Louisiana is a Southern state of the United States of America. Among the states, Louisiana has a unique culture, owing to its French colonial heritage. While the state has no declared "official language", its law recognizes both English and French. Today, English is by far the main language of everyday life, but traces of French survive in local dialects.
Louisiana was long inhabited by Native American tribes before the arrival of Europeans. The lasting mark of the Native Americans can be seen even today in the names used in Louisiana, such as Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (Avoyelles Parish).
What follows is a partial list, using current parish boundaries as rough approximations of locations.
- The Atakapa were found in southwestern Louisiana in the parishes of Vermilion, Cameron, Lafayette, Acadia, Jefferson Davis, and Calcasieu.
- The Chitimachas occupied the southeastern parishes of Iberia, Assumption, St Mary, Lower St. Martin, Terrebone, LaFourche, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St.Bo St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.
- The Bayougoula, part of the Choctaw nation, were found in points directly north of the Chitimachas, in the parishes of St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, and St. Tammany.
- The Houma tribe, was found in East and West Feliciana, and Pointe Coupee parishes; Ironically about 100 miles north of current location of the town named after them.
- Portions of Avoyelles and Concordia parishes along the Mississippi River were home to the Avoyel, part of the Natchez nation.
- The northeastern parishes of Tensas, Madison, and East and West Carroll were occupied by the Tunica tribe.
- The remainder of current day central and north Louisiana was home to a substantial portion of the Caddo nation.
The first European explorers to visit what is now Louisiana was a Spanish expedition in 1528 led by Panfilo de Narváez which located the mouth of the Mississippi River. Some 13 years later Hernando de Soto′s expedition crossed through the region. Thereafter the region was long neglected by the Spanish authorities, and the next explorers were French. Louisiana was named by the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle in honour of Louis XIV in 1682. The first permanent settlement was founded by Pierre Le Moyne d′Iberville in 1699.
The French colony of Louisiana originally claimed a great region of land on both sides of the Mississippi River and north to Canada. Most of the settlement concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, with trading outposts and mission settlements in the Illinois Country, as far north as Peoria, Illinois and a number of settlements in the area around near present-day Saint Louis, Missouri. See also: French colonization of the Americas
Initially Mobile, Alabama and Biloxi, Mississippi functioned as the capital of the colony; from 1722 on New Orleans fulfilled that role.
Most of the territory to the east of the Mississippi was lost to Great Britain in the French and Indian War, except for the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain. The rest of Louisiana became a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fountainebleau of 1762.
During the period of Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia made their way to Louisiana following British expulsion; settling largely in the southwestern bayous, they became known as the Cajuns.
In 1800 France′s Napoleon Bonaparte re-acquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, although this was kept secret for some two years.
In 1803 the United States purchased the French province of Louisiana (see Louisiana Purchase) and divided it into two territories: the Orleans Territory (which became the state of Louisiana in 1812) and the District of Louisiana (which consisted of all the land not included in Orleans Territory). The Florida Parishes were annexed from Spanish West Florida by proclamation of President James Madison in 1810. The western boundary of Louisiana with Spanish Texas remained in dispute until the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819, with the Sabine Free State serving as a neutral buffer zone as well as a haven for criminals.
There are still remnants of its former status as a possession of France, including: the use of a civil law legal system, based on the Louisiana Civil Code, which is similar to (and often confused with) the Napoleonic Code (like France, and unlike the rest of the United States, which uses a common law legal system derived from England), the term "parishes" being used to describe the state′s sub-divisions as opposed to "counties", etc.
In 1849 the capital moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Donaldsonville, Opelousas, and Shreveport have also briefly served as the seat of governments of Louisiana.
In the American Civil War Louisiana seceded from the Union on January 26, 1861. New Orleans was captured by Federal troops on April 25, 1862. As significant portions of the population had Union sympathies, the Federal government took the unusual step of recognizing the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union with elected representatives who were sent to the congress in Washington, D.C. throughout the rest of the war.
- State dog : Catahoula Leopard Dog
- State bird : Eastern Brown Pelican
- State flower : Magnolia
- State fossil : Petrified palmwood
- State tree : Bald Cypress
- State mammal : Louisiana Black Bear
- State wildflower : Louisiana Iris
- State reptile : American Alligator
- State insect: Honeybee
- State crustacean : Crawfish
- State amphibian: Green Tree Frog
- State food: Gumbo
- State songs: You Are My Sunshine, Every Man a King, and Give Me Louisiana
- Saint Charles
- Saint Bernard
- St John The Baptist
- Saint James
- Saint Mary
- Saint Tammany
- Saint Helena
- Saint Landry
- Saint Martin
- Jefferson Davis
- East Baton Rouge
- West Baton Rouge
- West Feliciana
- Pointe Coupee
- East Feliciana
- Red River
- De Soto
- West Carroll
- East Carroll
- La Salle
- American Samoa
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Northern Mariana Islands
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands
- West Virginia