Louisiana is one of the most culturally fascinating US states. This southern region is famous for being the birthplace of jazz music and is well known for it Mardi Gras and carnival scene, spicy Creole food, and for playing host to the Mississippi River.
No wonder so many people travel to New Orleans! Even if you’ve already visited this state before, here are a few fun facts about Louisiana which may still surprise you.
1. Who named the state?
Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV of France.
2. Louisiana has a few different neighbors.
Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mexico to the south, Texas to the west and Mississippi to the east.
3. What’s the capital of Louisiana?
The capital of the state is Baton Rouge.
4. Millions of people call the state home.
In 2019 the population of Louisiana was 4.649 million.
5. Pick a tune!
Louisiana has adopted two state songs. They are ’Give Me Louisiana’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
6. It’s snapper country.
Alligators roam throughout the wild in Louisiana, though they are also ‘farmed’.
7. The bears here look a bit strange.
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.
8. There’s a record-setting bridge.
9. D’you like jazz?
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.
10. In fact, Satchmo was born there.
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4th, 1901.
11. The US paid good money for the state.
America ‘bought’ Louisiana from France in 1803. It cost them $15 million!
12. Take a big gulp!
Louisiana is also known to many as the ‘Pelican’ state.
13. It went for nine years before getting statehood.
Louisiana became a state in 1812. Prior to that, it was simply known as ‘Orleans Territory’.
14. They named a transport hub after Satchmo.
To honor what would have been Louis Armstrong’s 100th birthday, the Moisant Field Airport was renamed the ‘Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport’.
15. Its river is very famous.
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.
16. The state has many different airports.
Louisiana has four international airports, 70 public airports, 221 heliports, 174 private airports, 17 ultralight bases and ten seaplane bases!
17. Not all Louisiana denizens were good people.
18. Visitors flock for carnival.
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!
19. The state has played a part in the space race.
20. Mardi Gras has religious beginnings.
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.
21. It’s been celebrated for centuries.
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.
22. Not a job we fancy!
Approximately 300,000 are farmed in Louisiana annually. They are then sold as meat or for their skins.
23. Some Louisiana alligators are seriously old.
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!
24. And yes, some are massive.
A record breaking alligator in Louisiana reached 19 feet 2 inches in length!
25. The state is known for its creative menus.
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!
26. Pralines are a big deal here.
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!
27. Wine and jazz go hand in hand.
There are several vineyards in Louisiana. For example, John Seaborn founded the Pontchartrain vineyard in 1991.
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!
28. However, they enjoy more than just wine as a tipple.
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!
29. The state has been immortalized in animation.
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.
FAQs about Louisiana
Do people speak French in Louisiana?
Yes - though only around 150,000 people speak it natively.
What are some common Louisiana last names?
Many names in Louisiana are French in origin - such as Melancon, Benoit, and Cormier.
Is Louisiana bad to live in?
Not overall - but the city of Donaldsonville was once ranked as one of the worst to live in across the US!
Do you know any fun facts about Louisiana? Share them in the comments below!