Official language(s) English
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland." It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt. Iowa is often known as the "Food Capital of the World", but Iowa’s economy, culture, and landscape are diverse. In the mid and late 20th century, Iowa’s agricultural economy transitioned to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, biotechnology, and green energy production.Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live. Des Moines is Iowa's capital and largest city.
Topography of Iowa, with counties and major streams.Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east; the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west; the northern boundary is a line along 43 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude. The southern border is the Des Moines River and a line along approximately 40 degrees 35 minutes north, as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri v. Iowa after a standoff between Missouri and Iowa known as the Honey War. Iowa has 99 counties, but 100 county seats because Lee County has two. The state capital, Des Moines, is located in Polk County.
Geology and terrain
Geology of Iowa
Iowa's bedrock geology generally increases in age from west to east. In northwest Iowa Cretaceous bedrock is ca. 74 million years old, in eastern Iowa Cambrian bedrock dates to ca. 500 million years ago.
Despite popular perception, Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Prior divides Iowa into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. In the northeast, along the Mississippi River, is a section of the Driftless Zone, which in Iowa consists of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous.
There are several natural lakes in the state, most notably Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa (see Iowa Great Lakes). To the east lies Clear Lake. Man-made lakes include Lake Odessa, Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Coralville Lake, Lake MacBride, and Rathbun Lake. The northwest part of the state also contains a considerable number of remnants of the once common wetland areas such as Barringer Slough.
Ecology and environment
Iowa's natural vegetation is tallgrass prairie and savanna in upland areas, with dense forest and wetlands in floodplains and protected river valleys, and pothole wetlands in northern prairie areas. Most of Iowa is used for agriculture, crops cover 60% of the state, grasslands (mostly pasture and hay with some prairie and wetland) cover 30%, and forests cover 7%; urban areas and water cover another 1% each. The explosion in the number of high-density livestock facilities in Iowa has led to increased risk of rural water contamination and a perceived decline in air quality. Other factors negatively affecting Iowa's environment include the extensive use of older coal-fired power plants,fertilizer and pesticide runoff from crop production, and diminishment of the Jordan Aquifer.
There is a dearth of natural areas in Iowa; less than 1% of the tallgrass prairie that once covered most of Iowa remain intact, only about 5% of the state's prairie pothole wetlands remain, and most of the original forest has been lost.Iowa ranks 49th of U.S. states in public land holdings. Threatened or endangered animals in Iowa include the Bald Eagle, Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover, Indiana Bat, Pallid Sturgeon, the Iowa Pleistocene Land Snail, Higgins' Eye Pearly Mussel, and the Topeka Shiner. Endangered or threatened plants include Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, Mead's Milkweed, Prairie Bush Clover, and Northern Wild Monkshood.
Iowa annual rainfall, in inches.Iowa, like most of the Midwest, has a humid continental climate throughout the state (Koppen climate classification Dfa) with extremes of both heat and cold. The average annual temperature at Des Moines is 50 °F (10 °C); for some locations in the north the figure is under 45 °F (7 °C), while Keokuk, on the Mississippi River, averages 52 °F (11 °C). Winters are brisk and snowfall is common. Spring ushers in the beginning of the severe weather season. Iowa averages about 50 days of thunderstorm activity per year.Tornadoes are common during the spring and summer months, with an average of 37 tornadoes in a single year. In 2008, twelve people were killed by tornadoes in Iowa, making it the deadliest year since 1968 and also the second most tornadoes in a year with 105, which matched the total from 2001. Iowa summers are known for heat and humidity, with daytime temperatures often near 90 °F (32 °C) and sometimes exceeding 100 °F (38 °C). Average winters in the state have been known to drop well below freezing, even dropping below 0 °F (−18 °C).
Iowa has a relatively smooth gradient of varying precipitation across the state, with areas in the southeast of the state receiving an average of over 38 inches of rain annually, and the northwest of the state receiving less than 28 inches. The pattern of precipitation across Iowa is seasonal, with more rain falling in the summer months. In Des Moines, roughly in the center of the state, over two-thirds of the 34.72 inches of rain fall from April through September, and about half of the average annual precipitation falls from May through August.
Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Iowa Cities (°F)
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Davenport30/13 36/19 48/29 61/41 72/52 81/63 85/68 83/66 76/57 65/45 48/32 35/20
Des Moines 29/12 35/18 48/29 61/40 72/51 82/61 86/66 84/64 76/54 64/42 47/29 33/17
Dubuque 25/9 31/15 43/26 57/38 69/49 79/58 82/62 80/60 72/52 60/40 44/28 30/15
Sioux City 29/8 35/15 47/26 62/37 73/49 82/58 86/63 84/61 76/50 64/38 45/25 32/13
Waterloo 26/6 32/13 45/25 60/36 72/48 82/58 85/62 83/60 75/50 62/38 45/25 31/12
Excavation of the 3,800 year old Edgewater Park Site.Main article: Iowa archaeology
Indians of Iowa
When American Indians first arrived in what is now Iowa more than 13,000 years ago, they were hunters and gatherers living in a Pleistocene glacial landscape. By the time European explorers visited Iowa, American Indians were largely settled farmers with complex economic, social, and political systems. This transformation happened gradually. During the Archaic period (10,500-2,800 years ago), American Indians adapted to local environments and ecosystems, slowly becoming more sedentary as populations increased. More than 3,000 years ago, during the Late Archaic period, American Indians in Iowa began utilizing domesticated plants. The subsequent Woodland period saw an increased reliance on agriculture and social complexity, with increased use of mounds, ceramics, and specialized subsistence. During the Late Prehistoric period (beginning about A.D. 900) increased use of maize and social changes led to social flourishing and nucleated settlements. The arrival of European trade goods and diseases in the Protohistoric period led to dramatic population shifts and economic and social upheaval, with the arrival of new tribes and early European explorers and traders. There were numerous Indian tribes living in Iowa at the time of early European exploration. Tribes which were probably descendants of the prehistoric Oneota include the Dakota, Ho-Chunk, Ioway, and Otoe. Tribes which arrived in Iowa in the late prehistoric or protohistoric periods include the Illiniwek, Meskwaki, Omaha, and Sauk.
History of Iowa
Early exploration and trade, 1673-1808
Iowa in 1718. Modern state area highlighted.The first known European explorers to document Iowa were Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet who traveled the Mississippi River in 1673 documenting several Indian villages on the Iowa side. The area of Iowa was claimed for France and remained a French territory until 1763. The French, prior to their impending defeat in the French and Indian War, transferred ownership to their ally, Spain.."Spain practiced very loose control over the Iowa region, granting trading licenses to French and British traders, who established trading posts along the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers.Iowa was part of a territory known as La Louisiane or Louisiana, and European traders were interested in lead and furs obtained by Indians. The Sauk and Meskwaki effectively controlled trade on the Mississippi in the late 18th and early 19th century. Among the early traders on the Mississippi were Julien Dubuque, Robert La Salle, and Paul Marin. Along the Missouri River at least five French and English trading houses were built prior to 1808. In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of Louisiana from Spain in a treaty. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, Iowa was placed under United States control. Much of Iowa was mapped by Zebulon Pike in 1805, but it was not until the construction of Fort Madison in 1808 that the U.S. established tenuous military control over the region.
War of 1812 and unstable U.S. control
Plan of Fort Madison, 1810.Fort Madison was built to control trade and establish U.S. dominance over the Upper Mississippi, but it was poorly designed and disliked by the Sauk and Ho-Chunk, many of whom allied with the British, who had not abandoned claims to the territory.Fort Madison was defeated by British-supported Indians in 1813 during the War of 1812, and Fort Shelby in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, also fell to the British. Black Hawk took part in the siege of Fort Madison.After the war, the U.S. reestablished control of the region through the construction of Fort Armstrong, Fort Snelling in Minnesota, and Fort Atkinson in Nebraska.
Trade and Indian removal, 1814-1832
The U.S. encouraged settlement of the east side of the Mississippi and removal of Indians to the west. Trade continued in furs and lead, but disease and forced population movement decimated Indian cultures and economies. A disputed 1804 treaty between Quashquame and William Henry Harrison that surrendered much of Illinois to the U.S. enraged many Sauk and led to the 1832 Black Hawk War. As punishment for the uprising, and as part of a larger settlement strategy, treaties were subsequently designed to remove all Indians from Iowa. The Sauk and Meskwaki were pushed out of the Mississippi valley in 1832, out of the Iowa River valley in 1843, and out of Iowa altogether in 1846, although many Meskwaki clandestinely returned, founding the Meskwaki Settlement that remains to this day. The Ho-Chunk were removed in 1850, and the Dakota were removed by the late 1850s. Western Iowa around modern Council Bluffs was used as a way station for other tribes being moved west, including the Potawatomi.
U.S. settlement and statehood, 1832-1860
Iowa Territorial Seal.The first American settlers officially moved to Iowa in June 1833. Primarily, they were families from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. On July 4, 1838, the U.S. Congress established the Territory of Iowa. President Martin Van Buren appointed Robert Lucas governor of the territory, which at the time had 22 counties and a population of 23,242.
Almost immediately after achieving territorial status, a clamor arose for statehood. On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state in the Union when President James K. Polk signed Iowa's admission bill into law. Once admitted to the Union, the state's boundary issues resolved, and most of its land purchased from the Indians, Iowa set its direction to development and organized campaigns for settlers and investors, boasting the young frontier state's rich farmlands, fine citizens, free and open society, and good government.
Civil War, 1861-1865
Iowa supported the Union during the Civil War, voting heavily for Abraham Lincoln, though there was a strong antiwar "Copperhead" movement among settlers of southern origins and among Catholics. There were no battles in the state, but Iowa sent large supplies of food to the armies and the eastern cities. Much of Iowa’s support for the Union can be attributed to Samuel J. Kirkwood, its wartime governor. Of a total population of 675,000, about 116,000 men were subjected to military duty. Iowa contributed proportionately more men to Civil War military service than did any other state, north or south, sending more than 75,000 volunteers to the armed forces, over one-sixth of whom were in their graves before Appomattox.
Most fought in the great campaigns in the Mississippi Valley and in the South Iowa troops fought at Wilson's Creek in Missouri, Pea Ridge in Arkansas, Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Rossville Gap as well as Vicksburg, Iuka, and Corinth. They served with the Army of the Potomoc in Virginia and fought under Union General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Many died and were buried at Andersonville. They marched on General Nathaniel Banks' ill-starred expedition to the Red River. Twenty-seven Iowans have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, which was first awarded in the Civil War.
Iowa had several brigadier generals and four major generals—Grenville Mellen Dodge, Samuel R. Curtis, Francis J. Herron, and Frederick Steele—and saw many of its generals go on to state and national prominence following the war.
Agricultural expansion, 1865-1930
Iowa farm, 1875.Following the Civil War, Iowa's population continued to grow dramatically, from 674,913 people in 1860 to 1,194,020 in 1870. The introduction of railroads in the 1850s and 1860s transformed Iowa into a major agricultural producer. In 1917, the United States entered World War I and farmers as well as all Iowans experienced a wartime economy. For farmers, the change was significant. Since the beginning of the war in 1914, Iowa farmers had experienced economic prosperity. In the economic sector, Iowa also has undergone considerable change. Beginning with the first farm-related industries developed in the 1870s, Iowa has experienced a gradual increase in the number of business and manufacturing operations.
Depression, World War II, and the rise of manufacturing, 1930-1985
The transition from an agricultural economy to a mixed economy happened slowly. The Great Depression and World War II accelerated the shift away from smallholder farming to larger farms, and began a trend of urbanization that continues. The period since World War II has witnessed a particular increase in manufacturing operations. While agriculture continued to be the state's dominant industry, Iowans also produce a wide variety of products including refrigerators, washing machines, fountain pens, farm implements, and food products. The Farm Crisis of the 1980s caused a major recession in Iowa, causing poverty not seen since the Depression. The crisis spurred a major population decline in Iowa that lasted a decade.
Reemergence as a mixed economy, 1985-present
After bottoming out in the 1980s, Iowa’s economy began to become increasingly less dependent on agriculture, and now has a mix of manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and insurance services, and government services.The population of Iowa has increased at a faster rate than the U.S. as a whole and Iowa now has a predominantly urban population.
List of Largest Cities
Iowa's ten largest cities, based on 2008 estimates from the United States Census Bureau, are:
Des Moines - 197,052
Cedar Rapids - 128,056
Davenport - 100,827
Sioux City - 82,807
Iowa City - 67,831
Waterloo - 66,662
Council Bluffs - 59,536
Dubuque - 57,250
Ames - 56,510
West Des Moines - 55,426
Census Pop. %±
1840 43,112 —
1850 192,214 345.8%
1860 674,913 251.1%
1870 1,194,020 76.9%
1880 1,624,615 36.1%
1890 1,912,297 17.7%
1900 2,231,853 16.7%
1910 2,224,771 −0.3%
1920 2,404,021 8.1%
1930 2,470,939 2.8%
1940 2,538,268 2.7%
1950 2,621,073 3.3%
1960 2,757,537 5.2%
1970 2,824,376 2.4%
1980 2,913,808 3.2%
1990 2,776,755 −4.7%
2000 2,926,324 5.4%
Est. 2009 3,007,856 2.8%
Iowa Population Density MapAs of 2008, Iowa has an estimated population of 3,002,555, which is an increase of about 19,000 or 0.6%, from the prior year and an increase of 76,000 or 2.6%, since the year 2000. This is the first time the state has topped the three million mark in population. In 2007, the latest demographic information available shows that the state had a natural increase of 53,706 people in population from the last census (that is 197,163 births minus 143,457 deaths) and a decrease of 11,754 due to net migration of people out of the state.
Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 29,386 people, while migration within the country produced a net loss of 41,140 people. 6.1% of Iowa's population were reported as under the age of five, 22.6% under 18, and 14.7% were 65 or older. Males made up approximately 49.2% of the population.The population density of the state is 52.7 people per square mile.The center of population of Iowa is located in Marshall County, in the city of Marshalltown.
Race and ancestry
Demographics of Iowa (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 96.14% 2.51% 0.63% 1.48% 0.08%
2000 (Hispanic only) 2.68% 0.08% 0.08% 0.03% 0.01%
2005 (total population) 95.79% 2.79% 0.61% 1.67% 0.08%
2005 (Hispanic only) 3.48% 0.13% 0.09% 0.03% 0.01%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 1.01% 12.55% -2.70% 14.41% 1.01%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) 0.12% 11.13% -5.68% 14.14% 0.05%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 31.91% 53.85% 19.33% 29.51% 7.14%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Iowa's population included about 97,000 foreign-born (3.3%).Iowans are mostly of Western European descent. The five largest ancestry groups in Iowa are: German (35.7%), Irish (13.5%), English (9.5%), American (6.6%), and Norwegian (5.7%).
The racial make up of the state is 91.0% White (non-Hispanic), 3.8% Hispanic, 2.5% Black or African American, 1.6% Asian, and 0.4% American Indian. One percent of respondents report two or more races.
Rural to urban population shift
Percent population changes by counties in Iowa, 2000-2008. Purple counties have gains of more than 5%.
Population age comparison between rural Pocahontas County and urban Polk County, illustrating the flight of young adults (red) to urban centers in Iowa.Iowa's population is more urban than rural, with 61 percent living in urban areas in 2000, a trend that began in the early 20th century.Urban counties in Iowa grew 8.5% from 2000 to 2008, while rural counties declined by 4.2%.The shift from rural to urban has caused population increases in more urbanized counties such as Dallas, Johnson, Linn, and Polk, at the expense of more rural counties.
Iowa, in common with other Midwestern states (especially Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), is feeling the brunt of rural flight, although Iowa has been gaining population since approximately 1990. Some smaller communities, such as Denison and Storm Lake, have mitigated this population loss through gains in immigrant laborers.
Amana Colonies, founded by German Pietists.A 2001 survey from the City University of New York found that 52% of Iowans are Protestant, while 23% are Roman Catholic, and other religions made up 6%. 13% responded with non-religious, and 5% did not answer.The largest Protestant denominations by number of adherents are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 268,543; and the United Methodist Church with 248,211.
The study Religious Congregations & Membership: 2000 found that in the southernmost two tiers of Iowa counties and in other counties in the center of the state, the largest religious group was the United Methodist Church; in the northeast part of the state, including Dubuque and Linn counties (where Cedar Rapids is located), the Roman Catholic Church was the largest; and in ten counties, including three in the northern tier, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was the largest. The study also found rapid growth in Evangelical Christian denominations.
Historically, religious sects and orders who desired to live apart from the rest of society established themselves in Iowa, such as the Amish and Mennonite near Kalona and in other parts of eastern Iowa such as Davis County and Buchanan County. Other religious sects and orders living apart include Quakers around West Branch and Le Grand, German Pietists who founded the Amana Colonies, followers of Transcendental Meditation who founded Maharishi Vedic City, and Cistercian monks and nuns at the New Melleray and Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbies near Dubuque.
William Labov and colleagues, in the monumental Atlas of North American English found that the English spoken in Iowa divides into two large linguistic regions. Natives of northern Iowa — including Sioux City, Fort Dodge, and the Waterloo region — tend to speak the dialect that linguists call North Central American English, which is also found in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Natives of central and southern Iowa — including such cities as Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Iowa City — tend to speak the "North Midlands" dialect also found in Nebraska, central Illinois, and northern Indiana.
Skyline of Des Moines, Iowa's capital and largest city.Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa and the state's political, economic, and cultural center. It is home to the state government, the State of Iowa Historical Museum, Science Center of Iowa and Blank IMAX Dome Theater, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines Botanical Center, and various cultural events and attractions, including the annual Iowa State Fair, Drake Relays, World Food Festival, and the Des Moines Arts Festival. Adventureland is an amusement park located in Altoona just northeast of Des Moines, Living History Farms is located in Urbandale, and the Iowa Speedway is located in Newton, east of Des Moines. Terrace Hill is located in Des Moines and is the official residence of the governor.
Ames is the home of Iowa State University, the Iowa State Center, Brunnier Art Gallery, Reiman Gardens, and the Christian Petersen Art Gallery. The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa and is host to a large annual Pow-wow. The Clint Eastwood movie The Bridges of Madison County took place and was filmed in Madison County. The John Wayne Birthplace Museum is in Winterset. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Indianola, Pella, Knoxville, Perry, and Marshalltown.
Old Capitol, Iowa City.Iowa City prides itself on being a cultural destination, and is home to the University of Iowa and its famed Iowa Writers' Workshop, the Old Capitol building (Iowa's original state capitol), the Ped Mall, the Iowa City Englert Theatre, and the Landlocked Film Festival. Iowa City is the first U.S. "City of Literature" in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are located in West Branch. They contain the birthplace and grave of former President Herbert Hoover along with his presidential museum. The Amana Colonies are a group of settlements of German Pietists comprising of seven villages which have been named an American cultural National Historic Landmark.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has one of the most significant collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Cedar Rapids is also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the historic Queen Anne-style Brucemore mansion. Davenport boasts several cultural attractions, including the new Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience, and Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater, Davenport Skybridge, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include West Liberty, Fairfield, Mount Pleasant, Fort Madison, Le Claire, Mount Vernon, Ottumwa, Washington, and Wilton.
Fourth Street, Sioux City.Some of the most dramatic scenery in Iowa is found in the west, home of the unique Loess Hills. The Iowa Great Lakes include several resort areas such as Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park, and the Okoboji Lakes. The Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, and the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge are regional destinations. Sioux City considers itself to be the cultural capital of northwest Iowa and boasts a revitalized downtown and beautiful riverfront. The Missouri River city is home to the Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sergeant Floyd River Museum, Trinity Heights, and the restored Orpheum Theater.
Loess Hills east of Mondamin.Council Bluffs, the major city of southwest Iowa, sits at the base of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway and has become a gaming and entertainment destination. With three casino resorts, the city also includes such cultural attractions as the Western Hills Trails Center, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, historic General Dodge House, and a Lewis and Clark Monument and scenic overlook. Northwest Iowa is home to some of the largest concentrations of wind turbine farms in the world. Other western communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Storm Lake, Spencer, Le Mars, Glenwood, Carroll, Atlantic, Denison, Creston, Mount Ayr, Sac City, and Walnut.
Northeast and Northern Iowa
The Driftless Area of northeast Iowa has many steep hills and deep valleys, checked with forest and terraced fields. Effigy Mounds National Monument in Allamakee and Clayton Counties has the largest assemblage of animal-shaped prehistoric mounds in the world.
Ruins of historic Fort Atkinson.Together, the largest cities in northern Iowa are the twin cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls, home of the Grout Museum and the University of Northern Iowa, respectively.
Dubuque is transforming itself into a regional tourist destination with cultural features such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, along with many of the other new businesses booming in the Port of Dubuque, like the Diamond Jo Casino. Much of the movie Field of Dreams was shot in Dyersville. Maquoketa Caves State Park is located in Jackson County, northwest of Maquoketa, which contains more caves than any other state park in Iowa. Fort Atkinson has the remains of an original 1840s Dragoon fortification. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Decorah, McGregor, Mason City, Elkader, Algona, Spillville, Charles City, and Independence.
RAGBRAI — the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — attracts thousands of bicyclists and support personnel. It has crossed the state on various routes each year since 1973. Iowa is home to more than 70 wineries, and hosts five regional wine tasting trails.Many Iowa communities hold farmers' markets during warmer months, these are typically weekly events, but larger cities can host multiple markets.
Iowa state quarter with reverse image based on a painting by American artist Grant Wood
Iowa gross state products by industry, 2006.While Iowa is often viewed as a farming state, in reality agriculture is a small portion of a diversified economy, with manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and insurance services, and government services contributing substantially to Iowa's economy.This economic diversity has helped Iowa weather the late 2000s recession better than most states, with unemployment substantially lower than the rest of the nation.
If the economy is measured by gross domestic product, in 2005 Iowa's GDP was about US $124 billion. If measured by gross state product, for 2005 it was US $113.5 billion. Its per capita income for 2006 was US $23,340.
On July 2, 2009, Standard and Poor's rated the state of Iowa's credit as AAA (the highest of its credit ratings, held by only 11 U.S. state governments).
Manufacturing is the largest sector of Iowa's economy, with $20.8 billion (21%) of Iowa’s 2003 gross state product. Major manufacturing sectors include food processing, heavy machinery, and agricultural chemicals. Sixteen percent of Iowa’s workforce is dedicated to manufacturing. Food processing is the largest component of manufacturing. Its industrial outputs include food processing, machinery, electric equipment, chemical products, publishing, and primary metals. Companies with direct or indirect processing facilities in Iowa include ConAgra Foods, Wells Blue Bunny, Barilla, Heinz, Wonder Bread/Hostess Snack Cakes, Tone’s Spices, General Mills, and Quaker Oats. Major non-food advanced manufacturing firms with production facilities in Iowa include 3M, ALCOA, Amana Corporation, Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc., Electrolux/Frigidaire, Emerson Process, Fisher Controls International, HON Industries, The HON Company, IPSCO Steel, John Deere, Lennox Manufacturing, Maytag Corporation, Pella Corporation, Rockwell Collins, Vermeer Company, and Winnebago Industries.
Harvesting corn in Jones County.
Ethanol plant under construction in Butler County.Directly and indirectly, agriculture has always been a major component of Iowa's economy. However, the direct production and sale of raw agricultural products contributes only about 3.5% of Iowa's gross state product. The indirect role of agriculture in Iowa's economy can be measured in multiple ways, but its total impact, including agriculture-affiliated business, has been measured at 16.4% in terms of value added and 24.3% in terms of total output. This is lower than the economic impact in Iowa of non-farm manufacturing, which accounts for 22.4% of total value added and 26.5% of total output.Iowa's main agricultural outputs are hogs, corn, soybeans, oats, cattle, eggs, and dairy products. Iowa is the nation's largest producer of ethanol and corn and some years is the largest grower of soybeans as well. In 2008, the 92,600 farms in Iowa produced 19% of the nation's corn, 17% of the soybeans, 30% of the hogs, and 14% of the eggs. Major Iowa agricultural product processors include Archer Daniels Midland, Ajinomoto, Cargill, Inc., Diamond V Mills, Garst Seed Company, Heartland Pork Enterprises, Hy-Vee, Monsanto Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, and Quaker Oats.
Wind turbines near Williams.Iowa also has a strong financial and insurance sector, with approximately 6,100 firms, including AEGON, Nationwide Group, Aviva USA, Farm Bureau Financial Services, ING, Marsh Affinity Group, MetLife, Principal Financial Group, Principal Capital Management, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield (which, according to the American Medical Association, provided 71% of the state's health insurance in 2007), Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo Financial Services. Biotechnology has expanded dramatically in Iowa in the past decade, with firms including Bio-Research Products Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim, Vetmedica, Diosynth, Inc., Fort Dodge Animal Health, Penford Products Co., Integrated DNA Technologies., Roche Applied Science, Wacker Biochem Corp., and Wyeth. In addition to ethanol, renewable energy has become a major economic force in western Iowa, with wind turbine electrical generation increasing exponentally since 1990.As of 2008, wind accounted for 15% of energy produced and 7.1% of the state's power needs; Iowa ranked second in wind generating capacity of U.S. states. Major producers of turbines and componets in Iowa include Acciona Energy of West Branch, TPI Composites of Newton, and Siemens Energy of Fort Madison.
Iowa is the headquarters for five of the top 1,000 companies for revenue. They include Principal Financial, Rockwell Collins, Casey's General Stores, HNI, and Terra Industries. Iowa is also headquarters to other companies including Hy-Vee, Pella Corporation, Vermeer Company, Kum & Go gas stations, Von Maur, Pioneer Hi-Bred, McLeodUSA, and Fareway grocery stores.
Iowa imposes taxes on net state income of individuals and estates and trusts. There are currently nine income tax brackets, ranging from 0.36% to 8.98%. The state sales tax rate is 6%, with non-prepared food having no tax. Iowa has one local option sales tax that may be imposed by counties after an election. Property tax is levied on the taxable value of real property. Iowa has more than 2,000 taxing authorities. Most property is taxed by more than one taxing authority. The tax rate differs in each locality and is a composite of county, city or rural township, school district and special levies. Iowa allows its residents to deduct their federal income taxes from their state income taxes.
The current state license plate design, introduced in 1996.Interstate highways
Iowa's major interstates, larger cities, and counties.Iowa has four primary interstate highways. Interstate 29 runs along the western edge of the state through Council Bluffs and Sioux City. Interstate 35 goes from the southern border to the northern border through the center of the state, including Des Moines. Interstate 74 begins at Interstate 80 just north and east of Davenport. Interstate 80 goes from the west end of the state to the east end through Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Iowa City, and the Quad Cities. Interstate 380 is an auxiliary Interstate Highway, which runs from Interstate 80 near Iowa City through Cedar Rapids ending in Waterloo and is part of the Avenue of the Saints highway.
Airports with scheduled flights
Iowa is served by several major airports including the Des Moines International Airport, the Eastern Iowa Airport, in Cedar Rapids, Quad City International Airport, which is located in Moline, Illinois, and Eppley Airfield, located in Omaha, Nebraska. Smaller airports in the state include the Dubuque Regional Airport, Fort Dodge Regional Airport, Mason City Municipal Airport, Sioux Gateway Airport, Southeast Iowa Regional Airport, and Waterloo Regional Airport.
Amtrak's California Zephyr serves the south of Iowa with stops at Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola, and Creston on its daily route between Chicago and Emeryville, California (across the bay from San Francisco). Burlington and Fort Madison are also served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief, running daily between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Law and government
Capitol in 2003 after regildingSee List of Governors of Iowa, Iowa General Assembly, and Iowa State Capitol
The current Governor is Chet Culver (D)
Other statewide elected officials are:
Patty Judge (D) - Lieutenant Governor
Michael Mauro (D) - Secretary of State
David Vaudt (R) - Auditor of State
Michael Fitzgerald (D) - Treasurer of State
Bill Northey (R) - Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Miller (D) - Attorney General
The two U.S. Senators:
Further information: List of United States Senators from Iowa
Tom Harkin (D)
Chuck Grassley (R)
The five U.S. Congressmen:
Bruce Braley (D) - First District
Dave Loebsack (D) - Second District
Leonard Boswell (D) - Third District
Tom Latham (R) - Fourth District
Steve King (R) - Fifth District
The Code of Iowa contains the statutory laws of the State of Iowa. It is periodically updated by the Iowa Legislative Service Bureau, with a new edition published in odd-numbered years and a supplement published in even-numbered years.
Iowa is an alcohol monopoly or Alcoholic beverage control state.
Political party strength in Iowa
Samuel J. Kirkwood, founder of the Iowa Republican Party, abolitionist, and Iowa's Civil War governor.In Iowa, the term "political party" refers to political organizations which have received two percent or more of the votes cast for president or governor in the "last preceding general election". Iowa recognizes two political parties - the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Third parties, officially termed "nonparty political organizations" can appear on the ballot as well - five of these have had candidates on the ballot in Iowa since 2004 for various positions: the Constitution Party, the Iowa Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the United States Pirate Party, and the Socialist Workers Party.
Presidential elections results Year Republican Democratic
2008 44.74% 677,508 54.04% 818,240
2004 49.92% 751,957 49.28% 741,898
2000 48.22% 634,373 48.60% 638,517
1996 39.92% 492,644 50.31% 620,258
1992 37.33% 504,890 43.35% 586,353
1988 44.8% 545,355 55.1% 670,557
1984 53.32% 703,088 45.97% 605,620
Iowa is currently listed as a swing state in national politics. The state currently leans slightly Democratic, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which by analyzing recent elections gives Iowa a score of D+1. However, the state is far from homogeneous in its political leanings; Cook finds that Iowa's five political districts range in political orientation. Iowa's 2nd congressional district, in the Eastern/Southeastern part of the state, leans distinctly Democratic, with a D+7 (strong Democratic) score; but Iowa's 5th congressional district, which covers most of Western Iowa, leans strongly Republican, scoring R+9.
From 1968 to 1984, Iowa voted for the Republican candidate in the presidential election, and from 1988 to 2000 the state voted for the Democrat; in the latter election, the Democratic candidate won by little more than 1000 votes. In the 2004 election, Iowa went by about 10,000 votes for George W. Bush but in 2008, Barack Obama won by a much larger margin of about 150,000 votes.
In the 2006 elections, the Iowa Democrats gained two seats in the Iowa delegation to the United States House of Representatives, and Democrats won a majority in both houses of the Iowa General Assembly.
The state gets considerable attention every four years because it holds the first presidential caucuses, gatherings of voters to select delegates to the state conventions. Along with the New Hampshire primary the following week, Iowa's caucuses have become the starting points for choosing the two major-party candidates for president. The caucuses, held in January of the election year, involve people gathering in homes or public places and choosing their candidates, rather than casting secret ballots as is done in a primary election. The national and international media give Iowa (and New Hampshire) much of the attention accorded the national candidate selection process, which gives Iowa voters enormous leverage. Those who enter the caucus race often expend enormous effort to reach voters in each of Iowa's 99 counties.
The Union Block building, Mount Pleasant, scene of early civil rights and women’s rights activities. Listed as one of the most endangered historic sites in Iowa.In the 19th century Iowa was among the earliest states to enact prohibitions against race discrimination, especially in education, but was slow to achieve full integration in the 20th century. In the very first decision of the Iowa Supreme Court — In Re the Matter of Ralph,decided July 1839 — the Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War. The state did away with racial barriers to marriage in 1851, more than 100 years before the U.S. Supreme Court would ban miscegenation statutes nationwide. The Iowa Supreme Court decided Clark v. The Board of Directors in 1868, ruling that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before Brown v. Board of Education.By 1875 a number of additional court rulings effectively ended segregation in Iowa schools. Social and housing discrimination continued against Blacks at state universities until the 1950s. The Court heard Coger v. The North Western Union Packet Co. in 1873, ruling against racial discrimination in public accommodations 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision. In 1884, the Iowa Civil Rights Act apparently outlawed discrimination by businesses, reading: "All persons within this state shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, restaurants, chophouses, eating houses, lunch counters, and all other places where refreshments are served, public conveyances, barber shops, bathhouses, theaters, and all other places of amusement." However, the courts chose to narrowly apply this act, allowing de-facto discrimination to continue. Racial discrimination at public businesses was not deemed illegal until 1949, when the court ruled in State of Iowa v. Katz that businesses had to serve customers regardless of race; the case began when Edna Griffin was denied service at a Des Moines drugstore. Full racial civil rights were codified under the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965.
As with racial equality, Iowa was a vanguard in women's rights in the mid 19th century, but was slow to give women the right to vote. In 1847, the University of Iowa became the first public university in the U.S. to admit men and women on an equal basis. In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law, with the Court ruling that women may not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa and admitting Arabella A. Mansfield to the practice of law. Several attempts to grant full voting rights to Iowa women were defeated between 1870 and 1919. In 1894 women were given "partial suffrage", which allowed them to vote on issues, but not for candidates. It was not until the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1920 that women had full suffrage in Iowa. Although Iowa supported the Federal Equal Rights Amendment, in 1980 and 1992 Iowa voters rejected an Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution.
Post-Civil Rights era court decisions in Iowa clarified and expanded citizens' rights. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) confirmed the right of students to express political views. On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court decided Varnum v. Brien, holding in a unanimous decision, that the state’s law forbidding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This makes Iowa the third state in the U.S. and first in the Midwest to permit same-sex marriage.
Iowa has seven official partner states:
Hebei Province, People's Republic of China (1983)
Stavropol Krai, Russia (1989)
Taiwan, Republic of China (1989)
Terengganu, Malaysia (1987)
Veneto Region, Italy (1997)
Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan (1960)
Yucatán, Mexico (1964)
Primary and secondary schools
See also: List of school districts in Iowa
The graduation rate for high school seniors has gradually increased to 90.8% in 2006. The state has the third highest graduation rate in the nation. Iowa continually ranks in the top 3 for ACT and SAT scores. In 2008, Iowa ranked top in the nation for average SAT scores per student and second in the nation for average ACT scores per student. Iowa has 365 school districts, and has the twelfth best student to teacher ratio of 13.8 students per teacher Teacher's pay, however, is ranked forty-second with the average salary being $39,284.
The Iowa State Board of Education works with the Iowa Department of Education to provide oversight, supervision, and support for the state's education system that includes all public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies, community colleges, and teacher preparation programs. The State Board consists of ten members: nine voting members who are appointed by the governor for six-year terms and subject to Senate confirmation; and one nonvoting student member who serves a one-year term, also appointed by the governor.
Colleges and universities
See also: List of colleges and universities in Iowa
Fountain of Four Seasons and Campanile at Iowa State University in Ames.The Iowa Board of Regents is composed of nine citizen volunteers appointed by the governor to provide policymaking, coordination, and oversight of the state's public universities, two special K-12 schools, and affiliated centers.
Iowa's three public universities include:
Iowa State University, Ames
University of Iowa, Iowa City
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls
The special K-12 schools include the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton. Both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa are major research institutions and members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. In addition to the three state universities, Iowa has multiple private colleges and universities.
Private colleges and universities include:
Buena Vista University, Storm Lake
Clarke College, Dubuque
Des Moines University, Des Moines
Divine Word College, Epworth
Drake University, Des Moines
Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque
Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, Ankeny
Graceland University, Lamoni
Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant
Kaplan University, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Mason City, and Urbandale
Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield
Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport
Saint Ambrose University, Davenport
University of Dubuque, Dubuque
Upper Iowa University, Fayette
Waldorf College, Forest City
William Penn University, Oskaloosa
Private liberal arts colleges include:
Ashford University, Clinton
Briar Cliff University, Sioux City
Central College, Pella
Coe College, Cedar Rapids
Cornell College, Mount Vernon
Dordt College, Sioux Center
Grand View University, Des Moines
Grinnell College, Grinnell
Loras College, Dubuque
Luther College, Decorah
Morningside College, Sioux City
Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids
Northwestern College, Orange City
Simpson College, Indianola
Wartburg College, Waverly
Sports teams from Iowa
Iowa has professional sports teams in baseball, basketball, hockey, football and soccer. The state has four major college teams playing in Division I for all sports. In football, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), whereas the University of Northern Iowa and Drake University compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Iowa has four Class A minor league teams in the Midwest League. They are the Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, and the Quad Cities River Bandits. The Sioux City Explorers are part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The Waterloo Bucks play in the Northwoods League. Des Moines is home to the Iowa Cubs, a Class AAA team in the Pacific Coast League.
The Sioux City Bandits are an Indoor football team in the United Indoor Football League. The Quad City Steamwheelers are an af2 football team whose home games are played in Moline, Illinois. The Iowa Barnstormers resumed play after a seven season layoff in the af2 football league. They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Quad City Mallards games are played in Moline, Illinois are part of the International Hockey League.
The United States Hockey League has four teams in Iowa: the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks, and Des Moines Buccaneers. The Omaha Lancers previously played in Council Bluffs from 2002 to 2009, but have since moved back to Omaha, Nebraska. The North Iowa Outlaws play in the North American Hockey League in Mason City
Iowa has two professional basketball teams. The Iowa Energy, an NBA Development League team that plays in Des Moines, is affiliated with the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns of the NBA. The Quad Cities Riverhawks of the Premier Basketball League are based in Davenport, but play at Wharton Field House in Moline, Illinois.
The Des Moines Menace play their home games at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
The state has four NCAA Division I college teams—in NCAA FBS, the Iowa State University Cyclones of the Big 12 Conference and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Conference; in NCAA FCS, the University of Northern Iowa Panthers of the Missouri Valley Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference (despite the similar names, the conferences are administratively separate) and the Drake University Bulldogs of the Missouri Valley Conference in most sports and Pioneer League for football.
President Herbert Hoover.
Vice President Henry Wallace.Main article: List of people from Iowa
Iowa has been the birthplace of U.S. President Herbert Hoover, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, and two first ladies, Lou Henry Hoover and Mamie Eisenhower. Other national leaders who lived in Iowa include John L. Lewis, Harry Hopkins, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Jefferson Davis.
Three Nobel Prize winners hail from Iowa: Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Alan J. Heeger, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; and Stanley B. Prusiner, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Other notable scientists who worked or were born in Iowa include astronomer and space pioneer James A. Van Allen, ecologist Aldo Leopold, computer pioneer John Vincent Atanasoff, inventor and plant scientist George Washington Carver, geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson, and Intel founder Robert Noyce.
Notable writers, artists, and news personalities born in Iowa include Bess Streeter Aldrich, Bill Bryson, George Gallup, Ann Landers, Harry Reasoner, Abigail Van Buren, and Grant Wood.
Entertainers from Iowa include Tom Arnold, Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, Simon Estes, William Frawley, Ashton Kutcher, Cloris Leachman, Glenn Miller, Kate Mulgrew, Donna Reed, Brandon Routh, Corey Taylor, John Wayne, Andy Williams, Meredith Willson, and Elijah Wood.
Famous Iowa athletes include Bob Feller, Dan Gable, Frank Gotch, Shawn Johnson, Zach Johnson, Lolo Jones, Nile Kinnick, and Kurt Warner.
Eastern Goldfinch, Iowa state bird.Nickname: The Hawkeye State
Bird: Eastern Goldfinch
Flower: Wild Rose
Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass
Motto: "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."