Michigan, United States

About Michigan

Michigan is located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. Michigan is the eighth most populous state in the United States. It has the longest freshwater shoreline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair. In 2005, Michigan ranked third among US states for the number of registered recreational boats, behind California and Florida. Michigan has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds. A person in the state is never more than six miles (10 km) from a natural water source or more than 87.2 miles (140.3 km) from a Great Lakes shoreline. It is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Michigan is the only state to consist entirely of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is often dubbed the mitten by residents, 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.

Michigan Tourism and Recreation

Camping and recreational facilities are provided by the federal government at three national forests comprising 2.8 million acres, three facilities operated by the National Park Service (Isle Royale National Park, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), and several wildlife sanctuaries. A wild African-style village covering 70 acres at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek features giraffes, zebras, and ostrich, plus a variety of endangered African species roaming freely on the grassy savannah.

Michigan's tourist attractions are diverse and readily accessible to much of the country's population. The opportunities offered by Michigan's water resources are the number one attraction; no part of the state is more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes, and most of the population lives only a few miles away from one of the thousands of inland lakes and streams. Southwestern Michigan's sandy beaches along Lake Michigan offer sunbathing and swimming on 5,000 km of Great Lakes coastline. Inland lakes numbering 11,000 in southern Michigan are favored by swimmers while the Metropolitan Beach on Lake St. Clair, northeast of Detroit, claims to be the largest artificial-lake beach in the world. Camping has enjoyed an enormous increase in popularity; in addition to the extensive public camping facilities, there are many private campgrounds.

State-operated facilities include 64 parks and recreational areas with 172,343 acres, and state forests and wildlife areas totaling 4,250,000 acres. Holland and Warren Dunes state parks, located on Lake Michigan, have the largest annual park attendances; Ludington State Park, also on Lake Michigan, attracts the largest number of campers.

Michigan Climate

The climate in Michigan is moderated by the presence of the Great Lakes, which generally warm the winters and cool the summers, creating more even temperatures in relation to areas. Michigan experiences the four seasons, with summer temperatures averaging 77ºF (25ºC) and plenty of snowfall in winter, suiting winter outdoor enthusiasts. Snowfall is heaviest in the Upper Peninsula and in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, and Lake Erie is often iced over. The north generally experiences cooler weather compared to the south, but the climate in Michigan is unpredictable and changes rapidly particularly during the spring and autumn months.

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.

Michigan Transportaion

Michigan has nine international crossings with Ontario, Canada including Ambassador Bridge, North America's busiest international border crossing the Detroit River (the only place in the contiguous United States where one can go due south to Canada).

Michigan is served by four Class I railroads: the Canadian National Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Norfolk Southern Railway. 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.

The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is by far Michigan's busiest airport, followed by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.