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Michigan (mĭshˈĭgən), upper midwestern state of the United States. It consists of two peninsulas thrusting into the Great Lakes and has borders with Ohio and Indiana (S), Wisconsin (W), and the Canadian province of Ontario (N,E).

Facts and Figures

Area, 58,216 sq mi (150,779 sq km). Pop. (2020) 9,986,857, a 1% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 79.2%; Black alone, 14.1%; Hispanic or Latino, 5.3%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 0.7%; Asian alone, 3.4%; Two or More Races, 2.5%. Capital, Lansing. Largest city, Detroit. Statehood, Jan. 26, 1837 (26th state). Highest pt., Mt. Curwood, 1,980 ft (604 m); lowest pt., Lake Erie, 572 ft (174 m). Nickname, Wolverine State. Motto, Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice [If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look about You]. State bird, robin. State flower, apple blossom. State tree, white pine. Abbr., Mich.; MI


The Lower Peninsula, shaped like a mitten, is separated from Ontario, Canada, on the east by Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and by the Detroit River and the St. Clair River, which together link these two Great Lakes. It is bordered by Lake Michigan on the west, across which lies Wisconsin. The Upper Peninsula lies northeast of Wisconsin between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and is separated from Ontario by the narrow St. Marys River.

The Upper Peninsula. known as the U.P. (its residents call themselves Yoopers), is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac; a bridge connecting the two peninsulas was opened in 1957 and has spurred the development of the Upper Peninsula. The eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula has swampy flats and limestone hills on the Lake Michigan shore, while sandstone ridges rise abruptly from the rough waters of Lake Superior; in the west the land rises to forested mountains, still rich in copper and iron.

The northern Michigan wilds, numerous inland lakes, and some 3,000 mi (4,800 km) of shoreline, combined with a pleasantly cool summer climate, have long attracted vacationers. In the winter Michigan's snow-covered hills bring skiers from all over the Midwest. Places of interest in the state include Greenfield Village, a re-creation of a 19th-century American village, and the Henry Ford Museum, both at Dearborn; Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes national lakeshores; and Isle Royal National Park.

Lansing is the capital, and Detroit is the largest city. Other major cities are Grand Rapids, Sterling Heights, Warren, Flint, and Ann Arbor.


The Upper Peninsula is northern woods country, with what has been described as “ten months of winter and two months of poor sledding.” The abundance of furred animals and forests early attracted fur traders and lumberjacks. Animals were trapped out, virgin forests were stripped, and, in addition, pure copper and high-grade iron ore were rapidly wrested from the earth, so that virtually all of the Upper Peninsula's mines have been closed. Deer, bear, and other game in the forests, as well as abundant fish in streams and lakes, keep the area a rich hunting and fishing ground. Selective cutting and replanting of trees are now employed in the second-growth forests.

The Lower Peninsula is less wild, but in parts no less beautiful, than the Upper. Its forests were also cut over in the lumber boom of the late 19th cent., when Michigan was briefly the world leader in lumber production. The soil of these cut-over lands, unlike the productive earth in other areas of the Lower Peninsula, proved generally unsuitable for agriculture, and reforestation has been undertaken.

The Lower Peninsula has its own mineral riches, including gypsum, sandstone, limestone, salt, cement, sand, and gravel, but its great wealth lies in the many farms and factories. The surrounding waters temper the climate, providing a long growing season. Fields of grain and corn cover much of the southern counties, and Michigan's noted fruit belt lines the shore of Lake Michigan (the state leads the nation in the production of cherries). Dairying is the most lucrative farm business. Corn is the chief crop, followed by greenhouse products, soybeans, apples, carrots, celery, cucumbers, and other vegetables.

Manufacturing accounts for 30% of Michigan's economic production, more than twice as much as any other sector. The manufacture of automobiles and transportation equipment is by far the state's chief industry, and Detroit, Dearborn, Flint, Pontiac, and Lansing are historic centers of automobile production, although the industry is now in dramatic decline throughout the state. The automobile industry's mass-production methods, developed here, were the core of the early-20th-century industrial revolution. Other Michigan manufactures include nonelectrical machinery, fabricated metal products, primary metals, chemicals, and food products. Among Michigan's most important industrial centers are Saginaw, Bay City, Muskegon, and Jackson. The chemical industry in Midland is one of the nation's largest; Kalamazoo is an important paper-manufacturing and pharmaceuticals center; Grand Rapids is noted for its furniture, and Battle Creek for its breakfast foods.

Although mining contributes less to income in the state than either agriculture or manufacturing, Michigan still has important nonfuel mineral production, chiefly of iron ore, cement, sand, and gravel, and is a leading producer of peat, bromine, calcium-magnesium chloride, gypsum, and magnesium compounds. Abundant natural beauty and excellent fishing help to make tourism a major Michigan industry. Michigan's historic lack of manufacturing diversity has made it particularly susceptible to the fluctuations of the national economy, and in recent years it has tried to diversify, attracting high-technology industry and developing the service sector.

Government and Higher Education

Michigan's constitution, adopted in 1963, provides for a governor serving a term of four years, who may be reelected. The state legislature is made up of a senate with 38 members and a house of representatives with 110 members. Michigan sends 14 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 16 electoral votes in presidential elections. Since 1990, Republicans and Democrats have split control of the governor's office.

Institutions of higher education include the Univ. of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint; Michigan State Univ., at East Lansing; the Univ. of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State Univ., at Detroit; Western Michigan Univ. and Kalamazoo College, at Kalamazoo; Eastern Michigan Univ., at Ypsilanti; Northern Michigan Univ., at Marquette; Central Michigan Univ., at Mt. Pleasant; and many other private and state colleges.


Native Americans and French Explorers

The Ojibwa, the Ottawa, the Potawatomi, and other Algonquian-speaking Native American groups were living in Michigan when the French explorer Étienne Brulé landed at the narrows of Sault Ste. Marie in 1618, probably the first European to have reached present Michigan. Later French explorers, traders, and missionaries came, including Jean Nicolet, who was searching for the Northwest Passage; Jacques Marquette, who founded a mission in the Mackinac region; and the empire builder, Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, who came on the Griffon, the first ship to sail the Great Lakes. French posts were scattered along the lakes and the rivers, and Mackinac Island (in the Straits of Mackinac) became a center of the fur trade. Fort Pontchartrain, later Detroit, was founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. The vast region was weakly held by France until lost to Great Britain in the last conflict (1754–63) of the French and Indian Wars.

Resistance to British Occupation

The Native Americans of Michigan, who had lived in peace with the French, resented the coming of the British, who were the allies of the much-hated Iroquois tribes. Under Pontiac they revolted (see Pontiac's Rebellion) against the British occupation. The rebellion, which began in 1763, was short-lived, ending in 1766, and the Native Americans subsequently supported the British during the American Revolution. Native American resistance to U.S. control was effectively ended at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 with the victory of Gen. Anthony Wayne. Despite provisions of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution (1783; see Paris, Treaty of), the British held stubbornly to Detroit and Mackinac until 1796.

After passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, Michigan became part of the Northwest Territory. However, even after the Northwest Territory was broken up and Detroit was made (1805) capital of Michigan Territory, British agents still maintained great influence over the Native Americans, who fought on the British side in the War of 1812. In that war Mackinac and Detroit fell almost immediately to the British as a result of the ineffective control of U.S. Gen. William Hull and his troops. Michigan remained in British hands through most of the war until Gen. William Henry Harrison in the battle of Thames and Oliver Hazard Perry in the battle of Lake Erie restored U.S. control.

Settlement and Statehood

After peace came, pioneers moved into Michigan. The policy of pushing Native Americans westward and opening the lands for settlement was largely due to the efforts of Gen. Lewis Cass, who was governor of Michigan Territory (1813–31) and later a U.S. Senator. Steamboat navigation on the Great Lakes and sale of public lands in Detroit both began in 1818, and the Erie Canal was opened in 1825. Farmers came to the Michigan fields, and the first sawmills were built along the rivers.

The move toward statehood was slowed by the desire of Ohio and Indiana to absorb parts of present S Michigan, and by the opposition of southern states to the admission of another free state. The Michigan electorate organized a government without U.S. sanction and in 1836 operated as a state, although outside the Union. To resolve the boundary dispute Congress proposed that the Toledo strip be ceded to Ohio and Indiana with compensation to Michigan of land in the Upper Peninsula. Though the Michigan electorate rejected the offer, a group of Democratic leaders accepted it, and by their acceptance Michigan became a state in 1837. (The admission of Arkansas as a slaveholding state offset that of Michigan as a free state.) Detroit served as the capital until 1847, when it was replaced by Lansing.

After statehood, Michigan promptly adopted a program of internal improvement through the building of railroads, roads, and canals, including the Soo Locks Ship Canal at Sault Ste. Marie. At the same time lumbering was expanding, and the population grew as German, Irish, and Dutch immigrants arrived. In 1854 the Republican party was organized at Jackson, Mich. During the Civil War, Michigan fought on the side of the Union, contributing 90,000 troops to the cause.

Reform Movements

After the war the state remained firmly Republican until 1882. Then Michigan farmers, moved by the same financial difficulties and outrage at high transportation and storage rates that aroused other Western farmers, supported movements advocating agrarian interests, such as the Granger movement and the Greenback party. The farmers joined with the growing numbers of workers in the mines and lumber camps to elect a Greenback-Democratic governor in 1882 and succeeded in getting legislation passed for agrarian improvement and public welfare.

Reforms influenced by the labor movement were the creation of a state board of labor (1883), a law enforcing a 10-hr day (1885), and a moderate child-labor law (1887). The lumbering business, with its yield of wealth to the timber barons, declined to virtual inactivity. Some of the loggers joined the ranks of industrial workers, which were further swelled by many Polish and Norwegian immigrants.

Assembly Lines and Labor Strife

With the invention of the automobile and the construction of automotive plants, industry in Michigan was altered radically. Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and introduced conveyor-belt assembly lines in 1918. General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation were established shortly after Ford. Along with the development of mass-production methods came the growth of the labor movement. In the 1930s, when the automobile industry was well established in the state, labor unions struggled for recognition. The conflict between labor and the automotive industry, which continued into the 1940s, included sit-down strikes and was sometimes violent. Walter Reuther, a pioneer of the labor movement, was elected president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) in 1946.

In World War II Michigan produced large numbers of tanks, airplanes, and other war matériel. Industrial production again expanded after the Korean War broke out in 1950, and the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 increased export trade by bringing many oceangoing vessels to the port of Detroit. In the early 1960s, however, economic growth lagged and unemployment became a problem in the state.

Racial Tensions and Recession

Detroit was shaken by severe race riots in 1967 that left 43 persons dead and many injured, in addition to causing $200 million in damage. In the wake of the rioting, programs were undertaken to improve housing facilities and job opportunities in the city, but these failed as the city suffered massive outmigration. While Detroit deteriorated, the suburbs experienced dramatic growth, spreading throughout SE Michigan. Resistance to busing was a major political issue in the state in the early 1970s.

The state's dependence on the auto industry was exhibited during the recession of the early 1980s, when car sales slumped, many factories were closed and Michigan's unemployment rate at over 15% was the nation's highest. The federal government helped bail out the Chrysler Corporation in 1979, authorizing $1.5 billion in loan guarantees. After a brief period of recovery through limited diversification of the state economy, Michigan was again especially hard-hit by national recession and continuing foreign competition in the early 1990s, and it continued to suffer large, mainly auto-related manufacturing job losses over the next two decades. The financial difficulties arising in large part from the effects of those job losses led Detroit to file for municipal bankruptcy in 2013, although it susbequently exited bakruptcy in Dec. 2014. The Detroit suburb of Flint was also hit by a fiscal emergency, leading then-governor Rick Snyder to appoint an emergency manager who cut costs by switching the city's water supply to a cheaper alternative. This resulted in lead contamination of the city's water, creating a crisis that resulted in Snyder apologizing for his mishandling of the situation in early 2016. In Nov. 2020, a $641 million settlement was awarded to the victims.

Following Snyder's second term, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor in 2018. She became a favorite target of then-President Donald Trump, which inspired several protests at the state capitol. In Oct. 2020, the FBI arrested several members of a rightwing paramilitary group who planned to kidnap Whitmer and possibly kill her.


See J. A. Door, Jr., and D. F. Eschman, Geology of Michigan (1970); A. R. Gilpin, Territory of Michigan, 1805–1887 (1971); R. A. Santer, Michigan: Heart of the Great Lakes (1977); L. M. Sommers, ed., Atlas of Michigan (1977) and et al., Michigan: A Geography (1984). B. Blenz, The Encyclopedia of Michigan (1981); B. Rubenstein and L. Ziewacz, Michigan (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Michigan State Information

Phone: (517) 373-1837

Area (sq mi):: 96716.11 (land 56803.82; water 39912.28) Population per square mile: 178.20
Population 2005: 10,120,860 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 1.80%; 1990-2000 6.90% Population 2000: 9,938,444 (White 78.60%; Black or African American 14.20%; Hispanic or Latino 3.30%; Asian 1.80%; Other 3.80%). Foreign born: 5.30%. Median age: 35.50
Income 2000: per capita $22,168; median household $44,667; Population below poverty level: 10.50% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $29,552-$31,178
Unemployment (2004): 7.00% Unemployment change (from 2000): 3.30% Median travel time to work: 24.10 minutes Working outside county of residence: 29.10%

List of Michigan counties:

  • Alcona County
  • Alger County
  • Allegan County
  • Alpena County
  • Antrim County
  • Arenac County
  • Baraga County
  • Barry County
  • Bay County
  • Benzie County
  • Berrien County
  • Branch County
  • Calhoun County
  • Cass County
  • Charlevoix County
  • Cheboygan County
  • Chippewa County
  • Clare County
  • Clinton County
  • Crawford County
  • Delta County
  • Dickinson County
  • Eaton County
  • Emmet County
  • Genesee County
  • Gladwin County
  • Gogebic County
  • Grand Traverse County
  • Gratiot County
  • Hillsdale County
  • Houghton County
  • Huron County
  • Ingham County
  • Ionia County
  • Iosco County
  • Iron County
  • Isabella County
  • Jackson County
  • Kalamazoo County
  • Kalkaska County
  • Kent County
  • Keweenaw County
  • Lake County
  • Lapeer County
  • Leelanau County
  • Lenawee County
  • Livingston County
  • Luce County
  • Mackinac County
  • Macomb County
  • Manistee County
  • Marquette County
  • Mason County
  • Mecosta County
  • Menominee County
  • Midland County
  • Missaukee County
  • Monroe County
  • Montcalm County
  • Montmorency County
  • Muskegon County
  • Newaygo County
  • Oakland County
  • Oceana County
  • Ogemaw County
  • Ontonagon County
  • Osceola County
  • Oscoda County
  • Otsego County
  • Ottawa County
  • Presque Isle County
  • Roscommon County
  • Saginaw County
  • Saint Clair County
  • Saint Joseph County
  • Sanilac County
  • Schoolcraft County
  • Shiawassee County
  • Tuscola County
  • Van Buren County
  • Washtenaw County
  • Wayne County
  • Wexford County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Michigan Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    a state in the northern USA, near the Great Lakes; it borders on Canada. Area, 150,800 sq km; population, 8.9 million (1970), including an urban population of 73.8 percent. Its capital is the city of Lansing; the largest city and principal economic center is the port of Detroit.

    Michigan consists of two peninsulas—the Lower Peninsula between lakes Huron and Michigan, where more than 95 percent of the state’s population is concentrated; and the Upper Peninsula between lakes Michigan and Superior, covered with coniferous forests and very sparsely populated. The surface is primarily a gently rolling plain; the northwestern section has mountain massifs with elevations reaching 604 m. Its climate is moderate, with colder winters in the Upper Peninsula.

    Michigan is one of the leading industrial states in the USA. It ranks sixth in the USA in the number of persons employed in manufacturing (6 percent of all US employees); manufacturing enterprises employ 1.1 million persons (of whom more than half are in Detroit), or 35 percent of the work force in Michigan (1970). Approximately three-fourths of the industrial workers are employed in metallurgy, machine building, and metalworking. The most important branch is the automotive industry, with as many as 400,000 employees. Located in Detroit and its suburbs (Dearborn and elsewhere), as well as in Flint, Lansing, and other cities, are the administrative offices, laboratories, and most important plants of the automobile monopolies—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Linked with the automobile industry is the production of special steels and sheet metal, the casting and processing of ferrous and nonferrous metals, and the production of machine tools, instruments, electrical equipment, paints and varnishes, and rubber. Industries also developed in Michigan are the defense industry and chemicals (Detroit and Midland), silicates and ceramics, food processing, lumbering and wood processing, furniture (Grand Rapids), and paper (Kalamazoo). There is mining, basically of iron ores (about 15 million tons annually), copper ores, and table salt. The rated capacity of electric power plants totals 13.2 gigawatts (1972).

    Agriculture consists primarily of dairy farming and vegetable growing. Also cultivated are fruits, grapes (principally along the shores of Lake Michigan), sugar beets, and hay. The products of livestock raising account for approximately 55 percent of the value of commercial agricultural output. In 1972 there were 1.5 million head of cattle, including 500,000 milch cows and heifers, as well as 800,000 pigs. Shipping on the Great Lakes, through connecting waterways, amounts to more than 100 million tons of cargo annually. Lakes Michigan and Superior are tourist regions.




    a lake in North America in the USA, in the Great Lakes system. It is located at an elevation of 177 m. Area, 58,000 sq km. Maximum depth, 281 m. Linked with Lake Huron by the short Straits of Mackinac, with a width of approximately 3 km.

    The shores of Lake Michigan are hilly and weakly dissected and are bordered by terraces; on the south and southeast shores there are dunes (usually 10–20 m high). Tides are semidiurnal, with a height of up to 4 cm. The northern section of the lake freezes. The average length of time the lake is open to navigation is approximately 250 days. Up to the 1950’s salmon, lampreys, whitefish, sturgeon, and pike abounded in Lake Michigan; as a result of catastrophic pollution in the lake, many species of living organisms (for example, salmon) have disappeared. Water vegetation has become widespread. The lake is linked with the Mississippi River system by the navigable Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The lake’s large ports and industrial centers are Chicago and Milwaukee.

    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Twenty-sixth state; admitted on January 26, 1837

    The anniversary of Michigan’s statehood was previously observed as Michigan Day, but is no longer a holiday.

    State capital: Lansing

    Nicknames: The Great Lakes State; The Wolverine State; Winter Wonderland; the Upper Peninsula is often referred to as the Land of Hiawatha

    State motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice (Latin “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”) State bird: Robin (Turdus migratorius) State fish: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) State flower: Apple blossom (Malus sylvestris); wildflower: Dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) State fossil: Mastadon State game mammal: Whitetailed deer (Odocoileus virgini­anus) State gem: Greenstone (chlorastrolite) State reptile: Painted turtle (Chysemys picta) State soil: Kalkaska sand State song: “My Michigan” (official); “Michigan, My Michigan” (unofficial) State stone: Petoskey stone (Hexagonaria pericarnata) State tree: White pine (Pinus strobus)

    More about state symbols at:



    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 90
    AnnivHol-2000, p. 15


    State web site:
    Office of the Governor PO Box 30013 Lansing, MI 48909 517-373-3400 fax: 517-335-6863 www.michigan.gov/gov

    Secretary of State 430 W Allegan St 4th Fl Lansing, MI 48918 517-373-2510 fax: 517-241-3442 www.michigan.gov/sos

    Library of Michigan 702 W Kalamazoo St PO Box 30007 Lansing, MI 48909 517-573-5504 fax: 517-373-1580 www.libofmich.lib.mi.us

    Legal Holidays:

    Christmas EveDec 24
    Day after ThanksgivingNov 25, 2011; Nov 23, 2012; Nov 29, 2013; Nov 28, 2014; Nov 27, 2015; Nov 25, 2016; Nov 24, 2017; Nov 23, 2018; Nov 29, 2019; Nov 27, 2020; Nov 26, 2021; Nov 25, 2022; Nov 24, 2023
    New Year's EveDec 31
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    1. a state of the N central US, occupying two peninsulas between Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie: generally low-lying. Capital: Lansing. Pop.: 10 079 985 (2003 est.). Area: 147 156 sq. km (56 817 sq. miles)
    2. Lake. a lake in the N central US between Wisconsin and Michigan: the third largest of the five Great Lakes and the only one wholly in the US; linked with Lake Huron by the Straits of Mackinac. Area: 58 000 sq. km (22 400 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
    References in periodicals archive ?
    The full set contains all 12 issues from Curriculum Sets 1 & 2: "Headed for Home," "Underground Treasures," "Learning Our ABCs," "Michigan Goes to War," "Finding Your Way," "Michigan Roots," "Entertaining Michigan," "Governing Michigan," "How Sweet It Is," "On the Road," "Michigan 'Herstory,'" and "Resorts and Rendezvous." Also included is two years of online access to lesson plans, interactive activities, and the Michigan History for Kids website.
    Founding sponsors are the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, PNC Bank, AF Group, and Dynamic Edge, Inc.
    In 1970, true wine grapes were introduced to Michigan vineyards as alternatives to labrusca cultivars.
    19. In Michigan, Trump defeated Clinton by 10,704 votes.
    Michigan Venture Capital Association is a non-profit trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry experts in the state of Michigan to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.
    Another important focus of MVU in its original state was to help Michigan colleges and universities develop the ability to provide online learning opportunities to college students.
    On closing of the transaction, the operations of West Michigan Savings Bank will be consolidated into Sturgis Bank & Trust Company.
    It also was integrated into the Michigan Model for Health being taught in more than 90 percent of Michigan public schools, 200 private schools and 39 other states.
    The percentage of waste imported into Michigan decreased slightly to 25 percent of total waste.
    A trademark infringement dispute has been settled between Michigan First Credit Union and First Michigan Bank.
    In keeping with Intern in Michigan's commitment to become a true statewide resource and a regional collaborative effort, the program added two new Michigan hub partners, mid-Michigan's Prima Civitas Foundation and northern Michigan's Traverse City Area Regional Chamber of Commerce during the 2009-2010 program year.

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