Mississippi (/ˌmɪsɪˈsɪpi/ (listen)) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 United States. Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi’s western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state’s capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States.
Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by Louisiana and a narrow coast on the Gulf of Mexico; and to the west, across the Mississippi River, by Louisiana and Arkansas.
In addition to its namesake, major rivers in Mississippi include the Big Black River, the Pearl River, the Yazoo River, the Pascagoula River, and the Tombigbee River. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake with the largest lake being Sardis Lake.
Mississippi is entirely composed of lowlands, the highest point being Woodall Mountain, in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, 807 feet (246 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Gulf Coast. The state’s mean elevation is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level.
Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. The coastal plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. The Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast have somewhat higher elevations. Yellow-brown loess soil is found in the western parts of the state. The northeast is a region of fertile black earth that extends into the Alabama Black Belt.
The coastline includes large bays at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico proper by the shallow Mississippi Sound, which is partially sheltered by Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East and West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island, and Cat Island.
The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The plain is narrow in the south and widens north of Vicksburg. The region has rich soil, partly made up of silt which had been regularly deposited by the flood waters of the Mississippi River.
Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:
The center of population of Mississippi is located in Leake County, in the town of Lena.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Mississippi was 2,986,530 on July 1, 2018, a 0.65% increase since the 2010 United States Census. The state’s economist characterized the state as losing population as job markets elsewhere have caused 3.2 per 1000 to migrate recently.
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. In addition, Mississippi led the nation for most of the last decade in the growth of mixed marriages among its population. The total population has not increased significantly, but is young. Some of the above change in identification as mixed race is due to new births. But, it appears mostly to reflect those residents who have chosen to identify as more than one race, who in earlier years may have identified by just one ethnicity. A binary racial system had been in place since slavery times and the days of racial segregation. In the civil rights era, people of African descent banded together in an inclusive community to achieve political power and gain restoration of their civil rights.
As the demographer William H. Frey noted, “In Mississippi, I think it’s [identifying as mixed race] changed from within.” 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.”
After having accounted for a majority of the state’s population since well before the Civil War and through the 1930s, today African Americans constitute approximately 37 percent of the state’s population. Most have ancestors who were enslaved, with many forcibly transported from the Upper South in the 19th century to work on the area’s new plantations. Some of these slaves were mixed race, with European ancestors, as there were many children born into slavery with white fathers. Some also have Native American ancestry. During the first half of the 20th century, a total of nearly 400,000 African Americans left the state during the Great Migration, for opportunities in the North, Midwest and West. They became a minority in the state for the first time since early in its development.
The state has had conservative laws related to sexuality. The state’s sodomy law criminalized consensual sex between adults of the same gender until 2003 (but was seldom enforced), when such laws were voided by the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. In 2004, voters in Mississippi approved Amendment 1, amending the state’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage; the measure passed with 86% of the vote, the highest margin of victory in the nation. This law was overturned by Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court making same-sex marriage a constitutional right.
Despite conservative laws, same-sex couples were forming families in the state. According to the 2010 census, approximately 33% of households led by same-sex couples in Mississippi included at least one child, the highest such percentage in the nation.
At the 2010 U.S. census, the racial makeup of the population was:
Ethnically, 2.7% of the total population, among all racial groups, was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race). 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. For more information on racial and ethnic classifications in the United States see race and ethnicity in the United States Census.
Americans of Scots-Irish, English and Scottish ancestry are present throughout the state. It is believed that there are more people with such ancestry than identify as such on the census, in part because their immigrant ancestors are more distant in their family histories. English, Scottish and Scots-Irish are generally the most under-reported ancestry groups in both the South Atlantic States and the East South Central States. The historian David Hackett Fischer estimated that a minimum 20% of Mississippi’s population is of English ancestry, though the figure is probably much higher, and another large percentage is of Scottish ancestry. Many Mississippians of such ancestry identify simply as American on questionnaires, because their families have been in North America for centuries. In the 1980 census 656,371 Mississippians of a total of 1,946,775 identified as being of English ancestry, making them 38% of the state at the time.
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.
People of French Creole ancestry form the largest demographic group in Hancock County on the Gulf Coast. The African-American; Choctaw, mostly in Neshoba County; and Chinese American portions of the population are also almost entirely native born.
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. 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.
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.
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. English is largely Southern American English, with some South Midland speech in northern and eastern Mississippi. There is a common absence of final /r/ and the lengthening and weakening of the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /ɔɪ/ as in ‘ride’ and ‘oil’. South Midland terms in northern Mississippi include: tow sack (burlap bag), dog irons (andirons), plum peach (clingstone peach), snake doctor (dragonfly), and stone wall (rock fence).
Under French and Spanish rule beginning in the 17th century, European colonists were mostly Roman Catholics. The growth of the cotton culture after 1815 brought in tens of thousands of Anglo-American settlers each year, most of whom were Protestants from Southeastern states. Due to such migration, there was rapid growth in the number of Protestant churches, especially Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist.
The revivals of the Great Awakening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries initially attracted the “plain folk” by reaching out to all members of society, including women and blacks. Both slaves and free blacks were welcomed into Methodist and Baptist churches. Independent black Baptist churches were established before 1800 in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia, and later developed in Mississippi as well.
In the post-Civil War years, religion became more influential as the South became known as the “Bible Belt”.
Since the 1970s, fundamentalist conservative churches have grown rapidly, fueling Mississippi’s conservative political trends among whites. 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).
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the Southern Baptist Convention had 907,384 adherents and was the largest religious denomination in the state, followed by the United Methodist Church with 204,165, and the Roman Catholic Church with 112,488. Other religions have a small presence in Mississippi; as of 2010, there were 5,012 Muslims; 4,389 Hindus; and 816 Bahá’í.
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. 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%). 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%).
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.
The 2010 United States Census counted 6,286 same-sex unmarried-partner households in Mississippi, an increase of 1,512 since the 2000 United States census. 33% contained at least one child, giving Mississippi the distinction of leading the nation in the percentage of same-sex couples raising children. Mississippi has the largest percentage of African-American same-sex couples among total households. The state capital, Jackson, ranks tenth in the nation in concentration of African-American same-sex couples. The state ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of Hispanic same-sex couples among all Hispanic households and ninth in the highest concentration of same-sex couples who are seniors. 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. The bill has become the subject of controversy. A federal judge blocked the law in July, however it was challenged and a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the law in October 2017.
Zip Code Map
Mississippi neighborhoods include: Aberdeen, Amory, Anguilla, Ashland, Bailey, Batesville, Bay Saint Louis, Bay Springs, Belden, Belen, Belzoni, Benoit, Benton, Bentonia, Biloxi, Blue Mountain, Blue Springs, Bolton, Booneville, Brandon, Braxton, Brooklyn, Byhalia, Byram, Caledonia, Camden, Canton, Carriere, Carthage, Cascilla, Charleston, Chatham, Choctaw, Chunky, Clarksdale, Clinton, Coahoma, Coldwater, Collinsville, Columbia, Columbus, Como, Corinth, Courtland, Crawford, Crenshaw, Crowder, Cruger, Crystal Springs, Daleville, Darling, De Kalb, Diamondhead, Diberville, Drew, Duck Hill, Dumas, Dundee, Ecru, Edwards, Ellisville, Enid, Enterprise, Etta, Falcon, Falkner, Flora, Florence, Flowood, Forest, French Camp, Fulton, Gattman, Gautier, Georgetown, Glen Allan, Golden, Greenville, Greenwood, Greenwood Springs, Grenada, Gulfport, Hamilton, Harrisville, Hattiesburg, Hazlehurst, Heidelberg, Hermanville, Hickory Flat, Hollandale, Holly Bluff, Holly Springs, Houlka, Houston, Isola, Itta Bena, Jackson, Jayess, Kilmichael, Kiln, Lamar, Lambert, Lauderdale, Laurel, Leakesville, Learned, Leland, Lena, Lexington, Long Beach, Lorman, Louin, Louise, Lucedale, Lumberton, Lyon, Madison, Magee, Mantachie, Marion, Marks, Mc Henry, Mc Lain, Mendenhall, Meridian, Michigan City, Minter City, Monticello, Moorhead, Morgan City, Morton, Moss Point, Natchez, Neely, Nettleton, Newhebron, Oak Vale, Ocean Springs, Okolona, Olive Branch, Pachuta, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Pattison, Paulding, Pearl, Pearlington, Pelahatchie, Perkinston, Petal, Philadelphia, Philipp, Picayune, Pickens, Pinola, Pontotoc, Pope, Poplarville, Port Gibson, Potts Camp, Prairie, Preston, Purvis, Raleigh, Randolph, Raymond, Red Banks, Redwood, Richland, Richton, Ridgeland, Ripley, Robinsonville, Rolling Fork, Rose Hill, Roxie, Ruleville, Sarah, Sardis, Satartia, Saucier, Schlater, Senatobia, Shannon, Sidon, Silver City, Silver Creek, Sledge, Smithville, Sontag, Soso, Southaven, Starkville, State Line, Steens, Stewart, Stringer, Sumrall, Terry, Thaxton, Tinsley, Tiplersville, Toomsuba, Tougaloo, Tremont, Tunica, Tupelo, Tutwiler, Union, Utica, Vaiden, Vance, Vancleave, Vaughan, Vicksburg, Vossburg, Walnut, Walnut Grove, Waterford, Water Valley, Waveland, Waynesboro, Wesson, Wiggins, Winona, Winterville, Woodland, Woodville, Yazoo City
For more information, see Mississippi wiki