Michigan (/ˈmɪʃɪɡən/ (listen)) is a state in the Great Lakes region of the upper Midwestern United States. With a population of nearly 10.12 million and an area of nearly 97,000 sq. mi (250,000 km2), Michigan is the 10th-largest state by population, the 11th-largest by area, and the largest by area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation’s most populous and largest metropolitan economies. Its name derives from a Gallicized variant of the original Ojibwe word ᒥᓯᑲᒥ (mishigami),meaning “large water” or “large lake”.
Michigan consists of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula resembles the shape of a mitten, and comprises a majority of the state’s land area. The Upper Peninsula (often called “the U.P.”) is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km) channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge connects the peninsulas. Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bordered by four of the five Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair. It also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds. Michigan has the second-most water of any state, behind only Alaska.
The area was first occupied by a succession of Native American tribes over thousands of years. In the 17th century, French explorers claimed it as part of the New France colony, when it was largely inhabited by indigenous peoples. French and Canadian traders and settlers, Métis, and others migrated to the area, settling largely along the waterways. After France’s defeat in the French and Indian War in 1762, the region came under British rule. Britain ceded the territory to the newly independent United States after Britain’s defeat in the American Revolutionary War.
The area was part of the larger Northwest Territory until 1800, when western Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory. Michigan Territory was formed in 1805, but some of the northern border with Canada was not agreed upon until after the War of 1812. Michigan was admitted into the Union in 1837 as the 26th state, a free one. It soon became an important center of industry and trade in the Great Lakes region, attracting immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from many European countries. Immigrants from Finland, Macedonia and the Netherlands were especially numerous.
Although Michigan has developed a diverse economy, in the early 20th century it became widely known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, which developed as a major national economic force. It is home to the country’s three major automobile companies (whose headquarters are all in Metro Detroit). Once exploited for logging and mining, today the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula is important for tourism due to the abundance of natural resources. The Lower Peninsula is a center of manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, services, and high-tech industry.
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