Business Name or Category
Search Engine


Metropolitan City Guides

Click a city name below for a comprehensive guide on it’s history and significant local details. Discover what the best options are for travel, goods & services or relocating to a new home.

State Guide

Michigan is a Midwestern state of the United States of America, located in the east north central states, as defined by the United States Census Bureau. It was named after Lake Michigan, whose name is a French adaptation of the Ojibwe term mishigami, meaning "large water" or "large lake".

Bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair, Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world. In 2005, Michigan ranked third for the number of registered recreational boats, behind California and Florida. A person in Michigan is never more than 85 miles (137 km) from open Great Lakes water and is never more than six miles (10 km) from a natural water source. The Great Lakes that border Michigan from east to west are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Michigan is the only state to consist entirely of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula of Michigan, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is sometimes dubbed "the mitten," owing to its shape. When asked where in Michigan one comes from, a resident of the Lower Peninsula may often point to the corresponding part of his or her hand. The Upper Peninsula (often referred to as The U.P.) is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km)-wide channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The Upper Peninsula (whose residents are often called "Yoopers") is economically important for tourism and natural resources.

The Upper and Lower Peninsulas are connected by the five-mile (8 km)-long Mackinac Bridge, which is the third longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the world. The bridge has given rise to the nickname of "trolls" for residents of the Lower Peninsula, for they live "under" (south of) the bridge.


Michigan was home to various Native Americans centuries before colonization by Europeans. When the first European explorers arrived, the most populous and influential tribes were Algonquian peoples—specifically, the Ottawa, the Anishnabe (called "Chippewa" in French, after their language, "Ojibwe"), and the Potawatomi. The Anishnabe, whose numbers are estimated to have been between 25,000 and 35,000, were the most populous.

Although the Anishnabe were well-established in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, they also inhabited northern Ontario, northern Wisconsin, southern Manitoba, and northern and north-central Minnesota. The Ottawa lived primarily south of the Straits of Mackinac in northern and western Michigan, while the Potawatomi were primarily in the southwest. The three nations co-existed peacefully as part of a loose confederation called the Council of Three Fires. Other First Nations people in Michigan, in the south and east, were the Mascouten, the Menominee, the Miami, and the Wyandot, who are better known by their French name, "Huron".

17th century

French voyageurs explored and settled in Michigan in the 17th century. The first Europeans to reach what later became Michigan were those of Étienne Brûlé's expedition in 1622. The first European settlement was made in 1641 on the site where Father (Père, in French) Jacques Marquette established Sault Sainte-Marie in 1668.

Saint Ignace was founded in 1671 and Marquette in 1675. Together with Sault Sainte-Marie, they are the three oldest cities in Michigan. "The Soo" (Sault Ste. Marie) has the distinction of being the oldest city in both Michigan and Ontario. It was split into two cities in 1818, a year after the U.S.-Canada boundary in the Great Lakes was finally established by the U.S.-U.K. Joint Border Commission.

In 1679, Lord La Salle of France directed the construction of the Griffin, the first European sailing vessel on the upper Great Lakes. That same year, La Salle built Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph.

18th century

In 1701, French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Le Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit or “Fort Ponchartrain on-the-Strait” on the strait between Lakes St. Clair and Erie, known as the Detroit River. Cadillac had convinced King Louis XIV's chief minister, Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, that a permanent community there would strengthen French control over the upper Great Lakes and repel British aspirations.

The hundred soldiers and workers who accompanied Cadillac built a fort enclosing one arpent (about .85 acre, the equivalent of just under 200 feet (61 m) per side) and named it Fort Pontchartrain. Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse, soon moved to Detroit, becoming one of the first white women to settle in the Michigan wilderness. The town quickly became a major fur-trading and shipping post. The “Église de Saint-Anne,” or Church of Saint Ann, was founded the same year. While the original building does not survive, the congregation of that name continues to be active today.

At the same time, the French strengthened Fort Michilimackinac at the Straits of Mackinac to better control their lucrative fur-trading empire. By the mid-eighteenth century, the French also occupied forts at present-day Niles and Sault Ste. Marie. However, most of the rest of the region remained unsettled by whites.

From 1660 to the end of French rule, Michigan was part of the Royal Province of New France. In 1759, following the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Québec City fell to British forces. Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Michigan and the rest of New France passed to Great Britain.

During the American Revolutionary War, Detroit was an important British supply center, but most of the inhabitants were either Native Americans or French Canadians. Because of imprecise cartography and unclear language defining the boundaries in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the British retained control of Detroit and Michigan. When Quebec was split into Lower and Upper Canada in 1790, Michigan was part of Kent County, Upper Canada. It held its first democratic elections in August 1792 to send delegates to the new provincial parliament at Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake).

Under terms negotiated in the 1794 Jay Treaty, Britain withdrew from Detroit and Michilimackinac in 1796. Questions remained over the boundary for many years, and the United States did not have uncontested control of the Upper Peninsula and Drummond Island until 1818 and 1847, respectively.

19th century

During the War of 1812, Michigan Territory (effectively consisting of Detroit and the surrounding area) was captured by the British and nominally returned to Upper Canada. American forces forced the British out in 1813 and pushed into Canada.

The Treaty of Ghent implemented the policy of "Status Quo Ante Bellum" or "Just as Things Were Before the War." That meant Michigan stayed American, and the agreement to establish a joint U.S.-UK boundary commission also remained valid. Subsequent to the findings of that commission in 1817, control of the Upper Peninsula and of islands in the St. Clair River delta was transferred from Ontario to Michigan in 1818. Mackinac Island (to which the British had moved their Michilimackinac army base) was transferred to the U.S. in 1847.

The population grew slowly until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. This brought a large influx of settlers to Michigan because it made transportation by ships through the Great Lakes possible. By the 1830s, Michigan had some 80,000 residents, which were more than enough to apply for statehood.

In 1836 a state government was formed, although Congressional recognition of the state was delayed pending resolution of a boundary dispute with Ohio. Both states claimed a 468-square-mile (1,210 km²) strip of land that included the newly incorporated city of Toledo on Lake Erie and an area to the west then known as the "Great Black Swamp." The dispute came to be called the Toledo War. Michigan and Ohio militia maneuvered in the area but never exchanged fire. Congress awarded the "Toledo Strip" to Ohio. Michigan received the western part of the Upper Peninsula as a concession and formally entered the Union on January 26, 1837.

Thought to be nearly valueless, the Upper Peninsula was discovered to be a rich and important source of lumber, iron, and copper. These became the state's most sought-after natural resources and generated early wealth. Geologist Douglass Houghton and land surveyor William Austin Burt were among the first to document many of these resources. Developers rushed to the state. Michigan led the nation in lumber production from 1850s to the 1880s. The lumber harvested in Michigan was shipped to the rapidly developing prairie states, Chicago, to the eastern states, and even all of the way to Europe.

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in Jackson, Michigan by abolitionist Whig Zachariah Chandler. Michigan made a significant contribution to the Union in the American Civil War and sent more than forty regiments of volunteers to the Federal armies.

20th century to present

Michigan's economy underwent a massive change at the turn of the 20th century. The birth of the automotive industry, with Henry Ford's first plant in Highland Park, marked the beginning of a new era in transportation. Like the steamship and railroad, it was a far-reaching development. More than the forms of public transportation, the automobile transformed private life. It became the major industry of Detroit and Michigan, and permanently altered the socio-economic life of the United States and much of the world. Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan, is also a center of automotive manufacturing. Since 1838, the city had also been noted for its thriving furniture industry. Started because of ready sources of lumber, the furniture industry declined in the late 20th century.

In 1910 Michigan held its first primary election. In 1920 Detroit’s WWJ became the first radio station in the United States to regularly broadcast commercial programs. Throughout that decade, some of the country's largest and most ornate skyscrapers were built in the city. Particularly noteworthy are the Fisher Building, Cadillac Place, and the Guardian Building which are National Historic Landmarks.

Detroit boomed through the 1950s, at one point doubling its population in a decade. Housing shortages and racial tension led to outward movement starting after World War II. After the 1950s, with suburban sprawl prevalent across the country, Detroit's population began to shift to its suburbs, accelerating after racial strife in the 1960s and high crime rates in the 1970s and 1980s. Government programs such as road-building often facilitated suburban growth.

Michigan is the leading auto producing state in the U.S even though some of the industry has shifted to less expensive labor overseas and in the Southern United States. Nevertheless, with more than ten million residents, Michigan continues to grow and remains a large and influential state, ranking eighth in population among the fifty states.

The Detroit metropolitan area in the southeast corner of the state is the largest metropolitan area in Michigan (roughly 50% of the population resides there) and one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country. The Grand Rapids/Holland/Muskegon metropolitan area on the west side of the state is the fastest growing metro area in the state presently, with over 1.3 million residents as of 2006.

Metro Detroit's population is growing, and Detroit's population is still shrinking, though strong redevelopment in central part of the cities and a significant rise in population in the outskirts of the city are contributing to some population inflow. A period of economic transition, especially in manufacturing, has caused economic difficulties in the region since the recession of 2001.

In late September 2007, Michigan faced a government shutdown over balancing the budget. Michigan state constitution prohibits spending money without a balanced budget by the start of the fiscal year (October 1). The state faced a $1.75 billion budget deficit. Governor Jennifer Granholm refused to sign a budget that included cuts to public education, health care, and public safety. About four hours after midnight on October 1, the Republican-led Senate approved an income tax rate increase to 4.35% (from 3.9%). The Senate also approved expanding the state’s 6% sales tax to a broader list of services. The shutdown would have affected 35,000 state employees.



Lansing is the state capital and is home to all three branches of state government. The Michigan State Capitol was dedicated in 1879 and has hosted the state's executive and legislative branches ever since. The chief executive is the Governor, and Jennifer Granholm currently holds the office. The legislative branch consists of the bicameral Michigan Legislature, with a House of Representatives and Senate. The Michigan legislature is a full-time legislature, though some representatives have voiced concerns about the long hours disrupting their home lives and wish to make the job part-time. The Michigan Supreme Court sits with seven justices. The Michigan Constitution provides for voter initiative and referendum (Article II, § 9, defined as "the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution"). Michigan has two official Governor's Residences; one is in Lansing, and the other is at Mackinac Island.

Michigan's state universities are immune from control by the legislature, many aspects of the executive branch, and cities in which they are located; but they are not immune from the authority of the courts. Some degree of political control is exercised as the legislature approves appropriations for the schools. Furthermore, the governor appoints the board of trustees of most state universities with the advice and consent of the state Senate. Only the trustees of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University are chosen in general elections.

Michigan was the first state in the Union, as well as the first English-speaking government in the world, to abolish the death penalty, in 1846. David G. Chardavoyne has suggested that the abolitionist movement in Michigan grew as a result of enmity towards the state's neighbor, Canada, which under British rule made public executions a regular practice.


The Republican Party dominated Michigan until the Great Depression. In the 1912 election, Michigan was one of the six states to support progressive Republican and third party candidate Theodore Roosevelt for President after he lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft. In recent years, the state has leaned toward the Democratic Party in national elections. Michigan supported Democrats in the last four presidential elections. In 2004, John Kerry carried the state over George W. Bush, winning Michigan's seventeen electoral votes with 51.2% of the vote. Democrats have won each of the last three, nine of the last ten, and fifteen of the last eighteen U.S. Senate elections in Michigan. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, recently won a second term, defeating Republican candidate Dick DeVos. Republican strength is greatest in the western, northern, and rural parts of the state, especially in the Grand Rapids area. Democrats are strongest in the east, especially in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, and Saginaw.

Michigan was the home of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. He was born in Nebraska and moved as an infant to Michigan and grew up there.

Administrative divisions

State government is decentralized among three tiers — statewide, county and township. Counties are administrative divisions of the state, and townships are administrative divisions of a county. Both of them exercise state government authority, localized to meet the particular needs of their jurisdictions, as provided by state law. There are 83 counties in Michigan.

Cities, state universities, and villages are vested with home rule powers of varying degrees. Home rule cities can generally do anything that is not prohibited by law. The fifteen state universities have broad power and can do anything within the parameters of their status as educational institutions that is not prohibited by the state constitution. Villages, by contrast, have limited home rule and are not completely autonomous from the county and township in which they are located.

There are two types of township in Michigan: general law township and charter. Charter township status was created by the Legislature in 1947 and grants additional powers and stream-lined administration in order to provide greater protection against annexation by a city. As of April 2001, there were 127 charter townships in Michigan. In general, charter townships have many of the same powers as a city but without the same level of obligations. For example, a charter township can have its own fire department, water and sewer department, police department, and so on—just like a city—but it is not required to have those things, whereas cities must provide those services. Charter townships can opt to use county-wide services instead, such as deputies from the county sheriff's office instead of a home-based force of ordinance officers.


Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between 82°30' to about 90°30' west longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac. With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land such drained.

The state is bounded on the south by the states of Ohio and Indiana, sharing land and water boundaries with both. Michigan's western boundaries are almost entirely water boundaries, from south to north, with Illinois and Wisconsin in Lake Michigan; then a land boundary with Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, that is principally demarcated by the Menominee and Montreal rivers; then water boundaries again, in Lake Superior, with Wisconsin and Minnesota to the west, capped around by the Canadian province of Ontario to the north and east. The northern boundary then runs completely through Lake Superior, from the western boundary with Minnesota to a point north of and around Isle Royale, thence traveling southeastward through the lake in a reasonably straight line to the Sault Ste. Marie area. Windsor, Ontario, once the south bank of Detroit, Upper Canada, has the distinction of being the only part of Canada which lies due south of a part of the lower 48 contiguous United States. In Southeastern Michigan there is a water boundary with Canada along the entire lengths of the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair (including the First Nation reserve of Walpole Island) and the Detroit River. The southeastern boundary ends in the western end of Lake Erie with a three-way convergence of Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.

Michigan encompasses 58,110 square miles (150,504 km²) of land, 38,575 square miles (99,909 km²) of Great Lakes waters and 1,305 square miles (3,380 km²) of inland waters. Only Alaska has more territorial water. At a total of 97,990 square miles (253,793 km²), Michigan is the largest state east of the Mississippi River (inclusive of its territorial waters). Michigan claims a land area of 58,110 square miles (1.5050×105 km²) of land and 97,990 sq mi (2.5379×105 km²) total, making it the tenth largest state, but the U.S. Census Bureau claims only 56,803.82 sq mi (1.4712122×105 km²) of land and 96,716.11 sq mi (2.5049357×105 km²) total, making it the eleventh largest. Michigan forestland covers nearly 52 percent of the state at 19,300,000 acres (78,000 km²).

The heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The Porcupine Mountains, which are the oldest mountains in North America, rise to an altitude of almost 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level and form the watershed between the streams flowing into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The surface on either side of this range is rugged. The state's highest point, in the Huron Mountains northwest of Marquette, is Mount Arvon at 1,979 feet (603 m). The peninsula is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined but has fewer than 330,000 inhabitants. They are sometimes called "Yoopers" (from "U.P.'ers"), and their speech (the "Yooper dialect") has been heavily influenced by the numerous Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants who settled the area during the lumbering and mining boom of the late nineteenth century.

The Lower Peninsula, shaped like a mitten, is 277 miles (446 km) long from north to south and 195 miles (314 km) from east to west and occupies nearly two-thirds of the state's land area. The surface of the peninsula is generally level, broken by conical hills and glacial moraines usually not more than a few hundred feet tall. It is divided by a low water divide running north and south. The larger portion of the state is on the west of this and gradually slopes toward Lake Michigan. The highest point in the Lower Peninsula is either Briar Hill at 1,705 feet (520 m), or one of several points nearby in the vicinity of Cadillac. The lowest point is the surface of Lake Erie at 571 feet (174 m).

The geographic orientation of Michigan's peninsulas makes for a long distance between the ends of the state. Ironwood, in the far western Upper Peninsula, lies 630 highway miles (1,015 km) from Lambertville in the Lower Peninsula's southeastern corner. The geographic isolation of the Upper Peninsula from Michigan's political and population centers makes it culturally and economically distinct. Occasionally U.P. residents have called for secession from Michigan and establishment as a new state to be called "Superior."

The feature of Michigan that gives it the distinct shape of a mitten is the Thumb. This peninsula projects out into Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay. The geography of the Thumb is mainly flat with a few rolling hills. Other peninsulas of Michigan include the Keweenaw Peninsula, making up the Copper Country region of the state. The Leelanau Peninsula lies in the Northern Lower Michigan region. See Also Michigan Regions

Numerous lakes and marshes mark both peninsulas, and the coast is much indented. Keweenaw Bay, Whitefish Bay, and the Big and Little Bays De Noc are the principal indentations on the Upper Peninsula. The Grand and Little Traverse, Thunder, and Saginaw bays indent the Lower Peninsula. After Alaska, Michigan has the longest shoreline of any state—3,288 miles (5,326 km). An additional 1,056 miles (1,699 km) can be added if islands are included. This roughly equals the length of the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida.

The state has numerous large islands, the principal ones being the Manitou, Beaver, and Fox groups in Lake Michigan; Isle Royale and Grande Isle in Lake Superior; Marquette, Bois Blanc, and Mackinac Islands in Lake Huron; and Neebish, Sugar, and Drummond Islands in St. Mary's River. Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, the most of any U.S. state. The first lighthouses in Michigan were built between 1818 and 1822. They were built to project light at night and to serve as a landmark during the day to safely guide the passenger ships and freighters traveling the Great Lakes. See Lighthouses in the United States.

The state's rivers are small, short and shallow, and few are navigable. The principal ones include the Au Sable, Thunder Bay, Cheboygan, and Saginaw, all of which flow into Lake Huron; the Ontonagon, and Tahquamenon, which flow into Lake Superior; and the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon, Manistee, and Escanaba, which flow into Lake Michigan. The state has 11,037 inland lakes and 38,575 square miles (62,067 km²) of Great Lakes waters and rivers in addition to 1,305 square miles (3,380 km²) of inland water. No point in Michigan is more than six miles (10 km) from an inland lake or more than 85 miles (137 km) from one of the Great Lakes.

Protected lands

The state is home to one national park: Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior, about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Other national protected areas in the state include: Keweenaw National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Huron National Forest, Manistee National Forest, Hiawatha National Forest, Ottawa National Forest Fumee Lake Natural Area and Father Marquette National Memorial. The North Country National Scenic Trail also passes through Michigan.

With 78 state parks, 19 state recreation areas, and 6 state forests, Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state. These parks and forests include Ludington State Park, Tawas Point State Park, Au Sable State Forest, and Mackinaw State Forest.


Michigan has a humid continental climate, although there are two distinct regions. The southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula (south of Saginaw Bay and from the Grand Rapids area southward) have a warmer climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters. The northern part of Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula has a more severe climate (Koppen Dfb), with warm, but shorter summers and longer, cold to very cold winters. Some parts of the state average high temperatures below freezing from December through February, and into early March in the far northern parts. During the winter through the middle of February the state is frequently subjected to heavy lake-effect snow. The state averages from 30-40 inches (75-100 cm) of precipitation annually.

The entire state averages 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. These can be severe, especially in the southern part of the state. The state averages 17 tornadoes per year, which are more common in the extreme southern portion of the state. Portions of the southern border have been nearly as vulnerable historically as parts of Tornado Alley. Farther north, in the Upper Peninsula, tornadoes are rare.


The geological formation of the state is greatly varied. Primary boulders are found over the entire surface of the Upper Peninsula (being principally of primitive origin), while Secondary deposits cover the entire Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula exhibits Lower Silurian sandstones, limestones, copper and iron bearing rocks, corresponding to the Huronian system of Canada. The central portion of the Lower Peninsula contains coal measures and rocks of the Permo-Carboniferous period. Devonian and sub-Carboniferous deposits are scattered over the entire state.

The soil is of a varied composition and in large areas is very fertile, especially in the south. However, the Upper Peninsula for the most part is rocky and mountainous, and the soil is unsuitable for agriculture. The climate is tempered by the proximity of the lakes and is much milder than in other locales with the same latitude. The principal forest trees include basswood, maple, elm, sassafras, butternut, walnut, poplar, hickory, oak, willow, pine, birch, beech, hemlock, witchhazel, tamarack, cedar, locust, dogwood, and ash.


As of the July 1, 2007 population estimate, Michigan has an estimated population of 10,071,822, which is a decrease of 30,500, or -0.3%, from the prior year, but an increase of 133,340, or 1.3%, since the year 2000. The state's population increased by 776,525 between 1990 and 2007, a 7.7% growth. As of 2000, the state had the 8th largest population in the Union.

The center of population of Michigan is located in Shiawassee County, in the southeastern corner of the civil township of Bennington, which is located directly north of the village of Morrice.

As of 2006, the state had a foreign-born population of 688,413. In recent years, the foreign-born population in the state has grown. Michigan has the largest Dutch-American, Finnish-American and Macedonian-American populations in the United States.

The five largest reported ancestries in Michigan are: German (20.4%), African American (14.2%), Irish (10.8%), English (9.9%), and Polish (8.6%).

Michigan has a large white population (81.3%). Americans of European descent including German, French, and British ancestry live throughout most of Michigan and Metro Detroit. People of Nordic (especially Finnish) and Cornish ancestry have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula. Western Michigan is known for the Dutch heritage of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in the Grand Rapids-Holland area. Metro Detroit also has residents of Polish and Irish descent.

Dearborn has become the center of a large Arab-American community, now mostly Lebanese Muslims, in addition to descendants of Lebanese Christians who immigrated for jobs in the auto industry in the 1920s. African-Americans, who came to Detroit and other northern cities in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, form a majority of the population of the city of Detroit and of other industrial cities, including Flint and Benton Harbor.

An individual from Michigan is called a "Michigander" or "Michiganian". Also at times, but rarely, a "Michiganite".


The religious affiliations of the people of Michigan are:

  • Christian – 82%
    • Protestant – 58%
      • Baptist – 15%
      • Methodist – 10%
      • Pentecostal – 7%
      • Lutheran – 5%
      • Reformed – 4%
      • United Church of Christ – 3%
      • Church of Christ – 2%
      • Other Protestant – 12%
    • Catholic – 23%
    • Other Christian – 1%
  • Muslim – 2%
  • Jewish – 1%
  • Other Religions – <1%
  • Non-Religious – 15%

Michigan has 2% Muslims (who live mainly in the Metro Detroit area) and a high percentage of Reformed Christians (concentrated in the western part of the state). About 300,000 people trace their roots to the Middle East.


The Michigan economy leads in information technology, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. Michigan is commonly known for its auto industry. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in high-tech employment with 568,000 high-tech workers, including 70,000 in the automotive industry. Michigan typically ranks second or third in overall research and development expenditures in the United States. Its research and development, which includes automotive, comprises a higher percentage of the state's overall gross domestic product than for any other U.S. state. The state is an important source of engineering job opportunities. The domestic auto industry accounts directly and indirectly for one of every ten jobs in the U.S. Some of the major industries/products/services include automobiles, cereal products, information technology, aerospace, military equipment, copper, iron, and furniture. Michigan is the third leading grower of Christmas trees with 60,520 acres (245 km²) of land dedicated to Christmas tree farming. The beverage Vernors was invented in Michigan in 1866, sharing the title of oldest soft drink with Hires Root Beer. Faygo was founded in Detroit on November 4, 1907.

Michigan has experienced economic difficulties brought on by volatile stock market disruptions following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This caused a pension and benefit fund crisis for many American companies, including General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The American auto companies are proving to be more resilient than other affected industries as each company implements its respective turnaround plans (In 2007, General Motors reported a $9.6 billion surplus in its pension fund). Despite problems, Michigan ranked second nationally in new corporate facilities and expansions in 2004. From 1997 to 2004, Michigan was listed as the only state to top the 10,000 mark for the number of major new developments, led by Metro Detroit. Manufacturing in Michigan grew 6.6% from 2001 to 2006. In 2007, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler reached agreements with the United Auto Workers Union to transfer the liabilities for their respective health care and benefit funds to a 501(c)(9) Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) raising prospects for corporate turnaround plans.

Even though Michigan is known as the birthplace of the automobile industry, its diverse economy leads in many other areas. Michigan has a booming biotechnology industry and the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor is a $1 billion biotechnology initiative in the state of Michigan. As leading research institutions, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University are important partners in the state's economy. Michigan's workforce is well-educated and highly skilled, making it attractive to companies. Michigan's infrastructure gives it a competitive edge; Michigan has 38 deep water ports.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport is one of the nation's most recently expanded and modernized airports with six major runways, and large aircraft maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing a Boeing 747. Michigan's schools and colleges rank among the nation's best. The state has maintained its early commitment to public education.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Michigan's 2004 gross state product at $372 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $31,178 and ranked twentieth in the nation. In May of 2008, Michigan's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent.


Michigan's top tax bracket on personal income of 4.35% is among the lowest in the nation. Some cities impose additional income taxes. Michigan's state sales tax is six percent. Property taxes are assessed on the local, not state, level. In 2007, Michigan repealed its Single Business Tax (SBT) and replaced it with a Michigan Business Tax (MBT) in order to stimulate job growth by reducing taxes for seventy percent of the businesses in the state. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, recent growth in Michigan is 0.1%.


Michigan is a leading grower of fruit, including blueberries, cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches. These fruits are mainly grown in West Michigan, and some are grown in rural areas of Southeast Michigan. Michigan produces wines and a multitude of food products. Kellogg's cereal is based out of Battle Creek, Michigan and processes many locally grown foods. Michigan is home to very fertile land in the Flint/Tri-Cities and Thumb areas. Products grown there are sugar beets, navy beans, and soy beans. Sugar beet harvesting usually begins the first of October. It takes the sugar factories about five months to process the 3.7 million tons of sugarbeets into 970 million pounds of pure, white sugar. Michigan's largest sugar refiner, Michigan Sugar Company is the largest east of the Mississippi River and the fourth largest in the nation. Michigan Sugar brand names are Pioneer Sugar and the newly incorporated Big Chief Sugar. Potatoes are grown in Northern Michigan, and corn is dominant in Central Michigan. Michigan State University is dedicated to the study of agriculture.


Michigan has a thriving tourist industry. Visitors spend $17.5 billion per year in the state, supporting 193,000 tourism jobs. Michigan's tourism website ranks among the busiest in the nation. Destinations draw vacationers, hunters, and nature enthusiasts from across the United States and Canada. Michigan is fifty percent forest land, much of it quite remote. Both the forests and thousands of miles of beaches are top attractions. Tourists also flock to many of the museums, particularly those in Metro Detroit, including The Henry Ford, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Arab American National Museum. The Metro Detroit area offers four major casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, Motor City, and Caesars Windsor (formerly known as "Casino Windsor", in Windsor, Ontario, Canada); moreover, Detroit is the largest city to offer casino gambling.

Hunting is a major component of Michigan's economy. Michigan ranks first in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy. Over three-quarters of a million hunters participate in white-tailed deer season alone. Many school districts in rural areas of Michigan cancel school on the opening day of rifle season, because of attendance concerns.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources manages the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation. The forest products industry and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to the state's economy. Michigan has more than 90 native species of trees, more than all of Europe combined.

The state has numerous historical markers, which can themselves become the center of a tour.

With its position in relation to the Great Lakes and the countless ships that have foundered over the many years in which they have been used as a transport route for people and bulk cargo, Michigan is a world-class SCUBA diving destination. The Michigan Underwater Preserves are 11 underwater areas where wrecks are protected for the benefit of sport divers.


Michigan has nine international crossings with Ontario, Canada:

  • Ambassador Bridge, North America's busiest international border crossing.
  • Blue Water Bridge, a twin-span bridge (Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward, Ontario, but the larger city of Sarnia, Ontario is usually referred to on the Canadian side.
  • Blue Water Ferry (Marine City, Michigan and Sombra, Ontario)
  • Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel.
  • Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry (Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario)
  • Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
  • International Bridge (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario)
  • St.Clair River Railway Tunnel (Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario)
  • Walpole Island Ferry (Algonac, Michigan and Walpole Island First Nation, Ontario
  • A second international bridge is currently under development between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.


Michigan is served by five Class I railroads: the Canadian National Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, the Norfolk Southern Railway, and Conrail. These are augmented by several dozen short line railroads. The vast majority of rail service in Michigan is devoted to freight, with Amtrak and various scenic railroads the exceptions.

Amtrak passenger rail services the state, connecting many southern and western Michigan cities to Chicago, Illinois. There are plans for commuter rail for Detroit and its suburbs (see SEMCOG Commuter Rail). Amtrak passenger rail service no longer continues east of Port Huron to Toronto via Sarnia, Ontario. Lengthy customs delays made it impossible for trains to maintain their schedules. Amtrak trains originate and terminate at Port Huron. VIA trains terminate and originate at Sarnia.


Interstate 75 is the main thoroughfare between Detroit and Flint, extending to Sault Saint Marie and providing access to Sault Saint Marie, Ontario. The expressway crosses the Mackinac Bridge between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Branching highways include I-275 and I-375 in Detroit; I-475 in Flint; I-675 in Saginaw.

Interstate 69 enters the state near the Michigan-Ohio-Indiana border, and it extends to Port Huron and provides access to the Blue Water Bridge crossing into Sarnia.

Interstate 94 enters the western end of the state at the Indiana border, and it travels east to Detroit and then northeast to Port Huron and ties in with I-69. I-194 branches off from this freeway in Battle Creek.

Interstate 96 runs east-west between Detroit and Muskegon. I-496 loops through Lansing. I-196 branches off from this freeway at Grand Rapids and connects to I-94 near Benton Harbor. I-696 branches off from this freeway at Novi and connects to I-94 near St Clair Shores.

Major bridges include the Ambassador Bridge, Blue Water Bridge, Mackinac Bridge, and International Bridge. Michigan also has the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel crossing into Canada.

Important cities and townships

The largest municipalities in Michigan are (according to 2006 census estimates):

Rank City Population
1 Detroit 918,849
2 Grand Rapids 193,083
3 Warren 134,589
4 Sterling Heights 127,991
5 Flint 117,068
6 Lansing 114,276
7 Ann Arbor 113,206
8 Clinton Township 96,781
9 Livonia 96,736
10 Dearborn 92,382

Other important cities include:

  • Battle Creek ("Cereal City U.S.A.", world headquarters of Kellogg Company)
  • Benton Harbor / St. Joseph (headquarters of Whirlpool Corporation)
  • East Lansing (home of Michigan State University)
  • Fremont (home of the Gerber Products Company)
  • Kalamazoo (home to Western Michigan University)
  • Manistee (home to the world's largest salt plant, owned by Morton Salt)
  • Marquette (largest city in the Upper Peninsula with 19,661 people)
  • Midland (headquarters of the Dow Chemical Company and the Dow Corning Corporation)
  • Muskegon (largest Michigan city on Lake Michigan)
  • Pontiac (major automobile manufacturing center, and home of the Pontiac Silverdome)
  • Port Huron (major international crossing and home of the Blue Water Bridge)
  • Mount Pleasant (home of Central Michigan University)
  • Sault Ste. Marie (home of the Soo Locks and Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge)
  • Saginaw (the largest of the Tri-Cities, which consist of Bay City, Midland and Saginaw)
  • Traverse City ("Cherry Capital of the World", making Michigan the country's largest producer of cherries)
  • Ypsilanti (home of Eastern Michigan University)

Half of the wealthiest communities in the state are located in Oakland County, just north of Detroit. Another wealthy community is located just east of the city, in Grosse Pointe. Only three of these cities are located outside of Metro Detroit. The city of Detroit itself, with a per capita income of $14,717, ranks 517th on the list of Michigan locations by per capita income. Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of $8,965, while Barton Hills is the richest with a per capita income of $110,683.


Colleges and universities

  • Adrian College
  • Albion College
  • Alma College
  • Andrews University
  • Aquinas College
  • Ave Maria College
  • Ave Maria School of Law
  • Baker College
  • Calvin College
  • Calvin Theological Seminary
  • Center for Humanistic Studies
  • Central Bible College
  • Central Michigan University
  • Cleary University
  • College for Creative Studies
  • Concordia University
  • Cornerstone University
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art
  • Davenport University
  • Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Ecumenical Theological Seminary
  • Ferris State University
  • Finlandia University
  • Grace Bible College
  • Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Great Lakes Christian College
  • Hillsdale College
  • Hope College
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Kettering University
  • Kuyper College
  • Lake Superior State University
  • Lawrence Technological University
  • Lewis College of Business
  • Madonna University
  • Marygrove College
  • Michigan Jewish Institute
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Michigan Theological Seminary
  • Northern Michigan University
  • Northwestern Michigan College
  • Northwood University
  • Oakland University
  • Olivet College
  • Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Rochester College
  • Sacred Heart Major Seminary
  • SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary
  • Saginaw Valley State University
  • Siena Heights University
  • Spring Arbor University
  • Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches
  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • University of Michigan System
    • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    • University of Michigan-Dearborn
    • University of Michigan-Flint
  • University of Phoenix
  • Walsh College of Accountancy and Business
  • Wayne State University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Western Theological Seminary
  • William Tyndale College
  • Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres Mordechai of Greater Detroit

Community colleges and technical schools

  • American College of Computer and Information Sciences
  • Alpena Community College
  • Bay de Noc Community College
  • Bay Mills Community College
  • Delta College
  • Ellis College of NYIT
  • Glen Oaks Community College
  • Gogebic Community College
  • Grand Rapids Community College
  • Henry Ford Community College
  • ITT Technical Institute
  • Jackson Community College
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Kirtland Community College
  • Lake Michigan College
  • Lansing Community College
  • Macomb Community College
  • Mid-Michigan Community College
  • Michigan Career and Technical Institute
  • Michigan Institution of Aviation and Technology
  • Monroe County Community College
  • Montcalm Community College
  • Mott Community College
  • Muskegon Community College
  • National Institute of Technology
  • North Central Michigan College
  • Northwestern Michigan College
  • Oakland Community College
  • Olympia Career Training Institute
  • Ross Medical Education Center
  • Saint Clair County Community College
  • Schoolcraft College
  • Southwestern Michigan College
  • Washtenaw Community College
  • Wayne County Community College
  • West Shore Community College

Professional sports teams

Most major league sports teams in Michigan are located in Metro Detroit, with the Detroit Tigers baseball team, Detroit Lions football team, and Detroit Red Wings ice hockey team located within the city of Detroit. The Detroit Pistons men's basketball team and the Detroit Shock women's basketball team currently play at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons played at Detroit's Cobo Arena until 1978 and at the Pontiac Silverdome until 1988. The Detroit Lions played at Tiger Stadium in Detroit until 1974, then moved out to the Silverdome before moving to Ford Field in 2002.

The Arena Football League's Grand Rapids Rampage is the state's other "major league" sports team. Eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was born in Saginaw. Professional hockey got its start in Houghton, when the Portage Lakers were formed.

Other notable sports teams include:

Club Sport League
Alpena IceDiggers Ice hockey North American Hockey League
Flint Generals Ice hockey International Hockey League
Grand Rapids Griffins Ice hockey American Hockey League
Kalamazoo Wings Ice Hockey International Hockey League
Marquette Rangers Ice Hockey North American Hockey League
Muskegon Fury Ice hockey International Hockey League
Plymouth Whalers Ice hockey Ontario Hockey League
Saginaw Spirit Ice hockey Ontario Hockey League
Traverse City North Stars Ice hockey North American Hockey League
Motor City Gamblers Ice hockey Midwest Hockey League
Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Great Lakes Loons Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Kalamazoo Kings Baseball Minor League Baseball
Traverse City Beach Bums Baseball Minor League Baseball
West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball Minor League Baseball, Midwest League
Grand Rapids Rampage Arena football Arena Football League
Kalamazoo Xplosion Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Flint Phantoms Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Muskegon Thunder Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Saginaw Sting Indoor football Continental Indoor Football League
Detroit Demolition Football Independent Women's Football League
Detroit Ignition Soccer Major Indoor Soccer League
Kalamazoo Kingdom Soccer USL Premier Development League
Michigan Bucks Soccer USL Premier Development League
Michigan Hawks Soccer W-League
Michigan Phoenix Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
West Michigan Edge Soccer USL Premier Development League
West Michigan Firewomen Soccer W-League
West Michigan Firewomen Soccer W-League

State symbols and nicknames

  • State nicknames: Wolverine State, Great Lakes State, Mitten State, Water-Winter Wonderland
  • State motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (Latin: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you) adopted in 1835 on the coat-of-arms, but never as an official 'motto'. This is a paraphrase of the epitaph of British architect Sir Christopher Wren about his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.
  • State song: My Michigan (official since 1937, but disputed amongst Michiganders)
  • State bird: American Robin (since 1931)
  • State animal: Wolverine (traditional)
  • State game animal: White-tailed deer (since 1997)
  • State fish: Brook trout (since 1965)
  • State reptile: Painted Turtle (since 1995)
  • State fossil: Mastodon (since 2000)
  • State flower: Apple blossom (adopted in 1897, official in 1997)
  • State wildflower: Dwarf Lake Iris (since 1998). Known as Iris lacustris, it is a federally listed threatened species.
  • State tree: White pine (since 1955)
  • State stone: Petoskey stone (since 1965). It is composed of fossilized coral (Hexagonaria pericarnata) from long ago when the middle of the continent was covered with a shallow sea.
  • State gem: Isle Royale greenstone (since 1973). Also called chlorastrolite (literally "green star stone"), the mineral is found on Isle Royale and the Keweenaw peninsula.
  • State soil: Kalkaska Sand (since 1990), ranges in color from black to yellowish brown, covers nearly a million acres (400,000 ha) in 29 counties.


  • Michigan is home to more public golf courses than any other state.
  • Michigan ranks 1st in the nation in the number of registered snowmobiles.
  • Michigan ranks 3rd in the nation in licensed hunters at over 750,000

Sister states

  • Shiga Prefecture, Japan
  • Sichuan Province, Peoples Republic of China

Travelling to or from Michigan ?

Find flight to or from Michigan with an Online Travel Agency. Get lodging information or make reservations with a Local Online Hotel. Plan ahead and reserve a car with a Local Car Rental Agency.

Are you relocating to Michigan ?

Get your transition in order by searching for an Apartment, House, or Job.

Goods & Services in Michigan.

Find out the little necessities in life like, Grocery Stores, Department Stores, Gas Stations, Dry Cleaners, Nail Salons, Fast Food, Auto Repair, Plumbers, Shopping Centers and Post Offices.