Jackson, Mississippi, the state's capital and largest city, and one of the two seats of Hinds County. Jackson is on the Pearl River, in the south-central part of the state. It is primarily a center of government and commerce, with some manufacturing.
Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi's medical center are in Jackson. Other institutions include Belhaven and Millsaps colleges. Places of interest in Jackson include the State Historical Museum, housed in the Old State Capitol; the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum; the Mississippi Museum of Art; the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science; a Civil War battlefield; a botanical garden; and a zoo. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Opera, and Ballet Mississippi perform in Thalia Mara Hall. Nearby is Ross Barnett Reservoir, Mississippi's largest lake.
Jackson was a small trading post when it was chosen as the site of the state capital and incorporated in 1821. Union troops occupied and burned the city in 1863. Large population growth occurred at the end of the 19th century and again during the 1930's, when natural gas was discovered in the area. In 1997, Harvey Johnson, a former state tax commissioner, was elected the city's first black mayor.