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In the early 1600's when French explorers started arriving in Michigan, as many as 15,000 Native American's inhabited the region. Although traders and missionaries soon followed establishing trading posts and several missions, the first permanent settlement, Sault Sainte Marie, wasn't established until 1668.
After the French and Indian War, Britain took control of the region from France and until 1783; it was administered as a part of Canada. The U.S. acquired most of the state after the Revolutionary War in 1783 and on January 26, 1837, Michigan entered the Union as the 26th state.
Michigan is made up of two peninsulas, an upper and lower that are separated by the Straits of Mackinac. One of the largest suspension bridges in the world, the Mackinac Bridge, connects the two peninsulas. The state’s largest city, Detroit is home to almost half of the state’s total population.
Detroit is often referred to as the "Motor City" for its long standing status as the heart of the U.S. automotive industry. But, this status isn't the only distinguishing feature the city holds. Belle Isle Park, the largest island park in the U.S. is located in the Detroit River. And, it's the only U.S. city that faces south to Canada!
Aside from the automotive industry, Michigan also leads in the manufacture of airplane parts, machine tools, refrigerators and furniture among other products. Farming and the production of copper, iron, lime, gravel and cement are also important to the state’s economy. And, with 3,288 miles of shoreline and 10, 083 inland lakes, the state tourism contribute a major share of the economic base.
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