Michigan: The Great Lakes State

The state was named after Lake Michigan, whose name in turn is derived from the Algonquian language, from a word meaning "large water".

The first European settlement, a mission in Sault-Sainte-Marie, was founded by Father Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit Father, in 1668. Between 1679 and 1686 the French set up fur trading posts along the road from Mackinac (between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron) and the mouth of the St. Joseph River. Detroit, which had been founded by Antoine de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac in 1701, controlled shipping between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The British took over all of those French settlements in 1763 and put down an Indian rebellion under chief Pontiac in the same year. During the War of Independence, Michigan was a starting point of Indian raids on American colonies stirred up by the British.

The capital is Lansing, further important cities include Detroit - which is the seventh largest city in the US, Grand Rapids, Warren, and Flint. Michigan joined the United States on January 26, 1837 as the 26th state. Several famous museums are situated in Michigan, including the Detroit Institute of Arts with an impressive collection of American, European and oriental art.

Michigan is known as birthplace of the car industry, but it also has a large tourism sector. Travel destinations such as Traverse City, Mackinac Island and the entire Upper Peninsula attract sports tourists and nature enthusiasts from all over the United States and Canada. The Great Lakes give Michigan the longest freshwater coastline in all of the U.S. It is also the only state that consists of two parts. Four of the five Great Lakes are within the Michigan borders. Those are Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie. Thus it has a coastline of no less than 5,310 kilometers (3,299 miles). In addition, it has more than 11,000 smaller lakes, the biggest of them being Lake Houghton in the North of the Lower Peninsula. The longest river is the Grand River.
Popular tourist destinations include Isle Royale National Park on the island of the same name in Lake Superior, the nature reserve Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offering colorful sandstone cliffs and nice beaches and marshes along Lake Superior, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with great dunes and long beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline and the Porcupine Mountains State Park in the Northwest area of the state.

Michigan has a diverse economy. Of great importance are the primary (agriculture, mining) and secondary (industry) sectors. Agriculture became important in Michigan during the first half of the 19th century and still is today. Most important: agricultural products include dairy products, corn, soy beans and cattle. Additionally, Michigan is leading in the production of apples and cherries. Approximately $3 billion income is derived from crops. Mining plays a vital role in Michigan's economy and is a major support for its industry. There are substantial ore deposits; natural gas and crude oil are to be found in the mid-north and the south. The most important natural resources are iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, cement and copper. Mining of salt is also very important. In addition, Michigan is a major gravel, peat, silver and potash exporter, extracted from various marshes. Another important sector is the tourism industry with an annual $6.7 billion in revenue. Michigan's scenic potential and recreation areas are greater than those of neighboring states with a similar population density. The pleasantly cool climate during the summer months and the various winter sports areas attract tourists all year long.

The main pillar of Michigan's economy is industry. Michigan is one of the leading industrial states in the U.S. - especially in the automobile industry. One of the vital centers of that industry is Detroit. Here are the company headquarters of the three great car manufacturers Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. Other centers of the automobile industry include Flint, Lansing and Pontiac. Once a major supplier of timber, iron and copper, Michigan became the birthplace of the automobile industry at the beginning of the 20th century after natural resources started to decline. Henry Ford's first permanent establishment in Highland Park, a suburb of Detroit, marked the beginning of a new era in passenger transportation and caused a lasting change in American society. Despite the fact that many car manufacturers are still located in Detroit, the city lost its predominance in this area after World War II, due to many car manufacturers leaving the big industrial areas and moving to the Southern states or abroad, where wages were lower.