Alligator in Honey Island Swamp

Louisiana Facts

Origin of Name:

Louisiana was named by Robert de LaSalle, early French Explorer, for Louis XIV, King of France. 

Admitted to Union:

April 30, 1812


"Pelican State," because the Louisiana brown pelican is native to its shores.


50,820 Square Miles


4,219,973 (1990 actual figures); 4,477,836 (year 2000 projection)

Louisiana's Official Family:

Louisiana's government, like that of the United States, has three branches - legislative, executive and judicial. Louisiana's legislature is composed of a Senate of 39 members and a House of Representatives with 105 members; members of both houses are elected to four-year terms. The legislature meets in regular session in odd-numbered years, on the last Monday in March for not more than 60 legislative days. In even-numbered years, the legislature convenes fiscal sessions on the last Monday in April for 30 legislative days of 45 calendar days. The legislature may be convened at other times upon written petition of a majority of the elected members of each house.

Parliamentary procedure and committee organization resemble that used throughout the nation. Executive power is vested in the statewide elected officials: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry, Commissioner of Insurance and Commissioner of Elections and Registration. All these officials are elected to four-year terms.

The present judicial system, originally established by the Louisiana Constitution of 1921, affords judicial power in a state supreme court, courts of appeal, district courts and other lesser tribunals as provided by law. The supreme court has general supervisory jurisdiction over all other courts. Courts of appeal have appellate jurisdiction over five circuits in the state. District courts have original jurisdiction over appeals from justices of the peace and certain minor courts. Judges in Louisiana are elected except when they are temporarily appointed to full vacancies.

State Capitol:

The new Louisiana State Capitol was completed on March, 1932 in a mere 14 months and stands on a 27-acre tract. As the tallest state capitol in the United States, the building is 450 feet high with 34 floors. Twenty-five hundred rail cars were needed to bring in the limestone for the exterior and the marble for the interior. The cost to complete the building was a modest $5 million.

The architects used symbolism throughout the design of the building. As the square tower rises, it cuts away to an octagon at the 22nd floor. Here, four allegorical winged figures guard the corners, representing Law, Science, Philosophy and Art.


In Louisiana, local government units, known elsewhere as counties, are called parishes. Originally they were church units set up by the Spanish provisional governor of Louisiana in 1669, in conjunction with 11 administrative districts. As Louisiana developed, it was found that the districts were too large and the smaller religious divisions were more suitable. As a consequence, when Louisiana became a state, the term "parish" was taken over with the name of the region to which it had applied under the Church. Today Louisiana has 64 parishes.

Climate Facts:

Louisiana has a semi-tropical climate. Variations in daily temperature are determined by distances from the Gulf of Mexico and, to a lesser degree, by differences in elevation.

The average annual temperature for the state as a whole is 67.4. January is the coldest month (average 50.7), and July and August the warmest (average 82). 

Snow is rare in southern Louisiana, but occasionally falls are recorded in the northern parts of the state. Average annual rainfall is 55.45 inches.

Geography Facts:

One of the South Central states, Louisiana is bounded:

  • on the north by Arkansas and Mississippi
  • on the east by Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico
  • on the south by the Gulf of Mexico
  • on the west by Texas

The Mississippi River flows along part of the eastern boundary, then enters the state and creates the rich Delta region, center of fertile agricultural lands. Coastal marshes, alluvial plains and rolling pine hills are a part of the varied topography.

Industry Facts:

Louisiana's approximately 3,650 manufacturing units employ some 190,000 wage and salary workers whose annual earnings are $1.9 billion. The state annually produces nearly five billion dollars worth of products, including:

  • petroleum
  • chemicals
  • plastics
  • clothing
  • wood products
  • industrial alcohol
  • wallboard
  • cement
  • condiments
  • seafood
  • glass
  • medicine
  • and many others
Minerals Facts:

Principal mineral products for the state of Louisiana are:

  • petroleum
  • natural gas
  • salt (largest salt mine located in Louisiana)
  • sulfur
  • carbon black
  • gravel

Louisiana ranks second in the nation in oil production!

Agriculture Facts:

Louisiana is one of the nation's largest producers of:

  • cotton
  • sugarcane
  • rice
  • sweet potatoes
  • pecans

The state is also a major producer of soybeans and corn. The biggest land-based industry in the state is forestry, with an economic impact from paper-making and wood products greater than all other crops combined.

Poultry is the largest livestock industry, followed by dairy and beef cattle.
Louisiana is also the nation's largest producer of alligator hides and crawfish.