Michigan state is known for its car manufacturing history and the birth of Motown. Find out what else “The Great Lakes State” is famous for with these fascinating and fun facts about Michigan!
For more fun tidbits about the region, also read these Great Lakes facts.
Table of Contents
General Michigan Facts
- Michigan is a state in the Upper Midwestern region of the United States.
- It spans 96,716 mi² (250,493 km²), making it the 11th largest state in the nation, between Wyoming and Minnesota is terms of size.
- The state is slightly larger than the United Kingdom, or half the size of Spain.
- Michigan is the only state in the nation that is made up of two peninsulas, the Lower and Upper Peninsula, also called Lower Michigan (L.P.) and Upper Michigan (U.P.).
- The peninsulas are formed by the Great Lakes and connected by the 26,372 ft (8038 m) Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world.
- Michigan has land borders to the south with Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It also has water borders to the west with Illinois and Minnesota, and to the north and east with Ontario in Canada.
- In other words, at no point does Michigan’s land touch that of Canada.
- The state borders four of the five Great Lakes (Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie, but not Lake Ontario), as well as Lake St Clair beside Detroit.
- In fact, there’s no point in the state that’s further than 85 mi (137 km) from any of the Great Lakes.
- The only Great Lake that is fully in America is Lake Michigan, which lends its name to the state.
- The state has more freshwater shoreline (3000 mi / 4828 km) than any other state in the US.
- Michigan has a population of around 10 million people, which makes it the 11th most populous state in the US, between North Carolina and New Jersey in terms of population.
- The state capital of Michigan is Lansing. With a population of 112,000, it is the 269th largest city in the US. Its metropolitan population is 540,000, making it the country’s 106th largest population center.
- Detroit is by far the state’s largest city. With 639,000 (metro 4.4 million) people, it is the 27th largest city, or 15th largest metropolis in the country.
- Michigan was originally inhabited by the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi peoples. Today they make up only 0.6% of the population.
- The name Michigan most likely came from Mishigamaa, which is an Ojibwe word meaning “large water” or “large lake”. This means the lake got its name before the state did.
- MI is the abbreviated version of Michigan.
- Michigan residents call themselves Michiganians or Michiganders. Other less common demonyms include Michiganese, Michiganers, Michigines, and Michiganites.
- Upper Michigan residents sometimes call Lower Michigan Residents “trolls” (because they live “under” the bridge that separates the peninsulas), while LM residents call those in the north “yoopers” (from “U.P.ers”).
- Michigan’s official state motto is “si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice“, which is Latin for “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”.
- The state has a few nicknames, including “The Great Lakes State”, “The Wolverine State” (based on the wolverine-like appetite of early French settlers), and “The Mitten State” (it’s not only cold but also the Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten).
- Tourism slogans for Michigan have included “Great Lakes. Great Times”, “Pure Michigan”, “Playground of a Nation”, “Water-Winter Wonderland”, “Tourist Empire of the Inland Seas”, “The Michigans – the Almost Islands of the Great Lakes”, and “Say Yes to Michigan”.
- Michigan’s flag features the state seal on a blue background. The seal has a shield with a man holding a gun by a lake, with a rising sun. The shield is supported by a moose and an elk, with a bald eagle on top. The flag feature three Latin mottos; “Tuebor“, meaning “I will defend”, “E Pluribus Unum“, meaning “Out of many, one”, and the state motto.
Interesting Facts About Michigan
- Michigan has a Polar-Equator trail, as it sits exactly in the middle of the two, along the 45th parallel.
- Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan is the largest stadium in the US and the Western Hemisphere by seating capacity. 115,000 people have fit into it, nearly the entire population of Ann Arbor, where it is located.
- Michigan’s tourism industry is one of the largest in the US, with major draws including hunting and fishing in the forests and lakes of the north, The Henry Ford and other museums, and several casinos. 70% of tourism comes from within the state, so Michiganians really love to holiday.
- There is only one national park in Michigan: Isle Royale. It is the largest island in Lake Superior, and closer to Canada’s mainland than the US. It is known for its shipwrecks and unique relationship between resident moose and wolves.
- There are also 101 state parks in Michigan. Three of them were created before the US state park system even started in 1919: Mackinac Island (1895), Fort Michilimackinac (1909), and Interlochen (1917).
- No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island. Travel can only be done by bike, horse, or water vessel.
- The largest state park in Michigan is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness on Lake Superior. It is home to some of the oldest mountains in the world.
- There are 129 lighthouses in Michigan, the tallest of which is Big Sable Point Lighthouse (112 ft / 34 m) on Lake Michigan.
- There are also 43 national historic landmarks in Michigan, including missions, ferries, automobile factories, theaters, forts, canals, and Ernest Hemingway’s childhood cottage. Lower Michigan has quite a few more than Upper Michigan.
- Detroit was once considered the automobile capital of the world. In fact, the city was nicknamed “Motor City” because so many cars were made there.
- Once the most powerful city economically in the country, the city went into sharp decline in the 1990s and 2000s, and declared bankruptcy in 2013. It also leads the nation in crime rates. The city of Flint has suffered a similar fate, not to mention lead contamination in the water supply.
- The 5-day work week is thanks to the Detroit automotive industry’s labor movement, which resulted in the workers getting two days off from the job.
- America’s Big 3 car makers (Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis) are still based in Michigan. Around 2 million vehicles (20% of all those made in the US) are still made there annually.
- Other major companies that started or are based in Michigan include Whirlpool, Kellogg’s, Domino’s Pizza, Gerber (baby foods), Amway, and La-Z-Boy.
- William E. Boeing, who founded the Boeing aircraft company, was born in Michigan.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, is home to five of the world’s largest furniture producers.
- Other things invented in Michigan or by Michiganians include air-conditioned cars, hospital beds, lined roads, optical fibers, and the assembly line.
- Baby food was first manufactured by Daniel Frank Gerber of Fremont in 1927. Daniel got the idea after his wife asked him to prepare strained food for their youngster.
- The Kellogg brothers invented Corn Flakes by accident when they were trying to make granola. The brothers were from Battle Creek, Michigan.
- Michigan is home to the nation’s only operational and authentic Dutch windmill, called De Zwaan. It is over 250 years old and located in the city of Holland, which has one of the highest concentrations of Dutch people in the US.
- The state is home to one of only four ice luge tracks in the country, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.
- The largest crucifix in the world, Cross in the Woods, is in Indian River, Michigan.
- Battle Creek is considered the cereal capital of the world, while Traverse City is the tart cherry capital of the world and hosts a National Cherry Festival every July.
- Michigan is one of the nation’s top producers of tart cherries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, and apples.
- Michigan is the 2nd most diverse state in the nation agriculturally, after California. Besides fruit, it produces dairy, corn, soy beans, cattle, flowers, and much more.
- The world’s largest limestone quarry is found in Rogers City, Michigan.
- The lowest temperature to ever be recorded in Michigan was -51°F (-46°C) in 1934 in Vanderbilt, while the highest was 112°F (44°C) in 1936 in Stanwood.
- Motown Records combines the words “motor” and “town”. The company was founded in Detroit in 1959 and produced well-known acts such as Diana Ross, Jackson 5, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder.
- Famous musicians from Michigan are Diana Ross, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Kid Rock, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White of the White Stripes, Bill Haley of Haley and the Comets, Alice Cooper, Sonny Bono, the Verve Pipe, and Grand Funk Railroad.
- The Michigan Marching Band, the official marching band of the University of Michigan, is one of the most famous in the US. Going back to 1898, they perform at all Michigan Wolverines games and many other events.
- Other celebrities from Michigan include Google co-founder Larry Page, actors Steven Seagal, David Spade, Tom Selleck, Taylor Lautner, Sinbad, and Terry O’Quinn, actresses Christie Brinkley, Sandra Bernhard, and Elizabeth Berkley, and filmmaker Michael Moore.
- Ben Carson, a surgeon and bestselling author from Michigan, was a candidate for the Republicans in the 2016 presidential election. He has been portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in film.
- Serena Williams of Michigan was ranked the world’s #1 singles player in tennis for 319 weeks.
- Michigan has some weird old laws, including a law that declares that women can’t cut their own hair unless their husband gives them permission.
- In Detroit, it’s technically illegal for men to scowl at their wives.
- There’s also an old law prohibiting one to buy or sell a car in Michigan on a Sunday.
- The city of Flint passed a law in 2008 giving police authority to arrest anyone who wears their pants sagging so low as to expose their bare butts or underwear.
Historical Facts About Michigan
- During the last Ice Age, enormous glaciers carved out the landscape of Michigan and the Great Lakes area.
- The finding of various whale skeletons in Michigan has sparked debate about whether whales inhabited the Great Lakes or the area was covered by a sea more recently than previously thought.
- From 1618-1622, French explorer Étienne Brulé became the first European to see Michigan and Lake Superior, travelling through in search of a route to China.
- The Ojibwe, the largest native tribe in Michigan, had a population of around 30,000 at the time of contact.
- The first mission was established at Sault Ste. Marie in 1668, followed by Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph in 1679.
- The French surrendered Fort Pontchartrain (in modern-day Detroit) to the British in 1760, ending French rule in the region.
- During the Indian wars of 1763, a 135-day siege of Detroit was led by Pontiac. The Indians had captured all the forts in the state, apart from Detroit.
- The Michigan Territory was created in 1805, with the city of Detroit as the seat of government.
- The University of Michigan was established in 1817.
- Michigan joined the Union on January 26, 1837, becoming the 26th state, with Detroit as its capital.
- The death penalty was abolished in 1846 by the state of Michigan for all crimes other than treason, becoming the first state in the world to do so.
- The state capital was moved to Lansing in 1847 due to the need for better defence against the British in nearby Canada.
- In 1879, Detroit became the first city to use phone numbers. In other places you could only call someone by using their name.
- Henry Ford built his first experimental car in his Detroit home in 1896.
- The world’s first concrete-paved road was completed in Detroit in 1908. It stretched for one mile.
- Women were granted suffrage by a state constitutional amendment that was passed in 1919.
- In the 1920s, some of Detroit’s most iconic buildings were constructed, such as the Fisher Building, Cadillac Place, and the Guardian Building.
- In 1927, a man killed 38 schoolchildren in Bath, Michigan, the deadliest school massacre in US history.
- The first state police radio system in the world was established in 1929 by the Michigan State Police.
- The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, connecting Detroit to Canada under the Detroit River, opened to automobile traffic in 1930.
- Native Americans obtained the right to vote in Michigan in 1948.
- Racial tensions resulted in the eruption of riots in Detroit in 1967, one of the largest and bloodiest in US history. 20 were killed and 1000 injured.
- The first woman to become governor of Michigan was Jennifer M. Granholm in 2002.
- The last known living wolverine in Michigan was discovered in Huron County in 2004. It was the first wolverine to be spotted in 200 years. The wolverine was stuffed and mounted after it passed on.
- The largest oil spill in Midwest history occurred in 2010 after Kalamazoo River’s Pipeline leaked over 800,000 gallons of oil. It took over 5 years to clean the spill.
- In 2013, Detroit declared bankruptcy.
- Normally quite reliant on tourist income, Michigan was hard hit by the COVID pandemic.
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Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II is the only boat in the world that delivers mail to ships while they are still underway. They have been operating for 125 years.What's a fun fact for the day? ›
- It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. ...
- A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
- A shrimp's heart is in its head.
- It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.
What Is Michigan Known For? Michigan is known for the home of the automobile industry, beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, and a bustling college town atmosphere. The state is also known for its agriculture, with cherries, apples, and blueberries being some of the most popular crops.What food is Michigan known for? ›
It is known for famous Mackinac Island fudge, Coney Island Hot Dogs, and Cornish Pasties, which were introduced by miners who came to the state from Cornwall, England. Tart cherries, Packzi (Polish Filled Donuts), and Superman Ice Cream are more popular foods you might enjoy when visiting Michigan.Is Michigan a fun place to live? ›
A wonderful state to live in and explore, it has loads for locals and tourists to see and do. The cozy towns and lively cities, plus all the sublime scenery, nature and outdoor activities, make Michigan a great place to raise a family.What are some creepy fun facts? ›
- There is an ancient book full of strange symbols no one can translate. ...
- In 1872 a ship was discovered floating in the ocean with no signs of its crew or passengers! ...
- The Tower of London is haunted by lots of ghosts. ...
- A dead Pope was once put on trial.
You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV. A lion's roar can be heard from five miles away. The citrus soda 7-UP was created in 1929; "7" was selected because the original containers were 7 ounces. "UP" indicated the direction of the bubbles.What are only Michigan things? ›
- When Someone Asks A Michigander Where They Live, You Tell Them To Talk To The Hand. ...
- Only Folks In Michigan Truly Get The Beauty Of A “Michigan Left” ...
- If You Ask For A “Soda” Instead Of “Pop” You're Obviously Not From Around Here.
- The dot over a lowercase i and j has a name! ...
- Water makes different sounds depending on its temperature! ...
- McDonald's invented a sweet-tasting type of broccoli! ...
- Rabbits can't be sick! ...
- Humans are the only animals that blush! ...
- The hashtag symbol has a fancy term!
- Fact: Dead skin cells are a main ingredient in household dust. ...
- Fact: Sudan has more pyramids than any country in the world. ...
- Fact: The bumblebee bat is the world's smallest mammal.
- A teaspoonful of neutron star. ...
- Metals that explode when in contact with water. ...
- Hawaii is moving closer to Alaska by 7.5cm every year. ...
- Sunflowers are known as hyperaccumulators. ...
- A cockroach can live for up to one week without its head.
Top 10 Michigan Slang Words to Sound Like a Local
Troll. Yooper. Ope. Michigan Left. The Bridge.
As far as candy goes, the main thing I found was, of course, Mackinac fudge. Surprisingly, though, there are a lot of delicious treats that originated right here in Michigan.What food is only in Michigan? ›
- Coney Island hot dog – One of the most popular items across Michigan, a Coney consists of a beef hot dog topped with a unique no-bean chili, mustard, and raw onions. ...
- Detroit-style pizza – The deep-dish square pizza originated in the 1940s and has been a Michigan favorite ever since.
Residents officially gave the “Whoopie Pie” their nod for state snack.What foods are only made in Michigan? ›
- Dave's Sweet Tooth Toffee.
- Mindo Chocolate.
- Detroit Bold Coffee.
- Velvet Peanut Butter.
- Great Lakes Potato Chips.
- Cherry Republic Products.
- McClure's Pickles.
Friendliest State: Michigan
Michiganders like to think of themselves as a friendly bunch, but Detroit and Ann Arbor in particular can be hard nuts to crack. In general, people here have a good sense of humour and are easy-going with Midwest politeness.
- Mackinac Island.
- Holland, MI.
- Grand Rapids.
- Ann Arbor.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
- Traverse City.
awful, disgusting, disturbing, eerie, frightening, ghoulish, macabre, menacing, ominous, sinister, terrifying, weird, direful, dreadful, gruesome, hair-raising, horrible, itching, itchy, nightmarish.What is super creepy? ›
unpleasant and making you feel uncomfortable, especially because of sexual behaviour that is not wanted or not appropriate: She got pestered by a creepy cab driver. In our culture, a friendship between an 11-year-old girl and a 36-year-old man is considered creepy. Describing things that cause fear. awesome.
About 75% of your brain is made of water. Your heart beats about 115,000 times a day. Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in the solar system. The nearest star to Earth is 4.2 light-years away.What is a fact about Tuesday? ›
Tuesday is named after Tiw, the Norse god of single combat, victory and glory, and Tiw is associated with Mars, the Roman god of war, hence the day being known as 'Mardi' in French, 'Martes' in Spanish and 'Martedi' in Italian. Tuesday is considered to be an unlucky day in the Greek and Spanish-speaking worlds.What is the best random fact? ›
- Competitive art used to be in the Olympics. ...
- A chef's hat has exactly 100 pleats. ...
- "OMG" usage can be traced back to 1917. ...
- Some cats are actually allergic to humans. ...
- The majority of your brain is fat. ...
- Oranges aren't naturally occurring fruits.
|Ambystoma opacum||Marbled salamander||E|
|Ambystoma texanum||Smallmouth salamander||E|
|Ammocrypta pellucida||Eastern sand darter||T|
- You typically only breathe out of one nostril at a time. ...
- "Vegetables" don't really exist. ...
- More people drown in fresh water than in salt water. ...
- Your brain uses up around 20 percent of your body's blood and oxygen. ...
- Ravens' moods are affected by others.
- The Queen Owns all the Swans and Dolphins! ...
- There is a Village Called Dull. ...
- Urine Used To Be A Detergent. ...
- Apple Pips Are Poisonous! ...
- These Creepy Coffins Were Found on Arthur's Seat! ...
- You Can't Hold Your Nose and Hum. ...
- There is a Fish with Legs. ...
- The Bayeux Tapestry is 70 Metres Long!
- There are 100 years in a century.
- On the Celsius scale, 100 degrees is the boiling temperature of water.
- The United States Senate has 100 Senators.
- There are 100 yards in an American football field.
- 100 is a perfect square number and its square root is 10.
- Grapes light on fire in the microwave. ...
- There are almost 8 million possible seven-digit phone numbers per area code. ...
- Spaghetto, confetto, and graffito are the singular forms of spaghetti, confetti, and graffiti. ...
- McDonald's once created bubblegum-flavored broccoli.
- Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. ...
- The fastest gust of wind ever recorded on Earth was 253 miles per hour. ...
- Recent droughts in Europe were the worst in 2,100 years. ...
- The best place in the world to see rainbows is in Hawaii.
- 1) It snows in the Sahara Desert. ...
- 2) There are only two countries in the world where Coca Cola does not exist. ...
- 3) Sudan has the most pyramids in the world (not Egypt) ...
- 4) Colombia's brightest rainbow is in its river.
- Trees can make friends and talk to each other. ...
- The oldest “Your Momma” joke dates back 3,500 years. ...
- Humpback whales have recovered 30 percent of their population. ...
- Sea otters hold hands so they don't drift apart. ...
- The actors who played Mickey and Minnie Mouse were married in real life.
In a new study, 98% of Michiganders like breakfast! According to the Denny's Breakfast Index — which examined the breakfast preferences and eating habits of more than 2,000 U.S. adults — Michigan's favorite breakfast item is: Pancakes, ranking #3 in the states that like pancakes the most!What is Michigan's favorite fast food? ›
According to a list compiled by Cheapism, the most popular fast food chain in all of Michigan is Taco Bell. "Michiganders love Taco Bell too. In fact, most of the upper Midwest does, where it appears in the top five in six other states."What fruit is popular in Michigan? ›
The northwest counties of Michigan are so well known for cherries that Traverse City hosts the annual National Cherry Festival. Michigan is the largest producing region in the world for Montmorency tart cherries. This unique variety is known as “America's Superfruit.”What do people call Michigan people? ›
"Michigander" and "Michiganian" are unofficial demonyms for natives and residents of the U.S. state of Michigan. Less common alternatives include Michiganer, Michiganite, Michiganese, Michigine, and Michigoose (female).What are people in Michigan called? ›
Whether you call yourself a Michigander or a Michiganian, both words mean you are one of nearly 10 million people who call the Great Lakes state home.Do Michiganders say ope? ›
“Ope” is a common sound Michiganders, and some other midwesterners, use when they bump into someone or are trying to get by someone in a store. It is a sound of surprise or recognition. Deer camp refers to a trip you take with friends or family to hunt deer.What is the dessert of Michigan? ›
To find each state's signature dessert, Stacker looked through "regional newspapers, blogs, and homemade recipe collections" to make the perfect list. So, what is Michigan's signature dessert? Sanders Bumpy Cake.What ice cream is from Michigan? ›
Superman Ice Cream is a regional taste. You might find it in ice cream parlors scattered throughout the midwest. If you're in a Michigan ice cream shop, though, chances are good that Superman will be on the menu.What is the most famous dessert in Michigan? ›
In Michigan, however, that's not always the case. Meet Bumpy Cake—a delicious cake confection recognized for its iconic fudge-covered vanilla buttercream bumps. This cake has a cult following and it's clear why.
- The Hand Gesture. ...
- The Water Means Something Different Here. ...
- Michigan Sauce Goes with Everything. ...
- “Super” Ice Cream. ...
- The Fierce Rivalry with Ohio State. ...
- Michigan Residents Don't Do Soda.
Snails have been known to sleep up to three years if the weather isn't moist enough to meet their needs. Honeybees flap their wings 230 times every second. At birth, a panda cub is smaller than a mouse and weighs only four ounces. Horses and cows can sleep standing up, but they can only dream when lying down.What are 3 interesting facts about lakes? ›
There are 117 million lakes on Earth, covering 3.7 percent of the continental land surface. Most lakes are relatively small – 90 million lakes are less than two football fields in size. Most lakes lie low — 85 percent are at elevations less than 1,600 feet (500 meters) above sea level.What is the biggest creature in Lake Michigan? ›
Lake sturgeons are the biggest fish in the Great Lakes. And while individuals can pass the century mark, the species has been around since the days of the dinosaurs.What is the deepest lake in Michigan? ›
Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by area (31,700 mi2 /82,100 km2). It is also the coldest and deepest of the Great Lakes, with a maximum depth of 406 meters (1,332 feet).Why do they say fire up chips? ›
Fire Up, Chips!
From our president. We say it when we're really, really enthusiastic about something.