100 Fascinating Facts About Louisiana

Fun Louisiana facts

Louisiana has made a huge contribution to the American psyche, from jazz music and Creole food to Mardi Gras and the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Learn about the “Pelican State” with these 100 up-to-date, fascinating, and fun facts about Louisiana! Also, read these fun facts about New Orleans, the state’s largest and most famous city!

General Facts About Louisiana

1. Louisiana is in America’s Deep South (Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia) and the South Central US (Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas).

2. The state is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Texas to the west.

3. Louisiana is the 19th smallest state, at 52,069.13 mi² (135,382 km²). It sits in between Alabama and Mississippi in terms of size.

4. Louisiana would be slightly larger than Greece if it were a country.

5. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Louisiana covered an enormous 828,125 mi2 (2,144,834 km2), larger than modern-day Mexico, and stretching all the way to southern Canada.

6. Louisiana has a population of 4.57 million, ranking as the 24th most populous state, putting it between Alabama and Kentucky in population size.

7. Louisiana’s capital is Baton Rouge. With a population of 227,500, it barely makes the list of 100 largest cities in the US, in spot #99.  

Legislative grounds at Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana

8. The state’s largest city is New Orleans. 384,000 people live there (around 1 million in the metropolitan area), making it the 53rd largest in the US.

9. Over 30% of Louisiana and 54% of people in New Orleans are African American.

10. French was once the dominant language of Louisiana, but today only 3.5% of people speak it.

11. Two prominent ethnic groups in Louisiana are the Creoles (mixed Caribbean, French, Spanish, African, and/or Indian background) and Cajuns (descendants of French-speaking Acadians from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada).

12. Nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants live in Louisiana and pay over $100 million in taxes every year.

A French colonial building in the French Quarter of New Orleans, with US flags and rainbow pride flags
The New Orleans French Quarter

13. There are four federally recognized tribes in Louisiana: the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe of Louisiana, and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.

14. Louisiana is the 4th most religious state in the US, after Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

15. Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV. “La Louisiane” is French for “Land of Louis”.

16. People who live in Louisiana are called Louisianans or Louisianians. People from New Orleans are called New Orleanians.

17. Louisiana is the nation’s only state with “parishes,” which are political subdivisions equivalent to counties. The state has 64 parishes.

A Louisiana brown pelican in water
The Louisiana brown pelican lives in the state’s marshes

18. Louisiana’s state motto is “Union, Justice and Confidence”.

19. Louisiana has two state songs: “You Are My Sunshine” and “Give Me Louisiana”.

20. The Louisiana black bear is the official state mammal, while the alligator is the state reptile.

21. Louisiana is nicknamed “The Pelican State”. The pelican has long been a symbol of Louisiana, and the Eastern Brown Pelican is the official state bird.

22. The state has also been called “Sportsman’s Paradise” and “Hollywood South”.

The flag of Louisiana with a Pelican on it
The Louisiana state flag

23. The Louisiana flag features a solid blue field symbolizing truth. The coat of arms is featured in the center: a Pelican feeding its young. In some versions, there are three drops of blood on the Pelican as it tears at its breast to feed its young. This symbolizes the sacrifices made for Louisiana’s people.

24. The two-letter acronym for Louisiana is LA (not to be confused with LA in California!)

Random Facts About Louisiana

25. A world-famous event takes place every year in New Orleans: Mardi Gras. The event has been celebrated for hundreds of years and takes place on the last day before Lent.

26. During the two-week Mardi Gras celebration, over 10 million people visit the city to participate in parades and balls centered on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and other areas.

People lifting their hands to catch items being thrown from a parade float at Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Parade float during Mardi Gras

27. Louisiana does not have national parks. However, 0.1% of the state is protected in 35 state parks and one state forest, the third-lowest percentage of any state after Kansas and Mississippi.

28. Louisiana has one UNESCO World Heritage Site: Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point, where ancient hunter-gatherers moved some 750,000 cubic meters of earth into mounds and formations.

29. Louisiana has 54 national historic landmarks, mostly historic homes, other architecture, and streetcars and ships.

30. The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state Capitol building in the US. It is 450 feet (137 m) tall and has 34 floors.

The tall central building of the Louisiana State Capitol
Louisiana State Capitol, tallest in the US

31. Louisiana consist of hills in the north and the Mississippi alluvial region in the south, which includes many estuaries, swamps, and islands off the coast.  

32. 16% of Louisiana’s area is water, including major rivers like the Mississippi, which enters the sea at the expansive Mississippi Delta in Louisiana, and huge estuaries such as Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.

33. The world’s longest continuous bridge over a body of water is found in Louisiana: the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, at 23.83 mi (38.35 km) long.

34. Grand Isle, the largest island in Louisiana, is the Louisiana Highway’s start, traversing the state.

Aerial of Lake Pontchartrain Causeway stretching into the distance
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

35. Louisiana’s highest elevation point is 535 ft (163.07 m) at Driskill Mountain, while the lowest elevation point is 8 feet (2.44 meters) below sea level in New Orleans.

36. Louisiana has the 3rd lowest mean elevation in any state, at 98 ft (29.9 m) above sea level.

37. Due to Louisiana’s low elevation, the dead are sometimes laid to rest above ground instead of being buried. In New Orleans and other cities, markers and crypts in cemeteries are replaced with mausoleums, which are sometimes shaped like pyramids.

38. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Louisiana was at Plain Dealing on August 10, 1936, at 114°F (45.5°C), while the coldest was in Minden on February 13, 1899, at -16°F (-26.7°C).

An alligator opening its mouth in Louisiana
Alligators are common in Louisiana

39. Louisiana is the 2nd wettest state in the US, with 56.9 inches (145 cm) of rainfall per year. Only Hawaii gets more precipitation.  

40. The Pelican State nearly caused the extinction of the local species of pelican due to pollution. Thankfully, the pelican is back due to the state’s conservation efforts.

41. Some of Louisiana’s mammals include muskrats, coyotes, swamp rabbits, and American beavers. The American alligator is the state’s best-known reptile.

42. Louisiana and Florida have more alligators than any other state (around 1 million each).

43. Louisiana is also home to harlequin coral snakes, Louisiana pine snakes, alligator snapping turtles, crawfish frogs, southern toads, purple gallinules, and yellow-crowned night herons, among many others.

A pot of shrimp creole
Shrimp creole, a typical Creole dish

44. Creole cuisine originates in Louisiana. Like the Creole culture, it combines elements from various cultures. Iconic dishes include jambalaya, dirty rice, shrimp creole, gumbo, and several oyster dishes.

45. Louisiana is a popular filming location. Many well-known movies have been filmed in the state, including Crazy in Alabama, Suicide Squad, Fight Club, Swamp Thing, The Butler, The Apostle, and Skeleton Key.

46. Martial artist Daniel Cormier, football players Ed Reed and Terry Bradshaw, basketball player Bill Russell, and several other Hall of Fame-caliber athletes come from Louisiana.

47. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz music, with pioneers like Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Pete Fountain, Harry Connick, Jr., and the Marsalis family.

48. Other famous musicians from Louisiana include Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, the Dixie Cups, Tim McGraw, Dr. John, Lil Wayne, and Master P.

A mosaic of famous people from Louisiana
Famous Louisianians Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reese Witherspoon, Tim McGraw, and Ellen Degeneres (clockwise from top-left)

49. Britney Spears was born in Mississippi but grew up in Louisiana.

50. Louisiana is home to comedians, actors, and actresses like Ellen Degeneres, Anthony Mackie, Jared Leto, Carl Weathers, Reese Witherspoon, Tyler Perry, Ashley Scott, and many more successful faces.

51. Nicolas Cage has already purchased his own mausoleum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

52. The famous criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde died in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Today, a Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum is in Gibsland, Bienville.  

53. The man who runs the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum is the son of one of the men who killed the infamous duo during a shootout. The shootout took place about eight miles south of Gibsland.

Two things invented in Louisiana: sazerac cocktail on the left and a bottle of Tabasco sauce on the right
Louisianan gifts to the world: the Sazerac cocktail and Tabasco sauce.

54. Madam C. J. Walker of Louisiana was America’s first self-made millionaire. She made cosmetics and hair products for African American women.

55. Tabasco Sauce was first patented by McIlhenny Company on Avery Island, Louisiana, using peppers grown on the island (today, the sauce’s peppers mostly come from Mexico). It was one of the state’s first patents.

56. The Sazerac cocktail is often considered the first cocktail invented in America. It was invented by Antoine Amadie Peychaud in New Orleans in 1850.

57. John Riddell of Tulane University, Louisiana, invented the binocular microscope, which forever changed the scientific community.

A pot containing crawfish and corn, a dish called Louisiana crawfish boil
Louisiana crawfish boil

58. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, is “The Crawfish Capital of the World”.

59. Rayne, Louisiana, is considered “The Frog Capital of the World”.

60. Gueydan, Louisiana is considered “The Duck Capital of the World”.

61. Kaplan, Louisiana is considered “The Most Cajun Place on Earth”.

Close up of a Cajun accordion
A Cajun accordion

62. Louisiana’s legal system is different from that of the other 49 states, which follow English common law. It was derived from the Civil Code of 1804, which was written by the French emperor Napoleon.

63. Louisiana is one of only two states in the US where casino-style gambling is legal across the state (the other is, of course, Nevada, home of Las Vegas and Reno.

64. Louisiana has some strange laws. For instance, if you bite someone with your natural teeth, it’s considered a simple assault. However, it’s considered an aggravated assault if you bite someone with your false teeth.

65. If you steal an alligator in Louisiana, you could be jailed for up to 10 years.

Historical Facts About Louisiana

66. More than half of Louisiana’s state land was formed by river sedimentary deposits.

A staircase leading up a ancient mound at Poverty Point Louisiana
Ancient mound at Poverty Point

67. Around 5500 years ago, indigenous people built the oldest earth mounds in North America in Louisiana.

68. The Poverty Point culture along the Mississippi River was one of the oldest tribes in the United States and reached its peak around 1500 CE.

69. Spanish explorer Alvarez de Pineda was the first European to see the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1519.

70. In 1541, Hernando de Soto explored Louisiana in search of gold.

71. The Louisiana Territory was claimed by Robert de La Salle for France in 1682.

Old buildings in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Historic buildings in Natchitoches

72. In 1714, the French established the first permanent European settlement, called Natchitoches.

73. The city of New Orleans was founded in 1718 and named after Phillippe Duc D’Orleans, the openly bisexual son of Louis XIII.

74. In 1751, sugar cane was introduced into Louisiana for the first time.

75. Spain gained control over Louisiana after defeating France in the Seven Years’ War in 1763.

76. From 1765 to 1785, the Acadians were forcefully deported from Canada, with about 3000 ending up in Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns.

77. Opera was performed in the nation for the first time in New Orleans in 1796.

Exterior of St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans
St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans was founded in 1720

78. Louisiana was bought by the US in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

79. What was called “Louisiana” at that time was an immense area of land, including parts of modern-day Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada.

80. The US split the area into the Territory of Orleans and the much larger District of Louisiana to the north.

81. Louisiana once had counties, but they were later replaced with 19 parishes in 1807.

82. Louisiana became the 18th state in 1812, but its borders weren’t firmly established until 1819.

A red street car running down a road with palm trees in New Orleans
A streetcar in New Orleans

83. In 1815, General Andrew Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the War of 1812.

84. In 1823, Louisiana’s first natural gas field was discovered at a depth of 400 ft (121.92 m).

85. The New Orleans and Carrollton Line has been the oldest street railway line since 1835. In fact, it’s still in operation today.

86. Louisiana joined the Confederacy and seceded from the US in 1861. At the time, there were over 300,000 slaves in Louisiana.

87. In 1862, the Confederate Louisiana Native Guards were the nation’s first army to have African American officers.

Exterior of historic Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana
Nottoway Plantation, built by slaves in 1859 and one of the largest in the state

88. New Orleans was captured by the Union Army in 1862 and readmitted to the Union in 1868.

89. In 1879, the capital was moved to Baton Rouge for good (it had moved from New Orleans to Donaldsonville in 1825, to Baton Rouge in 1846, then back to New Orleans in 1864)

90. Jazz’s origins date to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when New Orleans musicians combined elements of European classical music and West African slave music.

91. In 1901, oil was discovered at Jennings, Louisiana.

92. On 8 September 1935, Senator Huey Long, nicknamed the “Kingfish” was assassinated in one of the corridors of the Louisiana State Capitol.

The Louisiana Caesars Superdome
Caesars Superdome in New Orleans

93. Tulane University made history in 1963 by accepting five black students.

94. Louisiana’s first heart transplant was performed in 1973 by a team of surgeons.

95. In 1975, the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans was completed.

96. Over 1,800 people were killed as a result of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005. It caused $125 billion in damage, and 80% of the city was underwater for weeks.

97. The emergency response to Katrina was widely criticized. Over half of the victims were African Americans.

A flooded street in downtown New Orleans
Floods in downtown New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

98. In 2009, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl for the first and only time ever.

99. In 2010, a BP oil rig exploded and caused a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.

100. New Orleans was the fastest-growing US city in the early 2010s, but that progress has slowed.

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