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Why Does Louisiana Have Parishes

Louisiana is a state located in the south east of the United States. It shares a border with Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. The area now known as Louisiana was originally inhabited by Native Americans from at least 3400 BC. Europeans arrived in the area in the 16th century and by the 17th century the French had begun to colonize the area. The Spanish took most of the territory after the Seven Years War, but in 1800 it was purchased by Napoleon Bonaparte for France. After a failed military campaign in Haiti, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States. This territory was split up into the Territory of Orleans (modern day Louisiana) and the District of Louisiana. The state of Louisiana is the only state in the country that has subdivisions called parishes, instead of the more commonly used county. If you have ever wondered why this is the case, keep reading to find out.

Why does Louisiana have parishes instead of counties?
Unlike most of the other states of America, Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes. The reason the Louisiana is divided into parishes goes back to the history of the state. The state has retained quite a few elements from the times when it was governed by the French and Spanish. One of these is the term parish, which is derived from the French word paroisse. Even though they have a different name, they are legally equivalent of the counties that are used in other states.

Did you know?
The parish with the largest population is East Baton Rouge Parish with an estimated 440,000 people. The parish with the largest area is Plaquemines Parish with a total of 6,291 km2 (2,429 sq mi).

The smallest parish, in terms of population, is Tensas Parish with just over 5,000 people. The smallest parish, in terms of area, is West Baton Rouge Parish at 526 km2 (203 sq mi).

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