Michigan in Brief


Michigan, part of the nation’s upper Midwest, consists of two peninsulas thrusting into the Great Lakes and has borders with Ohio and Indiana (S), Wisconsin (W), and the Canadian province of Ontario (N, E).

Name Origin: Derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake.

Statehood: Jan. 26, 1837 (26th State)

Capital: Lansing (since 1847)

Area: Michigan is the 10th largest state and


 •  58,110 square miles of land

 •  1,305 square miles of inland water

 •  38,575 square miles of Great Lakes water area

 •  3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline

 •  Length: 456 miles

 •  Width: 386 miles

 •  11,037 inland lakes


Michigan's water resources provide the state with a mild climate, a ready source of power and transportation, and a growing tourist industry. The state's two peninsulas are almost surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

About 50 percent of the state's land is covered with 19.3 million acres of forests, two-thirds of which are birch, aspen and oak.

Population: Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Michigan's population (2000-2007), Michigan remains the nation's eighth-largest state with a population of 10,071,822.   The largest 10 cities (2005 est.) in Michigan:

  • Detroit
  • Grand Rapids
  • Warren
  • Sterling Heights
  • Flint
  • Lansing
  • Ann Arbor
  • Livonia
  • Dearborn
  • Westland


Michigan's government follows the federal plan of three branches—executive, legislative and judicial.  In both the executive and legislative branches, elected state officials are limited in the number of terms they can serve in particular positions.

Executive Branch

executive branch

In addition to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Michigan's voters elect two other executive branch officials statewide--the Secretary of State and the Attorney General.

Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, hearing cases appealed to it from the Court of Appeals. In addition to its judicial duties, the Supreme Court is responsible for the general administrative supervision of all courts in the state.

supreme court

Michigan Legislature


The Legislature consists of 148 members: 110 State Representatives and 38 Senators. They are elected by the voters of their separate districts. 


Following the prehistoric inhabitants, Michigan's residents were the tribal groups of Ojibwa, Ottawa and Potawatomi Native Americans. The first Europeans were the French and French- Canadians in the 1600s and early 1700s, followed by the British in the late 1700s. The great waves of immigration into Michigan began in the early 1800s, as New Englanders moved into Michigan's southern counties in large numbers. Attracted to the state's lumber, mining and automobile industries, at least 40 national and ethnic groups arrived in sizeable numbers during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Dutch, Germans and Poles were among the largest of these later groups.

In more recent migrations, many African-Americans and people of Asian, Near Eastern or Spanish origin have made Michigan their home. So many ethnic groups are present in the state that weekly ethnic festivals in Detroit begin in May and continue through September each year.


The state’s university system dates to territorial days when the University of Michigan was chartered in 1817 in Detroit. It was re-established in Ann Arbor in 1837 and became one of the United States’ first major public universities and one of the nation’s leading research universities.

In 1855, Michigan established the prototype for American land-grant universities when it started a state agricultural college that would grow into Michigan State University, one of the nation’s largest research universities. Wayne State University in Detroit is one the nation’s most pre-eminent research universities located in an urban setting. It was made possible after a number of un-related Detroit colleges were united in 1933.

U-M, MSU and Wayne State in 2006 joined together to establish Michigan’s University Research Corridor to transform, strengthen and diversify Michigan’s economy. The universities are working together to leverage their collective assets and encourage collaboration with business and government. For more, visit: www.urcmich.org

The state's 15 public, four-year higher education institutions enrolled 288,390 students in fall 2005, the 28 public community colleges enrolled more than 200,000 students in fall 2002 and Michigan's 54 private colleges enrolled 84,974 students in fall 1999.


The three largest income-producing industries in Michigan are manufacturing, tourism and agriculture. The total workers in the Michigan labor force number 5,686,180 (State Profile, 2005).


Michigan leads the nation in automobile manufacturing and is the home of the Detroit Three automakers: General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Company. Michigan also manufactures a wide variety of other products.  These include non-electric machinery, furniture and appliances, cereal, baby food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and lumber. The number of workers in manufacturing jobs totals 885,040 (State Profile, 2005).


The tourist business is one of Michigan's largest income producers. Travelers to and in Michigan spent about $17.5 billion in 2004, generating $971 million in state and local taxes and accounting for 193,000 jobs statewide (Travel Michigan). At one time, tourism was primarily a summer season activity, along with several weeks of bird and deer hunting in the fall. Winter brings skiing, skating, ice fishing, small game hunting and snowmobiling. Spring still means trout and bass fishing, and getting the boat ready for summer and its traditional sports.


In spite of urban expansion into farm acres, the state still has about 52,000 farms with a total of some 10 million acres (Michigan Agricultural Statistics 2002-2003). The state ranks first nationally in the production of:

  • Dry black beans
  • Blueberries
  • Pickling cucumbers
  • Flowering hanging baskets, impatiens and geraniums

In addition to beans and wheat, principal field crops are oats, hay, corn, rye, potatoes, soybeans and sugar beets. The state is a major producer of apples, plums, grapes, carrots, and sweet cherries, and it long has been a major supplier of spearmint.


Michigan has 83 counties, with the largest by population and area being Wayne County.  Counties are usually governed by an elected board of supervisors, county commission, or county council.

Washtenaw County (Home of the University of Michigan)

Washtenaw County is situated in southeastern Michigan approximately 30 miles west of Detroit. Ann Arbor is the county seat.  The county has four cities (Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline and Milan) and four incorporated villages (Chelsea, Manchester, Dexter and Barton Hills). As of the 2000 census, the population was 322,895.

Ingham County (Home of Michigan State University)

Ingham County had a population of 279,320 in the 2000 Census. It was named after Andrew Jackson's Secretary of the Treasury, Samuel D. Ingham. It is the largest community is Lansing, Michigan's state capitol. Although Detroit was Michigan's first capitol city, on the U.S.-Canadian border, there were later calls after the War of 1812 to move the capitol to a more secure, in-land and central location. Today Ingham county is dominated by not only Michigan's capitol city, but Oldsmobile factories and Michigan State University.

Wayne County (Home of Wayne State University)

Wayne County borders on Washtenaw County to the west and has a population of 1,998,217 (99% urban, 1% rural, 2005 est.).   Detroit is the county seat.

The history of Wayne County is strongly tied to that of Detroit.  In 1899, the first commercial automobile factory in the world was opened in Detroit.  Detroit and Wayne County began to become famous as the world's automobile manufacturing center.

Wayne County is the home of the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, the nation's largest indoor/outdoor museum complex. It was founded in Dearborn, Michigan by Henry Ford in 1929 and has more than 1 million visitors a year.

A few of Wayne County's hundreds of attractions include: the Renaissance Center, Hart Plaza, Belle Isle, Fort Wayne, Greenfield Village, and the Henry Ford Museum.


  • http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/us/A0833034.html
  • http://www.infomi.com/information.html
  • http://www.michigan.gov/