IN THE NORTH-CENTRAL UNITED STATES, Michigan is known as the Wolverine State. Michigan entered the Union in 1837 as the 26th state, measuring 490 mi (788 km) north to south and 240 mi (386 km) east to west. The total area of Michigan is 96,716 square mi (250,493 square km), making Michigan the 11thlargest state. Michigan ranks 8th in population. Bordering on four of the Great Lakes, some 38,575 square mi (99,908 square km) of Michigan is made up of water from the Great Lakes. With only 56,809 square mi (147,134 square km) of land, Michigan ranks 22nd in land size. Lansing is the state capital. Other large cities include Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Flint, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Livonia, Dearborn, and Westland.
Michigan is divided into the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, which were physically separated from one another until the construction of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957 provided easy access from one section to another. The Upper Peninsula, which is bordered on the north by Lake SUPERIOR, on the south by Lake MICHIGAN and Lake HURON, and on the west by WISCONSIN and MINNESOTA, is filled with low rolling hills and occasional swamps in the east and higher hills with a rugged terrain in the west. The eastern section of the Upper Peninsula is part of the Great Lakes Plain, while the western section from Lake Superior into the Porcupine Mountains lies within the Superior Upland. The Upper Peninsula contains 34 rapids and waterfalls.
Two major landforms are found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Eastern Upper Plains Lowlands are composed of flat lands interspersed with hills formed from glaciers. Agriculture is limited in this area, but state and national parks abound. Locks were used to eliminate a number of rapids and falls to facilitate travel between Lakes Huron and Superior. The Crystalline Upland, located in the western section of the Upper Peninsula, contains the Porcupine and Huron mountains and the Gogebic and Copper mountain ranges. Forestry is a major activity in this area.
The Lower Peninsula, which is also part of the Great Lakes Plains, is bordered on the west by Lake Michigan, on the east by Lake Huron and Lake ERIE, and on the south by INDIANA and OHIO. The terrain is made up of law rolling hills in the southernmost section and flat lands interspersed with hills in the northernmost section. The Lower Peninsula includes four major landforms. The Hilly Moraines, covering the bottom half of the area, is composed of moraines, or low ridges, occurring at 10- to 25-mi intervals. The Beaches and Dunes section of the Lower Peninsula is comprised of low forest-covered areas alternating with high bare dunes. The High Plains and Moraines section, located north of Muskegon-Saginaw Bay, contains higher ridges. The Eastern Lower Plains Lowlands, extending from the Saginaw Bay area to the tip of the Lower Peninsula, encompasses the most industrialized section of the state, including Detroit.
The humid continental climate of Michigan is tempered by the Great Lakes, which absorb heat in the summer months and cool off slowly during the winter months. The state experiences well defined seasons. Only ALASKA ranks higher than Michigan as the wettest state in the United States. Average temperatures in Michigan range from 83 to 14 degrees F (28 to -10 degrees C). The highest elevation in Michigan is 1,979 ft (603 m) above sea level at Mount Arvon. The lowest elevation is 572 ft (174 m) above sea level where land meets Lake Erie.
Major rivers found in Michigan include the Detroit, the Grand, the St. Clair, and the St. Mary’s. Rivers dammed to generate hydroelectricity include Manistee, Père Marquette, Muskegon, Grand, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph, and Au Sable.
Michigan’s flowering plants include arbutus, daisy, goldenrod, iris, lady’s slipper, tiger lily, and violet. The apple blossom is the state’s flower. Michigan’s wildlife includes squirrels, foxes, woodchucks, rabbits, deer, hares, porcupines, black bears, and bobcats. Moose and timber wolves are found on Isle Royale. The state’s birds include robin (the state bird), thrush, meadowlark, wren, bluebird, oriole, bobolink, and chickadee. Michigan’s game birds are geese, duck, grouse, pheasant, and quail.
Michigan’s industries are chiefly concerned with manufacturing, services, tourism, agriculture, forestry and lumber. Home to Detroit, the automobile capital of the United States, automobiles and automobile products are the state’s most lucrative industry. Other industries include the production of transportation equipment, machinery, fabricated metal, food products, plastics, cereals, machine tools, airplane parts, refrigerators, hardware, and office furniture.
Soil in the Upper Peninsula and in the top half of the Lower Peninsula are generally acidic grays and browns with limited fertility, while the most fertile section of the state is found in the heavy loams near Saginaw Bay and in the bottom half of the Lower Peninsula. Michigan’s major crops include corn, wheat, soybeans, dry beans, hay, potatoes, apples, cherries, sugar beets, blueberries, and cucumber. Maple, oak, and aspen form the basis of Michigan’s commercial timber/lumber industry. Minerals found in Michigan include iron, copper, iodine, peat, natural gas, shale, gypsum, bromine, salt, lime, and sand and gravel.