Lake Charles (French: Lac Charles) is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Founded in 1861 in Calcasieu Parish, it is a major industrial, cultural, and educational center in the southwest region of the state.
Lake Charles, located on a level plain about 30 miles (48 km) from the Gulf of Mexico, has an elevation of 13 feet (4.0 m), and is located on the banks of the Calcasieu River in southwestern Louisiana. It borders both Lake Charles and Prien Lake. Contraband Bayou, Henderson Bayou, and English Bayou flow through the city. Oak trees and pine trees dot the landscape; the lumber industry was once the main economic engine of the area. The Calcasieu Ship Channel, which allows large ocean-going vessels to sail up from the Gulf, also borders the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.8 square miles (116.0 km), of which 42.0 square miles (108.9 km) is land and 2.7 square miles (7.1 km), or 6.12%, is water.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 71,993. In 2010, the population density was 1,711.8 people per square mile (689.7/km²). There were 32,469 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 47% White, 47% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.47% from other races, 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.9% of the population.
There were 28,228 households, out of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.13.
In 2010, the population was spread out with 27% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 20 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 25% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.9 males. The percentage of males was 45.7% versus 54.3% for females.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,001. The per capita income for the city was $22,855. 20.9% of the population was below the poverty line.