Louisiana remains one of the most culturally fascinating states in the whole of the USA. This southern region is famous for being the birthplace of jazz music, for example! It’s also well known for its vibrant Mardi Gras and carnival scene, for playing host to the Mississippi River, and being the central location of many different stories, TV shows, movies and more. You’ll even find there are thousands of songs written about New Orleans, with millions more inspired by the region.
Here are stacks of interesting facts about Louisiana as a state – home of jazz, wine, spicy stews, and incredible parades. No wonder so many people travel to New Orleans, at the very least, year after year! Even if you have already visited the state before, here are a few facts and figures which may still surprise you.
Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV of France.
Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mexico to the south, Texas to the west and Mississippi to the east.
The capital of the state is Baton Rouge.
In 2019 the population of Louisiana was 4.649 million.
Louisiana has adopted two state songs. They are ’Give Me Louisiana’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
Alligators roam throughout the wild in Louisiana, though they are also ‘farmed’.
Black Bears of a unique type live throughout Louisiana. They have broader snouts, bigger skulls, and longer molar teeth than most.
These unique bears were on the endangered species list as far back as 1992,after it was calculated 80% of the bears’ habitats had been changed or destroyed in the 1980s. They were removed from the endangered list by 2016.
At 24 miles long, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest ‘bridge’ over a stretch of water on earth.
New Orleans has worldwide fame as the ‘Home of Jazz’. Many famous Jazz musicians have called the area home, including legendary trumpet player and singer Louis Armstrong.
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4th, 1901.
America ‘bought’ Louisiana from France in 1803. It cost them $15 million!
Louisiana is also known to many as the ‘Pelican’ state.
Louisiana became a state in 1812. Prior to that, it was simply known as ‘Orleans Territory’.
The Mississippi River runs 2,350 miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Famous for its paddle boats, the River is a common sight in many films, and is featured in plenty of songs.
To honor what would have been Louis Armstrong’s 100th birthday, the Moisant Field Airport was renamed the ‘Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport’.
Louisiana has four international airports, 70 public airports, 221 heliports, 174 private airports, 17 ultralight bases and ten seaplane bases!
Lee Harvey Oswald, most famous as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, was born in New Orleans in 1939.
An ex US Marine, Oswald was imprisoned after shooting the President and later shot to death by Jack Ruby in a Dallas County Jail.
Louisiana has a long history of pioneering work for space exploration. The Michoud Assembly Facility is on an 832 acre site, and it’s where the Saturn V rocket was built.
The population of New Orleans is approximately 384,000, but this swells to just under 1.5 million people when Mardi Gras celebrations take place each year!
The words ‘Mardi Gras’ are French. Directly translated they mean ‘Tuesday Fat’. In France, this is a significant day, falling just before Ash Wednesday and therefore kicking off Lent in the Christian calendar.
The first celebration of Mardi Gras in the US was held on a piece of land south of New Orleans at the insistence of an explorer, Jean Baptiste, in 1699.
Approximately 300,000 alligators are farmed in Louisiana annually. They are then sold as meat or for their skins.
In the wild, alligators usually live for between 30 and 40 years, but have been known to reach 70! There are some pensioner alligators out there somewhere in the swamplands!
A record breaking alligator in Louisiana reached 19 feet 2 inches in length!
Louisiana is famous for a wide range of culinary delights, having been influenced by several sources. A ‘muffuletta’ is a large round sandwich containing Italian salami and ham, garlic, cheese, and salad. They were invented in New Orleans’ French quarter.
Gumbo is the official dish of Louisiana. Cajun-style Gumbo, made with fish or meat mixed with spices, is usually not so highly spiced as the more exotic Creole-style gumbo. This variation really ups the ante when it comes to tomatoes and peppers!
In the 1700s, French nuns brought a recipe for pralines to Louisiana. These are sweet treats with a high sugar content and based around the sweet crunch of pecan nuts. This treat is still widely enjoyed to this day, even all over the world!
There are several vineyards in Louisiana. For example, John Seaborn founded the Pontchartrain vineyard in1991.
Annual ‘Jazz ‘n’ vines’ concerts are held at the Pontchartrain vineyard. The popular events here bring together local wine as well as the fantastic music of New Orleans!
In the 1930s, Antoine Peychaud had an apothecary in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Experimenting with the bitters he made, he is now accredited with inventing the ‘Sazerac’.
This world-famous cocktail is made from Cognac, Absinthe, bitters, and lemon peel. It’s thought to be the first alcoholic cocktail ever created – another brilliant first for Louisiana!
Disney animation brought Louisiana to the big screen in 2009 via ‘The Princess and The Frog’. This new take on ‘The Frog Prince’ features trumpet-playing alligators, and a New Orleans-inspired soundtrack.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Louisiana that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!