The state's name, Michigan, originates from the (Ojibwe word) mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake". Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River.[b]
Michigan is the only state to consist of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula, to which the name Michigan was originally applied, is often noted to be shaped like a mitten. The Upper Peninsula (often called "the U.P.") is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km) channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge connects the peninsulas. The state has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair. As a result, it is one of the leading U.S. states for recreational boating.
Michigan also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds. A person in the state is never more than six miles (9.7 km) from a natural water source or more than 85 miles (137 km) from a Great Lakes shoreline.
The area was first settled by Native American tribes. Colonized by French explorers in the 17th century, it became part of New France. After France's defeat in the French and Indian War in 1762, the region came under British rule and was ceded to the newly independent United States after Britain's defeat in the American Revolutionary War. The area was part of the larger Northwest Territory until 1800 when western Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory. Michigan Territory was formed in 1805 and was admitted into the Union in 1837 as the 26th state. It soon became an important center of industry and trade in the Great Lakes region and a popular immigrant destination.
Although Michigan developed a diverse economy, it is widely known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, being home to the country's three major automobile companies (whose headquarters are all within the Detroit metropolitan area). While sparsely populated, the Upper Peninsula is important for tourism thanks to its abundance of natural resources, while the Lower Peninsula is a center of manufacturing, services, and high-tech industry.