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Louisiana Colleges

Louisiana Colleges

 

The State of Louisiana has a colorful history.  It was colonized in turn by the Spanish, the French, the British and finally the French again in 1800.  In 1803 Napoleon sold much of the United States west of the Mississippi River to the United States in a transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase.  The south eastern district, known as Orleans, became the state of Louisiana in 1812. 

 

New Orleans is the state’s largest city and biggest claim to fame.  When the Civil War broke out, it was the biggest city in the Confederacy.  Its location near the mouth of the Mississippi made the city an early commerce center as the nation moved west. 

 

The state’s geography is defined by the Mississippi and other rivers that mover through the state.  It is low coastal plain and river delta; the highest point in Louisiana is 535 feet above sea level, near the Arkansas border.  The swamps and bayous that move inland from the coast are superb hunting and fishing areas.  Louisiana has always done well in the tourist trade, as New Orleans has drawn curious visitors for two hundred years.  The French speaking Cajun (taken from Acadian) culture remains a vital part of the state’s rural environment.

 

Louisiana was one of the cotton states prior to the Civil War and it was one of the poorest southern states for decades after the war ended.  The discovery of oil in the coastal areas of the state early in the last century brought a new industrial base to the state.  Today, petrochemical products are a mainstay of the Louisiana economy.  Almost half the state is timberland, and wood products are also an important commercial component.  Four of the countries busiest ports are in Louisiana, along the Mississippi: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, South Louisiana and Plaquemines.

 

The state has been heavily industrialized in the last thirty years so there is no shortage of work for petrochemical and factory employees.  There are highly skilled technicians in these trades, keeping sophisticated manufacturing and pumping equipment serviced and operating. 

 

Tulane University in New Orleans is a highly respected private university with a well known medical school.  Louisiana State University (LSU) is recognized for its consistently fine quarterbacks coming out of their football program and into the NFL.  There are a number of state schools scattered among the state’s smaller cities and outlying areas.

 

For all of its industrialization it is not a wealthy state.  The U.S. census of 2000 found per capita income to be just under $17,000 per year.  Nearly twenty percent of the state’s populace fall beneath the poverty level in household income.  Wage earners are not paid well; it is not a state where the industrialization produced a statewide boom. 

 

Statewide figures on education levels do not place Louisiana among the higher states in that regard either.  It should be a state of substantial opportunity, given the amount of economic activity within its borders.  But it would be up to the newcomer to locate those pockets of opportunity and find a way to make personal headway.  Louisiana has not proven to be a land of universal opportunity for its own residents.

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