49 Facts About Mississippi State You Need to Know

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A white lighthouse in front of a yellow and gray building surrounded by greenery
The Visitors Center in front of the Biloxi Lighthouse, a famous landmark in Biloxi

When you hear the word "Mississippi," it might take a while before the state comes to mind. Even if the state is underrated, it's still a fascinating part of the United States.

Did you know it's where root beer was invented? Or, did you know that it was the site of the first lung transplant?

There's always something new to learn! It doesn't matter if you've already visited Mississippi, you're planning a trip, or you just want to learn something new about part of America's South.

So, get ready to brush up on your facts about Mississippi state with this list. Here are 49 you should know!

  • 49 Mississippi facts

49 Mississippi State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Mississippi
    1. It was the 20th state
    2. The first human heart transplant happened here
    3. The state brought us Oprah Winfrey
    4. Doctors performed the first human lung transplant
    5. Root beer was created in Biloxi
    6. Look for the white-tailed deer
    7. It's called the "Magnolia State"
    8. It saw the five deadliest tornadoes
    9. Thank Mississippi for the teddy bear
    10. A Mississippian invented the soft toilet seat cover
    11. The University of Mississippi Medical Center saves lives
    12. Jim Henson grew up in Mississippi
    13. It's the 35th state by population
    14. It's home to the Mississippi River
    15. The International Ballet Competition is in Jackson
    16. You can see where Elvis Presley was born
    17. Mississippi State University has a space grant
    18. It's considered the Deep South
    19. The Mississippi State Fair is huge
    20. Jackson is the capital
  2. Interesting Facts About Mississippi
    1. Listen for the mockingbird
    2. The Mississippi Delta is unique
    3. It was the first state to grow cotton
    4. Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of the state
    5. There are three groups of Native Americans
    6. There have been three flags
    7. The John C. Stennis Space Center tests rockets
    8. Andrew Jackson was popular
    9. There are two geographic regions
    10. Blues music began in Mississippi
  3. Cool Facts About Mississippi
    1. The state motto is in French
    2. Farming and fishing are big deals
    3. The name means "large river"
    4. There's a place with an elevation of 0 feet
    5. Britney Spears was born in Mississippi
  4. Weird Facts About Mississippi
    1. It has many churches
    2. After farmland, most of the state is forest
    3. It has the catfish capital
    4. You can find the rarest crane on the continent
  5. Historical Facts About Mississippi
    1. Natchez is named after its first residents
    2. Mississippi split the Confederacy in the Civil War
    3. The Civil Rights Movement was long
    4. People have lived here for over 12,000 years
    5. The first settlers were French
  6. Important Facts About Mississippi
    1. It was the second state to secede
    2. The first women's university was here
    3. Mississippi is the poorest state
    4. There's an official state beverage
    5. The first public school in the state is still open

Show all

Fun Facts About Mississippi

Jackson, as the state's capital, is one of the fun facts about Mississippi state
The Mississippi State Capitol was built in Jackson, the state's most populated city

It was the 20th state

To start out this list of facts for Mississippi, did you know that it was the 20th state to join the Union? It officially earned a star on the flag in 1817.

Prior to that date, the Mississippi area was still a US territory. It was acquired during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The first human heart transplant happened here

Heart transplants are one of the most important advances in medicine. Thanks to this complicated procedure, thousands of people have been able to live long lives when previously they wouldn't have survived.

Before 1964, this operation was unthinkable. In January of that year, Dr. Hardy led a team of doctors in the first procedure of this kind at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The process was improved by South African doctors in 1967.

The state brought us Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential people in the United States. Starting as a news anchor, she went on to be a prolific interviewer and talk show host.

Though today Oprah has an empire to her name, that wasn't always the case. She came from humble beginnings. She was born to a poor Mississippi family in 1954.

Doctors performed the first human lung transplant

Dr. Hardy isn't only credited as being the first doctor to attempt to perform a heart transplant. In 1963, he also performed the first lung transplant.

His position as chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center facilitated his access to resources. Unfortunately, the heart recipient only lived 18 days, but this surgery paved the way for future procedures.

Buildings along the white sand beach and a wooden pier extending into the bay
Barq's root beer was created by Edward Adolf Barq in Biloxi

Root beer was created in Biloxi

Though the first examples of root beer date back to the 1870s as a drink for miners, it wasn't until later that it gained popularity. The modern version of the drink was invented in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Edward Adolf Barq created the now-famous Barq's root beer in 1898. The drink was popular right away and saw a boom in sales in the 1920s during the US prohibition.

Look for the white-tailed deer

The Mississippi state animal may not be exclusive to the state, but that doesn't make seeing it any less special. The white-tailed deer can be seen freely roaming around the territory.

In recent history, hunting caused the state deer population to dip to near extinction. However, today there are over 17 million deer in Mississippi.

A white flower with a tinge of yellow surrounded by green leaves on a tree branch
The magnolia has been the state flower of Mississippi since 1952

It's called the "Magnolia State"

If you're curious about interesting Mississippi facts, you should learn the state's nickname. You'll see Mississippi referred to as the "Magnolia State" on license plates and tourist information.

The nickname comes from the Mississippi state flower, the magnolia. This symbol was chosen by children in 1952.

It saw the five deadliest tornadoes

Mississippi is part of Tornado Alley. Thanks to its position that allows cold and warm air to mix and its flat landscape, these storms can form rapidly.

The state has seen thousands of tornadoes including the five deadliest in US history. The Vicksburg tornado in 1953 and the 1908 Dixie tornado outbreak are just two examples.

Thank Mississippi for the teddy bear

It's nearly impossible to find a household today that doesn't have at least one teddy bear. You can thank Mississippi for the invention of this particular stuffed animal.

In 1902, while on a hunting trip in Mississippi, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill a bear that had been tied to a tree. As news of this event spread, toy makers around the country simultaneously created toys to commemorate the occasion.

A Mississippian invented the soft toilet seat cover

Since the invention of the first modern toilet models in 1770, it's become a normal part of everyday life. Although, people have made many attempts to improve the toilet's design.

The padded toilet seat cover is an example of an attempt to make the toilet seat more comfortable. A Mississippi man is credited with having invented the idea.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center saves lives

The University of Mississippi Medical Center has been the site of many medical advancements. You've already read that some of the first organ transplants happened here.

Other interesting facts include that it was a safe place for African-American residents to get healthcare in the 1950s and 1960s. The hospital is a valuable part of the state's medical school. As well, It's the home of the only children's hospital in the state.

Jim Henson grew up in Mississippi

If you're a fan of the muppets, you're no doubt a fan of Jim Henson. Though he passed away in 1990, his legacy has continued and shows no signs of coming to an end any time soon.

Before he became a famed puppeteer and the creator of some of the most beloved children's media, he was a simple boy from Mississippi. His time exploring the wilderness around his home inspired the creation of his most famed puppet, Kermit the Frog.

It's the 35th state by population

One of the most interesting Mississippi facts and information is that it's the 35th state by population.

The population is just over 2.5 million as of 2021. The population density is 63 people per square mile, and Mississippi is the 32nd largest state by size.

Red flowers along a river walkway and a steel bridge in the background on a clear day
The Vidalia Bridge over the Mississippi River in Natchez, Mississippi

It's home to the Mississippi River

The mighty Mississippi is the second-largest river in the United States. It starts in Minnesota and ends downstream from New Orleans.

The river flows through ten states, including the state of Mississippi. Though Illinois is the state that's home to the longest stretch of the river, the river gave its name to Mississippi, the state.

The International Ballet Competition is in Jackson

You may associate cities like New York or Los Angeles with ballet in the United States. However, Mississippi is home to one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the country.

The International Ballet Competition is organized similarly to the Olympics with athletes representing their home countries all over the world. Since the first competition in 1978, it's been held once every four years.

You can see where Elvis Presley was born

Casual Elvis fans flock to Graceland in Tennessee where the king of rock and roll lived. However, serious fans also make sure to plan a trip to Tupelo, Mississippi.

The trailer where Elvis was born is still standing to this day. It's been preserved as a museum but still allows visitors to see Elvis's humble beginnings.

C5Media/Depositphotos.com
A signage that says Mississippi State University surrounded by flowers and trees
The Mississippi State University receives a National Space Grant

Mississippi State University has a space grant

Mississippi State University is a top choice for many students from the state and from across the country. Specializing in scientific fields, it offers programs in everything from agricultural science to advanced engineering.

The school gets a large part of its research funding from federal grants. One of the grants it receives is a National Space Grant, which funds research related to outer space.

It's considered the Deep South

If you live in the northern part of the US, you might think the entire southern half of the country is the same. However, you can further divide the "South."

The term "Deep South" was once used to describe the parts of the country that were the most adamant to secede from the Union. The states considered part of the Deep South are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and sometimes Texas.

The Mississippi State Fair is huge

One of the most fun facts about Mississippi revolves around its state fair. Every October, hundreds of vendors and attractions are set up in downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

The state fair covers over 100 acres and continues to grow every year. The fair is also one of the oldest in the country, having started in 1858.

Jackson is the capital

You can't say you're an expert on Mississippi without knowing the state capital! The heart of Mississippi's government can be found in Jackson.

It's the city with the largest population of residents, which prompted the decision to make it the state capital in 1822. Previously, the capital was located in Natchez.

Interesting Facts About Mississippi

A pier extending into an ocean on a clear day
A pier in Ocean Springs Beach in Mississippi's Gulf Coast
A bird in shades of gray sitting on a branch with white flowers and leaves
The mockingbird has been Mississippi's state bird since 1944

Listen for the mockingbird

Since 1944, the mockingbird was voted as the Mississippi state bird. The mockingbird is also the state bird for Texas, Florida, and Arkansas.

The mockingbird is able to change its song to mimic other animals and sometimes even man-made music. Its ability to stand out made it a favorite among state residents when it came time to vote.

The Mississippi Delta is unique

The northwestern part of the state is one of the most unique in the country. Also called the Yazoo–Mississippi Delta, it's the section of land between the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers.

Due to the rivers, this area is more difficult to reach, which has allowed it to develop an interesting cultural identity. When it comes to music, Cajun, Jazz, and Blues all have their roots here.

It was the first state to grow cotton

Though cotton became a large part of agriculture all over the South, Mississippi was the first place where it grew in the USA. The Spanish who lived in Natchez first began to cultivate it in 1795.

To this day, cotton is still a large export for the state. There are over 700 farms that produce it. Altogether, they create over a million bales annually.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of the state

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the American South in history. Though many people focus on the damage that occurred in New Orleans, Mississippi also suffered.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast was nearly completely destroyed as a result of the storm and the subsequent flooding. The estimated cost of the damage from Katrina in the state alone tops $30 million.

There are three groups of Native Americans

Facts about Mississippi's history don't just start when settlers came to the state. Before the Europeans came to the area, it was inhabited by Native American tribes.

Numerous tribes called Mississippi home at some point, whether they lived in villages or were nomadic and just passing through. The three major tribes to live in the state were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez.

There have been three flags

It's not uncommon for a state flag to undergo changes throughout its history. The Mississippi state flag hasn't just been updated over the years, it's been completely changed.

Since 1861, there have been three official state flags. The current version, adopted in 2020, is similar to the initial design, with a magnolia flower and "In God We Trust" in the center.

The John C. Stennis Space Center tests rockets

Hancock, Mississippi, is home to one of the most important NASA centers. The John C. Stennis Space Center is the largest rocket testing facility in the country.

Though it's a NASA center, there are over 50 other companies that use the grounds. That's largely due to the nearly 140 thousand acres of land it has available.

Though Andrew Jackson was born in the Carolinas, he perhaps was more popular in Mississippi. Before becoming president, Jackson conducted a lot of business in Mississippi.

Due to his repeated trips to the state, he started to gain popularity there. When he ran for president, he won Mississippi by a landslide.

There are two geographic regions

Culturally, Mississippi can be divided into six different regions. While these regions have some distinct landscape influences, geographically the state is not highly diverse.

The Mississippi Alluvial Plane makes up part of the northern territory and includes the Mississippi Delta. It also has the most fertile land. The majority of the state is made up of the Gulf Coastal Plain.

A white, blue, and red sign that says Welcome to Mississippi surrounded by greenery
Blues music began in Mississippi

Blues music began in Mississippi

No one knows the exact date when blues music began, but it's theorized that it started around the 1860s. The Mississippi Delta is widely considered the birthplace of this type of music.

Initially, the music was only popular in the African-American communities where it was created. By the early 1900s, this music began to spread elsewhere in the state and the rest of the country.

Cool Facts About Mississippi

A river with trees and a wooden pier
The state's name was derived from the Mississippi River which means "large river"

The state motto is in French

One of the most interesting facts about Mississippi is that its state motto is in French. "Virtute et Armis" can be seen on the state seal and emblem.

In English, the phrase means "by valor and arms." Though it's been in use since 1894, the exact origin of the phrase is unclear. Some have suggested it comes from a quote by Lord Gray De Wilton.

Cows grazing under trees on a vast farm on a sunny day
There are over 10 million acres of farmland in Mississippi

Farming and fishing are big deals

Agriculture has remained Mississippi's largest revenue stream. The farming industry employs over 17% of the state's workforce and farms cover over 10 million acres of land.

Fishing is also the main source of income for many residents in the state. Nearly $300 million in revenue comes from the seafood industry every year.

The name means "large river"

Mississippi gets its name from the Mississippi River, which was a major water source for Native Americans. The name, in fact, comes from the Chippewa Native American language.

The word can be translated in a few different ways. Many use the translation "large river," but "great waters" and "father of waters" are also acceptable translations.

A wooden boardwalk on a white sand beach
One of the facts about Mississippi state is that Lighthouse Pier is the lowest point

There's a place with an elevation of 0 feet

Though the average elevation in Mississippi is 300 feet, the variation within the state is great. Since the state is on the coast, a portion of the state is, obviously, at sea level.

The Gulf of Mexico is the state's lowest point at an elevation of 0 feet. The highest point in the state is Woodall Mountain, which reaches 807 feet.

Britney Spears was born in Mississippi

Britney Spears has been one of the most famous pop stars since the 1990s. She's so popular that she's been dubbed the "Princess of Pop."

Before she was famous, she was just a talented singer who was born in a small town in the South. She was born in McComb, Mississippi, but didn't live there long. Her family moved to Louisiana shortly after she was born.

Weird Facts About Mississippi

amadeustx/Depositphotos.com
Looking up a cathedral on the corner of a street against a clear blue sky
The St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi

It has many churches

If you visit Mississippi, be prepared to see a lot of churches. There are over 9,000 churches, temples, and other places of worship in the state.

If you consider the state's population of 2.5 million, that breaks down to a place of worship for roughly every 270 residents in the state. The dominant religion in the state is Baptist, but people of all different beliefs call the state home.

A creek in middle of a wooded area
A forest in Natchez Trace in Mississippi

After farmland, most of the state is forest

Mississippi isn't typically thought of as a forest state. That's largely due to its vast amount of farmland.

In reality, there are over a million acres of forested public land in the state. If you add in privately-owned wooded areas, that number is even higher.

It has the catfish capital

With just 2,200 citizens, Belzoni is a small town on the banks of the Yazoo River. You wouldn't guess that it's earned the nickname the "Catfish Capital."

The name doesn't refer to wild catfish. The state is a major supplier of farm-raised catfish. The city takes its catfish farming so seriously it even has a museum dedicated to the topic.

You can find the rarest crane on the continent

The Mississippi sandhill crane was once on the brink of extinction. Its habitat was being destroyed, which prevented the crane from being able to nest or find food.

Through state and governmental efforts, the crane population has started to steadily grow again. Natural sanctuaries are now home to over 100 cranes, and the number of cranes continues to grow.

Historical Facts About Mississippi

A steel bridge connecting 2 sides of a river during daytime
The Natchez–Vidalia Bridge in Natchez, a town named after the Natchez people

Natchez is named after its first residents

Today, Natchez typically refers to the small town in Mississippi. Since the town was once part of a busy trading route, it's often referred to as the birthplace of the state.

The town gets its name from the Natchez people who once lived along the river banks in the surrounding area. Though the Natchez were forced to leave their home in the 1700s, their legacy remains.

A white dome in the middle of a park surrounded by green hills and leafless trees
The Illinois Memorial in Vicksburg National Military Park

Mississippi split the Confederacy in the Civil War

Like every other Southern state, Mississippi was the site of many battles during the Civil War. Soldiers left their homes to fight for both the Confederacy and Union, depending on their beliefs.

In 1863, a victory in Vicksburg saw the state come under Union control. Due to its placement in the South, this essentially split the Confederacy in half, weakening its territorial defenses.

The Civil Rights Movement was long

You can't study Mississippi facts and history without noticing the state's contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Though Georgia and Alabama are more commonly associated with the movement, Mississippi also played a role.

The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi was a long and slow one. Unrest and riots date back to before the famous bus boycott in Alabama. However, it didn't gain momentum until Medgar Wiley Evers took charge of and led the state's protests between 1953 and 1963.

People have lived here for over 12,000 years

The presence of people with European heritage in Mississippi only dates back a few hundred years. However, people have lived in the state's territory for much longer.

According to archaeological studies, there is evidence of people calling the Mississippi area home for over 12,000 years. These first people were likely nomads who crossed the Bering Strait.

The first settlers were French

If you've looked up Mississippi history, you've likely learned that the first European in the territory was Hernando de Soto. He was a prolific Spanish explorer who came to the Americas in the 1500s.

However, de Soto didn't settle in the Mississippi area. The first settlement in modern-day Mississippi was founded in 1699 by the French. The settlement was called Fort Maurepas in today's city of Ocean Springs.

Important Facts About Mississippi

Barns, houses, and trees on a farm in a rural area
Farming is a huge part of Mississippi's economy

It was the second state to secede

The Civil War was a dark time for the United States of America. However, the war arguably wouldn't have happened had the Southern states not decided to secede from the Union.

In 1861, Mississippi was the second state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy. This occurred a week after Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the president.

The first women's university was here

Columbus, Mississippi, has been the home to many educational firsts, not just in the state but in the country. It was, in fact, the site of the first woman's university.

Prior to 1884, women who wished to pursue higher education were out of luck. That all changed when the Mississippi University for Women was opened. Initially, the school was a men's college but was later changed to a women-only university.

Mississippi is the poorest state

Unfortunately, though agriculture is a huge part of Mississippi's economy, it isn't always a profitable market. That's particularly the case when it comes to smaller farms.

The vast amount of farmland also means there isn't much room for other industries that could help the state economically. These factors have made Mississippi the poorest state when it comes to median income.

There's an official state beverage

No list of interesting Mississippi facts would be complete without mentioning the state's official beverage. That honor goes to milk.

There are a lot of farmers in Mississippi, so it's not a surprise that milk would be abundant in the state. However, it's not the only place to choose this state beverage. There are twenty-two of thirty states and territories with a state beverage that chose it!

The first public school in the state is still open

Before 1821, Mississippi children had to rely on their parents or tutors to get an education. For boys, that changed when the Franklin Academy for Boys was opened.

Though other states might have opened public schools before Mississippi, most of them closed over the years. The Franklin Academy, however, is still open in Columbus!

In Summary

Were you surprised by any of the facts on this list? I bet you had no idea it was the unofficial catfish capital! Hopefully, these and other facts convinced you that you should plan a trip to the great state of Mississippi.

Mississippi has something for everyone. History buffs will love how much they can learn about the Civil War and early Americans. Pop culture and music fans can spend hours learning about the different celebrities who call it home.

Even if you just want to have a few trivia facts up your sleeve to impress your friends and family, you're in luck. This list had 49 Mississippi facts, but there are hundreds more!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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