Study in Louisiana

The State of Louisiana

The culture, tradition, and natural splendor of Cajun country makes Southwestern Louisiana one of the most interesting and exciting regions of the United States.

In addition to the area's rich heritage and environment, there are also important petrochemical, shipping, tourism and entertainment industries making the region a thriving and diverse one.

Study in Louisiana

The State of Louisiana has a long and colorful history and has served as one of the main cultural crossroads in American History.

Long before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which made the state part of the United States, the region was home to the Attakapas Indians who gave the name Calcasieu, meaning "crying eagle," to the area around Lake Charles.

Spanish and French explorers traded with the Indians and created early colonial Louisiana. The first settlers in Lake Charles arrived in 1781 from France.

The word Cajun is commonly used to refer to the French Canadians who migrated from Canada to avoid religious persecution. Today many people view the early difficulties faced by the Cajuns as the source of their "joie de vivre" or their love of life attitude.

The bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase will be celebrated in 2003, and Cajun culture is still very much alive in this area.

Southwestern Louisiana's diverse heritage with French, Spanish, African and American Indian roots makes for a lot of variety, especially in the food and music.

Perhaps the greatest local attraction is the Cajun food, which is the pride of southwestern Louisiana. The local specialties include boiled crawfish, shrimp étouffée, gumbo, rice boudin, pecan pralines, sauce piquante, and fried alligator.

The Lake Charles area has many specialty restaurants from which to choose. The food, like everything in Southwestern Louisiana, is unique and full of flavor and zest. Zydeco music, a mixture of African-American and Cajun French music that features a fiddle, accordion and washboard, is particular to the region and the subject of several festivals.

And of course New Orleans, the Blues capital of the world, is only a few hours away by car.

Southwestern Louisiana is home to over 75 different festivals. Cajuns love to eat, dance, laugh and be merry and there are many occasions to do so.

The Contraband Days, a two week festival in May that re-enacts the times of pirates like Jean Lafitte, is the second largest festival in the entire state.

Mardi Gras is also a festive time throughout Louisiana and is a clear reminder of the region's French heritage. The Lake Charles area boasts many other entertainment possibilities with riverboat casinos, local professional and collegiate sports teams, a symphony orchestra, and an Arts and Humanities Center.

The natural splendor of Louisiana is uniquely beautiful. The southwestern part of the state is graced by rich costal areas and protected wetlands, filled with ducks, geese, speckled trout, redfish and shrimp.

Sinewy, white egrets and blue herons wading though the water, silent alligators lying in wait in the shade of a tall cypress tress jetting from the water, and green turtles basking in the sun in a fallen log are common sights in many local parks and nature preserves.

Fishing, bird watching and hunting are important parts of the tourism industry in Louisiana, which is nicknamed the "Sportsman's Paradise".

The Gulf of Mexico, which feeds into the Port of Lake Charles, is just a short distance from the city. The City of Lake Charles overlooks a lake bordered by a 4-mile long boardwalk and the only white-sand inland beach on the entire Gulf Coast, making it a perfect place to swim, boat or just relax and watch the sun set on a warm evening.


Author Preble Girard McNeese State University

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