Mississippi takes its name from the Mississippi River, which runs along the state's western border. The Indians called the river the "Father of Waters." The word "Mississippi" probably comes from "mici zibi," a Chippewa Indian word meaning "great river" or "gathering-in of all the waters." Mississippi is nicknamed the "Magnolia State" because of its beautiful magnolia trees. Jackson, the state's capital and largest city, is known as the "Crossroads of the South." Mississippi residents are sometimes called "Mudcats," after the catfish found in the state's streams. The abbreviation for Mississippi is MS.
Mississippi is an East South Central state bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, Mexico to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. The state has the largest percentage of African American population in the United States. Mississippi's landscape includes farmland and forested hills.
If you like a mild climate, Mississippi could be the place for you. The state's gulf coast has many sunny beaches and nice hotels. Get a glimpse of how wealthy southern plantation owners once lived. Tour mansions built before the Civil War at Vicksburg and Natchez. While in Vicksburg, you can see where General Grant's army took control of the Mississippi River with an important victory during the Civil War. The Union Army victory cut the Confederate forces in two.
In the past, Mississippi's economy was largely dependent upon agriculture. The state is a leading producer of chicken and cotton. However, Mississippi is going through changes; it is becoming more industrial. Today, Mississippi plays an important role in technological developments in the medicine and space exploration fields. See the University of Mississippi Medical Center where, in 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world's first heart transplant for a human being when he replaced a human heart with a chimpanzee's heart. Visit John C. Stennis Space Center, located on Mississippi's gulf coast, where space shuttles' main engines are tested.
In addition to being important because of technology, Mississippi has significant deposits of petroleum and gas. It also produces manufactured goods like meat products, clothing, appliances, and ships. However, despite all of this, Mississippi continues to be the state with the lowest average income.
Many famous people were born in Mississippi. Visit Oxford, home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner. He based his fictional Yoknapatawpha County on his hometown. Richard Wright, considered by many to be the most important African American writer of his time, was born in Mississippi, too. His "Black Boy," written in 1945, depicts his life in Mississippi and Tennessee. Mississippi is also the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams.
Mississippi is known for other residents in addition to its famous writers. Visit Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock and Roll." Jefferson Davis, although born in Kentucky, spent most of his life in Mississippi, where he wrote about the "Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government." Davis was president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.