Early in its history, Michigan's economy consisted mainly of the fur trade. Agriculture, timber, and mining dominated the state's economy in the 19th Century. Only Minnesota produces more iron ore than Michigan. It is also a leading state in steel production. Steel is a major component of automobiles. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Michigan became the center of the United States automobile industry and the automobile capital of the world.
Michigan is named after Lake Michigan. The word "Michigan" comes from the Chippewa Indian words "mici gama" meaning "great water." The state is nicknamed the "Wolverine State." Ironically, however, wolverines were never found in Michigan. Michigan got its nickname because early fur traders brought wolverine pelts, or skins, to trading posts in the region. The state is also nicknamed the "Water Wonderland," because of its more than 11,000 inland lakes and the four Great Lakes that border it. The Upper Peninsula is known as the "Land of Hiawatha" because it was the setting for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Song of Hiawatha." Longfellow was a famous 19th Century American poet. The abbreviation for Michigan is MI.
Michigan is an East North Central state with two peninsulas and numerous islands in the Great Lakes. The state has the longest coastline of any state besides Alaska. It is the only state bordered by four of the Great Lakes. Michigan has the most fresh water of any state in the country.
Michigan's Lower Peninsula is bordered by Lake Michigan to the west, Lakes Huron and Erie to the east, and Indiana and Ohio to the south. Its Upper Peninsula is bordered by the Saint Marys River to the east, the Straits of Mackinac and Lakes Michigan and Huron to the south, Wisconsin to the west, and Lake Superior to the north. The two peninsulas are separate land areas connected by the Mackinac Bridge, which spans five miles across the Straits of Mackinac. About 28 times more people live on the Lower Peninsula than on the Upper Peninsula despite the fact that it is only two-and-a-half times larger in area.
Henry Ford developed the world's first automobile assembly line in Michigan. As a result, the cost of his Model T car dropped from $850 to $300, a price which many families could afford. If you want to see cars being made, go to Michigan. Detroit, the state's largest city, is known as the "Automobile Capital of the World" and the "Motor City." The major industry in Lansing, the state's capital, is the production of automobiles and parts for them. Despite its history of being a leader in car production, competition from Japan has threatened Michigan's automobile industry. Three other important cities in Michigan include Grand Rapids, Flint, and Ann Arbor.
Michigan is more than a state of big cities and automobile production. If you want some fruit, go to Michigan. The state is a leading producer of cherries, peaches, and apples because of its many orchards. With its field crops and cattle farms, the state is a leading producer of food. Michigan is the chief producer of dry beans in the United States. If you had cereal for breakfast, it probably came from Battle Creek, the leading producer of breakfast cereal in the world. The state's ports are filled with ships carrying products from its factories and farms. The waterway between Lakes Superior and Huron is one of the world's busiest.
Because of its resorts, recreation facilities, beauty, and the Great Lakes, about 22 million tourists visit Michigan each year; it's one of the leading tourist states. Ski Michigan's beautiful ski slopes. In the middle of February watch the Suicide Hill Ski Jumping Tournament at Iron Mountain in Ishpeming. If you like to hunt, fish, swim, or hike, Michigan's the state for you.