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Mississippi is a state in the Southeastern area of the United States, bordering to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi is the twelfth most populous state in the US. Mississippi's western border is mostly defined by the Mississippi River, which flows through the state. Mississippi is the 32nd-largest and 34th-most populated state in the United States, out of a total of 50 states. Jackson serves as the state's capital as well as its biggest city. Greater Jackson is the most populated metropolitan region in the state, with a population of 580,166 people in 2018, according to estimates.

When Mississippi was admitted to the Union on December 10, 1817, it became the 20th state to do so. By 1860, Mississippi was the nation's leading cotton producer, and slaves accounted for 55 percent of the state's population, according to census data. As one of the initial Confederate states, Mississippi proclaimed its secession from the United States on January 9, 1861, and was one of seven founding Confederate states, which together formed the greatest slaveholding states in the country at that time. On February 23, 1870, it was re-admitted to the Union after being expelled during the Civil War.

Mississippi was home to a majority of African Americans until the Great Migration of the 1930s displaced them from the state. Mississippi has the greatest proportion of African Americans in the US in 2010, accounting for 37.3 percent of the state's total population. There were numerous notable events in Mississippi during the civil rights movement, including the Ole Miss riot of 1962, which was caused by white students who were opposed to desegregation, the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, and the 1964 Freedom Summer murders of 3 activists working on right to vote.