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Sunflower County, Mississippi facts for kids

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Sunflower County, Mississippi
Map of Mississippi highlighting Sunflower County
Location in the state of Mississippi
Map of the USA highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location in the U.S.
Founded 1844
Seat Indianola
Largest City Indianola
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

707 sq mi (1,831 km²)
698 sq mi (1,808 km²)
9.2 sq mi (24 km²), 1.3%
 - (2015)
 - Density

42/sq mi (16/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Sunflower County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,450. Its largest city and county seat is Indianola.

Sunflower County comprises the Indianola, MS Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Cleveland-Indianola, MS Combined Statistical Area. It is located in the Mississippi Delta region.


Sunflower Country was created in 1844. The land mass encompassed most of Sunflower and Leflore Counties as we know them today. The first seat of government was Clayton, located near Fort Pemberton. Later the county seat was moved to McNutt, also in the Leflore County of today. When Sunflower and Leflore Counties were separated in 1871, the new county seat for Sunflower County was moved to Johnsonville. This village was located where the north end of Mound Bayou empties into the Sunflower River. In 1882 the county seat was moved to Eureka, which was later renamed Indianola.

The Boyer Cemetery, located in Boyer, goes back to the early days of Sunflower County.

After the U.S. Civil War, across several decades African Americans migrated to Sunflower County to work in the Mississippi Delta. In 1870, 3,243 black people lived in Sunflower County. This increased to 12,070 in 1900, making up 75% of the residents in Sunflower County. Between 1900 and 1920, the black population almost tripled.

Many African Americans who had migrated to the North from the 1940s to 1970 in the Great Migration struggled with the loss of jobs in their regions following industrial restructuring. In the 1980s and 1990s, they began to send their children to the Mississippi Delta to live with relatives, thinking social conditions were better than in the inner cities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 707 square miles (1,830 km2), of which 698 square miles (1,810 km2) is land and 9.2 square miles (24 km2) (1.3%) is water. Sunflower County is the longest county in Mississippi. The traveling distance from the southern boundary at Caile to its northern boundary at Rome is approximately 71 miles.

The center of the county is about 30 miles (48 km) east of the Mississippi River, about 40 miles (64 km) west of the hill section of Mississippi, 100 miles (160 km) north of Jackson, and about 100 miles (160 km) south of Memphis, Tennessee.

Adjacent counties


The county reached its peak population in 1930. After that, population declined from 1940 to 1990. There was considerable migration out of the rural county, especially as mechanization reduced the need for farm labor. Both whites and blacks left the county. Many African Americans migrated north or west to industrial cities to escape the social oppression and violence of Jim Crow, especially moving in the Great Migration during and after World War II, when the defense industry on the West Coast attracted many.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,102
1860 5,019 355.4%
1870 5,015 −0.1%
1880 4,661 −7.1%
1890 9,384 101.3%
1900 16,084 71.4%
1910 28,787 79.0%
1920 46,374 61.1%
1930 66,364 43.1%
1940 61,007 −8.1%
1950 56,031 −8.2%
1960 45,750 −18.3%
1970 37,047 −19.0%
1980 34,844 −5.9%
1990 32,867 −5.7%
2000 34,369 4.6%
2010 29,450 −14.3%
Est. 2015 27,005 −8.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 29,450 people residing in the county. 72.9% were Black or African American, 25.4% White, 0.3% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% of some other race and 0.5% of two or more races. 1.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census of 2000, there were 34,369 people, 9,637 households, and 7,314 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 10,338 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 69.86% Black or African American, 28.88% White, 0.09% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.48% from other races, and 0.28% from two or more races. 1.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 1990, there were 32,341 people. The racial makeup of the county was 71.89% Black or African American, 26.40% White or European American, 0.12% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.50% from other races, and 0.28% from two or more races. 1.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 1980, there were 30,402 people. The racial makeup of the county was 73.88% Black or African American, 24.45% White or European American, 0.15% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.52% from other races, and 0.28% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,637 households out of which 38.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.30% were married couples living together, 28.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.10% were non-families. 21.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.50.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 14.00% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 18.10% from 45 to 64, and 9.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 115.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 120.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $24,970, and the median income for a family was $29,144. Males had a median income of $26,208 versus $19,145 for females. The per capita income for the county was $11,365. About 24.60% of families and 30.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.50% of those under age 18 and 24.10% of those age 65 or over.

Sunflower County has the ninth-lowest per capita income in Mississippi and the 72nd-lowest in the United States.


Major highways

Dockery Plantation
  • I-69.svg Future Interstate 69
  • US 49W.svg U.S. Highway 49W
  • US 82.svg U.S. Highway 82
  • Circle sign 3.svg Mississippi Highway 3
  • Circle sign 8.svg Mississippi Highway 8
  • Circle sign 32.svg Mississippi Highway 32


Two airports are located in unincorporated Sunflower County. Indianola Municipal Airport, near Indianola, is operated by the city. Ruleville-Drew Airport, between Drew and Ruleville, is jointly operated by the two cities.


J. Todd Moye, author of Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986, said "Sunflower County has always been overwhelmingly rural." At the end of the 20th century, the county had just four "main towns of any size."



Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

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