The state of Louisiana is a part of the diverse region located in the southern United States. Native Americans inhabited Louisiana before the early European explorers arrived in the 17th century (Louisiana State Archives: History, 2006; Sturdevent, 1967). Early Native settlers included the Atchafalaya, Natchitouches, Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and the Avoyelles (Sturdevent, 1967). European colonization began in the 18th century (Louisiana State Archives: History, 2006).
In 1800, the self-proclaimed ruler of France, Napoleon Bonaparte acquired Louisiana from Spain – the Treaty of San lldefonso. Three years late the territory was sold to the United States and was divided into two territories: Orleans Territory and the District of Louisiana (Louisiana State Archive: History, 2006). Perishes that encompassed Florida were annexed in 1810. Then, Louisiana was a slave state and had the largest free-slave populations in the United States.
Louisiana is the home of numerous cultures; notable are the non-Anglo Creole and the French-speaking Cajuns. The ancestors of Creoles were present prior to the Louisiana Purchase. They relocated from Western Europe France, Germany, and Spain. Also, many settlers from Senegal (West Africa) were established along the major waterways (Louisiana State Archives: Culture, 2006). This blend of people and culture became “Creole” and continued to be the dominant culture of Louisiana until the 20th century when the settlement of Angelo-Americans became mainstream (Louisiana State Achieves Culture, 2006). The Cajuns were part of the French and French-Canadian influences.
Presently the population has an estimated population over 4.5 million, which has increased since 2004, and nearly 1.2 percent since 2005 (United State Census Bureau Louisiana: Demographics, 2006). As of 2003, Louisiana had a population of approximately 215,000 native French-speakers (United State Census Bureau Louisiana: Demographics, 2006).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the five largest ancestries include African-American at 32.5 percent, French and/or French Canadian at 16.2 percent, American at 10.1, German at 7.1, Irish at 7 percent, and Italian rounding it out at 4.4 percent (United State Census Bureau Louisiana: Demographics, 2006).
The languages spoken within Louisiana’s borders are diverse, however, English is the primary language, followed by French, Spanish, Vietnamese and German (United States Census Bureau Louisiana: People QuickFacts, 2006). Louisiana has no official language, but the law recognizes both English and French. There are also dialects of both English and French. There is Cajun French and Louisiana Creole French. Two English dialects are Cajun English, which is influenced by the French. Another dialect is know as “Yat,” which resembles the New York City dialect that of Brooklyn (United States Census Bureau Louisiana: People QuickFacts, 2006).
Louisiana’s gross state product in 2003 was 140 billion, and the per capita personal income was near 36,312 – forty-third in the United States (Economic Research Service, 2006). Louisiana’s agricultural outputs include seafood, cotton,
soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry, and eggs (United States Census Bureau Louisiana: Business QuickFacts, 2006).
The industrial outputs comprise of petroleum, coal, transportation equipment, and tourism, reported the U.S. Census Bureau (United State Census Bureau Louisiana Business QuickFacts, 2006). Louisiana has three income tax brackets from two to six percent. Political subdivisions can levy their own sales tax in addition to state fees. Louisiana property tax are assessed and collected at the local level (United State Census Bureau Louisiana Business QuickFacts, 2006).
The chief religion in Louisiana is Christianity, the majority being Protestant. There is a large native Catholic population, as well. New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport have a large Jewish community – New Orleans being the most significant.
Louisiana’s state, local and congressional elections are unique among U.S. states. Any candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in an open primary on Election Day. And if no candidate had more than fifty percent of the vote, the two of the highest candidates with the highest vote will compete in a runoff election (Offical State of Louisiana, 2006). In this runoff, Democratic can run against Democratic, Republicans against Republicans. Other states use a single-party primary, which is followed by a general election between the party candidates. Each is conducted with either a plurality voting system, or a runoff voting, to elect Senators, Representatives, and other statewide officials (Official State of Louisiana, 2006).
Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 as a category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125mph. Parishes of Jefferson, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, Lafourche, and St. Bernard contained Louisiana’s prime damage (CNN, 2005). The U.S. National Guard were dispatched to New Orleans, and the U.S. Navy was also there to assist with the relieve effort.
Eighty percent of New Orleans was submerge in water with some parts nearing twenty feet in height. Four levees were breached and the 17th Street Canal levee was breached (CNN, 2005). Many of the trapped residents resided in the Superdome after Katrina hit. Louisiana governor, Kathleen Blanco, ordered the Superdome to be evacuated, which obtained server damage and did not reopen until 2006, to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Still to this day many part of Louisiana, Mississippi, and other golf states, feel the destruction and wrath of Hurricane Katrina.
CNN.(2005). “New Orleans braces for monster hurricane.”
Louisiana State Achieves.(2006). History.
Louisiana State Achieves.(2006). Culture.
Official State of Louisiana. (2006).
Sturdevent, William C.(1967). Early Indian Tribes, Cultures, and Linguistic Stocks,
Smithsonian Institution Map.
United States Census Bureau. (2006). Louisiana: Demographics.
United States Census Bureau.(2006). Louisiana: People QuickFacts.
United States Census Bureau. (2006). Louisiana: Business QuickFacts.