Louisiana is separated into five regions, Sportsman’s Paradise, Crossroads, Plantation Country, Cajun Country, and Greater New Orleans.
The regions are divided this way by the Louisiana Office of Tourism to make it easier for a tourist to get a clear picture of what cultural characteristics can be found in Louisiana.
These five regions reveal how Louisiana’s culture is so diverse, but they also reveal similarities among them all.
Sportsman’s Paradise (North Louisiana)
The settlers were English speaking British and African people.
It is known for its fishing holes in large fresh water lakes. For example, at Black Bayou you can go fishing or skiing. It also has a sand beach, hiking trails, and a petting zoo.
It is a great place for hunting deer, duck, wild turkey, and doves.
People in Northern Louisiana like to go mountain biking, camping, fishing, to rodeos, or ride an old-fashioned hayride.
In North Louisiana a visitor would eat barbecue, biscuits and gravy, catfish, grits, cornbread, chicken and dumplings, greens, black-eyed peas, etc. People also eat seafood and the most popular is fried catfish.
Another reason why Northern Louisiana’s food is different from the South’s is that the food in North Louisiana is not highly seasoned.
In addition to the foods and language of North Louisiana, the music of North Louisiana reflects its cultural roots. For example, gospel music is probably the strongest traditional form of music among both blacks and whites. Other music traditions shared by British Americans include old-time country and bluegrass.
For instance, country music shows (Ruston) and Louisiana Hayride radio show (Shreveport) reflect this heritage. Additionally, African Americans made their mark with traditional Delta blues and rhythm and blues in North Louisiana.
Here you will find hills, prairies, and bayous.
It is a great region for fishing, hunting, eating, and listening to music.
You can fish at Toledo Bend or hunt at the Kisatchie National Forest, which is a six-thousand acre forest. This forest begins in crossroads and stretches into the northern part of the state.
This central region has bald cypress trees that hang down along the bayous.
The trails lead to southern-swampland wildlife such as armadillos, raccoons, even alligators.
The types of foods that central Louisiana is known for is traditional southern cooking, chicken-fried steak, fresh vegetables, homemade pecan pies, and Cajun foods (gumbo and etouffee).
Crossroads (Central Louisiana)
Natchitoches, which was settled by the French, creates a unique cultural pocket in North Louisiana. For instance, Creole French influence is seen in the foodways (Natchitoches meat pies) and the architecture, which is more related to New Orleans than to its surrounding communities.
Vidalia is known for its fried green tomatoes.
Ferriday is known for its fried pickles.
The music of central Louisiana is a combination of rock ‘n’ roll (blending country music with Mississippi Delta blues), which grew out of Ferriday, jazz, and rhythm and blues.
How do you think the Crossroads region got its name?
Plantation Country (South Central Louisiana)
Baton Rouge, a British-American town in spite of its French name, which is home to a multicultural community (Italians, Cajuns, African Americans, Lebanese, Asians, and others) is the capital of this area.
Plantation homes can be found along the banks of the Mississippi River from St. Francisville to New Orleans. These homes have formal ballrooms, chandeliers, and large open porches that overlook gardens.
Some French people built plantations in Louisiana. They grew tobacco, cotton, sugar, and indigo on these farms.
The French brought in slaves from Africa to do the work. The work that the slaves did helped the economy. For example, slaves helped clear the wilderness, build important canals, railroads, and roads. Also, the cotton picked by slaves became the nation’s most valuable export (resources that we sell to other countries).
Despite the fact that some slaves were treated well by their owners, many were held against their will and made to work from sunrise to sunset. Additionally, slavery was wrong because it violated human rights and God-given law.
Because of their harsh life, blues music originated in plantation country from the songs of the slaves. Blues music is the music of strength and heartache.
The only Creole plantation located in south central Louisiana is Laura plantation. At this plantation, African slaves introduced Americans to the legend of Br’er Rabbit.
Today, Louisiana’s plantation period comes to life in and around the state capital of Baton Rouge. Restored mansions whose owners once made their fortunes on indigo, sugar, and cotton are now opened to the public.
Why would people today want to visit plantations of the 1700s and 1800s?
Plantation Country Laura plantation
Cajun Country reflects Louisiana’s French-Acadian culture.
Cajun-Descendants of the Acadians, the French Canadians who were forced to leave Canada after the British took control.
Acadian-French people from Canada.
Creole-Descendants of early Spanish or French settlers and African slaves
Foods found in Cajun country
boudin, etouffee, gumbo, crawfish, roux, jambalaya, etc.
French language is often spoken in Cajun Country
cher-dear, lagniappe-a little something extra, dose- those, dat-that, laissez les bons temps rouler- let the good times roll, etc.
Facts about Cajun music and what the Cajun Country region is famous for
boat tours on the swamps and bayous, etc.
How is Cajun Country different from the other regions that we have discussed?
Cajun Country (South Louisiana)
The French Quarter is the oldest section of New Orleans and you can find foods such as, beignets and cafe au lait there.
(beignet-a little square French doughnut covered with powdered sugar.
Café au lait- coffee with chicory and milk; sometimes served with beignets
New Orleans is the birthplace for Jazz.
What other region is Greater New Orleans similar to?