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Michigan ( ) is a Midwestern state of the United States of Americamarker. The name Michigan is a French adaptation of the Ojibwe term mishigama, meaning "large water" or "large lake".

Michigan is the eighth most populous state in the United States. It has the longest freshwater shoreline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakesmarker, plus Lake Saint Clairmarker. In 2005, Michigan ranked third for the number of registered recreational boats, behind Californiamarker and Floridamarker. Michigan has 64,980 inland lakes. A person in the state is never more than six miles (10 km) from a natural water source, or more than from a Great Lakes shoreline.

Michigan is the only state to consist entirely of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is often dubbed "the mitten" by residents, owing to its shape. When asked where in Michigan one comes from, a resident of the Lower Peninsula may often point to the corresponding part of his or her hand. The Upper Peninsulamarker (often referred to as The U.P.) is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinacmarker, a five-mile (8 km)-wide channel that joins Lake Huronmarker to Lake Michiganmarker. The Upper Peninsula is economically important for tourism and natural resources.


Michigan was home to various Native Americans centuries before colonization by Europeans. When the first European explorers arrived, the most populous and influential tribes were Algonquian peoples—specifically, the Ottawa, the Anishnabe (called "Chippewa" in French, after their language, "Ojibwe"), and the Potawatomi. The Anishnabe, whose numbers are estimated to have been between 25,000 and 35,000, were the most populous.

Although the Anishnabe were well-established in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, they also inhabited northern Ontariomarker, northern Wisconsinmarker, southern Manitobamarker, and northern and north-central Minnesotamarker. The Ottawa lived primarily south of the Straits of Mackinac in northern and western Michigan, while the Potawatomi were primarily in the southwest. The three nations co-existed peacefully as part of a loose confederation called the Council of Three Fires. Other First Nations people in Michigan, in the south and east, were the Mascouten, the Menominee, the Miami, and the Wyandot, who are better known by their French name, "Huron".

17th century

French voyageur explored and settled in Michigan in the 17th century. The first Europeans to reach what later became Michigan were those of Étienne Brûlé's expedition in 1622. The first permanent European settlement was made in 1668 on the site where Father (Père, in French) Jacques Marquette established Sault Sainte-Mariemarker.

Saint Ignacemarker was founded in 1671 and Marquettemarker in 1675. Together with Sault Sainte-Marie, they are the three oldest cities in Michigan. "The Soo" (Sault Ste. Marie) has the distinction of being the oldest city in both Michigan and Ontario. It was split into two cities in 1818, a year after the U.S.-Canada boundary in the Great Lakes was finally established by the U.S.-U.K. Joint Border Commission.

In 1679, Lord La Salle of France directed the construction of the Griffin, the first European sailing vessel on the upper Great Lakes. That same year, La Salle built Fort Miamimarker at present-day St. Josephmarker.

18th century

In 1701 French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Le Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit or "Fort Ponchartrain on-the-Strait" on the strait between Lakes St. Clair and Erie, known as the Detroit River. Cadillac had convinced King Louis XIV's chief minister, Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, that a permanent community there would strengthen French control over the upper Great Lakes and repel Britishmarker aspirations.

The hundred soldiers and workers who accompanied Cadillac built a fort enclosing one arpent (about .85 acre, the equivalent of just under per side) and named it Fort Pontchartrain. Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse, soon moved to Detroit, becoming one of the first white women to settle in the Michigan wilderness. The town quickly became a major fur-trading and shipping post. The "Église de Saint-Anne" (Church of Saint Ann) was founded the same year. While the original building does not survive, the congregation of that name continues to be active today.

At the same time, the French strengthened Fort Michilimackinacmarker at the Straits of Mackinac to better control their lucrative fur-trading empire. By the mid-eighteenth century, the French also occupied forts at present-day Nilesmarker and Sault Ste. Marie, though most of the rest of the region remained unsettled by Europeans.

From 1660 to the end of French rule, Michigan was part of the Royal Province of New France. In 1759, following the Battle of the Plains of Abrahammarker, in the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Québec City fell to British forces. Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Michigan and the rest of New France passed to Great Britain.

During the American Revolutionary War, Detroit was an important British supply center, but most of the inhabitants were either Native Americans or French-Canadians. Because of imprecise cartography and unclear language defining the boundaries in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the British retained control of Detroit and Michigan. When Quebec was split into Lower and Upper Canada in 1790, Michigan was part of Kent County, Upper Canada. It held its first democratic elections in August 1792 to send delegates to the new provincial parliament at Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lakemarker).

Under terms negotiated in the 1794 Jay Treaty, Britain withdrew from Detroit and Michilimackinac in 1796. Questions remained over the boundary for many years, and the United States did not have uncontested control of the Upper Peninsula and Drummond Islandmarker until 1818 and 1847, respectively.

19th century

During the War of 1812, Michigan Territory (effectively consisting of Detroit and the surrounding area) was captured by the British and nominally returned to Upper Canada. American forces forced the British out in 1813 and pushed into Canada.

The Treaty of Ghent implemented the policy of "Status Quo Ante Bellum" or "Just as Things Were Before the War." That meant Michigan stayed American, and the agreement to establish a joint US-UK boundary commission also remained valid. Subsequent to the findings of that commission in 1817, control of the Upper Peninsula and of islands in the St. Clair River delta was transferred from Ontario to Michigan in 1818. Mackinac Island (to which the British had moved their Michilimackinac army base) was transferred to the U.S. in 1847.

The population grew slowly until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. This brought a large influx of settlers to Michigan because it made transportation by ships through the Great Lakes possible. By the 1830s, Michigan had 80,000 residents, which were more than enough to apply for statehood.

In 1836 a state government was formed, although Congressional recognition of the state was delayed pending resolution of a boundary dispute with Ohiomarker. Both states claimed a 468-square-mile (1,210 km2) strip of land that included the newly incorporated city of Toledomarker on Lake Erie and an area to the west then known as the "Great Black Swamp." The dispute came to be called the Toledo War. Michigan and Ohio militia maneuvered in the area but never exchanged fire. Congress awarded the "Toledo Strip" to Ohiomarker. Michigan received the western part of the Upper Peninsula as a concession and formally entered the Union on January 26, 1837.

Thought to be nearly valueless, the Upper Peninsula was discovered to be a rich and important source of lumber, iron, and copper. These became the state's most sought-after natural resources and generated early wealth. Geologist Douglass Houghton and land surveyor William Austin Burt were among the first to document many of these resources. Developers rushed to the state. Michigan led the nation in lumber production from 1850s to the 1880s. The lumber harvested in Michigan was shipped to the rapidly developing prairie states, Chicago, to the eastern statesmarker, and even all of the way to Europe.

The first official meeting of the Republican Party took place July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michiganmarker, where the party adopted its platform. Michigan made a significant contribution to the Union in the American Civil War and sent more than forty regiments of volunteers to the Federal armies.

20th century to present

Michigan's economy underwent a massive change at the turn of the 20th century. The birth of the automotive industry, with Henry Ford's first plant in Highland Parkmarker, marked the beginning of a new era in transportation. Like the steamship and railroad, it was a far-reaching development. More than the forms of public transportation, the automobile transformed private life. It became the major industry of Detroitmarker and Michigan, and permanently altered the socio-economic life of the United States and much of the world. Grand Rapidsmarker, the second-largest city in Michigan, is also a center of automotive manufacturing. Since 1838, the city had also been noted for its thriving furniture industry. Started because of ready sources of lumber, the furniture industry declined in the late 20th century.

Michigan held its first United States presidential primary election in 1910, and in 1920 Detroit's WWJ became the first radio station in the United States to regularly broadcast commercial programs. Throughout that decade some of the country's largest and most ornate skyscrapers were built in the city. Particularly noteworthy are the Fisher Buildingmarker, Cadillac Placemarker, and the Guardian Buildingmarker which are National Historic Landmarks.

Detroit boomed through the 1950s, at one point doubling its population in a decade. After the 1950s, Detroit's population began to shift to its suburbs, accelerating after racial strife in the 1960s and high crime rates in the 1970s and 1980s.

Michigan is the leading auto producing state in the U.S. even though some of the industry has shifted to less expensive labor overseas and in the Southern United States. With more than ten million residents, Michigan remains a large and influential state, ranking eighth in population among the fifty states.

The Metro Detroit area in the southeast corner of the state is the largest metropolitan area in Michigan (roughly 50% of the population resides there) and one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country. The Grand Rapidsmarker/Hollandmarker/Muskegonmarker metropolitan area on the west side of the state is the fastest growing metro area in the state presently, with over 1.3 million residents as of 2006.

Metro Detroit's population is growing, and Detroit's population is still shrinking, though strong redevelopment in central part of the cities and a significant rise in population in the outskirts of the city are contributing to some population inflow. A period of economic transition, especially in manufacturing, has caused economic difficulties in the region since the recession of 2001.


State government

Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of Michigan and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the one court of justice. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification. Lansingmarker is the state capital and is home to all three branches of state government.

The Governor of Michigan and the other state constitutional officers serve four-year terms and may be re-elected only once. The current Governor is Jennifer Granholm. Michigan has two official Governor's Residencesmarker; one is in Lansing, and the other is at Mackinac Islandmarker.

The Michigan Legislature consists of a 38-member Senate and 110-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four-year terms and Representatives two. The Michigan State Capitolmarker was dedicated in 1879 and has hosted the state's executive and legislative branches ever since.


The Michigan Court System consists of two courts with primary jurisdiction (the Circuit Courts and the District Courts), one intermediate level appellate court (the Michigan Court of Appeals), and the Michigan Supreme Courtmarker. There are several administrative courts and specialized courts. The Michigan Constitution provides for voter initiative and referendum (Article II, § 9, defined as "the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution").

Michigan was the first state in the Union, as well as the first English-speaking government in the world, to abolish the death penalty, in 1846. David Chardavoyne has suggested that the abolitionist movement in Michigan grew as a result of enmity towards the state's neighbor, Canada, which under British rule made public executions a regular practice.


Voters in the state elect candidates from both major parties. Economic issues are important in Michigan elections. The three term Republican Governor John Engler (1991-2003) preceded the current Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm. The state has re-elected its current Republican Attorney General Mike Cox since 2003. Michigan supported the election of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. However, the state has supported Democrats in the last five presidential election cycles. In 2008, Barack Obama carried the state over John McCain, winning Michigan's seventeen electoral votes with 57% of the vote. Democrats have won each of the last three, nine of the last ten, and fifteen of the last eighteen U.S. Senate elections in Michigan with confidence on national economic issues posing a challenge. Republican strength is greatest in the western, northern, and rural parts of the state, especially in the Grand Rapids area. Republicans also do well in suburban Detroit which tends to be an important factor in deciding statewide elections. Democrats are strongest in the east, especially in the cities of Detroitmarker, Ann Arbormarker, Flintmarker, and Saginawmarker.

Historically, the first formal meeting of the Republican Party took place in Jackson, Michiganmarker on July 6, 1854 and the party thereafter dominated Michigan until the Great Depression. In the 1912 election, Michigan was one of the six states to support progressive Republican and third party candidate Theodore Roosevelt for President after he lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft.

Michigan remained fairly reliably Republican at the presidential level for much of the twentieth century. The state was one of only a handful to back Wendell Willkie over Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, and supported Thomas E. Dewey in his losing bid against Harry Truman in 1948. Michigan went to the Democrats in presidential elections during the 1960s, and voted for Republican Richard Nixon in 1972.

Michigan was the home of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. He was born in Nebraska and moved as an infant to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and grew up there. The Gerald R.marker Ford Museummarker is located in Grand Rapids.

Administrative divisions

State government is decentralized among three tiers — statewide, county and township. Counties are administrative divisions of the state, and townships are administrative divisions of a county. Both of them exercise state government authority, localized to meet the particular needs of their jurisdictions, as provided by state law. There are 83 counties in Michigan.

Cities, state universities, and villages are vested with home rule powers of varying degrees. Home rule cities can generally do anything that is not prohibited by law. The fifteen state universities have broad power and can do anything within the parameters of their status as educational institutions that is not prohibited by the state constitution. Villages, by contrast, have limited home rule and are not completely autonomous from the county and township in which they are located.

There are two types of township in Michigan: general law township and charter. Charter township status was created by the Legislature in 1947 and grants additional powers and stream-lined administration in order to provide greater protection against annexation by a city. As of April 2001, there were 127 charter townships in Michigan. In general, charter townships have many of the same powers as a city but without the same level of obligations. For example, a charter township can have its own fire department, water and sewer department, police department, and so on—just like a city—but it is not required to have those things, whereas cities must provide those services. Charter townships can opt to use county-wide services instead, such as deputies from the county sheriff's office instead of a home-based force of ordinance officers.


Michigan map, including territorial waters.
The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area.

Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between 82°30' to about 90°30' west longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac. With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakesmarker-St. Lawrencemarker watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land thus drained.

The Great Lakes that border Michigan from east to west are Lake Eriemarker, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superiormarker. It has more lighthouses than any other state. The state is bounded on the south by the states of Ohio and Indiana, sharing land and water boundaries with both. Michigan's western boundaries are almost entirely water boundaries, from south to north, with Illinois and Wisconsin in Lake Michigan; then a land boundary with Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, that is principally demarcated by the Menominee and Montreal Rivers; then water boundaries again, in Lake Superior, with Wisconsin and Minnesota to the west, capped around by the Canadian province of Ontario to the north and east.

The heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The Porcupine Mountains, which are part of one of the oldest mountain chains in the world, rise to an altitude of almost 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level and form the watershed between the streams flowing into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The surface on either side of this range is rugged. The state's highest point, in the Huron Mountains northwest of Marquette, is Mount Arvonmarker at . The peninsula is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined but has fewer than 330,000 inhabitants. They are sometimes called "Yoopers" (from "U.P.'ers"), and their speech (the "Yooper dialect") has been heavily influenced by the numerous Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants who settled the area during the lumbering and mining boom of the late nineteenth century.

The Lower Peninsula, shaped like a mitten, is long from north to south and from east to west and occupies nearly two-thirds of the state's land area. The surface of the peninsula is generally level, broken by conical hills and glacial moraines usually not more than a few hundred feet tall. It is divided by a low water divide running north and south. The larger portion of the state is on the west of this and gradually slopes toward Lake Michigan. The highest point in the Lower Peninsula is either Briar Hill at , or one of several points nearby in the vicinity of Cadillacmarker. The lowest point is the surface of Lake Erie at .

The geographic orientation of Michigan's peninsulas makes for a long distance between the ends of the state. Ironwoodmarker, in the far western Upper Peninsula, lies 630 highway miles (1,015 km) from Lambertvillemarker in the Lower Peninsula's southeastern corner. The geographic isolation of the Upper Peninsula from Michigan's political and population centers makes the U.P. culturally and economically distinct. Occasionally U.P. residents have called for secession from Michigan and establishment as a new state to be called "Superior."

A feature of Michigan that gives it the distinct shape of a mitten is the Thumb. This peninsula projects out into Lake Huron and the Saginaw Baymarker. The geography of the Thumb is mainly flat with a few rolling hills. Other peninsulas of Michigan include the Keweenaw Peninsula, making up the Copper Country region of the state. The Leelanau Peninsulamarker lies in the Northern Lower Michigan region. See Also Michigan Regions

Numerous lakes and marshes mark both peninsulas, and the coast is much indented. Keweenaw Bay, Whitefish Bay, and the Big and Littlemarker Bays De Noc are the principal indentations on the Upper Peninsula. The Grandmarker and Little Traversemarker, Thunder, and Saginawmarker bays indent the Lower Peninsula. After Alaska, Michigan has the longest shoreline of any state— . An additional can be added if islands are included. This roughly equals the length of the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida.

The state has numerous large islands, the principal ones being the Manitou, Beavermarker, and Foxmarker groups in Lake Michigan; Isle Royalemarker and Grande Islemarker in Lake Superior; Marquette, Bois Blancmarker, and Mackinacmarker islands in Lake Huron; and Neebishmarker, Sugarmarker, and Drummondmarker islands in St. Mary's Rivermarker. Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, the most of any U.S. state. The first lighthouses in Michigan were built between 1818 and 1822. They were built to project light at night and to serve as a landmark during the day to safely guide the passenger ships and freighters traveling the Great Lakes. See Lighthouses in the United States.

The state's rivers are generally small, short and shallow, and few are navigable. The principal ones include the Detroit River, St. Marys Rivermarker, and St. Clair Rivermarker which connect the Great Lakes; the Au Sable, Cheboygan, and Saginaw, which flow into Lake Huron; the Ontonagon, and Tahquamenon, which flow into Lake Superior; and the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon, Manistee, and Escanabamarker, which flow into Lake Michigan. The state has 11,037 inland lakes and of Great Lakes waters and rivers in addition to of inland water. No point in Michigan is more than six miles (10 km) from an inland lake or more than from one of the Great Lakes.

Adjacent States & Provinces

Protected lands

The state is home to one national park: Isle Royale National Parkmarker, located in Lake Superior, about southeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Other national protected areas in the state include: Keweenaw National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshoremarker, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshoremarker, Huron National Forest, Manistee National Forest, Hiawatha National Forest, Ottawa National Forest and Father Marquette National Memorialmarker. The largest section of the North Country National Scenic Trail also passes through Michigan.

With 78 state parks, 19 state recreation areas, and 6 state forests, Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state. These parks and forests include Holland State Parkmarker, Mackinac Island State Parkmarker, Au Sable State Forest, and Mackinaw State Forest.


Michigan USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Michigan has a humid continental climate, although there are two distinct regions. The southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula (south of Saginaw Baymarker and from the Grand Rapids area southward) have a warmer climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters. The northern part of Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula has a more severe climate (Koppen Dfb), with warm, but shorter summers and longer, cold to very cold winters. Some parts of the state average high temperatures below freezing from December through February, and into early March in the far northern parts. During the winter through the middle of February the state is frequently subjected to heavy lake-effect snow. The state averages from of precipitation annually.

The entire state averages 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. These can be severe, especially in the southern part of the state. The state averages 17 tornadoes per year, which are more common in the extreme southern portion of the state. Portions of the southern border have been nearly as vulnerable historically as parts of Tornado Alley. Farther north, in the Upper Peninsula, tornadoes are rare.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Michigan Cities in °FC)
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Detroit 31/18(-1/-8) 34/20(1/-7) 45/28(7/-2) 58/38(14/3) 70/49(21/9) 79/59(26/15) 83/64(28/18) 81/62(27/17) 74/54(23/12) 61/42(16/6) 48/34(9/1) 36/23(2/-5)
Flint 29/13(-2/-11) 32/15(0/-9) 43/24(6/-4) 56/35(13/2) 69/45(21/7) 78/55(26/13) 82/59(28/15) 80/57(27/14) 72/49(22/9) 60/39(16/4) 46/30(8/-1) 34/19(1/-7)
Grand Rapids 29/16(-2/-9) 33/17(1/-8) 43/26(6/-3) 57/36(14/2) 70/47(21/8) 78/56(26/13) 82/60(28/16) 80/59(27/15) 72/51(22/11) 60/40(11/4) 46/31(8/-1) 34/21(1/-6)
Lansing 29/14(-2/-10) 33/15(1/-9) 44/24(7/-4) 57/34(14/1) 69/45(21/7) 78/54(26/12) 82/58(28/14) 80/57(27/14) 72/49(22/9) 60/39(16/4) 46/30(8/-1) 34/20(1/-7)
Marquette 20/3(-7/-16) 24/5(-4/-15) 33/14(1/-10) 46/27(8/-3) 62/39(17/4) 70/48(21/9) 75/54(24/12) 73/52(23/11) 63/44(17/7) 51/34(11/1) 35/22(2/-6) 24/10(-4/-12)
Muskegon 30/17(-1/-8) 32/18(0/-8) 42/25(6/-4) 55/35(13/2) 67/45(19/7) 76/54(24/12) 80/60(27/16) 78/59(26/15) 70/51(21/11) 59/41(15/5) 46/32(8/0) 35/23(2/-5)
Sault Ste Marie 22/5(-6/-15) 24/7(-4/-14) 34/16(1/-9) 48/29(9/-2) 63/39(17/4) 71/46(22/7) 76/52(24/11) 74/52(23/11) 65/45(18/7) 53/36(12/2) 39/26(12/-3) 27/13(-3/-11)


The geological formation of the state is greatly varied. Primary boulders are found over the entire surface of the Upper Peninsula (being principally of primitive origin), while Secondary deposits cover the entire Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula exhibits Lower Silurian sandstones, limestones, copper and iron bearing rocks, corresponding to the Huronian system of Canada. The central portion of the Lower Peninsula contains coal measures and rocks of the Permo-Carboniferous period. Devonian and sub-Carboniferous deposits are scattered over the entire state.


Michigan population distribution.

Map showing ancestry.

As of the July 1, 2008 population estimate, Michigan has an estimated population of 10,003,422, an increase of 64,930, or 0.7%, since the year 2000. As of 2000, the state had the 8th largest population in the Union.

The center of population of Michigan is located in Shiawassee Countymarker, in the southeastern corner of the civil township of Benningtonmarker, which is located directly north of the village of Morricemarker.

As of 2005-2007 three-year estimate, the state had a foreign-born population of 610,173, or 6% of the total population. In recent years, the foreign-born population in the state has grown. Michigan has the largest Dutch-American, Finnish-American and Macedonian-American populations in the United States.As of 2008 the population of Caucasians made up 79.6% of the population, Black or African American at 14.2%, Hispanic or Latino at 4.1%, American Native at 0.6%, Asian at 2.4%, Hawaiian or other is less than 0.1%.

The five largest reported ancestries in Michigan are: German (20.4%), African American (14.2%), Irish (10.8%), English (9.9%), and Polish (8.6%).

Michigan has a large white population (79.6%). Americans of European descent including German, Irish, French, and British ancestry live throughout most of Michigan and Metro Detroit. People of Nordic (especially Finnish) and Cornish ancestry have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula. Western Michigan is known for the Dutch heritage of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in metropolitan Grand Rapids. Metro Detroit also has residents of Polish and Irish descent.

Dearbornmarker has become the center of a large Arab-American community, now mostly Lebanese, who immigrated for jobs in the auto industry in the 1920s. About 300,000 people trace their roots to the Middle East. African-Americans, who came to Detroit and other northern cities in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, form a majority of the population of the city of Detroit and of other industrial cities, including Flint and Benton Harbormarker.

An individual from Michigan is called a "Michigander" or "Michiganian". Also at times, but rarely, a "Michiganite". Residents of the Upper Peninsula are sometimes referred to as "Yoopers" (a phonetic pronunciation of "U.P.ers"), and Upper Peninsula residents sometimes refer to those from the lower as "trolls" (they live below the bridgemarker).


The Roman Catholic Church was the only organized religion in Michigan until the 19th century. Detroit's St. Anne'smarker parish, established in 1701, is the second-oldest Catholic parish in the country. The original French-Roman Catholics, reduced to a small minority by the influx of American Protestants, were soon reinforced by the arrival of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, and, later, from eastern and southern Europe. The Lutheran religion was introduced by German and Scandinavian immigrants; Lutheranism is second largest religious denomination in the state. The first Jewish synagogue in the state was Temple Beth El, founded by twelve Jewish families in Detroit in 1850. Islam was introduced by immigrants from the Near East during the 20th century.

The largest denomination by number of adherents according to a survey in the year 2000 was the Roman Catholic Church with 2,019,926 parishioners. The largest Protestant denominations were the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 244,231 adherents, followed by the United Methodist Church with 222,269 and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 160,836 adherents. In the same survey, Jewish adherents in the state of Michigan were estimated at 110,000, and Muslims at 80,515.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Michigan's 2004 gross state product at $372 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $31,178 and ranked twentieth in the nation. In May 2009, Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 14.1%, the highest in the nation during the recession.

Some of the major industries/products/services include automobiles, cereal products, pizza, information technology, aerospace, military equipment, copper, iron, and furniture. Michigan is the third leading grower of Christmas trees with of land dedicated to Christmas tree farming. The beverage Vernors was invented in Michigan in 1866, sharing the title of oldest soft drink with Hires Root Beer. Faygo was founded in Detroit on November 4, 1907. Two of the top four pizza chains were founded in Michigan and are still headquartered there: Domino's Pizza by Tom Monaghan and Little Caesars Pizza by Mike Ilitch.

Michigan has experienced economic difficulties brought on by volatile stock market disruptions following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This caused a pension and benefit fund crisis for many American companies, including General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Since the early 2000s recession and the September 11, 2001 attacks, GM, Ford, and Chrysler have struggled to overcome the benefit funds crisis which followed an ensuing volatile stock market which had caused a severe underfunding condition in the respective U.S. pension and benefit funds (OPEB). Although manufacturing in the state grew 6.6% from 2001 to 2006, the high speculative price of oil became a factor for the U.S. auto industry during the economic crisis of 2008 impacting industry revenues. During this economic crisis, President George W. Bush extended loans from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds in order to help the GM and Chrysler bridge the recession. In January 2009, President Barack Obama formed an automotive task force in order to help the industry recover and achieve renewed prosperity for the region. With retiree health care costs a significant issue, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler reached agreements with the United Auto Workers Union to transfer the liabilities for their respective health care and benefit funds to a 501(c)(9) Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). In spite of these efforts, the severity of the recession required Detroit's automakers to take additional steps to restructure, including idling many plants. With the U.S. Treasury extending the necessary debtor in possession financing, Chrysler and GM filled separate 'pre-packaged' Chapter 11 restructurings in May and June 2009 respectively.

Michigan ranks fourth nationally in high tech employment with 568,000 high tech workers, which includes 70,000 in the automotive industry. Michigan typically ranks third or fourth in overall Research & development (R&D) expenditures in the United Statesmarker. Its research and development, which includes automotive, comprises a higher percentage of the state's overall gross domestic product than for any other U.S. state. The state is an important source of engineering job opportunities. The domestic auto industry accounts directly and indirectly for one of every ten jobs in the U.S. Michigan ranked second nationally in new corporate facilities and expansions in 2004. From 1997 to 2004, Michigan was listed as the only state to top the 10,000 mark for the number of major new developments; however, the effects of the late 2000s recession have slowed the state's economy. In 2008, Michigan ranked third in a survey among the states for luring new business which measured capital investment and new job creation per one million population. In August 2009, Michigan and Detroit's auto industry received $1.36 B in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for the manufacture of electric vehicle technologies which is expected to generate 6,800 immediate jobs and employ 40,000 in the state by 2020.

As leading research institutions, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Wayne State University are important partners in the state's economy. Michigan's workforce is well-educated and highly skilled, making it attractive to companies. Michigan's infrastructure gives it a competitive edge; Michigan has 38 deep water ports. In 2007, Bank of America announced that it would commit $25 billion to community development in Michigan following its acquisition of LaSalle Bank in Troymarker.

Detroit Metropolitan Airportmarker is one of the nation's most recently expanded and modernized airports with six major runways, and large aircraft maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing a Boeing 747. Michigan's schools and colleges rank among the nation's best. The state has maintained its early commitment to public education.


Michigan's personal income tax is set to a flat rate of 4.35%. Some cities impose additional income taxes. Michigan's state sales tax is six percent. Property taxes are assessed on the local, not state, level. In 2007, Michigan repealed its Single Business Tax (SBT) and replaced it with a Michigan Business Tax (MBT) in order to stimulate job growth by reducing taxes for seventy percent of the businesses in the state. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, recent growth in Michigan is 0.1%.


A wide variety of commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, making it second only to California among U.S. states in the diversity of its agriculture. Michigan is a leading grower of fruit, including blueberries, cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches. These fruits are mainly grown in West Michigan. Michigan produces wines, beers and a multitude of processed food products. Kellogg's cereal is based out of Battle Creek, Michigan and processes many locally grown foods. Thornapple Valley, Ballpark Franks, Koegel's, and Hebrew National sausage companies are all based in Michigan.

Michigan is home to very fertile land in the Flint/Tri-Cities and "Thumb" areas. Products grown there are corn, sugar beets, navy beans, and soy beans. Sugar beet harvesting usually begins the first of October. It takes the sugar factories about five months to process the 3.7 million tons of sugarbeets into 970 million pounds of pure, white sugar. Michigan's largest sugar refiner, Michigan Sugar Company is the largest east of the Mississippi River and the fourth largest in the nation. Michigan Sugar brand names are Pioneer Sugar and the newly incorporated Big Chief Sugar. Potatoes are grown in Northern Michigan, and corn is dominant in Central Michigan. Michigan State University is dedicated to the study of agriculture.


Michigan has a thriving tourist industry. Visitors spend $17.5 billion per year in the state, supporting 193,000 tourism jobs. Michigan's tourism website ranks among the busiest in the nation. Destinations draw vacationers, hunters, and nature enthusiasts from across the United States and Canadamarker. Michigan is fifty percent forest land, much of it quite remote. The forests, lakes and thousands of miles of beaches are top attractions. Event tourism draws large numbers to occasions like the Tulip Time Festival and the National Cherry Festival.

In 2006, the Michigan State Board of Education mandated that all public schools in the state hold their first day of school after the Labor Day holiday, in accordance with the new Post Labor Day School law. A survey found that 70% of all tourism business comes directly from Michigan residents, and the Michigan Hotel, Motel, & Resort Association claimed that the shorter summer in between school years cut into the annual tourism season in the state.

Tourism in metropolitan Detroit draws visitors to leading attractions, particularly The Henry Fordmarker, the Detroit Institute of Artsmarker, and the Detroit Zoomarker, and to sports in Detroit. Other museums include the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H.marker Wright Museum of African American Historymarker, museums in the Cranbrook Educational Communitymarker, and the Arab American National Museum. The metro area offers four major casinos, MGM Grand Detroitmarker, Greektown, Motor Citymarker, and Caesars Windsormarker in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; moreover, Detroit is the largest American city and metropolitan region to offer casino resorts.

Hunting and fishing are significant industries in the state. Charter boats are based in many Great Lakes cities to fish for salmon, trout, walleye and perch. Michigan ranks first in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy. Over three-quarters of a million hunters participate in white-tailed deer season alone. Many school districts in rural areas of Michigan cancel school on the opening day of firearm deer season, because of attendance concerns.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources manages the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation. The forest products industry and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to the state's economy. Public hiking and hunting access has also been secured in extensive commercial forests. The state has highest number of golf courses and registered snowmobiles in the nation.

The state has numerous historical markers, which can themselves become the center of a tour. The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

With its position in relation to the Great Lakes and the countless ships that have foundered over the many years in which they have been used as a transport route for people and bulk cargo, Michigan is a world-class scuba diving destination. The Michigan Underwater Preserves are 11 underwater areas where wrecks are protected for the benefit of sport divers.


Michigan has nine international crossings with Ontario, Canadamarker:


Michigan is served by four Class I railroads: the Canadian National Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Norfolk Southern Railway. These are augmented by several dozen short line railroads. The vast majority of rail service in Michigan is devoted to freight, with Amtrak and various scenic railroads the exceptions.

Amtrak passenger rail services the state, connecting many southern and western Michigan cities to Chicago, Illinois. There are plans for commuter rail for Detroit and its suburbs (see SEMCOG Commuter Rail).


Welcome sign.

Interstate 75 is the main thoroughfare between Detroitmarker, Flintmarker, and Saginawmarker extending north to Sault Sainte Mariemarker and providing access to Sault Sainte Marie, Ontariomarker. The expressway crosses the Mackinac Bridge between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Branching highways include I-275 and I-375 in Detroitmarker; I-475 in Flintmarker; and I-675 in Saginaw.

Interstate 69 enters the state near the Michigan-Ohiomarker-Indianamarker border, and it extends to Port Huronmarker and provides access to the Blue Water Bridgemarker crossing into Sarnia, Ontariomarker.

Interstate 94 enters the western end of the state at the Indiana border, and it travels east to Detroit and then northeast to Port Huron and ties in with I-69. I-194 branches off from this freeway in Battle Creekmarker. I-94 is the main artery between Chicago, Illinoismarker and Detroitmarker.

Interstate 96 runs east-west between Detroit and Muskegonmarker. I-496 loops through Lansingmarker. I-196 branches off from this freeway at Grand Rapidsmarker and connects to I-94 near Benton Harbormarker. I-696 branches off from this freeway at Novimarker and connects to I-94 near St Clair Shoresmarker.

U.S. Route 2 enters Michigan at the city of Ironwoodmarker and runs east to the town of Crystal Fallsmarker, where it turns south and briefly re-enters Wisconsinmarker northwest of Florencemarker. It re-enters Michigan north of Iron Mountainmarker and continues through the Upper Peninsulamarker of Michigan to the cities of Escanabamarker, Manistiquemarker, and St. Ignacemarker. Along the way, it cuts through the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests and follows the northern shore of Lake Michiganmarker. Its eastern terminus lies at exit 344 of I-75, just north of the Mackinac Bridgemarker. This is generally regarded as the main route through the Upper Peninsula, although some prefer to travel on M-28 as it tends to save time (U.S. 2 hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline for much of its length.)

Major bridges include the Ambassador Bridgemarker, Blue Water Bridgemarker, Mackinac Bridgemarker, and International Bridge. Michigan also has the Detroit-Windsor Tunnelmarker crossing into Canadamarker.


The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airportmarker is by far Michigan's busiest airport, followed by the Gerald R.marker Ford International Airportmarker in Grand Rapids.

Important cities and townships

A Lansing sunset.

The largest municipalities in Michigan are (according to 2007 census estimates):

Rank City Population Image
1 Detroitmarker 916,952
Map showing largest Michigan municipalities.
2 Grand Rapidsmarker 193,627
3 Warrenmarker 134,223
4 Sterling Heightsmarker 127,349
5 Ann Arbormarker 115,092
6 Lansingmarker 114,947
7 Flintmarker 114,662
8 Clinton Townshipmarker 96,253
9 Livoniamarker 93,931
10 Dearbornmarker 89,252

Other important cities include:

Half of the wealthiest communities in the state are located in Oakland Countymarker, just north of Detroit. Another wealthy community is located just east of the city, in Grosse Pointemarker. Only three of these cities are located outside of Metro Detroit. The city of Detroit itself, with a per capita income of $14,717, ranks 517th on the list of Michigan locations by per capita income. Benton Harbormarker is the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of $8,965, while Barton Hillsmarker is the richest with a per capita income of $110,683.


Colleges and universities

Community colleges and technical schools

Professional sports teams

Michigan's major-league sports teams include:Detroit Tigers baseball team,Detroit Lions football team,Detroit Red Wings ice hockey team,Detroit Pistons men's basketball team, andGrand Rapids Rampage Arena Football League team.

The Shock currently play at the Palace of Auburn Hillsmarker. The Pistons played at Detroit's Cobo Arenamarker until 1978 and at the Pontiac Silverdomemarker until 1988 when they moved into the Palace of Auburn Hillsmarker. The Detroit Lions played at Tiger Stadiummarker in Detroit until 1974, then moved to the Pontiac Silverdomemarker where they played for 27 years between 1975-2002 before moving to Ford Fieldmarker in 2002.The Detroit Tigers Played at Tiger Stadium marker (formerly known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium) It hosted the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team from 1912 to 1999,In 2000 they moved to Comerica Parkmarker. The Red Wings played at Olympia Stadiummarker before moving to Joe Louis Arenamarker in 1979. The Rampage play at the Van Andel Arenamarker in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids' entertainment district.

Ten-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was born in Saginaw. Professional hockey got its start in Houghtonmarker, when the Portage Lakers were formed.

Other notable sports teams include:

Club Sport League
Alpena IceDiggers Ice hockey North American Hockey League
Battle Creek Revolution Ice hockey All American Hockey League
Detroit Hitmen Ice hockey All American Hockey League
Flint Generals Ice hockey International Hockey League
Grand Rapids Griffins Ice hockey American Hockey League
Kalamazoo Wings Ice Hockey ECHL
Marquette Rangers Ice Hockey North American Hockey League
Motor City Machine Ice hockey North American Hockey League
Muskegon Lumberjacks Ice hockey International Hockey League
Plymouth Whalers Ice hockey Ontario Hockey League
Port Huron Icehawks Ice hockey International Hockey League
Saginaw Spirit Ice hockey Ontario Hockey League
Traverse City North Stars Ice hockey North American Hockey League
Battle Creek Bombers Baseball Summer Collegiate Baseball, Northwoods League
Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Great Lakes Loons Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Kalamazoo Kings Baseball Minor League Baseball, Frontier League
Traverse City Beach Bums Baseball Minor League Baseball, Frontier League
West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Grand Rapids Rampage Arena football Arena Football League
Kalamazoo Xplosion Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Flint Phantoms Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Muskegon Thunder Indoor football Indoor Football League
Saginaw Sting Indoor football Indoor Football League
Detroit Demolition Football Independent Women's Football League
Detroit Ignition Indoor soccer Xtreme Soccer League
Kalamazoo Kingdom Soccer USL Premier Development League
Michigan Bucks Soccer USL Premier Development League
Michigan Hawks Soccer W-League
Michigan Phoenix Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
West Michigan Edge Soccer USL Premier Development League
West Michigan Firewomen Soccer W-League
Motor City Machine Guns Wrestling TNAwrestling

Former professional teams

Club Sport League(s) Status
Detroit Gems Basketball National Basketball Association Moved to Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker and became the Minneapolis Lakers, would move again to Los Angeles, Californiamarker and are now the Los Angeles Lakers
Detroit (Heralds/Tigers/Panthers/Wolverines) Football National Football League Defunct
Detroit Wheels Football World Football League Moved to Charlotte, North Carolinamarker for one game, then disbanded in the middle of the 1974 season
Detroit Falcons Basketball Basketball Association of America Defunct
Michigan Panthers Football USFL Defunct
Detroit Stars Baseball Negro National League, 2nd Negro National League, Negro American League The team ceased operations in 1960
Detroit Wolverines Baseball National League Disbanded, 1888
Michigan Stags Ice Hockey World Hockey Association Moved to Baltimore, Marylandmarker and became the Baltimore Blades for the rest of the team's existence
Detroit Vipers Ice Hockey International Hockey League Disbanded when IHL became AHL
Detroit Fury Arena football Arena Football League Franchise terminated September 20, 2004
Michigan Mayhem Basketball Continental Basketball Association Disbanded after 2005-2006 season
Detroit Shock Basketball WNBA Moved to Tulsa, Oklahomamarker.

State symbols and nicknames

Sister states

See also


Further reading

  • Bald, F. Clever, Michigan in Four Centuries (1961)/
  • Browne, William P. and - Kenneth VerBurg. Michigan Politics & Government: Facing Change in a Complex State University of Nebraska Press. 1995.
  • Bureau of Business Research, Wayne State U. Michigan Statistical Abstract (1987).
  • Cappel, Constance, editor, "Odawa Language and Legends: Andrew J. Blackbird and Raymond Kiogima," Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris, 2006.
  • Cappel, Constance, "The Smallpox Genocide of the Odawa Tribe at L'Arbre Croche, 1763: The History of a Native American People," Lewiston,NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007.
  • Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliographies for Michigan by region, counties, etc..
  • Michigan, State of. Michigan Manual (annual), elaborate detail on state government.
  • Michigan Historical Review Central Michigan University (quarterly).
  • Press, Charles et al., Michigan Political Atlas (1984).
  • Public Sector Consultants. Michigan in Brief. An Issues Handbook (annual)
  • Rubenstein, Bruce A. and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State. (2002)
  • Sisson, Richard, Ed. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (2006)
  • Weeks, George, Stewards of the State: The Governors of Michigan (Historical Society of Michigan, 1987).
  • Wilbur Rich. Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (Wayne State University Press, 1988).
  • Willis F. Dunbar and George S. May. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (1995)

External links

  • Bold Faced States/Provinces bound Michigan completely over water.
  • Bold Italicized States bound Michigan partially over water.
  • None of Michigan's neighbors border them completely over land. Even Indianamarker and Ohiomarker have small portions of border that is over one of the Great Lakesmarker, Lake Michiganmarker (Indiana) and Lake Eriemarker (Ohio).
  • Wisconsinmarker's border with Michigan is mainly over water except for most of their border with the Upper Peninsulamarker, which is over land and to the southwest.

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