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Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes--Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The state's 3,288-mile (5,292-kilometer) shoreline is longer than that of any other state except Alaska. Michigan consists of two separate land areas, called the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula. The two peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge, which spans 5 miles (8 kilometers) across the Straits of Mackinac.
Most farming in Michigan takes place in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Extensive areas of the Lower Peninsula near the shore of Lake Michigan are excellent for fruit growing. Michigan is among the leading states in growing apples, cherries, and many other fruits.
Michigan is one of the leading tourist states. About 22 million people visit the state each year. Both the Upper and Lower peninsulas offer resort and recreation facilities, and scenic beauty. In addition to the Great Lakes, Michigan has more than 11,000 smaller lakes. Forests cover over half the state. Michigan offers excellent hunting and fishing opportunities for sport enthusiasts.
Michigan is second only to Minnesota in iron ore production. Iron ore is mined in the Upper Peninsula. The state's other chief mineral products, natural gas and petroleum, are found in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. Michigan is also an important producer of sand and gravel, crushed stone, and salt.
French explorers of the early 1600's were the first Europeans to visit what is now Michigan. France controlled the region for nearly 150 years, but did little to develop it. Britain gained control of the Michigan region after defeating France in the French and Indian Wars (1689-1763). In 1787, after the Revolutionary War in America, the area became part of the Northwest Territory of the United States. In 1805, Congress established the Territory of Michigan. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state.
The name Michigan comes from the Chippewa Indian word Michigama, which means great, or large, lake.
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Population. The 1990 United States census reported that Michigan had 9,328,784 people. The population had increased 1/2 per cent over the 1980 figure, 9,262,070. According to the 1990 census, Michigan ranks 8th in population among the 50 states.
About 70 percent of Michigan's people live in urban areas. That is, they live in cities and towns of 2,500 or more people. About 30 percent of the people live in rural areas.
More than 80 percent of the people of Michigan make their homes in one of the state's nine metropolitan areas (see METROPOLITAN AREA). These are Ann Arbor, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Lansing-East Lansing, and Saginaw-Bay City-Midland. The majority of the people in the state live in the Lower Peninsula. Only about 300,000 people, or approximately 3 percent, live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Detroit is Michigan's largest city, and the seventh largest city in the United States. Other large cities in Michigan, in order of population, are Grand Rapids, Warren, Flint, Lansing, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Livonia, Dearborn, Westland, and Kalamazoo. All of these cities have populations of more than 80,000, and all of them are in the Lower Peninsula. The largest city in the Upper Peninsula is Marquette. It has a population of about 22,000 people.
About 96 out of 100 people in Michigan were born in the United States. Of the more than 350,000 people from other countries who live in the state, the largest group came from Canada.
About 14 percent of Michigan's people are blacks. Other large population groups in the state include people of German, Irish, English, Polish, French, and Dutch descent.
Schools. Roman Catholic missionaries who came to the Michigan region in the 1600's established schools for the Indians. In 1798, Father Gabriel Richard came to Detroit to serve as pastor of Ste. Anne's Roman Catholic Church. He established schools to provide regular classes and vocational training for Indian and white children.
In 1809, the territorial legislature passed Michigan's first school law. The law provided for school districts, school taxes, and the building of public schools. In 1827, the legislature provided for community schools maintained by townships. After Michigan entered the Union in 1837, the Legislature approved a statewide system of public education, including a university. The new state Constitution provided for the appointment of a superintendent of public instruction to administer the public school system. The Michigan superintendent of public instruction was the first such administrator in the United States.
Eastern Michigan University, established in 1849, was the first state teachers college west of New York. Michigan State University, founded in 1855, was the first state school to offer agriculture courses for credit. In 1879, the University of Michigan became one of the first state universities to establish a chair (special teaching position) in education.
The State Board of Education directs Michigan's public school system. The board consists of eight elected members. It appoints the superintendent of public instruction. Children in Michigan must attend school from ages 6 through 15. For the number of students and teachers in Michigan, see EDUCATION (table).
Libraries. The Library of Michigan--the state library--was founded in Detroit in 1828, when many settlers were moving into the Michigan Territory. Today, the library has collections of state and federal documents, and collections dealing with Michigan family histories and with law. Michigan also has cooperative library organizations that share resources and services among libraries.
The William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan has a famous collection on early America. The Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor contains the papers of the 38th U.S. president. The Detroit Public Library has the Burton Historical Collection. This collection contains reference works on Michigan and the Great Lakes area. The Walter P. Reuther Library of Wayne State University in Detroit has material related to the history of labor, Michigan, and the Detroit area.
Museums. The Detroit Institute of Arts was established in 1885. Its collection of paintings and sculptures includes murals by the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The Detroit Historical Museum contains exhibits on the history of Detroit and Michigan. The Museum of African American History in Detroit has displays related to the history of blacks in the United States. Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, is an indoor-outdoor museum complex. Its exhibits deal with American industrial history and life in the 1700's and 1800's.
The Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing tells the story of Michigan's past from prehistoric times to 1975. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has natural history exhibits. The Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids exhibits items relating to the former U.S. president. The Kingman Museum of Natural History in Battle Creek has exhibits of wildlife, prehistoric mammals, and ancient relics. The Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Museum in Flint has displays on transportation. Mackinac Island has seven museums. One features the instruments of William Beaumont, a surgeon who made discoveries about digestion.
Michigan has year-round activities for people who enjoy sports and the outdoors. Thousands of lakes, along with many rivers and streams, attract swimmers, water skiers, fishing enthusiasts, and boaters. Thick forests and scenic woodlands appeal to hunters and campers. In winter, many people travel to Michigan for skiing, skating, snowmobiling, tobogganing, iceboat racing, and ice fishing. International ski-flying competitions are held in Ironwood at Copper Peak, one of the world's largest artificially created ski-flying hills. Sightseers are drawn to the many beautiful waterfalls, and dunes, and to the rugged "Copper Country" of the western Upper Peninsula.
One of Michigan's most popular annual events is the weeklong Tulip Festival, held each May in Holland. The people of the city dress in traditional Dutch costumes. The festival includes parades, dancing in wooden shoes, and ceremonial street washing.
Land and climate