Mississippi is a US state that spans an area of 48,430 square miles in the country’s southeastern region. Native American communities have lived within the area of Mississippi since about 10,000 BCE. Despite the long history of human habitation in Mississippi, its borders only began taking shape after the arrival of Europeans into the region. The French were the first Europeans to settle in the present-day region of Mississippi during the early 18th century. The area later fell under the control of the British and the Spanish who also contributed to shaping the state's borders. In the modern era, Mississippi shares its borders with four other US states, namely Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Part of the state's southern boundary is also located along the Gulf of Mexico with 44 miles of coastline.
Border with Alabama
Alabama and Mississippi are separated by a border located on the eastern part of Mississippi. During the colonial era, the states of Mississippi and Alabama were both parts of the Mississippi Territory. The territory was split up in 1817 with the formation of the state of Mississippi and the territory of Alabama. Before the territory was split up, the state of Georgia claimed that the entire area should have been under its control. Georgia gave up its claim to the region in 1802. Congress created the boundary between Mississippi and Alabama and attempted to make the two territories have an equal area. Congress divided the agriculturally productive areas by drawing a straight line through them. The Tennessee River forms a small section of the border between Alabama and Mississippi. Congress decided to trace the path of the Tennessee River to ensure that all the land in Mississippi was on one side of the river. There are several major cities found on the Mississippi side of the border such as Luka, State Line, Columbus, and Leakesville. Detroit, Red Bay, and Waterloo are some of the major cities found on the Alabama side of the border. State Line is one of the unique cities in the US and it is located in two counties, Greene County and Wayne County. Columbus is one of Mississippi's major cities and it is the seat of Lowndes County. When the city of Columbus was founded, the residents thought it was in Alabama. The boundary between Mississippi and Alabama was corrected to place Columbus in Mississippi territory. Red Bay is a relatively young town in Alabama which was founded in 1907. In 2017, it was estimated that the city was home to about 3,086 people.
Border with Louisiana
The boundary that separates Louisiana and Mississippi is located in the western part of Mississippi. The border with Louisiana is one of Mississippi's longest boundaries. The Mississippi River forms a section of the boundary between the two states. Mississippi and Louisiana have often been involved in border dispute because of the changing course of the Mississippi River. The disputes between the two states have often been resolved by the Supreme Court such as in 1906, 1955, 1988, and 1995. Mississippi and Louisiana share several islands within the Mississippi River such as Togo Island, Davis Island, and Middle Ground Island. The changing shape of the Mississippi River has also resulted in Mississippi having control of several exclaves on the Louisiana side of the border. Louisiana has control of 8 exclaves on the Mississippi side of the border. Natchez, Vicksburg, and Picayune are some of the towns located on the Mississippi side of the border. Some of the major cities located on the Louisiana side of the border include Tallulah, Clinton, and Saint Joseph. Natchez is one of Mississippi's major cities and it is the seat of Adams County. Natchez is one of the oldest cities in the region and it was established in 1716 by the French. Natchez was named after a tribe of Native Americans that had inhabited the region for a long period. Tallulah is one of Louisiana's major cities and it is the seat of Madison Parish. The city was established during the antebellum period and was a major target of Union forces during the American civil war.
Border with Tennessee
Mississippi shares its entire northern border with Tennessee. Several rivers cross the boundary between the two states with the Mississippi River being the major one. Mississippi and Tennessee have had a relatively cordial relationship although, in 2014, Mississippi filed a lawsuit against Tennessee in the Supreme Court. The leaders of Mississippi claimed that the water being used in Tennessee came from Mississippi, and they demanded that Tennessee pay Mississippi damages. On the other hand, the leaders of Tennessee believed that the water was an interstate resource and requested the Supreme Court to decide how much water should be allocated to each state. By the end of 2018, the Supreme Court had not given a verdict on the issue. There are several major cities on the Mississippi side of the border such as Horn Lake, Olive Branch, and Corinth. Collierville and Germantown are some of the major cities located on the Tennessee side of the border. Horn Lake is a relatively large city in Mississippi and it covers an area of about 16 square miles and was home to approximately 27,095 in 2017. Germantown is an essential city in Tennessee and it was home to about 39,056 people in 2016.
Border with Arkansas
Arkansas borders Mississippi on its northwestern region. The Mississippi River forms a significant portion of the boundary between Arkansas and Mississippi. The boundary between the two states dates back to the late 18th century when the US and Spain signed a treaty marking their boundaries. Some of the major towns located on the Mississippi side of the border include Clarksdale, Rosedale, and Greenville. Arkansas City, Lake Village, and Helena are some of the cities situated on the Arkansas side of the border. Clarksdale is a major city in Mississippi and it is the seat of Coahoma County. The town was named after John Clark who established it during the mid-19th century. Arkansas City is one of the smallest cities in Arkansas and it covers an area of about 0.5 square miles and was home to 325 people in 2017.
The Importance of Mississippi's Borders
The borders of Mississippi are important because they reflect an important part of the state's history. The boundaries are also significant because they mark the limits of the jurisdiction of the Mississippi government.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.