The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Iowa is the 29th state of the United States, having joined the union on December 28, 1846. The official name of the state is "State of Iowa", and the U.S. Post Office abbreviation for the state is IA.

The state is named for the Native American Iowa people.



Main article: History of Iowa.


  • French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette are believed to be the first Europeans to visit Iowa. They described Iowa as lush, green, and fertile.
  • Iowa has been home to approximately 17 different tribes. Today, only the Mesquaki tribe is left in Iowa and live in Tama County.
  • The first white settlers officially moved to Iowa in June 1833. They primarily came as families from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.
  • Iowa became the 29th state in the union on December 28, 1846.
  • The Chicago and Northwestern railroad reached Council Bluffs in 1867. Council Bluffs was designated the eastern terminus for the Union Pacific railroad. The completion of five major railroads across Iowa brough major economic changes as well as travel opportunities.
  • During the American Civil War, more than 75,000 Iowans participated in the war, 13,001 of whom died. No fighting reached Iowa soil.
  • The Iowa General Assembly passed a women's suffrage amendment in 1870.
  • Iowa saw a large increase in farming of beef, corn, and pork during World War I, but farmers saw economic hardships after the war. These hardships were the result of the removal of war-time farm subsidies. Total recovery didn't happen until the 1940s.
  • Iowa had been a large supporter of alcohol prohibition.
  • Although Iowa's primary industry is agriculture, it also produces refrigerators, washing machines, fountain pens, farm implements , and food products that are shipped around the world.

Law and government

The state capital is Des Moines. The current Governor is Tom Vilsack (Democrat) and the two U.S. Senators:

The five U.S. Congressmen:

The Code of Iowa contains the statutory laws of the State of Iowa. The Iowa Legislative Service Bureau is a non-partisan governmental agency that is responsible for organizing, updating and publishing the Iowa Code. The Iowa Code is republished in full in odd years (i.e., 1999, 2001, 2003, etc..) and is supplemented in even years.

See List of Governors of Iowa, Iowa General Assembly, and Iowa State Capitol

Iowa caucus

The state gets considerable attention every four years because of its presidential caucus, a gathering of voters which, along with the New Hampshire primary a week later, has become the starting gun for choosing the two major-party candidates for U.S. president. The caucus, held in January of the election year, involves people gathering in homes or public places and choosing their candidate, rather than casting secret ballots, as in done in a primary election.

U.S. senators from Iowa

List of United States Senators who have represented Iowa:

Seat 1
Senator Took Office Left Office Party
Chuck Grassley 1981 present Republican
John Culver 1975 1981 Democrat
Harold E. Hughes 1969 1975 Democrat
Bourke B. Hickenlooper 1945 1969 Democrat
Guy M. Gillette 1936 1945 Democrat
Richard Louis Murphy 1933 1936 Democrat
Smith W. Brookhart 1927 1933 Republican
David W. Stewart 1926 1927 Republican
Albert B. Cummins 1908 1926 Republican
William B. Allison 1873 1908 Republican
James Harlan 1867 1873 Republican
Samuel J. Kirkwood 1865 1867 Republican
James Harlan 1855 1865 Free Soil and
Augustus C. Dodge 1848 1855 Democrat
Seat 2
Senator Took Office Left Office Party
Tom Harkin 1985 present Democrat
Roger Jepsen 1979 1985 Republican
Dick Clark 1973 1979 Democrat
Jack R. Miller 1961 1973 Republican
Thomas E. Martin 1955 1961 Republican
Guy M. Gillette 1949 1955 Republican
George A. Wilson 1943 1949 Republican
Clyde L. Herring 1937 1943 Republican
L.J. Dickinson 1931 1937 Republican
Daniel F. Steck 1926 1931 Democrat
Smith W. Brookhart 1922 1926 Republican
Charles A. Rawson 1922 1922 Democrat
William S. Kenyon 1911 1922 Republican
Lafayette Young 1910 1911 Democrat
Jonathan P. Dolliver 1900 1910 Republican
John H. Gear 1895 1900 Republican
James F. Wilson 1883 1895 Republican
James W. McDill 1881 1883 Republican
Samuel J. Kirkwood 1877 1881 Republican
George G. Wright 1871 1877 Republican
James B. Howell 1870 1871 Republican
James W. Grimes 1859 1869 Republican
George W. Jones 1848 1859 Democrat


See List of counties in Iowa and List of Iowa rivers

Iowa is bordered by Minnesota on the north, Nebraska and South Dakota on the west, Missouri on the south, and Wisconsin and Illinois on the east.

The Mississippi River forms the eastern boundary of the state. The boundary along the west is formed by the Missouri River south of Sioux City and by the Big Sioux River north of Sioux City. The topography of the state is gently rolling plains. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state. Some of these are several hundred feet thick. There are few natural lakes in the state, most notably Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa (see Iowa Great Lakes). In the northeast along the Mississippi River is a section of the Driftless Area, which in Iowa consists of low rugged hills covered with conifers - a landscape not usually associated with this state.

The point of lowest elevation (146 m) is Keokuk in southeast Iowa. The point of highest elevation (509 m) is Hawkeye Point, located in a feedlot north of Sibley in northwest Iowa. The mean elevation of the state is 335 m. Considering the size of the state (145,743 km²), there is very little elevation difference.

Iowa has 99 counties. The state capital, Des Moines, is located in Polk County (#60).

National parks, etc.

Interstate highways

These are the interstate highways that go through Iowa:

US highways

These are the United States highways that go through Iowa:


These are some of the wild animals that can be found in Iowa:

Iowa is home of 49 endangered & 35 threatened animal species as well as 64 endangered & 89 threatened plant species [1].


The state's total gross state product for 1999 was $85 billion placing Iowa 30th in the nation. Its per capita income for 2000 was $26,723. Iowa's main agricultural outputs are hogs, maize, soybeans, oats, cattle and dairy products. Its industrial outputs are food processing, machinery, electric equipment, chemical products, publishing and primary metals.


Bales of hay on a farm near Ames, Iowa.
Bales of hay on a farm near Ames, Iowa.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Iowa's population was estimated at 2,944,062 people.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The 5 largest ancestry groups in Iowa are German (35.7%), Irish (13.5%), English (9.5%), American (6.6%), Norwegian (5.7%).

6.4% of Iowa's population were reported as under 5, 25.1% under 18, and 14.9% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.9% of the population.

"Rural flight"

Iowa, in common with five other Mid-West states (Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota), is feeling the brunt of falling populations. 89% of the total number of cities in those states have fewer than 3000 people; hundreds have fewer than than 1000. Between 1996 and 2004 almost half a million people, nearly half with college degrees, left the six states. "Rural flight" as it is called has led to offers of free land and tax breaks as enticements to newcomers.


Iowans' responses in 2001 to the question "What is your religion, if any?" were as follows:

Important cities and towns

Population > 100,000 (urbanized area) Population > 10,000 (urbanized area)
Other Cities


Iowa has a strong emphasis on education, which is shown in standardized testing scores. In 2003, Iowa had the second highest average SAT scores by state, and tied for second highest average ACT (examination) scores in states where more than 20% of graduates were tested. The national office of ACT is in Iowa City, and the ITBS and ITED testing programs used in many states are provided by the University of Iowa.

State universities

Independent colleges and universities

Community colleges

  • Marshalltown Community College
  • Muscatine Community College
  • North Iowa Area Community College
  • Northeast Iowa Community College
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
  • Scott Community College
  • Southeastern Community College
  • Southwestern Community College
  • Western Iowa Community College

Professional business and technical colleges and universities

  • AIB College of Business
  • Allen College of Nursing
  • Hamilton College
  • Kaplan College
  • Mercy College of Health Sciences
  • Palmer College of Chiropractic
  • St. Luke's College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Vatterott College

Professional sports teams

The Minor League baseball teams are:

The Minor League hockey teams are:

  • Des Moines Buccaneers
  • Sioux City Musketeers

The Minor League soccer teams are:

  • Des Moines Menace

External links


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