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Several remarkable features define Michigan as unique among the 50 states. The state consists of two distinct peninsulas separated by the Straits of Mackinac and joined only by the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. Michigan is easily identified by the four Great Lakes that touch its borders, as well as the famous mitten shape of its lower peninsula.

Michigan boasts a wealth of natural resources, including 11,037 inland lakes, 36,350 miles of rivers and 150 waterfalls. Approximately half of Michigan’s land – 19.3 million acres – is made of forests, and the state provides habitat for abundant wildlife – large and small game, fish and fowl.

Once home to a booming auto industry, Michigan has been hit hard by the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. and the economic recession of the late 2000s. At 10.6%, Michigan’s unemployment rate was highest in the country as of January 2009, and the state’s rate of home foreclosures was 7th in the nation. Nearly two-thirds of Michigan consumers expected the economic downturn to last another five years, according to a February 2009 consumer survey.

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