Louisiana is a state in the United States that is located in the Deep South and South Central regions. It is the 19th-smallest state in terms of land area and the 25th-most populated among the 50 states in the United States. Louisiana is bordered on the west by the state of Texas, on the north by the state of Arkansas, on the east by the state of Mississippi, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River forms a significant portion of the state's eastern border. In the United States, Louisiana is the only state that has political subdivisions known as parishes, which are comparable to counties. As a result, Louisiana is one of only two states that is not split into counties (the other being Alaska). Its capital is Baton Rouge, and its biggest city is New Orleans, both of which are located in the state of Louisiana.
Much of the state's territory was created as a result of silt being carried down the Mississippi River, creating huge deltas and extensive expanses of marsh and swamp along the state's shore. These are home to a diverse southern biota, with birds such as ibises and egrets serving as typical examples. There are also many kinds of tree frogs and fish, including sturgeon and paddlefish, that may be found in the area. Fire is a natural occurrence in the environment at higher elevations, and it has resulted in large regions of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas in the higher elevations. Plant species, including terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants, flourish in these environments, which sustain an unusually high number of them overall. With more Native American tribes than any other state in the South, Louisiana has more than any other state in the South. The state has four tribes that are federally recognised, ten that are state recognised, and four that are not recognised at all.
The multicultural and multilingual heritage of some Louisiana urban environments is so strong, having been strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th–century French, Haitian and Spanish, French Canadian, Native American, and African cultures, that they are considered to be exceptional in the United States of America. It was a French colony for a time until the United States purchased the area in 1803, and it was briefly a Spanish colony before being purchased by the United States in 1803. In addition, throughout the 18th century, colonists brought a large number of African people into the country as slaves. Many were descended from peoples who lived in the same area of West Africa, which resulted in a concentration of their culture. Because of the increasing push for Anglicization in post–Civil War America, English was briefly declared the only language of instruction in Louisiana public schools in 1921, until a policy of multilingualism was reinstated in the state in 1974. Louisiana has never had an official language, and the state constitution enumerates "the right of the people to maintain, develop, and promote their distinct historic, linguistic, and cultural roots" as a fundamental right.
According to national statistics, Louisiana often ranks around the bottom of the United States in terms of health, education, and development, and towards the top of the country in terms of poverty. In 2018, Louisiana was rated as the least healthiest state in the nation, with high rates of drug-related fatalities and excessive alcohol consumption, and it has had the worst murder rate in the country since at least the 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control.