Facts and Figures – At A Glance
Origin of Name: An early French explorer, Robert de LaSalle, named Louisiana for Louis XIV, King of France
Nickname: “Pelican State”
Admitted to Union: April 30,1812
State Colors: Gold, white and blue
State Fossil: Petrified palmwood
State Gemstone: Agate
State Motto: “Union, Justice and Confidence”
Area: 51,885 square miles
Population: 4,410,796 (2009 U.S. Census estimate)
State Capitol: Located on 27 acres in Baton Rouge and was completed on March 1, 1932
• North: State of Arkansas
• East: State of Mississippi
• West: State of Texas
• South: Gulf of Mexico
• January is the coldest month (average low 30°F, average high 60°F)
• July and August are the warmest months (average low 70°F, high 92-102°F)
• Average annual rainfall is 60 inches
Total number of wage and salaried workers in mid 2009: 1,859,581
• Average weekly wage for Louisiana in mid 2009 was $753.00
The highest sectors of employment are:
• Services (43.6%),
• Retail Trade (11.9%)
• Manufacturing (10.1%)
* U.S. Census Bureau 2000,
**Louisiana Workforce Commission
Louisiana’s first territorial governor, William C.C. Claiborne, had great admiration for the brown pelican, an awkward bird that inhabited the Gulf Coast region. The pelican, rather than let its young starve, would tear at its own flesh to feed them. The Governor’s great respect for the pelican led him to first use the bird on official documents. Many different versions of the present seal, including one with as many as twelve chicks in the nest, were utilized. Pelicans rarely have more than three chicks in the nest at any time, and it was a version with three chicks that was officially designated on April 30, 1902 as the official state seal.
State Insect: Honeybee
Honey has been collected in Louisiana since before it became a state in 1812.
In the 19th century, some of Louisiana’s big plantations produced thousands of pounds of honey each year. Today, not only are thousands of pounds of honey collected every year in Louisiana, but queen bees bred in Louisiana are sent all over the United States to raise bee colonies.
State Bird: Brown Pelican
The lower portion of the pelican’s large bill is a pouch that can be greatly extended. Pelicans eat fish, catching them by scooping up saltwater with their pouch. The average one-month-old pelican eats about five pounds of fish a day! The pelican is featured on Louisiana’s flag and state seal, and one of Louisiana’s nicknames is “The Pelican State.”
State Dog: Catahoula Leopard Dog
Often called the Catahoula Hound, it is the only breed of dog native to Louisiana and is a cross between a breed of domestic dogs raised by the Indians of the Catahoula Lake region and the Spanish “war dog” that came to Louisiana in the 16th Century. The Catahoula Leopard Dog has a spotted coat and webbed feet and makes an excellent pet, guard dog and hunting dog.
State Tree: Bald Cypress
The bald cypress is a beautiful hardwood that grows all over the state, especially in swampy areas. Many houses and buildings built of cypress over a hundred years ago still stand today in Louisiana and are almost as good as new.
State Flower: Magnolia
In the summer, the state’s thousands of magnolia trees blossom. The magnolia flower has an especially rich fragrance. The blooms are very large and creamy white. The magnolia tree is an evergreen.
The Louisiana Purchase
The United States acquired Louisiana from France on April 30, 1803. Two centuries later, it is still one of the greatest real estate deals in civilized history—over 900,000 square miles sold for just $15 million, or about 4 cents and acre. It doubled the size of a then-young America and put it in a position to become a world power, making continued expansion to the shores of the Pacific Ocean inevitable.
The sale of Louisiana by Napoleon Bonaparte was the result of a complicated chain of events involving the rivalries of France, Spain and Great Britain. France ceded the territory to Spain in 1762. Approximately 40 years later, when Spain began to decline as a world power, France forced Spain to return the territory. But Bonaparte realized he didn’t have the resources to adequately defend the vast expanse if a country like England tried to seize it. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson had instructed his Minister to France, Robert Livingston, to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans, an important port city at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Napoleon pleasantly shocked American officials when he agreed to sell New Orleans to the U.S. if the young country also agreed to buy the rest of Louisiana as part of the deal.
The Louisiana Purchase was ultimately cut into all or part of fifteen U.S. states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Texas and New Mexico.
• Senate - 39 members
• House of Representatives - 105 members
• Members of both houses convene annually, and members are elected for four-year terms.
• Power is vested in the state’s elected officials: Governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of insurance and commissioner of elections.
• The lieutenant governor also serves as the commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and its Office of Tourism.
• Officials are elected for four-year terms.
• Judicial power rests in a state supreme court and smaller district and municipal courts.