People have lived in what is now Michigan for at least 12,000 years. Many centuries after the arrival of the first inhabitants, Indian tribes lived on this land, including the Kickapoo, Miami, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Menominee, Foxes and Sauks. Eleven Indian tribes still live in Michigan today. French explorers reached the area around 1618. France controlled the land until the mid-1700s, when England defeated the country during the French and Indian War, which lasted between 1754 and 1763. (Many Native Americans fought France against England.) In 1805, Michigan became a US territory. Settlers began to pour in around 1825 when the newly built Erie Canal made travel across the country much easier. Michigan entered the Union as a free state in 1837.

Geography of Michigan

Sometime before 1900, automakers Ransom E. Olds (as in Oldsmobile) and Henry Ford built some of the first cars in Detroit. The city is still called “Motor City” because so many cars are made there. Experts aren’t sure, but Michigan may have been named after Lake Michigan, which gets its name from a Native American word that roughly translates to “great lake.” Experts don’t agree on why Michigan is called the Wolverine State…especially since there aren’t that many wolverines living there! One theory is that fur traders traded animal skins, including wolverines, in Michigan. Another idea involves the 1835 skirmish with Ohio. At the time, Ohio people called their Michigan neighbors “Wolverines” as an insult.

Geography of Michigan

Four of the Great Lakes border Michigan: Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie. No wonder it is sometimes called the Great Lakes State! According to, it borders Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin to the south, and the Great Lakes and Canada to the east, north, and west. It is also the only state in the US that is divided into two large parts: the Upper Peninsula in the north and the Lower Peninsula – known as the “mitten” – in the south. They are connected by the five-mile Mackinac Bridge. The upper peninsula is covered with low hills. It includes the state’s highest point, Mount Arvon, but even that is a relatively short 1,979 feet. The lower peninsula is mostly flat with hills to the north. It’s also home to thousands of miles of shoreline, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where 400-foot dunes give clear views of Lake Michigan. Over 40 percent of the state is covered by water – more than any other state! Michigan even has islands, including Isle Royale, a national park in the middle of Lake Superior.

Wildlife of Michigan

Michigan is home to many animal species, especially the widespread white-tailed deer (the state animal). After the hunters were wiped out, native elk and elk returned after the herds were relocated from Wyoming and Canada, respectively. Michigan is also home to 360 bird species, including the rare Kirtland songbird. Michigan is also home to raptors such as the osprey, long-eared owls, and peregrine falcons, as well as many waterfowl such as the trumpeter swan, blue herons, and plovers. Over half of the state is covered in forests, Michigan is filled with white pine (the state tree), mountain ash, boxer, sugar maple, and red mulberry. Michigan rose, orange echinacea, evening primrose (check out the bloom at night!) and yellow monkey flower are some of the wildflowers that grow in the Wolverine State.


Population: 114.297 thousand people (2010)
Area: 95.0 sq. km
Founded: 1835
City status since: 1859
Time zone: UTC-5, summer UTC-4
Altitude: 262 m

The state capital of Michigan is Lansing. It is located at the confluence of the Red Cedar River with the state’s largest river, the Grand River. In the city there are two lakes – Park Lake and Lansing. Their shores serve as a recreational area for local residents.┬áSee Michigan cities.

The territory of Lansing during the era of colonization was swampy and covered with dense forests. The area was first explored by the traveler Hugh Howard, who rafted down the Grand River in a canoe in 1790. In 1830, these lands were put up for sale, but no one was willing to develop these wilds. The situation was changed by two brothers from New York State. Having bought land here and named it Beadle City, they staged an advertising campaign in Lansing, New York, selling land in the Grand River area. The 16 people who were persuaded were very disappointed when they found themselves in Beadle City in 1836, as there were no roads, and the rivers overflowed for several months. Some of the deceived settlers returned, while the rest began to settle down. They named their settlement in honor of their hometown – Lansing.

In 1847, the state authorities moved the capital of Michigan to Lansing and even wanted to rename it Michigan City. However, the name did not stick. At that time, the population was mainly employed in agriculture. In 1897, the world’s first automobile factory with an assembly line appeared in Lansing. The Oldsmobile company, which later became part of the General Motors Corporation, determined the nature of the city’s development for many decades. After the decline of the automotive industry in the United States, which Lansing experienced relatively painlessly, the city is focusing on scientific and educational institutions and the development of modern technologies. Also a lot of people work in the public sector.

There are enough places in Lansing where you can relax: park areas, old buildings, museums, art centers, sports complexes, restaurants, clubs. The city has several world famous natives. These are basketball player Magic Johnson, actors Burt Reynolds and Steven Seagal, as well as one of the founders of Google Larry Page.


Geography of Michigan
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