Population: 4533372 people
Area: 135382 sq/ kilometres
Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643–1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane, meaning "Land of Louis". Once part of the French Colonial Empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present-day Mobile Bay to just north of the present-day Canadian border, and included a small part of what is now southwestern Canada.
Louisiana contains a number of areas which are, in varying degrees, protected from human intervention. In addition to National Park Service sites and areas and a United States National Forest, Louisiana operates a system of state parks, state historic sites, one state preservation area, one state forest, and many Wildlife Management Areas. Administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System provides a degree of protection for 48 rivers, streams and bayous in the state.
In March 2011, Louisiana ranked as the second bottom "Worst" state (next to number 50 Kentucky), in the American State Litter Scorecard. The Pelican State suffers from an overall poor effectiveness and quality of its statewide public space cleanliness (primarily from roadway and adjacent litter/debris)--in state and related eradication standards.
In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in the French dominion of Louisiana that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. "That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year," the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote.
When France sold the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought there as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi though it violated U.S. law to do so. Though Louisiana was, at the start of the 19th century, a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, it soon became a big sugar producer after plantation owners purchased enslaved people who had been transported from Africa and then to South Carolina before being sold in Louisiana where plantation owners forced the captive labor to work at no pay on their growing sugar cane plantations. Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory., slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest cost labor. The last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote that "Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves" and with the use of slaves, the colony had been "making great strides toward prosperity and wealth."
Forced slave labor was needed, said William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana's first United States governor, because unforced white laborers "cannot be had in this unhealthy climate." Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of trafficking in human beings where he was charged with doing so in Louisiana.
Cajuns and Creoles of French ancestry are dominant in much of the southern part of the state. Louisiana Cajuns are the descendants of French-speaking Acadians from colonial French Acadia, which are now the present-day Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Cajuns remained isolated in the swamps of South Louisiana well into the 20th century.During the early part of the 20th century, attempts were made to suppress Cajun culture by measures such as forbidding the use of the Cajun French language in schools.
The Creole people of Louisiana are split into two racial divisions. Créole was the term first given to French settlers born in Louisiana when it was a colony of France. In Spanish the term for natives was criollo. Given the immigration and settlement patterns, white Creoles are predominantly of French and Spanish ancestry. As the slave population grew in Louisiana, there were also enslaved blacks who could be called Creoles, in the sense of having been born in the colony.
The special meaning of Louisiana Creole, however, is associated with free people of color (gens de couleur libres), which was generally a third class of mixed-race people who were concentrated in southern Louisiana and New Orleans. This group was formed under French and Spanish rule, made up at first of descendants from relationships between colonial men and enslaved women, mostly African. As time went on, colonial men chose companions who were often women of color, or mixed-race. Often the men would free their companions and children if still enslaved. The arrangements were formalized in New Orleans as plaçage, often associated with property settlements for the young women and education for their children, or at least for sons. Creoles who were free people of color during French and Spanish rule formed a distinct class – many were educated and became wealthy property owners or artisans, and they were politically active. Often these mixed-race Creoles married only among themselves. They were a distinct group between French and Spanish descendants, and the mass of enslaved Africans.
The state's principal agricultural products include seafood (it is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world, supplying approximately 90%), cotton, soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, dairy products, and rice. The seafood industry directly supports an estimated 16,000 jobs. Industry generates chemical products, petroleum and coal products, processed foods and transportation equipment, and paper products. Tourism is an important element in the economy, especially in the New Orleans area.
The Port of South Louisiana, located on the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere and 4th largest in the world, as well as the largest bulk cargo port in the world.
New Orleans and Shreveport are also home to a thriving film industry. State financial incentives and aggressive promotion have put the local film industry on a fast track. In late 2007 and early 2008, a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) film studio was scheduled to open in Treme, with state-of-the-art production facilities, and a film training institute. Tabasco sauce, which is marketed by one of the United States' biggest producers of hot sauce, the McIlhenny Company, originated on Avery Island.
Louisiana is home to many, especially notable are the distinct culture of the Creoles and Cajuns.
Creole culture is a cultural amalgamation that takes a little from each of the French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures. The Creole culture is part of White Creoles' and Black Creoles' culture. Originally Créoles referred to native-born whites of French-Spanish descent. Later the term also referred to descendants of the white men's relationships with black women, many of whom were educated free people of color. Many of the wealthy white men had quasi-permanent relationships with women of color outside their marriages, and supported them as "placées". If a woman was enslaved at the beginning of the relationship, the man usually arranged for her manumission, as well as that of any of her children.
Creoles became associated with the New Orleans area, where the elaborated arrangements flourished. Most wealthy planters had houses in town as well as at their plantations. Popular belief that a Creole is a mixed Black / French person came from the "Haitian" connotation of an African French person. There were many immigrants from Haiti to New Orleans after the Revolution. Although a Black Creole is one type of Creole, it is not the only type, nor the original meaning of Creole. All of the respective cultures of the groups that settled in southern Louisiana have been combined to make one "New Orleans" culture. The creative combination of cultures from these groups, along with Native American culture, was called "Creole" Culture. It has continued as one of the dominant social, economic and political cultures of Louisiana, along with Cajun culture, well into the 20th century.
Cajun Culture. The ancestors of Cajuns came from west central France to the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, known as Acadia. When the British won the French and Indian War, the British forcibly separated families and evicted them because of their long-stated political neutrality. Most captured Acadians were placed in internment camps in England and the New England colonies for 10 to 30 years. Many of those who escaped the British remained in French Canada. Once freed by England, many scattered, some to France, Canada, Mexico, or the Falkland Islands. The majority found refuge in south Louisiana centered in the region around Lafayette and the LaFourche Bayou country. Until the 1970s, Cajuns were often considered lower-class citizens, with the term "Cajun" being somewhat derogatory. Once flush with oil and gas riches, Cajun culture, food, music, and their infectious "joie de vivre" lifestyle quickly gained international acclaim.
A third distinct culture in Louisiana is that of the Isleños, who are descendants of Spanish Canary Islanders who migrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown beginning in the mid-1770s. They settled in four main settlements, but many relocated to what is modern-day St. Bernard Parish, where the majority of the Isleño population is still concentrated. An annual festival called Fiesta celebrates the heritage of the Isleños. St Bernard Parish has an Isleños museum, cemetery and church, as well as many street names with Spanish words and Spanish surnames from this heritage. Isleño identity is an active concern in the New Orleans suburbs of St. Bernard Parish, LA. Some members of the Isleño community still speak Spanish – with their own Canary Islander accent. Numerous Isleño identity clubs and organizations, and many members of Isleños society keep contact with the Canary Islands of Spain.
Getting into Louisiana is certainly a challenge from the Mississippi Border, not to mention the many bridges and bayous that must be crossed. Shoulders are minimal on highways, and although it is flat significant wind blows in constantly. The people make up for this, some of the friendliest people in the world, and boy can they cook! Make sure you try some Boudin!
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