Boubon Street, New Orleans © Eric Gross
Lively Louisiana has reclaimed much of its former glory after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Visitors from around the world are once again flocking to New Orleans, Louisiana's tourist powerhouse.
Most who arrive in the Big Easy want to experience the city's traditional toe-tapping Dixieland jazz music, to dine on Cajun cuisine, and to enjoy the laidback lifestyle where a carnival atmosphere seems to prevail all year round.
Louisiana is hedonistic and historic, musical and memorable. The southern American state has a distinctive scenic beauty and a slightly European feel, with a cultural uniqueness that makes it more than attractive as a holiday destination.
It's the cultural melting pot in particular that gives Louisiana its special appeal, a result of the numerous peoples who have left legacies upon the land. From Native Americans, Creole inhabitants and the Cajuns of South Louisiana to Spanish and French colonists and the African slaves.
Louisiana's past is just as colourful and varied as its residents. It's been governed under 10 different flags since 1541 when Hernando de Soto claimed the region for Spain. During the Civil War, Louisiana even became an independent republic for six weeks before joining the Confederacy.
Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803, with the reason behind its constant chopping and changing being the region's importance for trade and security in the American Midwest. The mighty Mississippi River flows through Louisiana and New Orleans controls access to the mouth.
Further along the Mississippi, travellers marvel at the plantation houses of Louisiana's rich landowners of old and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mississippi Valley, one of the most scenic areas in the United States. Just like the renowned Creole dish known as gumbo, the State of Louisiana contains a bit of everything.
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