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General background about this state

Iowa Flag     Iowa Great Seal


  Cedar Rapids
  Council Bluffs
  Des Moines
  Iowa City
  Sioux City
  West Des Moines

Iowa is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, a region sometimes called the "American Heartland". Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west; it is the only U.S. state whose eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers.

  • NICKNAME: The Hawkeye State
  • POPULATION: 3,090,416 (2013 est.)
  • CAPITAL: Des Moines
  • STATE BIRD: Eastern Goldfinch
  • STATE FLOWER: Wild Rose
  • AREA: 56,272 sq. mi.
  • TIME ZONE: Central
  • ENTERED UNION: Dec. 28, 1846
  • ALTITUDE: High, 1,671 ft. Hawkeye Point
  • CLIMATE: Hot summers with ample rainfall; cold winters with some heavy snows.


Corn is the word for Iowa, "that's where the tall corn grows". The high-yield hybrid corn of today is short-six to eight feet-but the "big fertile farm"-which is Iowa grows more of it than any other state. A major food producing state, Iowa is the third largest agricultural production state, behind California and Texas. Iowa's agricultural success is due in large part to its deep mineral-laden topsoil, whose origin goes back to the ice-age glaciers. So concentrated is this fertile soil that Iowa has one fourth of all the grade A farmland in the United States. In terms of revenue generated, Iowa's top five agricultural products are corn for grain, hogs, soybeans, cattle and calves, and dairy products.

Hogs, beef cattle and calves are also major industries in The Hawkeye State.   Hogs are Iowa's leading source of livestock income. More hogs are raised in Iowa than in any other state. Less important livestock products of the state are turkeys, sheep and some horses.


Central Iowa cornfield in June
Mid-State cornfield in June, Iowa

Although 89 percent of Iowa is farmland, industry also marks the plains. But its focus, too, is agriculture. Iowa brought a new word into the language when two Charles City mechanics built a strange vehicle called a "tractor" in 1906. Today the production of farm machinery, construction equipment and the processing of food are among Iowa's largest industries.



  • The largest popcorn ball ever made weighed 3,423 lb. and was made by employees at The Popcorn Factory, Lake Forest, Illinois (2006 est.).
  • The Amana Colonies, established in 1855 by people of German heritage who belonged to a religious group called the Community of True Inspiration, strived to achieve an ideal society that promoted equality, humility, and a simple way of life. In 1931 the community formed a corporation that became famous for making refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners.
  • Iowa ranks as the nation's second largest (2015 est.) agricultural producer after California, which has almost three times its area.
  • In the 1880s Iowa's topsoil was as much as five feet deep. Today, decades of farming have reduced it to an average depth of two feet.
  • Iowa's nickname comes from Chief Black Hawk, a Sauk Indian chief who started what became known as the Black Hawk War in 1832.
  • The town of Fort Atkinson was built to protect one Indian tribe from another. It is the only fort ever built by the U.S. government for this purpose.


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