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Louisiana is a state in the southern region of the United States. Its coastline is on the Gulf of Mexico and it borders Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. Although its largest city is New Orleans, the capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge. The state today primarily sits on the delta land formed by the Mississippi River but the Louisiana Territory, claimed by Louis XIV of France, originally stretched as far as the Canadian border. Interestingly, Louisiana is the only state with administrative units of parishes rather than counties for local government.

The French and Indian War, known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe, resulted in the transfer of much of Louisiana to the British in 1763. However the French roots of Louisiana still influence the state today, with approximately 25% of the population having some French ancestry. Many cities and towns have French names, the Creole culture can be found in music and cuisine and Cajun French is still spoken in a number of communities. Another interesting effect of the French origins is that close ties were built with Native American communities, at least in part to defend against the British. Even today, Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state. Not so well known is the fact that Spain, the original explorers of this area beginning in 1528, also retained some of the territory following the French and Indian War. It was not until the Napoleonic Wars that remaining French and Spanish claims were sold and Louisiana gained statehood in 1812.

Geographically, Louisiana has an uplands region in the north and an alluvial region in the south. The coastline is one of the fastest-disappearing in the world and the recent plight of New Orleans made world headlines due to severe flooding. The erosion is impacting traditional fishing and related industries, however the state is home to many other industries. It has the greatest concentration of refineries, natural gas plants and petrochemical production plants in the Western Hemisphere, along with much offshore exploration and drilling. In agriculture, it is the second largest producer of sugar cane and sweet potatoes in the United States. It also produces more furs than any other state and about half of the country’s wooden matches.

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