MISSISSIPPI”–the name itself is Choctaw. It means “father of waters”, and refers to the largest river in North America, which forms Mississippi’s western border. The State has always been richly endowed with water, plants, and animals, and before recorded time, it accommodated a great variety of peoples with large populations. The first white men who entered the interior of the territory now included in Mississippi were probably the Spanish explorers led by Hernando de Soto, who wandered across the present state in search of gold in 1540 and 1541. The Spaniards found that the land was densely populated with Indians, and they suffered a serious attack from at least one Mississippi tribe, the Chickasaws.

As you drive through Mississippi, you’ll hum through some of the prettiest country you’ll ever see. And then, slowing down, you’ll roll gently into a little town that feels like home.

Across the state, the same Rockwellian scene unfolds before you. Giant shade trees. White painted houses, the yards freshly mowed. Lightning bugs at dusk. And yes, the porch lights will be on.
You can tell, the people who live here, in the large cities, and all around the state, are the kind you like. The kind you wish you had for neighbors.

No matter where you live in Mississippi, it seems like there is a lake, forest or beach right on your doorstep. Thanks to an average annual temperature of 65 degrees and a mild four-season climate, Mississippi’s outdoors can be enjoyed year-round.

Lazy days on the water are a favorite method of unwinding, and with 706,000 acres of recreational water, you won’t have much trouble finding a nice place to cool off. Sardis Lake, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Ross Barnett Reservoir are just a few of the places to enjoy boating, skiing and swimming.

There are quite a few trails to be explored in Mississippi’s unspoiled woodlands. You can take an afternoon hike or hit the trails on a bike, then spend the night by a campfire. Mississippi’s 27 state parks provide excellent campgrounds and cabins for those who want to take the edge off roughing it.

The state has more than one million acres for public hunting, with nine National Wildlife Refuges and 36 state Wildlife Management Areas. The Mississippi wilderness offers the opportunity to hunt deer, squirrel, turkey, duck, geese, rabbit, quail and dove. Hunters can wade into marshy waterfowl havens, track whitetail through towering pines or scare up fowl in spacious fields.

Bass, catfish, bream and crappie lurk in waters throughout Mississippi, and the prospect of landing one of these brings both serious and weekend anglers to the state. There are hundreds of rivers, ponds, streams and lakes – five of which are over 20,000 acres, and Grenada Reservoir is 64,600 acres.

The Gulf of Mexico offers spectacular saltwater fishing just off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Flounder and blue crab provide sport right off the pier, and those looking for a serious fight can take a boat out and go after king mackerel, redfish, speckled trout, grouper and shark.

You really can’t help but enjoy the outdoors in Mississippi. No matter where you go, you’re surrounded by the natural beauty and an array of opportunities to enjoy it.

More than 140 public and private golf courses make sure that a fairway is always just a short drive away. The Southern Farm Bureau Golf Classic during October in Madison brings PGA tournament action to the state, allowing everybody to have a great time on the course no matter what their handicap. More than 150 top pro and amateur women golfers will compete for the most coveted title in Women’s Golf at the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open Championship slated for Old Waverly in West Point, Mississippi, May 31-June 6.

Visit Mississippi and you’ll soon discover that what makes the African-American community – is the people. And what makes the people – is character and courage.

Travel across the country and you’ll encounter few people with a heritage as rich and strong as Mississippi’s African-Americans. Because you’ll find more than a distinct culture here – you’ll discover a legacy of enduring spirit. It’s something you feel in our churches and learn about in our schools. You’ll hear it in the songs we sing and stories we tell. And see it in our art. It’s the saga of a people beginning in 1719, when the French brought the first African slaves here to help build the Natchez settlement.

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