90 Fun & Interesting Facts About Mississippi, USA

Mississippi is famous as the birthplace of blues, for its catfish, and for its slavery and Civil War history.

Find out what else the “Magnolia State” is known for with these fun Mississippi facts!

General Mississippi Facts

  • Mississippi is located in the Southeastern region of the United States.
  • It is also considered part of the Deep South, formerly called the Cotton States, after the primary cash crop during the slavery period.
  • Of the 50 states, Mississippi is the 32nd largest, with a total area of 48,430 mi² (125,443 km²). It sits between Louisiana and Pennsylvania in terms of size.
  • Mississippi is slightly larger than North Korea and slightly smaller than Nicaragua.
  • Mississippi ranks 34th in the US in terms of population, with 2.94 million people, slightly more than Kansas and less than Arkansas.
  • Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and the state’s largest city. With around 150,000 people, it is the 177th largest city in the United States.
Aerial view of the state capitol building and surrounding buildings in Jackson, Mississippi
The Mississippi state capitol in Jackson
  • 38% of Mississippi residents are African American, which is the highest percentage of any state. However, in terms of the number of black residents, Texas has the most, and Mississippi is not even in the top-10.
  • 21 Native American tribes have called the area of present-day Mississippi home at some point. Today, the Choctaw are the only federally-recognized Native American tribe in the state of Mississippi.
  • There are also more churches per capita in the state than in any of the other states in the US, with 83% of residents practicing Christianity.
  • The state is named after the Mississippi River, which got its name from the Ojibwa word for the river – “Messipi“, meaning “Big River”.
  • The capital was named after General Andrew Jackson’s, who led the US against the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and later became the 7th president of the US.
Front of the First Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi
Mississippi is known for its many churches.
  • Mississippi residents are called Mississippians and (less commonly) Mississippers.
  • The official abbreviation of Mississippi is MS.
  • Nicknames for Mississippi include “The Magnolia State”, “The Hospitality State”, “The Bayou State”, “The Eagle State”, and “The Groundhog State.”
  • Official tourism slogans for Mississippi have been “Feels Like Coming Home” and “Mississippi: The South’s Warmest Welcome”, while southern Mississippi has been touted as “The Secret Coast.”
  • Mississippi has not one, not two, but three official state mammals. They are the white-tailed deer, the red fox, and the bottlenose dolphin.
The state flag of Mississippi
The new Mississippi state flag
  • Mississippi’s state flag features a white magnolia blossom encircled by one gold star, 20 white stars, and the words “In God We Trust”. Stripes of red, gold, and blue are also featured. This flag was chosen in 2020, replacing the earlier Confederate flag, after the George Floyd protests which started in Minnesota and spread across the country and world.
  • The official state motto of Mississippi is “Virtute et Armis“, which is Latin for “By Valor and Arms.”

Random Interesting Facts About Mississippi

  • Mississippi is 1 of 9 states whose name consists of only 4 letters, and it is the longest one, having 11 letters.
  • Many children in the US describe “Mississippi” as being the first “difficult” word they ever learned to spell.
A uniquely shaped historic house in Mississippi
Longwood house, one of several National Historic Sites in Mississippi
  • There are no national parks in Mississippi, but the state has 24 state parks, with the most popular ones being Buccaneer State Park, LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, and Tishomingo State Park.
  • 0.07% of Mississippi is protected land, which is the second lowest of any state, after Kansas.
  • There is one National Monument in Mississippi: The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home. Medgar Evers was a civil rights activist who was assassinated by a white supremacist just outside of the house in 1963.
  • There are 40 National Historic Sites in Mississippi, a list which includes battle and treaty sites, earth mounds and archaeological remains of the Mississippian culture, a rocket testing site, and numerous historic homes.
View of a large boat on the Mississippi River and a bridge across it, with trees in foreground
The Mississippi River near Vicksburg
  • The Mississippi River, which actually starts 877 mi (1412 km) north of the state, forms the state’s border with Arkansas and part of Louisiana.
  • The Delta Blues, one of the earliest types of blues, was developed in the Mississippi Delta area, especially in the city of Clarksdale. Today the city has the Delta Blues Museum and several monuments dedicated to its musical past and performers. It is also a good base for exploring the Mississippi Blues Trail.
  • Mississippi has a handful of main islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore shared with Alabama. The largest of Mississippi’s Gulf Islands is Ship Island, which is famous for Fort Massachusetts.
  • Others include Deer Island (just off the mainland), Horn Island (which inspired the painter Walter Anderson), Cat Island (which actually has lots of racoons, not cats), Petis Bois, and Round Island.
  • Mississippi also used to have an island called Isle of Caprice, but it has disappeared.
A rounded fort wall at Fort Massachusetts, Ship Island, Mississippi
Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island
  • The state is heavily forested, with over half of Mississippi’s land area covered by cultivated or wild trees. There are 6 national forests, with the largest being De Soto National Forest.
  • Woodall Mountain is the highest point of elevation in Mississippi, at 806 feet (245,67 meters), while the Gulf of Mexico is the lowest point, at sea level.
  • Mississippi recorded its hottest temperature of 115°F (46.1°C) on July 29, 1930 at Holly Springs. It’s lowest was -19°F (-28.33°C) on January 30, 1966 at Corinth.
Trees reflecting on the water with sun rays streaming down in De Soto National Forest, Mississippi
De Soto National Forest
  • Mississippi ranks as the poorest state in the country, with a poverty rate of just under 20%.
  • Mississippi has one of the nation’s lowest workforce participation rates, at 56%.
  • In fact, the state has roughly 70,000 disabled adults, which is 10% of the workforce.
  • Mississippi is the leading producer of farmed catfishes and shrimps. Belzoni, Mississippi is considered the “catfish capital of the world.”
  • After Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a captive bear on a hunting trip in Mississippi, a candy shop in New York City decided to make a stuffed animal called a “teddy bear”.
A bunch of catfish swimming at the surface of water
Mississippi is known for its catfish.
  • After casinos were legalized in Mississippi in 1990, the state underwent a small boom.
  • Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1894.
  • Root Beer was invented in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq Sr.
  • Mississippi native Fred Smith started FedEx in 1973, although he did so in neighboring Tennessee.
A large, frosty mug of root beer on a table with a pink background
We have Mississippi to thank for Root Beer
  • The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was first inspired by music at church and started playing in elementary school. He later moved to Memphis, Tennessee as a teenager. His childhood home is now on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
  • Britney Spears, the “Princess of Pop”, was born in McComb, Mississippi.
  • Oprah Winfrey of Kosciusko, Mississippi is the wealthiest African American in the country.
  • Other famous Mississippians include blues musicians B.B. King and Bo Diddley, puppeteer Jim Henson, author Eudora Welty, playwright Tennessee Williams, and musician Jimmy Buffet.
A mosaic of famous people from Mississippi
Famous Mississippians Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, Jimmy Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey (clockwise from top-left)
  • Elizabeth Lee Hazen and Rachel F. Brown of Mississippi developed Nystatin, the antifungal antibiotic.
  • Dr. Tichener’s Antiseptic Mouthwash was first produced in Liberty, Mississippi.
  • Columbus, Mississippi native David Harrison patented his invention of the soft toilet seat cover. It’s obviously much appreciated, with 1 million soft toilet seat covers being sold each year.
  • Dr. James Hardy performed the first human lung transplant at the University of Mississippi in 1963. One year later, the first animal-human heart transplant was performed by Dr. Hardy once again.
  • The first real synthetics – fibers of rayon – were developed by Dr. Emmette F. Izard of Hazlehurst, Mississippi.
Colorful threads of rayon
Rayon was first invented in Mississippi
  • Mississippi has some weird old laws. For instance, if you have more than one illegitimate child, you could face up to one month in jail.
  • It’s also illegal to explain polygamy to someone.
  • Using profane language in public carries a fine of up to $100.
  • In Temperance, Mississippi, you’re legally supposed to put a diaper on your dog when taking them on a walk.
  • It’s still technically illegal to live with your partner unless you’re married.

Historical Facts About Mississippi

  • Indigenous history in Mississippi goes back to the last ice age. Native peoples built earth mounds there starting around 2000 years ago, such as Emerald Mound.
  • In 1540, Hernando de Soto of Spain became the first European to visit the region of Mississippi.
A grass covered earth mound in Mississippi
Emerald Mound
  • Mississippian cultures disappeared around the same time, but their descendants, such as the Chickasaw and Choctaw, continued to live in the area.
  • Mississippi was under the control of France and became part of Louisiana in 1682.
  • Fort Maurepas was Mississippi’s first settlement. It was established by Frenchman Pierre d’Iberville in 1699.
  • Rules were established by French officials to allow the importing of slaves into the Biloxi area in 1718.
  • In 1719, the first slave shipments arrived in the region. Most of the early slaves were Caribbean Creoles.
  • In 1798, the Territory of Mississippi was established and Natchez was made its capital.
An old Riverboat on the Mississippi River
The Riverboat Natchez is named after the original capital of Mississippi
  • Between 1801 and 1802, a treaty with the Native Americans was made which allowed the development of the Natchez Trace as a mail route and major road.
  • Mississippi was made the 20th state by the US Congress in 1817.
  • On January 1, 1821, the state’s first public school was opened. In fact, Franklin Academy is still open till this day.
  • Jackson became the state capital in 1822. The site was chosen because it was on high, fertile ground with river access nearby.
  • In 1830, the Choctaw tribe gave up their land in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. In the coming years they were forced to move to Indian Territory.
  • Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861 and joined the Confederacy. The Civil War began that same year.
The older confederate flag of Mississippi
Mississippi’s older confederate flag was adopted in 1894.
  • In 1863, the Union won the Battle of Vicksburg and gained control of the Mississippi River.
  • Slavery was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
  • Mississippi was readmitted into the Union in 1870.
  • Boll weevils, a small beetle, appeared in 1907 and destroyed much of the cotton crop.
  • Statewide prohibition was adopted by Mississippi in 1908.
  • Mrs. Mamie Thomas of Mississippi became the first female rural mail carrier in the US in 1914.
Black and white photograph of workers in a cotton mill
Workers in a cotton gin in Mississippi in the around the turn of the 20th century
  • The largest flood to ever occur in the US was the flooding of the Mississippi River on April 15, 1927.
  • In 1964, segregation in public places was outlawed after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act.
  • Mississippi was the last state to repeal prohibition, and the state’s first liquor store was opened on August 6, 1966.
  • 1969 marked the end of public school segregation.
  • In 1969 and 1976, two different tornadoes took almost exactly the same path across Mississippi.
  • The first woman Supreme Court Justice of Mississippi was Judge Lenore Prather in 1983.
Some houses and trees in Natchez, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi today
  • In 1985, Justice Rueben Anderson became the first African American Supreme Court Justice in Mississippi.
  • The Mississippi Legislature passed one of the strongest lobbying reform laws in the country in 1994.
  • Same-sex marriage was banned in Mississippi from 2004 to 2015.
  • In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the coast and caused severe damage.
  • From 2006, the names and faces of sex offenders were allowed to be placed on roadside billboards.
  • In 2012, Governor Haley Barbour issued full pardons to 208 inmates before leaving office. Of the 208 inmates, 14 were convicted murderers.
Some rubble, broken car, and American flag after Hurricane Katrina struck Mississippi
Hurricane Katrina damage in Mississippi
  • Natasha Trethewey of Mississippi was named the nation’s poet laureate on June 7, 2012 by the US Library of Congress.
  • On March 8, 2018, the nation’s most restrictive abortion law was passed by Mississippi lawmakers. The law made abortion illegal in most cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A full ban went into effect on July 7, 2022.