Michigan – History & Geography

Michigan’s geography consists of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula (often referred to as “the U.P.”).  They are separated by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile wide channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan.  Notably, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline globally, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair.

The area is known today as Michigan was part of the Northwest Territory until 1800 when western Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory.  The Michigan Territory was formed in 1805 and was admitted into the Union as the 26th state in 1837.

A person from Michigan is called a Michigander or Michiganian.  Sometimes, but rarely, people from Michigan are called Michiganites.  People living in the Upper Peninsula are sometimes referred to as “Yoopers” (a phonetic pronunciation of “U.P.ers”), and Upper Peninsula residents sometimes refer to people from the Lower Peninsula as “trolls” because they live below the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the distance between the two peninsulas.

Industry & Tourism of Michigan

Michigan is most well known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, being home to the country’s three major automobile companies, Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  The volatility of these industries has devastated residents and has also given rise to labor unions such as the United Auto Workers.  The automotive industry is not the only industry prevalent in Michigan, however. Other goods and services include food products, information technology, aerospace, military equipment, furniture, and copper and iron ore mining.  Michigan is also the third leading grower of Christmas trees, with 60,520 acres of land dedicated to farming.

Many commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, coming in second to California among states in the diversity of its agriculture.  Blueberries, tart cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches are better-known fruits grown in the state, with plums, pears, and strawberries also being harvested.  Wines, beers, and many processed food products are also made in the state, with Kellogg’s cereal-based in Battle Creek.

The Detroit metro area has many leading attractions, including The Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Detroit Zoo.  Other museums include the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Arab American National Museum.  The metro area offers four major casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, the Greektown Casino, the MotorCity Casino, and Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

With such a large coastline, it’s easy to charter a boat from many Great Lakes cities to fish for salmon, trout, walleye, and perch.  More than a million hunters are licensed in Michigan, contributing $2 billion annually to its economy. More than three-quarters of a million hunters participate in the white-tailed deer season alone.

With the Lower Peninsula being Michigan’s center of manufacturing, services, and high-tech industry, the Upper Peninsula is important for tourism thanks to its abundant natural resources.  Outdoor enthusiasts will encounter a wonderland of activities ranging from boating and fishing, ATV trails, and mountain biking in the warmer months to ice climbing in the depths of winter.


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