Mississippi covers 47,695 sq mi; its capital is Jackson. Its landscape ranges from hills and pine woods to plains and river lowlands. Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by several Indian tribes, including the Choctaw, Natchez, and Chickasaw. It became part of French-controlled Louisiana, and Biloxi was settled in 1699. The northern portion was ceded to the U.S. in 1783; the southern portion was included in the Mississippi Territory (created 1798), which expanded in 1804 to include most of the present-day state. Mississippi became the 20th U.S. state in 1817. A plantation-based economy using slave labour developed in the 1820s. It seceded from the Union in 1861 and gave the Confederacy its president, Jefferson Davis. The Union capture of Vicksburg in 1863 proved a turning point in the American Civil War. It was readmitted to the Union in 1870 and adopted a constitution aimed at blocking Reconstruction in 1890. The state became a battleground in the struggle against racial segregation in the 1960s: the state's effort to block the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi triggered riots in 1962; local civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered in 1963. After 1969, when the federal government ordered the integration of the state's segregated school system, Mississippi's long-standing racial traditions began a gradual change. Today, its economy is based on agricultural products, including cotton and soybeans. Manufactured goods include textiles and electrical equipment.
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