Table of contents
Updated November 30, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
Michigan flag


Michigan State Information

Capital: Lansing

Official Name: Michigan

Entered Union (rank): January 26th, 1837 (26th state)

Present constitution adopted: April 1st, 1963 (effective January 1, 1964)

State abbreviation/Postal code: Mich/MI

State Area Codes: 231, 248, 269, 313, 517, 586, 616, 734, 810

Fun Facts About Michigan

Nickname: The Wolverine State

Origin of name: Michigan derives from the indigenous word Michigama, meaning great or large lake.

Motto: “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice” (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you)

State symbols:

Flower: Apple blossom (1897)

Tree: White pine (1955)

Bird: Robin (1931)

Animal: White-Tailed Deer (1997)

Fish:   Trout (1965)

Gem: Isle Royal Greenstone Chlorastrolite) (1972)

Song: "My Michigan” (1937)


Governor Gretchen Whitmer, D (to Jan. 2027)

Lieut. Governor: Garlin Gilchrist, D (to Jan. 2027)

Secretary of State: Jocelyn Benson, D (to Jan. 2027) 

Attorney General: Dana Nessel, D (to Jan. 2027)

State Treasurer: Rachael Eubanks, D (to Jan. 2027)

U.S. Representatives: 14

Senators: Debbie A. Stabenow, D (to Jan. 2025); Gary Peters, D (to Jan. 2027)

State website: www.michigan.gov


Residents: Michigander, Michiganian, Michiganite

Resident Population: 10,034,113 (from American Community Survey for the Census).

10 largest cities (2022):    Detroit (621,193); Grand Rapids (195,911); Warren (136,153); Sterling Heights (131,523); Ann Arbor (119,570); Lansing (112,460); Dearborn (105,988); Livonia (92,620); Troy (86,261); Westland (83,017)

Race/Ethnicity: White: 79.0%; Black: 14.1%; Hispanic/Latino: 5.6%; American Indian: 0.7%; Asian: 3.4%; Two or more races: 2.7%

Religion: Christian: 70%; Non-Christian Faiths: 5%; Unaffiliated: 24%; Do not know: 1%

Sex: Male: 4,976,920 (49.6%); Female: 5,057,193 (50.4%).

Age: Under-18: 21.4%; 65 and over: 18.1%. Median Age: 39.8


GDP: $481.9 Billion (32nd in U.S., 2022)

Unemployment: 3.7% (2022)


Land area: 56,804 sq mi. (147,122 sq km)

Geographic center: In Wexford Co., 5 mi. NNW of Cadillac

Number of counties: 83

Largest county by population and area: Wayne, 1,785,455 (2022); Marquette, 1,821 sq mi.

State parks and recreation areas: 97

See additional census data

Tourism office

The state of Michigan is located in the north-central part of the United States, bordered by four other Great Lakes states: Wisconsin to the west, Minnesota and Iowa to the south, and Ontario, Canada to the east. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is connected to its lower mainland via one of the world's longest suspension bridges — the Mackinac Bridge — which stretches over five miles across Lake Michigan. The state is known for its vast forests, freshwater coastline, and abundance of outdoor activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, fishing, and boating. With a diverse economy that includes automotive manufacturing and high-tech industries alongside traditional farming communities and small businesses, Michigan has something for everyone. From the bustling city life of Detroit with its professional sports teams to the remote beauty of its vast wilds, Michigan is an amazing place to call home.

Michigan Geography

Michigan consists of two peninsulas separated by the Straits of Mackinac. Geographically, the state is also surrounded by The Great Lakes (which are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world) of Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. With The Great Lakes surrounding it, only Minnesota and Wisconsin border Michigan on the north, east, or west is Wisconsin. However, both Ohio and Indiana borders Michigan to the south. Michigan also shares several water borders with Canada. The Detroit, St. Clair, and St. Marys Rivers, alongside Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and Munuscong Lake separate Michigan from Canada.

With regards to the land geography of the state, the heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The state's highest point, Mount Arvon at 1,979 feet (603 m), lies within the Huron Mountains in the northwest, The peninsula’s area is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined.

The Lower Peninsula is 277 miles (446 km) long from north to south and 195 miles (314 km) from east to west and occupies nearly two-thirds of the state's land area. The surface of the peninsula is generally level, broken by hills and glacial moraines usually not more than a few hundred feet tall. Because Michigan is divided with two peninsulas, the geographic orientation of Michigan's peninsulas makes for a long distance between the ends of the state. Ironwood, in the far western Upper Peninsula, lies 630 miles (1,010 kilometers) by highway from Lambertville in the Lower Peninsula's southeastern corner. The geographic isolation of the Upper Peninsula from Michigan's political and population centers makes the region culturally and economically distinct.

The state is home to several areas maintained by the National Park Service including Isle Royale National Park, in Lake Superior,  Keweenaw National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Huron National Forest, Manistee National Forest, Hiawatha National Forest, Ottawa National Forest and Father Marquette National Memorial. 

Michigan People and Population

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Michigan was inhabited by several groups of indigenous peoples, most of whom were speakers of Algonquian languages. Most of the native peoples lived on the coasts of the state and traveled by the rivers and Great Lakes. water. Most of Michigan’s early European settlers came to the area in the 1830s, as part of a wave of immigration commonly called “Michigan Fever.” Germans were the most numerous of the early non-English-speaking immigrants. Other European immigrants include Irish, Dutch, and Polish. Over the past half century, more Hispanics, Asians, and Middle Easterners have added to the state’s demographic.

The most significant population phenomenon since the beginning of the 20th century, however, has been the growth of the African American community. This is due to the Great Migration of rural southern African Americans to northern urban areas. Roughly half of Michigan’s African American residents live in the city of Detroit, where they constitute more than four-fifths of the population. There are also sizable African American communities in Flint and Saginaw as well.  

Michigan Government

Michigan has had four constitutions during its time as a state. The first of these was promulgated in 1835, the second in 1850, and the third in 1907. The current constitution was adopted in 1963. Similar to other states and the United States Federal Government, Michigan’s constitution provides for executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Executive power is vested in the governor, who serves for four years and is nominated by a primary election. Michigan’s legislature consists of the Senate, made up of 38 elected members who serve four-year terms, and the House of Representatives, made up of 110 elected members who serve two-year terms. The highest court is the seven-member state Supreme Court. Supreme Court judges are elected to eight-year terms.

Michigan Economy

Michigan’s economy, originally based on small-scale agriculture, became dependent on lumbering and mining by the late 19th century. By the 1980s, iron and copper mines had opened in the western Upper Peninsula, fueling new settlement there. Michigan’s economy is most famous for the inventions and innovations made in the automobile industry in the first few decades of the 20th century with the automobile maker Ford. Since that time, Michigan remained tied to the fortunes of the auto companies. The auto industry has fluctuated over the past century with oil embargoes, rising gas prices, and high unemployment levels, but it still remains an important part of Michigan’s economy. Additionally, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is a provider that “assists businesses in their growth strategies, and fosters the growth of vibrant communities across the state.” (MEDC Website).

Michigan Interesting Facts

Due to the states’ diverse backgrounds, the cultural activity within the state is based on the varying ethnicities that live within the state. For example, the mid-20th century brought forth an influential music industry in Motown with Berry Gordy Jr. There is an annual Bavarian Festival in Frankenmuth that pays tribute to the community’s German roots. Holland, Michigan has the Tulip Time Festival, but also displays its Dutch roots as well.


There are numerous museums within the state as well. The Detroit Institute of Art houses one of the country’s major collections of ancient and contemporary art from around the world. The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn feature details  Ford’s role in the history of automobile manufacturing. Lansing is home to the Michigan Historical Museum, famous for its military and Native American collection. In Grand Rapids, the Gerald R. Ford Museum chronicles the lives and times of former U.S. president Gerald R. Ford and his wife, Betty Ford. Finally, the Museum of African American History in Detroit chronicles the role of African Americans in the development of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the United States as a whole.


Professional and collegiate sports play a major role within Michigan as well. Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers began in 1881 and are the oldest team still in operation in Michigan. The Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association and the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League have had varying degrees of success over the past 40 years in winning championships for Detroit and the state of Michigan. Unfortunately for followers of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (which is the most popular sport in the United States), they have not been successful since the 1950s. With regards to college sports, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are the two most successful universities in the state when it comes to the most popular sports. The University of Michigan have had the most success in American Football, while Michigan State University is more successful in basketball.

Michigan History

In the 17th century, the Native American population of what is present-day Michigan included the Ottawa, Ojibwa, Miami, and Potawatomi nations, all of which belonged to the Algonquian linguistic group. The Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi formed a loose alliance known as the “Three Fires,” and lived in the northwestern portion of the state where modern cities such as Traverse City are located. At the time of initial contact with Europeans, all groups engaged in agriculture and fishing, as well as in hunting and gathering.  

Étienne Brulé, a Frenchman, was the first known European to visit the area in 1622. He was the forerunner of numerous missionaries, fur traders, and explorers who helped pave the way for French control of Michigan.  The oldest European settlement in Michigan is Sault Sainte Marie, founded by the French in 1668 at a site where in 1641 missionaries had held services for some 2,000 Ojibwa. In 1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established Detroit as a fur-trading center and administrative post; it soon became the leading French community in the entire Great Lakes area. Other areas such as Sault Ste. Marie were founded as French communities as well.

Although Europeans and the region’s indigenous peoples initially engaged in skirmishes, these soon gave way to better relations. Many natives eventually became fur trappers, guides, or traders. The French traded the indigenous population weapons, utensils, clothes, and alcohol. As a result, numerous alliances were made between tribal communities and the French. However, the period from the late 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century saw France, Great Britain, and other European powers engaged in a near-constant state of warfare that often-included actions in the colonies. During the Seven Years’ War of 1756–63 (it is called the French and Indian War in the United States), the French garrisons were surrendered to the British (1760). With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Great Britain acquired jurisdiction over Canada and the French territory east of the Mississippi River except for New Orleans. Michigan was controlled by the British as a part of Canada. During the American Revolution (1775-1783), Detroit was a major supply center for British troops. Unlike French relations, British relations with indigenous peoples were not as positive as numerous attacks and battles occurred between the two sides, especially during the mid-1700s. These skirmishes, alongside the creation of the United States of America, led the Michigan territory becoming controlled by the newly formed country in 1783.

U.S. Territory and Statehood 

In 1787 the area of Michigan was made part of the newly created Northwest Territory alongside the area that constitutes the modern states of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. along with the lands now constituting Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Once under U.S. rule, politicians led aggressive programs to acquire the lands of native populations through diplomatic treaties, or through coercion. This led the indigenous tribes being relocated throughout the area of Michigan, or to reservations in other parts of the country.

In 1805 Michigan Territory was separated from Indiana, and Detroit was made its capital. Although Michigan’s first territorial governor, William Hull, surrendered Detroit to the British early in the War of 1812, American rule was restored late in 1813 by the victory of Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie. In 1818 steamship navigation linked Detroit and Buffalo New York which brought in a new era of water transportation. New routes from Detroit to Chicago Illinois made Michigan more appealing for settlers as well. By 1835, the first constitution was enacted in Michigan, but it took until 1837 for it to be ratified and Michigan made an official state. This was a result of the “Toledo War” which was caused by a boundary dispute with Ohio.

The population of Michigan exploded throughout the 1840s and 1850s during “Michigan Fever” as new settlers looked for new homes and opportunities, and the end of the 19th century, Michigan’s economy was booming with mining and forest industries.

20th Century Michigan

The 20th century in Michigan can be explained through the boom in the automobile industry. Companies such as Ford and General Motors defined the American automotive industry and became a union hub as well. Innovations during this time period led the Michigan Department of Transportation as being one of the earliest departments in the country. During World War I, industrial production at all levels intensified, During The Great Depression, unions saw a surge, as, in 1937, the United Automobile Workers became the bargaining agent for production workers at General Motors Corporation. During World War II, Detroit became a major producer of military (rather than commercial) vehicles and, as such, was known as the Arsenal of Democracy. After the war, industrial production continued at a peak to restock the country with new cars and other war-depleted consumer goods. Post-war growth was significant in the suburbs, which was brought upon by rapid expansion of the state’s highway system. Other industries helped spur the growth of Michigan during this time as well. Battle Creek in particular saw a boost during the early 20th century with the creation of two major cereal companies Kelloggs and Post.

Meanwhile, racial polarization in Michigan increased during the mid-20th century, with major riots erupting in Detroit, most notably in 1943 and 1967. Nevertheless, Michigan was a leader in Civil Rights, and the 1963 Michigan constitution was the first in the country to provide for a Department of Civil Rights.

21st Century Michigan

While the auto industry has fluctuated throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, it still plays a crucial role in the history and economy of present-day Michigan. New high-tech industries have emerged within the state, and the state has encouraged the development of larger use of wind farms and solar power. For example, in 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $550 million nuclear physics research project to Michigan State University. More recently, with the governorship of Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan strives to improve the quality of life for its citizens by combating issues such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and health care. This is show even further in the state’s advertising of “Pure Michigan” through television, radio, film, and social media.

People Also Ask...

That’s everything you need to know about Michigan, but how well do you know the other U.S. states and their geography? For the ultimate test, try out this challenge in which you identify states by their shapes: Infoplease's State Outlines Quiz.

What is Michigan known for?

Michigan is known for the home of the automobile industry, beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, and a bustling college town atmosphere. As the home of automobile giants GMC and Ford, the auto industry exploded in popularity in Michigan. Additionally, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any state in the United States. Finally, the state’s two major colleges: The University of Michigan and Michigan State University bring people out to the towns of Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

Is Michigan a good place to live?

The state of Michigan is a great place to live for people who love the outdoors, friendly people, affordable housing and a lost cost of living compared to other states. However, the weather can be brutal throughout the year. While summers are milder compared to states such as Texas or Louisiana, temperatures can occasionally reach the upper 90 degrees Fahrenheit. With the winter months, Michigan averages around 64 inches of snow to year. To put this into perspective, the average snowfall total for the rest of the United States is 28 inches per year.

Is Michigan cheap or expensive to live?

Living in Michigan is 3% lower than the national average. Housing is 14% lower than the national average, while utilities are 2% lower. Comparing basic necessities to the of the country, groceries are around 1% higher than the rest of the country, while clothing costs 1% higher than the rest of the country as well.

See more on Michigan:
Encyclopedia: Michigan
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
Monthly Temperature Extremes

All U.S. States: Geography & Climate
Printable Outline Maps
Record Highest Temperatures
Record Lowest Temperatures
Highest, Lowest, and Mean Elevations
Land and Water Area

All U.S. States: Population & Economy
Historical Population Statistics, 1790–Present
Per Capita Personal Income
Minimum Wage Rates
State Taxes
Federal Government Expenditure
Percent of People in Poverty
Births and Birth Rates
Percentage of Uninsured by State

All U.S. States: Society & Culture:
Most Livable States
Healthiest States
Most Dangerous States
Smartest States
Crime Index
Residency Requirements for Voting
Compulsory School Attendance Laws
Driving Laws
National Public Radio Stations

Selected famous natives and residents:

The 50 States of America | U.S. State Information
Sources +
See also: