100 Lavish Facts About Louisiana

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 all 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If Louisiana were a country, it would be slightly larger than Greece.
  • 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.
  • Louisiana has a population of 4.57 million, ranking as the 24th most populous state, putting it between Alabama and Kentucky in population size.
  • Louisiana’s capital is Baton Rouge. With a population of 227,500, it just 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
  • 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.
  • Over 30% of people in Louisiana and 54% of people in New Orleans are African American.
  • French was once the dominant language of Louisiana, but today only 3.5% of people speak it.
  • 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).
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Louisiana is the 4th most religious state in the US, after Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
  • Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV. “La Louisiane” is French for “Land of Louis”.
  • People who live in Louisiana are called Louisianans or Louisianians. People from New Orleans are called New Orleanians.
  • Louisiana is the nation’s only state to have “parishes”, which are political subdivisions equivalent to counties. The state has 65 parishes.
A Louisiana brown pelican in water
The Louisiana brown pelican lives in the state’s marshes
  • Louisiana’s state motto is “Union, Justice and Confidence”.
  • Louisiana has two state songs: “You Are My Sunshine” and “Give Me Louisiana”.
  • The Louisiana black bear is the official state mammal, while the alligator is the state reptile.
  • Louisiana is nicknamed “The Pelican State”. The pelican has long been symbolic of Louisiana and the Eastern Brown Pelican is the official state bird.
  • 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
  • The Louisiana flag features a solid blue field, which symbolizes 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 in order to feed its young. This symbolizes the sacrifices made for Louisiana’s people.
  • The two-letter acronym for Louisiana is LA (not to be confused with LA in California!)

Random Interesting Facts About Louisiana

  • A world-famous event takes place every year in New Orleans: Mardi Gras. The event has been celebrated for hundreds of years and it takes place on the last day before Lent.
  • 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
  • There are no national parks in Louisiana. 0.1% of Louisiana is protected in 35 state parks and one state forest, the 3rd lowest percentage of any state, after Kansas and Mississippi.
  • There is one UNESCO World Heritage Site in Louisiana: Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point, a site where ancient hunter-gatherers moved some 750,000 cubic meters of earth into mounds and formations.
  • The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state Capitol building in the US. The building stands 450 ft (137 m) tall and has 34 floors.
The tall central building of the Louisiana State Capitol
Louisiana State Capitol, tallest in the US
  • 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.  
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grand Isle, the largest island in Louisiana, is the start of the Louisiana Highway, which traverses the state.
Aerial of Lake Pontchartrain Causeway stretching into the distance
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
  • 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.
  • Louisiana has the 3rd lowest mean elevation in any state, at 98 ft (29.9 m) above sea level.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Louisiana is the 2nd wettest state in the US, with 56.9 inches (145 cm) of rainfall per year. Only Hawaii gets more precipitation.  
  • 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.
  • Some of Louisiana’s mammals include muskrats, coyotes, swamp rabbits and American beavers. The American alligator is the state’s best-known reptile.
  • Louisiana and Florida have more alligators than any other state (around 1 million each).
  • Louisiana is also home to harlequin coral snakes, Louisiana pine snakes, alligator snapping turtles, crawfish frogs, southern toads, purple gallinules, yellow-crowned night-herons among many others.
A pot of shrimp creole
Shrimp creole, a typical Creole dish
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Other famous musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, the Dixie Cups, Tim McGraw, Dr. John, Lil Wayne, and Master P are from Louisiana.
A mosaic of famous people from Louisiana
Famous Louisianians Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reese Witherspoon, Tim McGraew, and Ellen Degeneres (clockwise from top-left)
  • Britney Spears was born in Mississippi but grew up in Louisiana.
  • Comedians, actors and actresses like Ellen Degeneres, Anthony Mackie, Jared Leto, Carl Weathers, Reese Witherspoon, Tyler Perry, Ashley Scott, and many more successful faces all come from Louisiana.
  • Nicolas Cage has already purchased his own mausoleum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • The famous criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde died in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Today there is a Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Bienville.  
  • The man who runs the 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
  • Madam C. J. Walker of Louisiana was America’s first self-made millionaire. She made cosmetics and hair products for African American women.
  • 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.
  • The Sazerac cocktail is often considered the first cocktail invented in America, by Antoine Amadie Peychaud in New Orleans in 1850.
  • John Riddell of Tulane University, Louisiana invented the binocular microscope, which changed the scientific community forever.
A pot containing crawfish and corn, a dish called Louisiana crawfish boil
Louisiana crawfish boil
  • Breaux Bridge, Louisiana is considered “The Crawfish Capital of the World”.
  • Rayne, Louisiana is considered “The Frog Capital of the World”.
  • Gueydan, Louisiana is considered “The Duck Capital of the World”.
  • Kaplan, Louisiana is considered “The Most Cajun Place on Earth”.
Close up of a Cajun accordion
A Cajun accordion
  • Louisiana has a different legal system than the other 49 states, which follow English common law. Louisiana’s legal system is derived from the French emperor Napoleon’s Civil Code in 1804.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rituals involving the ingestion of urine, fecal matter or blood are illegal in Louisiana. If you decide to urinate in the city’s water supply, consider it your ticket for a 20-year jail sentence.
  • If you steal an alligator in Louisiana, you could end up in jail for up to 10 years.
  • Think twice before ordering a pizza for your friend without their knowledge. The result in Louisiana would be a $500 fine.

Historical Facts About Louisiana

  • Louisiana was underwater until about 350 million years ago.
  • More than half of the state’s land was formed by sedimentary deposits from its rivers.
  • After the fall of the dinosaurs, Louisiana’s coastal plains were occupied by camels and mastodons.
A staircase leading up a ancient mound at Poverty Point Louisiana
Ancient mound at Poverty Point
  • Around 5500 years ago, indigenous people built the oldest earth mounds in North America in Louisiana.
  • 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.
  • Spanish explorer Alvarez de Pineda was the first European to see the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1519.
  • Louisiana was first explored by Hernando de Soto in 1541. The Spanish explorer was in search of gold.
Old buildings in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Historic buildings in Natchitoches
  • In 1714, the first permanent European settlement was established by the French, called Natchitoches.
  • The city of New Orleans was founded in 1718 and named after Phillippe Duc D’Orleans, the openly bisexual son of Louis XIII.
  • In 1751, sugar cane was introduced into Louisiana for the first time.
  • In 1763, Spain gained control over Louisiana after defeating France in the Seven Years’ War.
  • From 1765 to 1785, the Acadians were forcefully deported from Canada, with about 3000 of them ending up in Louisiana, where they came to be known as Cajuns.
  • 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
  • Louisiana was bought by the US in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
  • The US split the area into the Territory of Orleans and the much larger District of Louisiana to the north.
  • Louisiana once had counties, but they were later replaced with 19 parishes in 1807.
  • 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
  • The British were defeated in 1815 by General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. This was the last major battle of the War of 1812.
  • In 1823, Louisiana’s first natural gas field was discovered at a depth of 400 ft (121.92 m).
  • The New Orleans and Carrollton Line has been the oldest street railway line since 1835. In fact, it’s still in operation today.
  • Louisiana joined the Confederacy and seceded from the US in 1861. At the time, there were over 300,000 slaves in Louisiana.
  • The nation’s first army to have African American officers was the Confederate Louisiana Native Guards in 1862.
Exterior of historic Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana
Nottoway Plantation, built by slaves in 1859 and one of the largest in the state
  • New Orleans was captured by the Union Army in 1862 and readmitted to the Union in 1868.
  • 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)
  • The origins of jazz date to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when New Orleans musicians combined elements of European classical music and West African slave music.
  • In 1901, oil was discovered at Jennings, Louisiana.
  • 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
  • Louisiana’s first heart transplant was performed in 1973 by a team of surgeons.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • In 2010, a BP oil rig exploded and caused a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.
  • New Orleans was the fastest growing US city in the early 2010s, but that progress has slowed.