State of Michigan
Flag of Michigan State seal of Michigan
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Great Lakes State, The Wolverine State
Motto(s): Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice
(Latin:If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you)
Map of the United States with Michigan highlighted
Official language(s) None (English, de-facto)
Demonym Michigander
Capital Lansing
Largest city Detroit
Largest metro area Metro Detroit
Area  Ranked 11th in the U.S.
 - Total 96,716 sq mi
(250,493 km2)
 - Width 386[1] miles (621 km)
 - Length 456[1] miles (734 km)
 - % water 41.5
 - Latitude 41° 41' N to 48° 18' N
 - Longitude 82° 7' W to 90° 25' W
Population  Ranked 8th in the U.S.
 - Total 9,883,640 (2010)[2]
Density 102.2/sq mi  (39.46/km2)
Ranked 19th in the U.S.
 - Median income  $44,627 (21st)
 - Highest point Mount Arvon[3][4]
1,979 ft (603 m)
 - Mean 900 ft  (270 m)
 - Lowest point Lake Erie[3][4]
571 ft (174 m)
Before statehood Michigan Territory
Admission to Union  January 26, 1837 (26th)
Governor Rick Snyder (R)
Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R)
Legislature Michigan Legislature
 - Upper house Senate
 - Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators
U.S. House delegation 9 Republicans
6 Democrats (list)
Time zones  
 - most of state Eastern: UTC-5/-4
 - 4 U.P. counties Central: UTC-6/-5
Abbreviations MI Mich. US-MI
Website michigan.gov

Michigan Listeni/ˈmɪʃɨɡən/ is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake".[1][5]

Michigan is the eighth most populous state in the United States, with the 2010 census placing its population at 9,883,640 residents.[2] It has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair.[6] Michigan is one of the leading U.S. states for recreational boating.[7] The state has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds.[8] A person in the state is never more than six miles (10 km) from a natural water source or more than 85 miles (137 km) from a Great Lakes shoreline.[9] It is the largest state by total area[10] east of the Mississippi River.

Michigan is the only state to consist entirely of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is often noted to be shaped like a mitten. The Upper Peninsula (often referred to as "The U.P.") is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km)-wide channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The two peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. The Upper Peninsula is economically important for tourism and natural resources.



Michigan was home to Native American cultures before colonization by Europeans[citation needed]. When the first European explorers arrived, the most populous and influential tribes were Algonquian peoples, specifically, the Ottawa, the Anishnabe (called Chippewa in French, after their language Ojibwe), and the Potawatomi. The Anishnabe, whose numbers are estimated to have been between 25,000 and 35,000, were the most populous.

The Anishnabe were well-established in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan, and also inhabited northern Ontario, northern Wisconsin, southern Manitoba, and northern and north-central Minnesota. The Ottawa lived primarily south of the Straits of Mackinac in northern and western Michigan, while the Potawatomi were primarily in the southwest. The three nations co-existed peacefully as part of a loose confederation called the Council of Three Fires. Other tribes in Michigan, in the south and east, were the Mascouten, the Menominee, the Miami, and the Wyandot, who are better known by their French name, Huron.

17th century

Père Marquette and the Indians (1869), Wilhelm Lamprecht

French voyageurs and coureurs des bois explored and settled in Michigan in the 17th century. The first Europeans to reach what later became Michigan were those of Étienne Brûlé's expedition in 1622. The first permanent European settlement was founded in 1668 on the site where Père Jacques Marquette established Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan as a base for Catholic missions.[11] Missionaries in 1671–75 founded outlying stations at Saint Ignace and Marquette. Jesuit missionaries were well received by the Indian populations in the area, with relatively few difficulties or hostilities. In 1679, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle built Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph.

18th century

Approximate area of Michigan highlighted in Guillaume de L'Isle's 1718 map.

In 1701, French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit or "Fort Pontchartrain on-the-Strait" on the strait, known as the Detroit River, between lakes Saint Clair and Erie. Cadillac had convinced King Louis XIV's chief minister, Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, that a permanent community there would strengthen French control over the upper Great Lakes and discourage British aspirations.

The hundred soldiers and workers who accompanied Cadillac built a fort enclosing one arpent[12][13] (about 0.85 acres (3,400 m2), the equivalent of just under 200 feet (61 m) per side) and named it Fort Pontchartrain. Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse Guyon, soon moved to Detroit, becoming one of the first European women to settle in the Michigan wilderness. The town quickly became a major fur-trading and shipping post. The Église de Saint-Anne (Church of Saint Ann) was founded the same year. While the original building does not survive, the congregation of that name continues to be active today. Cadillac later departed to serve as the French governor of Louisiana from 1710 to 1716.

At the same time, the French strengthened Fort Michilimackinac at the Straits of Mackinac to better control their lucrative fur-trading empire. By the mid-18th century, the French also occupied forts at present-day Niles and Sault Ste. Marie, though most of the rest of the region remained unsettled by Europeans.

From 1660 to the end of French rule, Michigan was part of the Royal Province of New France.[14] In 1759, following the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Québec City fell to British forces. This marked Britain's victory in the Seven Years War. Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Michigan and the rest of New France east of the Mississippi River passed to Great Britain.[15]

During the American Revolutionary War, Detroit was an important British supply center. Most of the inhabitants were French-Canadians or Native Americans, many of whom had been allied with the French. Because of imprecise cartography and unclear language defining the boundaries in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, the British retained control of Detroit and Michigan after the American Revolution. When Quebec split into Lower and Upper Canada in 1790, Michigan was part of Kent County, Upper Canada. It held its first democratic elections in August 1792 to send delegates to the new provincial parliament at Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake).[16]

Under terms negotiated in the 1794 Jay Treaty, Britain withdrew from Detroit and Michilimackinac in 1796. Questions remained over the boundary for many years, and the United States did not have uncontested control of the Upper Peninsula and Drummond Island until 1818 and 1847, respectively.

19th century

During the War of 1812, Michigan Territory (effectively consisting of Detroit and the surrounding area) was surrendered after a nearly bloodless siege in 1812. An attempt to retake Detroit resulted in a severe American defeat in the River Raisin Massacre. This battle is still the bloodiest ever fought in the state and had the highest number of American casualties of any battle in the war. Ultimately, Michigan was recaptured by Americans in 1813 after the Battle of Lake Erie. An invasion of Canada which culminated in the Battle of the Thames was then launched from Michigan. The more northern areas were held by the British until the peace treaty restored the old boundaries. A number of forts, including Fort Wayne were built in Michigan during the 19th century out of fears of renewed fighting with Britain.

Lumbering pines in the late 1800s

The population grew slowly until the opening in 1825 of the Erie Canal connecting the Great Lakes and the Hudson River and New York City. The new route brought a large influx of settlers, who became farmers and merchants and shipped out grain, lumber, and iron ore. By the 1830s, Michigan had 80,000 residents, more than enough to apply and qualify for statehood. In October 1835 the people approved the Constitution of 1835, thereby forming a state government, although Congressional recognition was delayed pending resolution of a boundary dispute with Ohio known as the Toledo War. Congress awarded the "Toledo Strip" to Ohio. Michigan received the western part of the Upper Peninsula as a concession and formally entered the Union on January 26, 1837. The Upper Peninsula proved to be a rich source of lumber, iron, and copper. Michigan led the nation in lumber production from the 1850s to the 1880s. Railroads became a major engine of growth from the 1850s onward, with Detroit the chief hub.

The first statewide meeting of the Republican Party took place July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan, where the party adopted its platform. The state was heavily Republican until the 1930s. Michigan made a significant contribution to the Union in the American Civil War and sent more than forty regiments of volunteers to the federal armies.

Modernizers and boosters—especially Yankees set up systems for public education, including founding the University of Michigan (1817; moved to Ann Arbor in 1841), for a classical academic education; and Michigan State Normal School, (1849) now Eastern Michigan University, for the training of teachers. In 1899, it became the first normal college in the nation to offer a four-year curriculum. Michigan Agricultural College (1855), now Michigan State University in East Lansing, was founded as the pioneer land-grant college, a model for those authorized under the Morrill Act (1862). Many other private colleges were founded as well, and the smaller cities formed high schools late in the century.[17]

20th and 21st centuries

Michigan's economy underwent a transformation at the turn of the 20th century. The birth of the automotive industry, with Henry Ford's first plant in Highland Park, marked the beginning of a new era in transportation. Like the steamship and railroad, it was a far-reaching development. More than the forms of public transportation, the automobile transformed private life. It became the major industry of Detroit and Michigan, and permanently altered the socio-economic life of the United States and much of the world.

With the growth, the auto industry created jobs in Detroit that attracted immigrants from Europe and migrants from across the U.S., including those from the South. By 1920, Detroit was the fourth largest city in the U.S. Residential housing was in short supply, and it took years for the market to catch up with the population boom. By the 1930s, so many immigrants had arrived that more than 30 languages were spoken in the public schools, and ethnic communities celebrated in annual heritage festivals. Over the years immigrants and migrants contributed greatly to Detroit's diverse urban culture, including popular music trends, such as the influential Motown Sound of the 1960s led by a variety of individual singers and groups.

Skyscrapers in downtown Detroit

Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan, is also an important center of manufacturing. Since 1838, the city has also been noted for its furniture industry and is home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies. Grand Rapids is home to a number of major companies including Steelcase, Amway, and Meijer. Grand Rapids is also an important center for GE Aviation Systems.

Michigan held its first United States presidential primary election in 1910. With its rapid growth in industry, it was an important center of union industry-wide organizing, such as the rise of the United Auto Workers.

In 1920 WWJ (AM) in Detroit became the first radio station in the United States to regularly broadcast commercial programs. Throughout that decade, some of the country's largest and most ornate skyscrapers were built in the city. Particularly noteworthy are the Fisher Building, Cadillac Place, and the Guardian Building, each of which is a National Historic Landmark (NHL).

Detroit continued to expand through the 1950s, at one point doubling its population in a decade. After World War II, housing was developed in suburban areas outside city cores; newly constructed U.S. Interstate Highways allowed commuters to navigate the region more easily. Modern advances in the auto industry have resulted in increased automation, high tech industry, and increased suburban growth since 1960.

Michigan is the leading auto-producing state in the U.S., with the industry primarily located throughout the Midwestern United States, Ontario, Canada, and the Southern United States.[18] With almost ten million residents, Michigan is a large and influential state, ranking eighth in population among the fifty states. Detroit is the centrally located metropolitan area of the Great Lakes Megalopolis and the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S. linking the Great Lakes system.

The Metro Detroit area in Southeast Michigan is the largest metropolitan area in the state (roughly 50% of the population resides there) and the eleventh largest in the USA. The Grand Rapids metropolitan area in Western Michigan is the fastest-growing metro area in the state, with over 1.3 million residents as of 2006. Metro Detroit receives more than 15 million visitors each year. Michigan has many popular tourist destinations which include areas such as Traverse City on the Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. Tourists spend about $17 billion annually in Michigan supporting 193,000 jobs.[19]

Michigan typically ranks third or fourth in overall Research & development (R&D) expenditures in the U.S.[20][21] The state's leading research institutions include the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University which are important partners in the state's economy and the state's University Research Corridor.[22] Michigan's public universities attract more than $1.5 B in research and development grants each year.[23] Agriculture also serves a significant role making the state a leading grower of fruit in the U.S., including blueberries, cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches.[24]


State government

Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of Michigan and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the one court of justice. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification. Lansing is the state capital and is home to all three branches of state government.

The Governor of Michigan and the other state constitutional officers serve four-year terms and may be re-elected only once. The current Governor is Rick Snyder. Michigan has two official Governor's Residences; one is in Lansing, and the other is at Mackinac Island.

The Michigan Legislature consists of a 38-member Senate and 110-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four-year terms and Representatives two. The Michigan State Capitol was dedicated in 1879 and has hosted the state's executive and legislative branches ever since.


Michigan Supreme Court at the Hall of Justice

The Michigan Court System consists of two courts with primary jurisdiction (the Circuit Courts and the District Courts), one intermediate level appellate court (the Michigan Court of Appeals), and the Michigan Supreme Court. There are several administrative courts and specialized courts. The Michigan Constitution provides for voter initiative and referendum (Article II, § 9,[25] defined as "the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution").

In 1846 Michigan became the first state in the Union, as well as the first English-speaking government in the world,[26][27] to abolish the death penalty. Historian David Chardavoyne has suggested that the movement to abolish capital punishment in Michigan grew as a result of enmity toward the state's neighbor, Canada. Under British rule, it made public executions a regular practice.


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) (2011–present)

Voters in the state elect candidates from both major parties. Economic issues are important in Michigan elections. The three-term Republican Governor John Engler (1991–2003) preceded the former two-term Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm (2003–2011). The state has elected successive Republican attorneys general twice since 2003. The Republican Party has won a majority in both the House and Senate of the current Michigan Legislature (2011–present). Michigan supported the election of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The current Governor Rick Snyder (2011–present) is a Republican.

Presidential elections results[28]
Year Republicans Democrats
2008 40.89% 2,048,639 57.33% 2,872,579
2004 47.81% 2,313,746 51.23% 2,479,183
2000 46.14% 1,953,139 51.28% 2,170,418
1996 38.48% 1,481,212 51.69% 1,989,653
1992 36.38% 1,554,940 43.77% 1,871,182
1988 53.57% 1,965,486 45.67% 1,675,783
1984 59.23% 2,251,571 40.24% 1,529,638
1980 48.99% 1,915,225 42.50% 1,661,532
1976 51.83% 1,893,742 46.44% 1,696,714
1972 56.20% 1,961,721 41.81% 1,459,435
1968 41.46% 1,370,665 48.18% 1,593,082
1964 33.10% 1,060,152 66.70% 2,136,615
1960 48.84% 1,620,428 50.85% 1,687,269

However, the state has supported Democrats in the last five presidential election cycles. In 2008, Barack Obama carried the state over John McCain, winning Michigan's 17 electoral votes with 57% of the vote. Democrats have won each of the last three, nine of the last ten, and 15 of the last 18 U.S. Senate elections in Michigan with confidence on national economic issues posing a challenge. Republican strength is greatest in the western, northern, and rural parts of the state, especially in the Grand Rapids area. Republicans also do well in suburban Detroit, which tends to be an important factor in deciding statewide elections. Democrats are strongest in the east, especially in the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, and Saginaw.

Historically, the first formal meeting of the Republican Party took place in Jackson, Michigan on July 6, 1854[29] and the party thereafter dominated Michigan until the Great Depression. In the 1912 election, Michigan was one of the six states to support progressive Republican and third-party candidate Theodore Roosevelt for President after he lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft.

Michigan remained fairly reliably Republican at the presidential level for much of the 20th century. It was part of Greater New England, the northern tier of states settled chiefly by migrants from New England who carried their culture with them. The state was one of only a handful to back Wendell Willkie over Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, and supported Thomas E. Dewey in his losing bid against Harry S. Truman in 1948. Michigan went to the Democrats in presidential elections during the 1960s, and voted for Republican Richard Nixon in 1972.

Michigan was the home of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. He was born in Nebraska and moved as an infant to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and grew up there.[30][31] The Gerald R. Ford Museum is located in Grand Rapids, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is located on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Administrative divisions

State government is decentralized among three tiers – statewide, county and township. Counties are administrative divisions of the state, and townships are administrative divisions of a county. Both of them exercise state government authority, localized to meet the particular needs of their jurisdictions, as provided by state law. There are 83 counties in Michigan.

Cities, state universities, and villages are vested with home rule powers of varying degrees. Home rule cities can generally do anything that is not prohibited by law. The fifteen state universities have broad power and can do anything within the parameters of their status as educational institutions that is not prohibited by the state constitution. Villages, by contrast, have limited home rule and are not completely autonomous from the county and township in which they are located.

There are two types of township in Michigan: general law township and charter. Charter township status was created by the Legislature in 1947 and grants additional powers and stream-lined administration in order to provide greater protection against annexation by a city. As of April 2001, there were 127 charter townships in Michigan. In general, charter townships have many of the same powers as a city but without the same level of obligations. For example, a charter township can have its own fire department, water and sewer department, police department, and so on—just like a city—but it is not required to have those things, whereas cities must provide those services. Charter townships can opt to use county-wide services instead, such as deputies from the county sheriff's office instead of a home-based force of ordinance officers.


Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between 82°30' to about 90°30' west longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac. The 45th parallel north runs through the state—marked by highway signs and the Polar-Equator Trail[32]—along a line including Mission Point Light near Traverse City, the towns of Gaylord and Alpena in the Lower Peninsula and Menominee in the Upper Peninsula. With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land thus drained.

Aerial view of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The Great Lakes that border Michigan from east to west are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. It has more lighthouses than any other state. The state is bounded on the south by the states of Ohio and Indiana, sharing land and water boundaries with both. Michigan's western boundaries are almost entirely water boundaries, from south to north, with Illinois and Wisconsin in Lake Michigan; then a land boundary with Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, that is principally demarcated by the Menominee and Montreal Rivers; then water boundaries again, in Lake Superior, with Wisconsin and Minnesota to the west, capped around by the Canadian province of Ontario to the north and east.

The heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The Porcupine Mountains, which are part of one of the oldest mountain chains in the world,[33] rise to an altitude of almost 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level and form the watershed between the streams flowing into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The surface on either side of this range is rugged. The state's highest point, in the Huron Mountains northwest of Marquette, is Mount Arvon at 1,979 feet (603 m). The peninsula is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined but has fewer than 330,000 inhabitants. They are sometimes called "Yoopers" (from "U.P.'ers"), and their speech (the "Yooper dialect") has been heavily influenced by the numerous Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants who settled the area during the lumbering and mining boom of the late 19th century.

The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area

The Lower Peninsula, shaped like a mitten, 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 conical hills and glacial moraines usually not more than a few hundred feet tall. It is divided by a low water divide running north and south. The larger portion of the state is on the west of this and gradually slopes toward Lake Michigan. The highest point in the Lower Peninsula is either Briar Hill at 1,705 feet (520 m), or one of several points nearby in the vicinity of Cadillac. The lowest point is the surface of Lake Erie at 571 feet (174 m).

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 highway miles (1,015 km) 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 U.P. culturally and economically distinct. Occasionally U.P. residents have called for secession from Michigan and establishment as a new state to be called "Superior".

A feature of Michigan that gives it the distinct shape of a mitten is the Thumb. This peninsula projects out into Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay. The geography of the Thumb is mainly flat with a few rolling hills. Other peninsulas of Michigan include the Keweenaw Peninsula, making up the Copper Country region of the state. The Leelanau Peninsula lies in the Northern Lower Michigan region. See Also Michigan Regions

Numerous lakes and marshes mark both peninsulas, and the coast is much indented. Keweenaw Bay, Whitefish Bay, and the Big and Little Bays De Noc are the principal indentations on the Upper Peninsula. The Grand and Little Traverse, Thunder, and Saginaw bays indent the Lower Peninsula. Michigan has the second longest shoreline of any state—3,288 miles (5,292 km),[34] including 1,056 miles (1,699 km) of island shoreline.[35]

Michigan map, including territorial waters

The state has numerous large islands, the principal ones being the North Manitou and South Manitou, Beaver, and Fox groups in Lake Michigan; Isle Royale and Grande Isle in Lake Superior; Marquette, Bois Blanc, and Mackinac islands in Lake Huron; and Neebish, Sugar, and Drummond islands in St. Mary's River. Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, the most of any U.S. state. The first lighthouses in Michigan were built between 1818 and 1822. They were built to project light at night and to serve as a landmark during the day to safely guide the passenger ships and freighters traveling the Great Lakes. See Lighthouses in the United States.

The state's rivers are generally small, short and shallow, and few are navigable. The principal ones include the Detroit River, St. Marys River, and St. Clair River which connect the Great Lakes; the Au Sable, Cheboygan, and Saginaw, which flow into Lake Huron; the Ontonagon, and Tahquamenon, which flow into Lake Superior; and the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon, Manistee, and Escanaba, which flow into Lake Michigan. The state has 11,037 inland lakes (totaling 1,305 square miles (3,380 km2) of inland water) in addition to 38,575 square miles (99,910 km2) of Great Lakes waters. No point in Michigan is more than six miles (10 km) from an inland lake or more than 85 miles (137 km) from one of the Great Lakes.[36]

The state is home to a number of areas maintained by the National Park Service including: Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior, about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Other national protected areas in the state include: 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. The largest section of the North Country National Scenic Trail passes through Michigan.

With 78 state parks, 19 state recreation areas, and 6 state forests, Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state. These parks and forests include Holland State Park, Mackinac Island State Park, Au Sable State Forest, and Mackinaw State Forest.

Adjacent states & provinces


Detroit, MI
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: Detroit Climate
Lansing, MI
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: Lansing Climate
Marquette, MI
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: Marquette Climate
Michigan USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Michigan has a continental climate, although there are two distinct regions. The southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula (south of Saginaw Bay and from the Grand Rapids area southward) have a warmer climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters. The northern part of Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula has a more severe climate (Koppen Dfb), with warm, but shorter summers and longer, cold to very cold winters. Some parts of the state average high temperatures below freezing from December through February, and into early March in the far northern parts. During the winter through the middle of February the state is frequently subjected to heavy lake-effect snow. The state averages from 30–40 inches (76–100 cm) of precipitation annually, however some areas in the northern lower peninsula and the upper peninsula average almost 160" of snowfall per year.[37] Michigan's highest recorded temperature is 112 °F (44 °C) at Mio on July 13, 1936 and the coldest recorded temperature is −51 °F (−46 °C) at Vanderbilt on February 9, 1934.[38]

The entire state averages 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. These can be severe, especially in the southern part of the state. The state averages 17 tornadoes per year, which are more common in the extreme southern portion of the state. Portions of the southern border have been nearly as vulnerable historically as parts of Tornado Alley. For this reason, many communities in the very southern portions of the state are equipped with tornado sirens to warn residents of approaching tornadoes. Farther north, in the Upper Peninsula, tornadoes are rare.[39]

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Other Michigan Cities in °FC)
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flint 29/13
























Grand Rapids 29/16
























Muskegon 30/17
























Sault Ste. Marie 22/5
























[4][dead link]


The geological formation of the state is greatly varied. Primary boulders are found over the entire surface of the Upper Peninsula (being principally of primitive origin), while Secondary deposits cover the entire Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula exhibits Lower Silurian sandstones, limestones, copper and iron bearing rocks, corresponding to the Huronian system of Canada. The central portion of the Lower Peninsula contains coal measures and rocks of the Permo-Carboniferous period. Devonian and sub-Carboniferous deposits are scattered over the entire state.


Michigan population distribution
Map showing the largest ancestry group in each county (2008)
Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 3,757
1810 4,762 26.8%
1820 7,452 56.5%
1830 28,004 275.8%
1840 212,267 658.0%
1850 397,654 87.3%
1860 749,113 88.4%
1870 1,184,059 58.1%
1880 1,636,937 38.2%
1890 2,093,890 27.9%
1900 2,420,982 15.6%
1910 2,810,173 16.1%
1920 3,668,412 30.5%
1930 4,842,325 32.0%
1940 5,256,106 8.5%
1950 6,371,766 21.2%
1960 7,823,194 22.8%
1970 8,875,083 13.4%
1980 9,262,078 4.4%
1990 9,295,297 0.4%
2000 9,938,444 6.9%
2010 9,883,640 −0.6%
Source: 1910–2010[40]

As of 2010, Michigan had a population of 9,883,640, at – 0.6% since the year 2000, retaining its rank as the eighth most populous state in the nation.[41]

The center of population of Michigan is located in Shiawassee County, in the southeastern corner of the civil township of Bennington, which is located northwest of the village of Morrice.[42]

As of the 2009 American Community Survey for the U.S. Census, the state had a foreign-born population of 614,111, or 6.2% of the total. In recent years, the foreign-born population in the state has grown. Michigan has the largest Dutch, Finnish, and Macedonian populations in the United States.

The 2010 Census reported:

The ten largest reported ancestries in Michigan are:[43]

The large majority of Michigan's population is Caucasian. Americans of European descent live throughout Michigan and most of Metro Detroit. Large European American groups include those of German, Irish, French, Belgian and British ancestry. People of Scandinavian descent, especially those of Finnish ancestry, have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula. Western Michigan is known for the Dutch heritage of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in metropolitan Grand Rapids.

About 300,000 people trace their descent from the Middle East.[44] Dearborn has a sizeable Arab community, with many Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac, and Lebanese who immigrated for jobs in the auto industry in the 1920s along with more recent Yemenis and Iraqis.[45] African Americans, who came to Detroit and other northern cities in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, form a majority of the population of the city of Detroit and of other cities, including Flint and Benton Harbor.

An individual from Michigan is called a "Michigander" or "Michiganian".[46] Also at times, but rarely, a "Michiganite".[47] Residents of the Upper Peninsula are sometimes referred to as "Yoopers" (a phonetic pronunciation of "U.P.ers"), and Upper Peninsula residents sometimes refer to those from the lower as "trolls" (they live below the bridge).[48]



The Lutheran Church was introduced by German and Scandinavian immigrants; Lutheranism is the second largest religious denomination in the state. The first Jewish synagogue in the state was Temple Beth El, founded by twelve German Jewish families in Detroit in 1850.[49] In West Michigan, Dutch immigrants fleed from the specter of religious persecution and famine in the Netherlands around 1850 and settled in and around what is now Holland, Michigan, establishing a "colony" on American soil that fervently held onto Calvinist doctrine that established a significant presence of Reformed churches.[50] Islam was introduced by immigrants from the Near East during the 20th century.[51]

The largest Protestant denominations were the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 244,231 adherents; followed by the United Methodist Church with 222,269; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 160,836 adherents. In the same survey, Jewish adherents in the state of Michigan were estimated at 110,000, and Muslims at 80,515.[52]


The Catholic Church has six dioceses and one archdiocese in Michigan, the Diocese of Gaylord, Diocese of Grand Rapids, Diocese of Kalamazoo, Diocese of Lansing, Diocese of Marquette, Diocese of Saginaw and Archdiocese of Detroit.[53] The Catholic Church is the largest denomination by number of adherents, according to a survey in the year 2000, with 2,019,926 parishioners.[54] The Roman Catholic Church was the only organized religion in Michigan until the 19th century, reflecting the territory's French colonial roots. Detroit's St. Anne's parish, established in 1701, by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac is the second-oldest Catholic parish in the country.[55] On March 8, 1833, the Holy See formally established a diocese in the Michigan territory, which included all of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas east of the Mississippi River. When Michigan became a state in 1837, the boundary of the Diocese of Detroit was redrawn to coincide with that of the State.[56]


Michigan is the center of the American automotive industry. Pictured is the Ford Shelby GT500 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The GT500 is manufactured in Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Michigan's 2010 gross state product at $384.1 B.[57] In May 2011, the state's unemployment rate was 10.3%.[58][59]

Top publicly traded companies
in Michigan for 2009

(according to revenues)
with State and U.S. rankings
State Corporation US
1 General Motors 6
2 Ford 7
3 Dow 38
4 Delphi 121
5 Whirlpool 133
6 Ally 147
7 TRW Automotive 169
8 Lear 195
9 Kellogg 210
10 Penske Automotive 225
11 Masco 277
12 Visteon 282
13 DTE Energy 285
14 Arvin Meritor 346
15 CMS Energy 369
16 Stryker 375
17 Autoliv 376
18 Pulte Homes 393
19 Kelly Services 437
20 BorgWarner 453
21 Auto-Owners 476
22 Steelcase 625
23 Spartan Stores 751
24 Cooper Standard 814
25 Valassis 809
26 Universal Forest 837
27 Affinia Group 853
28 Hayes-Lemmerz 856
29 American Axle 874
30 Herman Miller 897
31 Perrigo 897
Further information:
List of Michigan companies

Source: Fortune [60]

Some of the major industries/products/services include automobiles, cereal products, pizza, information technology, aerospace, military equipment, copper, iron, and furniture. Michigan is the third leading grower of Christmas trees with 60,520 acres (245 km2) of land dedicated to Christmas tree farming.[61][62] The beverage Vernors was invented in Michigan in 1866, sharing the title of oldest soft drink with Hires Root Beer. Faygo was founded in Detroit on November 4, 1907. Two of the top four pizza chains were founded in Michigan and are headquartered there: Domino's Pizza by Tom Monaghan and Little Caesars Pizza by Mike Ilitch.

Since 2009, GM, Ford, and Chrysler have managed a significant reorganization of their benefit funds structure after a volatile stock market which followed the September 11, 2001 attacks and early 2000s recession impacted their respective U.S. pension and benefit funds (OPEB).[63][64] General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler reached agreements with the United Auto Workers Union to transfer the liabilities for their respective health care and benefit funds to a 501(c)(9) Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). Manufacturing in the state grew 6.6% from 2001 to 2006,[65] but the high speculative price of oil became a factor for the U.S. auto industry during the economic crisis of 2008 impacting industry revenues. In 2009, GM and Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11 restructurings with financing provided in part by the U.S. and Canandian governments.[66][67] GM began its initial public offering (IPO) of stock in 2010.[68] For 2010, the Big Three domestic automakers have reported significant profits indicating the beginning of rebound.[69][70][71][72]

Michigan ranks fourth in the U.S. in high tech employment with 568,000 high tech workers, which includes 70,000 in the automotive industry.[73] Michigan typically ranks third or fourth in overall Research & development (R&D) expenditures in the United States.[20][21] Its research and development, which includes automotive, comprises a higher percentage of the state's overall gross domestic product than for any other U.S. state.[74] The state is an important source of engineering job opportunities. The domestic auto industry accounts directly and indirectly for one of every ten jobs in the U.S.[75]Outdated

Michigan was second in the U.S. in 2004 for new corporate facilities and expansions. From 1997 to 2004, Michigan was the only state to top the 10,000 mark for the number of major new developments;[18][76] however, the effects of the late 2000s recession have slowed the state's economy. In 2008, Michigan placed third in a site selection survey among the states for luring new business which measured capital investment and new job creation per one million population.[77] In August 2009, Michigan and Detroit's auto industry received $1.36 B in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for the manufacture of electric vehicle technologies which is expected to generate 6,800 immediate jobs and employ 40,000 in the state by 2020.[78] From 2007 to 2009, Michigan ranked 3rd in the U.S. for new corporate facilities and expansions.[79][80]

As leading research institutions, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University,and Wayne State University are important partners in the state's economy and the state's University Research Corridor.[22] Michigan's public universities attract more than $1.5 B in research and development grants each year.[23] The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory is located at Michigan State University. Michigan's workforce is well-educated and highly skilled, making it attractive to companies. It has the third highest number of engineering graduates nationally.[81]

Detroit Metropolitan Airport is one of the nation's most recently expanded and modernized airports with six major runways, and large aircraft maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing a Boeing 747 and is a major hub for Delta Air Lines. Michigan's schools and colleges rank among the nation's best. The state has maintained its early commitment to public education. The state's infrastructure gives it a competitive edge; Michigan has 38 deep water ports.[82] In 2007, Bank of America announced that it would commit $25 billion to community development in Michigan following its acquisition of LaSalle Bank in Troy.[83]

Michigan led the nation in job creation improvement in 2010.[84]


Michigan's personal income tax is set to a flat rate of 4.35%. Some cities impose additional income taxes. Michigan's state sales tax is 6%. Property taxes are assessed on the local level, but every property owner's local assessment contributes six mills (six dollars per thousand dollars of property value) to the statutory State Education Tax. In 2007, Michigan repealed its Single Business Tax (SBT) and replaced it with a Michigan Business Tax (MBT) in order to stimulate job growth by reducing taxes for seventy percent of the businesses in the state.[85] According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, recent growth in Michigan is 0.1%.[86]


Michigan is the leading U.S. producer of tart cherries, blueberries, pickling cucumbers, red beans and petunias.

A wide variety of commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, making it second only to California among U.S. states in the diversity of its agriculture.[87] The state has 55,000 farms utilizing 10,000,000 acres (40,000 km2) of land which sold $6.6 billion worth of products in 2008.[88] The most valuable agricultural product is milk. Leading crops include corn, soybeans, flowers, wheat, sugar beets and potatoes. Livestock in the state included 1 million cattle, 1 million hogs, 78,000 sheep and over 3 million chickens. Livestock products accounted for 38% of the value of agricultural products while crops accounted for the majority.

Michigan is a leading grower of fruit in the U.S., including blueberries, cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches.[24][89] Plums, pears, and strawberries are also grown. These fruits are mainly grown in West Michigan due to the moderating effect of Lake Michigan on the climate. There is also significant fruit production, especially cherries, but also grapes, apples, and other fruits, in Northwest Michigan along Lake Michigan. Michigan produces wines, beers and a multitude of processed food products. Kellogg's cereal is based out of Battle Creek, Michigan and processes many locally grown foods. Thornapple Valley, Ballpark Franks, Koegel's, and Hebrew National sausage companies are all based in Michigan.

Michigan is home to very fertile land in the Flint/Tri-Cities and "Thumb" areas. Products grown there include corn, sugar beets, navy beans, and soy beans. Sugar beet harvesting usually begins the first of October. It takes the sugar factories about five months to process the 3.7 million tons of sugarbeets into 970 million pounds of pure, white sugar.[90] Michigan's largest sugar refiner, Michigan Sugar Company[91] is the largest east of the Mississippi River and the fourth largest in the nation. Michigan Sugar brand names are Pioneer Sugar and the newly incorporated Big Chief Sugar. Potatoes are grown in Northern Michigan, and corn is dominant in Central Michigan. Alfalfa, cucumbers, and asparagus are also grown. Michigan State University is dedicated to the study of agriculture.


Michigan's tourists spend $17.2 billion per year in the state, supporting 193,000 tourism jobs.[79] Michigan's tourism website ranks among the busiest in the nation.[92] Destinations draw vacationers, hunters, and nature enthusiasts from across the United States and Canada. Michigan is fifty percent forest land, much of it quite remote. The forests, lakes and thousands of miles of beaches are top attractions. Event tourism draws large numbers to occasions like the Tulip Time Festival and the National Cherry Festival.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a classic image of Michigan tourism.

In 2006, the Michigan State Board of Education mandated that all public schools in the state hold their first day of school after the Labor Day holiday, in accordance with the new Post Labor Day School law. A survey found that 70% of all tourism business comes directly from Michigan residents, and the Michigan Hotel, Motel, & Resort Association claimed that the shorter summer in between school years cut into the annual tourism season in the state.[93]

Tourism in metropolitan Detroit draws visitors to leading attractions, particularly The Henry Ford, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Detroit Zoo, and to sports in Detroit. Other museums include the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, museums in the Cranbrook Educational Community, and the Arab American National Museum. The metro area offers four major casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, Motor City, and Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; moreover, Detroit is the largest American city and metropolitan region to offer casino resorts.[94]

Hunting and fishing are significant industries in the state. Charter boats are based in many Great Lakes cities to fish for salmon, trout, walleye and perch. Michigan ranks first in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy. Over three-quarters of a million hunters participate in white-tailed deer season alone. Many school districts in rural areas of Michigan cancel school on the opening day of firearm deer season, because of attendance concerns.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources manages the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation. The forest products industry and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to the state's economy. Public hiking and hunting access has also been secured in extensive commercial forests. The state has the highest number of golf courses and registered snowmobiles in the nation.[95]

The state has numerous historical markers, which can themselves become the center of a tour.[96] The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.[97]

With its position in relation to the Great Lakes and the countless ships that have foundered over the many years in which they have been used as a transport route for people and bulk cargo, Michigan is a world-class scuba diving destination. The Michigan Underwater Preserves are 11 underwater areas where wrecks are protected for the benefit of sport divers.


Michigan has nine international crossings with Ontario, Canada:

A second international bridge is currently under consideration between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.[98]


Michigan is served by four Class I railroads: the Canadian National Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Norfolk Southern Railway. These are augmented by several dozen short line railroads. The vast majority of rail service in Michigan is devoted to freight, with Amtrak and various scenic railroads the exceptions.[99]

Amtrak passenger rail services the state, connecting many southern and western Michigan cities to Chicago, Illinois. There are plans for commuter rail for Detroit and its suburbs (see SEMCOG Commuter Rail).[100][101][102]


Welcome sign.

Interstate 75 is the main thoroughfare between Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw extending north to Sault Sainte Marie and providing access to Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario. The expressway crosses the Mackinac Bridge between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Branching highways include I-275 and I-375 in Detroit; I-475 in Flint; and I-675 in Saginaw.

Interstate 69 enters the state near the Michigan-Ohio-Indiana border, and it extends to Port Huron and provides access to the Blue Water Bridge crossing into Sarnia, Ontario.

Interstate 94 enters the western end of the state at the Indiana border, and it travels east to Detroit and then northeast to Port Huron and ties in with I-69. I-194 branches off from this freeway in Battle Creek. I-94 is the main artery between Chicago, Illinois and Detroit.

Interstate 96 runs east–west between Detroit and Muskegon. I-496 loops through Lansing. I-196 branches off from this freeway at Grand Rapids and connects to I-94 near Benton Harbor. I-696 branches off from this freeway at Novi and connects to I-94 near St Clair Shores.

U.S. Highway 2 enters Michigan at the city of Ironwood and runs east to the town of Crystal Falls, where it turns south and briefly re-enters Wisconsin northwest of Florence. It re-enters Michigan north of Iron Mountain and continues through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the cities of Escanaba, Manistique, and St. Ignace. Along the way, it cuts through the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests and follows the northern shore of Lake Michigan. Its eastern terminus lies at exit 344 of I-75, just north of the Mackinac Bridge. This is generally regarded as the main route through the Upper Peninsula, although some prefer to travel on M-28 as it tends to save time (U.S. 2 hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline for much of its length.)


The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, located in the western suburb of Romulus, was one of the top 10 busiest airfields in North America and the 24th busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic.[103] The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids is the next busiest airport in the state. Smaller regional and local airports are located throughout the state including on several islands.

Important cities and townships

The Detroit skyline along the Detroit River.
The Grand Rapids skyline centered on the Grand River.
A Lansing sunset
Downtown Flint as seen from the Flint River.
The Ann Arbor skyline as seen from Michigan Stadium.

The largest municipalities in Michigan are (according to 2010 Census):

Rank City Population Image
1 Detroit 713,777
Map showing largest Michigan municipalities.
2 Grand Rapids 188,040
3 Warren 134,056
4 Sterling Heights 129,699
5 Lansing 114,297
6 Ann Arbor 113,934
7 Flint 102,434
8 Dearborn 98,153
9 Livonia 96,942
10 Clinton Township 96,796

Other important cities include:

Half of the wealthiest communities in the state are located in Oakland County, just north of Detroit. Another wealthy community is located just east of the city, in Grosse Pointe. Only three of these cities are located outside of Metro Detroit. The city of Detroit itself, with a per capita income of $14,717, ranks 517th on the list of Michigan locations by per capita income. Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of $8,965, while Barton Hills is the richest with a per capita income of $110,683.


Michigan's education system provides services to 1.6 million K-12 students in public schools. More than 124,000 students attend private schools and an uncounted number are homeschooled under certain legal requirements.[104][105] The public school system has a $14.5 billion budget in 2008–2009.[106] Michigan has a number of public universities spread throughout the state and a numerous private colleges as well. Michigan State University has one of the largest enrollments of any U.S. school. Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University are the three major research institutions in the state.[107]

Professional sports

Michigan's major-league sports teams include: Detroit Tigers baseball team, Detroit Lions football team, Detroit Red Wings ice hockey team, and the Detroit Pistons men's basketball team. All of Michigan's major league teams play in the Metro Detroit area.

The Pistons played at Detroit's Cobo Arena until 1978 and at the Pontiac Silverdome until 1988 when they moved into The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Detroit Lions played at Tiger Stadium in Detroit until 1974, then moved to the Pontiac Silverdome where they played for 27 years between 1975–2002 before moving to Ford Field in Detroit in 2002. The Detroit Tigers played at Tiger Stadium (formerly known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium) from 1912 to 1999. In 2000 they moved to Comerica Park. The Red Wings played at Olympia Stadium before moving to Joe Louis Arena in 1979.

Thirteen-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was born in Saginaw. The Michigan International Speedway is the site of NASCAR races and Detroit was formerly the site of a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix race. From 1959 to 1961, Detroit Dragway hosted the NHRA's U.S. Nationals.[108] Michigan is home to one of the major canoeing marathons: the 120-mile (190 km) Au Sable River Canoe Marathon. The Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race is also a favorite. Professional hockey got its start in Houghton, when the Portage Lakers were formed.

State symbols and nicknames

Michigan is, by tradition, known as "The Wolverine State," and the University of Michigan takes the wolverine as its mascot. The association is well and long established: for example, many Detroiters volunteered to fight during the American Civil War and George Armstrong Custer, who led the Michigan Brigade, called them the "Wolverines". The origins of this association are obscure; it may derive from a busy trade in wolverine furs in Sault Ste. Marie in the 18th century or may recall a disparagement intended to compare early settlers in Michigan with the vicious mammal. Wolverines are, however, extremely rare in Michigan. A sighting in February 2004 near Ubly was the first confirmed sighting in Michigan in 200 years.[109] The animal was found dead in 2010.[110]

Dwarf Lake Iris

Sister states

See also


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Further reading

  • Bald, F. Clever, Michigan in Four Centuries (1961)
  • Browne, William P. and – Kenneth VerBurg. Michigan Politics & Government: Facing Change in a Complex State University of Nebraska Press. 1995.
  • Bureau of Business Research, Wayne State U. Michigan Statistical Abstract (1987).
  • Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliographies for Michigan by region, counties, etc..
  • Dunbar, Willis F. and George S. May. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (1995) excerpt and text search
  • Michigan, State of. Michigan Manual (annual), elaborate detail on state government.
  • Press, Charles et al., Michigan Political Atlas (1984).
  • Public Sector Consultants. Michigan in Brief. An Issues Handbook (annual)
  • Rich, Wilbur. Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (Wayne State University Press, 1988).
  • Rubenstein, Bruce A. and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State. (2nd ed. 2008)
  • Sisson, Richard, Ed. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (2006)
  • Weeks, George, Stewards of the State: The Governors of Michigan (Historical Society of Michigan, 1987).

External links

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on January 26, 1837 (26th)
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 44°20′N 85°35′W / 44.34°N 85.58°W / 44.34; -85.58

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