Despite the frequent association of Cajuns with swamplands and bayous, Acadiana consists mainly of low gentle hills in the north section and dry land prairies, with marshes and bayous in the south closer to the coast. The wetlands increase in frequency in and around the Atchafalaya and Mississippi basins. The area also is cultivated with fields of rice and sugarcane.
Acadiana, as defined by the Louisiana legislature, refers to the area that stretches from just west of New Orleans to the Texas border along the Gulf of Mexico coast, and about 100 miles inland to Marksville. This includes the 22 parishes of Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, St. Charles, St. James, St. John The Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion, and West Baton Rouge. The total land area is 37,746.756 km² (14,574.105 sq mi). At the 2000 census its total population was 1,352,646 residents.
Three of the parishes, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, are considered the River Parishes. Ascension Parish is occasionally included with them. Present-day St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes also made up an area formerly known as the German Coast because of settlement by German immigrants of the 18th century.
Most populous areas
The largest metropolitan area in Acadiana is Lafayette, followed by Houma-Thibodaux, and Lake Charles. Other large cities and towns within Acadiana are Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Carencro, Crowley, Donaldsonville, Eunice, Franklin, Gonzales, Jeanerette, Jennings, Kaplan, Marksville, New Roads, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, Patterson, Plaquemine, Port Allen, Rayne, Scott, St. Gabriel, St. Martinville, Sulphur, Ville Platte, Washington, and Youngsville.