Where is the Mississippi Delta?

A canal in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States.

Description and Misconception of The Delta

The Mississippi Delta is actually not a river delta; it refers to the region in northwest Mississippi. It is an alluvial plain that was formed over thousands of years due to periodic flooding. Because of this, the region is very flat. The soil of this region is of immense fertility. The Mississippi Delta is 7,000 square miles in area which is comparable to the size of Fiji.

The extent of the Mississippi Delta region is defined by the land form that plays a role in it being formed. In particular, the Mississippi Delta is defined as a region spanning from the Mississippi River to the Yazoo River. The Mississippi River forms its western boundary. The Yazoo River is considered the southern and eastern boundary of the region.

Geography and History of Mississippi Delta

Fertile, alluvial soils have endowed the region with superlative agricultural potential. This potential made the area a major cotton growing region. Cotton defined the economy in the Mississippi Delta, and played a part in shaping the social landscape in the region. Like the rest of the South, African-American slaves were used for picking the cotton. In the Mississippi Delta, slaves made up the majority of the population. The issue of slavery was the major factor in the Civil War starting.

Mississippi Delta After The Civil War

After the Civil War, slavery was abolished. However, racial tensions were severe in the region. Racial violence was taking place in the late 19th century through the 1960s, as well as Jim Crow segregation laws. The Mississippi Delta region also became one of the poorest regions in the USA after the Civil War. Agriculture remained the primary sector in the regional economy and cotton remained the major crop. Sharecropping and tenant farming replaced slavery. Mechanization of farming meant fewer people were needed to farm cotton. A combination of racism and the mechanization of farming caused an exodus from the region. Millions of African-Americans left the region for major industrial cities in the northern and western USA. Today, the Mississippi Delta remains one of the poorest regions in the USA. Agriculture is the primary sector of the economy. However, some changes have taken place. Rice, soybeans, corn, and poultry are becoming part of the economy. In larger communities in this region, casinos and the automobile industry are becoming part of the economy. Demographically, the Mississippi Delta has the highest concentration of African-Americans of any U.S. region, a product of slavery in Mississippi.

Cultural Influences Of the Mississippi Delta

This is the region where blues music originated. This music genre has its roots in African-American spirituals, musical traditions brought over by African slaves, work songs by African-Americans, and European folk music. It reflects the history of migration to this region, African-American slaves being brought to the region, as well as poor Whites in Mississippi.


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