According to the 2000 national census, Mississippi ranked 31st among the states in population, with a total of 2,844,658. This represented an increase of 10.5 percent since 1990, when the state’s population was 2,573,216.
In 2006 Mississippi had an average population density of 24 persons per sq km (62 per sq mi). The rural density was greatest in the Delta. Southeastern Mississippi was the most sparsely settled part of the state. Mississippi is a predominantly rural state with only 49 percent of the population living in urban areas in 2000, one of the lowest rates in the nation.
However, the urban population has been growing steadily since 1940, while the rural population has been declining as the number of small farms has decreased. The population of the state’s small towns has remained relatively stable.
As counted by the federal census in 2000, whites constitute 61.4 percent of Mississippi’s population. Blacks are 36.3 percent, giving Mississippi a larger proportion of blacks in its population than any other state. Until 1940 blacks were a majority in the state. Mississippi was one of only four states that declined in population between 1940 and 1960, largely because of black emigration. The black population is particularly large in the Delta, where blacks constitute more than 60 percent of the population of most counties. Only in the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state do blacks account for less than 20 percent of the population.
Asians are 0.7 percent of the population, Native Americans 0.4 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 1.2 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 667. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 1.4 percent of the people.
Jackson, the state capital and the largest city in Mississippi, had a 2005 population of 177,977. Besides serving as the seat of government, Jackson is the state’s leading manufacturing, railroad, and commercial center. Gulfport, with a population of 72,464, is primarily a shipping center and resort. Biloxi, with a population of 50,209, is an important fishing port and processing center for shrimp.
Hattiesburg, with a population of 47,176, is a trade, transportation, and education center. Greenville had a population of 38,724. It is principally a river port and trade center. Meridian had a population of 38,605. It is the major trade center for eastern Mississippi. Manufacturing is also important in Meridian.
Pascagoula is a fishing port and an oil refining and shipbuilding center. Vicksburg and Natchez are river ports on the Mississippi. Both cities are tourist attractions because of their historical importance. Clarksdale and Greenwood are cotton markets and trade centers in the Delta. Other cities of regional importance include Tupelo, Laurel, and Columbus. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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