippi. There is a common absence of final /r/, particularly in the elderly natives and African Americans, 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).[109]


Religious self-identification, per Public Religion Research Institute's 2022 American Values Survey[110]

Catholicism (8%)
  Mormonism (1%)
  Unaffilated (15%)

Under French and Spanish rule beginning in the 17th century, European colonists were mostly

Amite County

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". By 2014, the Pew Research Center determined 83% of its population was Christian.[112] In a separate study by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2020, 80% of the population was Christian.[113] In another Public Religion study in 2022, 84% of the population was Christian spread throughout Protestants (74%), Catholics (8%), Jehovah's Witnesses (1%), and Mormons (1%).

Since the 1970s, fundamentalist conservative churches have grown rapidly, fueling Mississippi's conservative political trends among whites.[111] 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).[114]

According to the

Roman Catholic Church with 112,488.[115] Other religions have a small presence in Mississippi; as of 2010, there were 5,012 Muslims; 4,389 Hindus; and 816 of the Baháʼí Faith.[115]

According to the Pew Research Center in 2014, with

evangelical Protestantism as the predominant Christian affiliation, the Southern Baptist Convention remained the largest denomination in the state.[112] Non-denominational Evangelicals were the second-largest, followed by historically African American denominations such as the National Baptist Convention, USA and Progressive National Baptist Convention

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.[116] 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%).[117] 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%).[118]


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.[119]

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

hypertensive renal disease, influenza and pneumonia.[120]

In 2011, Mississippi (and Arkansas) had the fewest dentists per capita in the United States.[121]

For three years in a row, more than 30 percent of Mississippi's residents have been classified as

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.[124] 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.[125]

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

culturally sensitive or practical.[125] A 2006 survey found nearly 95 percent of Mississippi adults considered childhood obesity to be a serious problem.[126]

A 2017 study found that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi was the leading health insurer with 53% followed by UnitedHealth Group at 13%.[127]


A Mississippi U.S. quarter

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Mississippi's total state product in 2010 was $98 billion.[128] GDP growth was .5 percent in 2015 and is estimated to be 2.4 in 2016 according to Darrin Webb, the state's chief economist, who noted it would make two consecutive years of positive growth since the recession.[129] 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.[129] Mississippians consistently rank as one of the highest per capita in charitable contributions.[130]

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.[129]

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.[131] 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.[132]

Slaves picking cotton while being observed by an overseer on horseback, c. 1850

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.[133] 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.[134] Ninety percent of the Delta bottomlands were undeveloped and the state had low overall density of population.

Largely due to the domination of the

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.[135]

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.[136] 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.[137]

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.[30]

Sharecropper's daughter, Lauderdale County, 1935

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.[131]

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.[68] 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.


Solar power

Solar panels

Mississippi has substantial potential for solar power, though it remains an underutilized generation method. The rate of installations has increased in recent years, reaching 438 MW of installed capacity in early 2023, ranking 36th among the states.[138] Rooftop photovoltaics could provide 31.2% of all electricity used in Mississippi from 11,700 MW if solar panels were installed on every available roof.[139]

In 2011, the Sierra Club sued the United States Department of Energy which was providing investment in a coal gasification plant being built by Mississippi Power.[140] In 2012 Mississippi Power had only 0.05% renewables in its power mix. In a settlement in 2014, Mississippi Power agreed to allow net metering, and to offer 100 MW of wind or solar power purchase agreements. Mississippi is one of only two states, along with Florida, to have no potential for standard commercial wind power, having no locations that would provide at least 30% capacity factor, although 30,000 MW of 100 meter high turbines would operate at 25% capacity factor.[141]

Solar-powered pump, Oxford

Georgia Power which provides energy in southeast Mississippi has started a program to contract for 210 MW of solar power in 2014, possibly increasing to 525 MW. 100 MW would be from small scale distributed installations.[142]

Offering net metering is required by federal law, but Mississippi is one of only four states to not have adopted a statewide policy on net metering, which means it needs to be negotiated with the utility.[143][144]

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] In August 2005, an estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue, equivalent to $749,191 in 2022, was lost following Hurricane Katrina's severe damage to several coastal casinos in Biloxi.[145] 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, at $2.25 billion.[146] 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.[147]


2014 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.


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%.[148] State sales tax growth was 1.4 percent in 2016 and estimated to be slightly less in 2017.[129] For purposes of assessment for ad valorem taxes, taxable property is divided into five classes.[149]

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.[150] 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.[151] The state had a median household income of $34,473.[152]


As of February 2023, the state's unemployment rate was 3.7%, the eleventh-highest in the country, tied with Arizona, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.[153] This is an improvement over the 3.9% rate in January 2023, and 4% over the previous year. The highest unemployment rate recorded in the state was in April 2020, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at 15.6%.[154]

Federal subsidies and spending

With Mississippi's fiscal conservatism, in which

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 second-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.[155] 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.[156]

A proportion of federal spending in Mississippi is directed toward large federal installations such as


Politics and government

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 Tate Reeves (R). The lieutenant governor, currently Delbert Hosemann (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.

In a 2020 study, Mississippi was ranked as the 4th hardest state for citizens to vote in.[157]


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.[158][159] 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.[160]

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.[161][162] The bill has become the subject of controversy.[163] A federal judge blocked the law in July of that year;[164] however, it was challenged, and a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the law in October 2017.[165][166]

Mississippi's regulations on abortion are among the most restrictive in the United States. A 2014 poll by Pew Research Center found that 59% of the state's population thinks abortion should be illegal in all/most cases, while only 36% of the state's population thinks abortion should be legal in all/most cases.[167]

Mississippi has banned

death penalty (see also: capital punishment in Mississippi). The preferred form of execution is the lethal injection.[169][170]

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."[171] However, this religious test restriction was held to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins

Gun laws in Mississippi are among the most permissive in the country, with no license or background check required to openly carry handguns in most places in the state.

In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6−3 decision in Jones v. Mississippi that a Mississippi law allowing mandatory sentencing of children to life imprisonment without parole is valid and that states and judges can impose such sentences without separately deciding if the child can be rehabilitated.

Political alignment

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election

Mississippi led the South in developing a

disenfranchising 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, particularly those politicians who supported poor whites and farmers. Although the state was dominated by one party, there were a small number of Democrats who fought against most legislative measures that disenfranchised most blacks.[172]
They also side with the small group of Mississippi Republicans that still existed in the state and Republicans at the federal level on legislative measures that benefited them.

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.[citation needed] In the 1980s, whites divided evenly between the parties. In the 1990s, those voters largely shifted their allegiance to the Republican Party, first for national and then for state offices.[173]

In 2019, a lawsuit was filed against an 1890 election law known as The Mississippi Plan, which requires that candidates must win the popular vote and a majority of districts.[174] In the following year, 79% of Mississippians voted to remove the requirement of doing so.[175]



Mississippi has six airports with commercial passenger service, the busiest in Jackson (

Jackson-Evers International Airport


Mississippi is the only American state where people in cars may legally consume beer. Some localities have laws restricting the practice.[176] In 2018, the state was ranked number eight in the Union in terms of impaired driving deaths.[177]

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

  • US 11
  • US 45
  • US 49
  • US 51
  • US 61
  • US 72
  • US 78
    • US 278
  • US 80
  • US 82
  • US 84
  • US 90
  • US 98
  • US 425

as well as a system of State Highways.


Mississippi passenger rail
New York City
Yazoo City
Suspended 2005
Bay St. Louis


Los Angeles, California and it terminated in Florida


All but two of the United States

Canadian Pacific


Major rivers

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[178]
  • 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[179]
  • Governor of Mississippi
    ; 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[180]
  • Enid Lake 44,000 acres (180 km2) of water; constructed and managed by the U.S. Army


Lee County Training School, 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 or labor to build such schools.[181]

Blacks and whites attended separate,

segregation academies, where they enrolled their children. Often funding declined for the public schools.[182] 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. 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.[182]

In the late 1980s, Mississippi's 954 public schools enrolled about 369,500 elementary and 132,500 secondary students. Some 45,700 students attended private schools.

In the 21st century, 91% of white children and most of the black children in the state attend public schools.

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.[184]

Generally prohibited in the West at large, school corporal punishment is not unusual in Mississippi, with 31,236 public school students[c] paddled at least one time c. 2016.[185] A greater percentage of students were paddled in Mississippi than in any other state, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[185]

In 2007, Mississippi students scored the lowest of any state on the National Assessments of Educational Progress in both math and science.[186]

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 State Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016.

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.[citation needed]

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.[187]

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.


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.

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 racist, Mississippi musicians created new forms by combining and creating variations on musical traditions from African American traditions, and the musical traditions of white Southerners strongly shaped by Scots-Irish and other styles.

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.

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.


See also


  1. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  2. ^ Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin are not distinguished between total and partial ancestry.
  3. ^ 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.


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Further reading

  • Busbee, Westley F. Mississippi: A History (2005).
  • Gonzales, Edmond, ed. A Mississippi Reader: Selected Articles from the Journal of Mississippi History (1980)
  • Krane, Dale and Stephen D. Shaffer. Mississippi Government & Politics: Modernizers versus Traditionalists (1992), government textbook
  • Loewen, James W. and Charles Sallis, eds. Mississippi: Conflict and Change (2nd ed. 1980), high school textbook
  • McLemore, Richard, ed. A History of Mississippi 2 vols. (1973), thorough coverage by scholars
  • Mitchell, Dennis J., A New History of Mississippi (2014)
  • Ownby, ted et al. eds. The Mississippi Encyclopedia (2017)
  • Skates, John Ray. Mississippi: A Bicentennial History (1979), popular
  • Sparks, Randy J. Religion in Mississippi (2001) 374 pp online edition
  • Swain, Martha H. ed. Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives (2003). 17 short biographies

External links

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

33°N 90°W / 33°N 90°W / 33; -90 (State of Mississippi)