The three largest cities in the state are New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport. One of the principal cities of the South, New Orleans is the chief commercial and transportation center and port of Louisiana and one of the two leading industrial centers in the state. Its population in 2005 was 454,863. After the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina breached some of the city’s levees in August 2005, city officials called for a mass evacuation of the city. The storm destroyed much of the city’s housing. In late 2006 only about 187,000 people lived within the city limits. New Orleans is the hub of a metropolitan area that covers eight parishes and held 1 million inhabitants in 2006. It included the city Metairie, which with a population of 149,428 (1996) was one of the largest in the state.
Baton Rouge, with a 2005 population of 222,064, serves as the state capital of Louisiana. It is also one of the state’s two leading industrial centers, with emphasis on oil refining and the manufacture of chemicals and chemical products. The Baton Rouge metropolitan area had 766,514 inhabitants in 2006.
Shreveport, with a population of 198,874, is the leading commercial center in northwestern Louisiana. It is also an industrial center where oil refining is a major activity. The Shreveport metropolitan area had a population of 386,778 in 2006. Across the Red River is Bossier City, growing as a service center and also home to Barksdale Air Force Base.
Lafayette, with a 2005 population of 112,030, is primarily a commercial center in south central Louisiana. Lake Charles, with a population of 70,555, is the leading commercial center in southwestern Louisiana.
Monroe, with a population of 51,914, is the commercial center for the important cotton-growing area in northern Louisiana. Alexandria, with a population of 45,693, is also a commercial center for central Louisiana.
Nearly one-half of Louisiana’s religious adherents are members of the Roman Catholic church. Catholicism is strongest in southern Louisiana, while Protestantism, particularly the Baptist and Methodist faiths, predominates in the more rural north. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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