All About Iowa Geographic Area
Iowa (i/ˈaɪ.əwə/) 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. Iowa is bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west, and Minnesota to the north.
In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana and Spanish Louisiana; its current state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Iowa's agricultural economy made the transition to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green energy production. Iowa is the 26th most extensive in land area and the 30th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Des Moines. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live.
Iowa derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many Native American tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. It is the only state that has a state abbreviation that consists of two vowels (IA).
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.[note 1] The southern border is the Des Moines River and a not-quite-straight line along approximately 40 degrees 35 minutes north, as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri v. Iowa (1849) after a standoff between Missouri and Iowa known as the Honey War.
Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are formed entirely by rivers.
Iowa has 99 counties, but 100 county seats because Lee County has two. The state capital, Des Moines, is located in Polk County.
Iowa's bedrock geology generally increases in age from west to east. In northwest Iowa, Cretaceous bedrock can be 74 million years old, in eastern Iowa Cambrian bedrock dates to ca. 500 million years ago.
Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Iowa can be divided 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. Northeast Iowa along the Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Zone, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous.
Several natural lakes exist, 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 contains a considerable number of remnants of the once common wetlands, such as Barringer Slough.
Iowa's natural vegetation is tallgrass prairie and savanna in upland areas, with dense forest and wetlands in flood plains 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 rural water contamination and a 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 remains intact; only about 5% of the state's prairie pothole wetlands remain, and most of the original forest has been lost. As of 2005[update] Iowa ranked 49th of U.S. states in public land holdings. Threatened or endangered animals in Iowa include the 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, like most of the Midwest, has a humid continental climate throughout the state (Köppen 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 often harsh and snowfall is common.
Spring ushers in the beginning of the severe weather season. Iowa averages about 50 days of thunderstorm activity per year. The 30 year annual average Tornadoes in Iowa is 47. 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, matching 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 −18 °F (−28 °C). Iowa's all-time hottest temperature of 118 °F (48 °C) was recorded at Keokuk on July 20, 1934; the all-time lowest temperature of −47 °F (−44 °C) was recorded at Elkader on February 3, 1996.
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 (97 cm) of rain annually, and the northwest of the state receiving less than 28 inches (71 cm). 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 (88.2 cm) of rain falls from April through September, and about half of the average annual precipitation falls from May through August.
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 AD 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.
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 century 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.
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.
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. Many Meskwaki later returned to Iowa and settled near Tama, Iowa; the Meskwaki Settlement remains to this day. In 1856 the Iowa Legislature passed an unprecedented act allowing the Meskawki to purchase the land; Indians were not usually permitted to do so. The Ho-Chunk were removed from Iowa 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.
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.
Iowa has a long tradition of state and county fairs. The first and second Iowa State Fairs were held in the more developed eastern part of the state at Fairfield. The first fair was held October 25–27, 1854, at a cost of around $323. Thereafter, the fair moved to locations closer to the center of the state and in 1886 found a permanent home in Des Moines. The State Fair has been held every year since except for the year 1898 due to the Spanish-American War and the World's Fair being held in nearby Omaha, Nebraska. The fair was also a World War II wartime casualty from 1942–1945.
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, although the battle of Athens, Missouri, 1861, was fought just across the Des Moines River from Croton, Iowa, and shot from the battle landed in Iowa. 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 first 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 killed before the South surrendered at 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.
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.
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.
After bottoming out in the 1980s, Iowa's economy began to become increasingly less dependent on agriculture, and now[when?] 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. The Iowa Economic Development Authority, created in 2011 has replaced the Iowa Department of Economic Development and its annual reports are a source of economic information.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Iowa was 3,107,126 on July 1, 2014, a 1.99% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
Of the residents of Iowa, 72.2% were born in Iowa, 23.2% were born in a different US state, 0.5% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 4.1% were foreign born.
As of 2012, Iowa had an estimated population of 3,074,186, which is an increase of 10,089 people or 0.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 27,329 or 0.9%, since the year 2010. This is the first time the state has topped the three million mark in population. Iowa is the 30th most populated state in the country. 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.
According to the 2010 Census, 91.3% of the population was White (88.7% non-Hispanic white), 2.9% was Black or African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.8% from two or more races. 5.0% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).
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%).
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, Polk, and Scott, 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.
Another demographic problem for Iowa is the brain drain, in which educated young adults leave the state in search of better prospects in higher education or employment. During the 1990s, Iowa had the second highest exodus rate for single, educated young adults, second only to North Dakota. Significant loss of educated young people contributes to economic stagnation and the loss of services for remaining citizens.
A 2001 survey from the City University of New York found that 52% of Iowans are Protestant, while 23% are Catholic, and other religions made up 6%. 13% responded with non-religious, and 5% did not answer. A survey from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) in 2010 found that the largest Protestant denominations were the United Methodist Church with 235,190 adherents and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 229,557. The largest non Protestant religion was Catholicism with 503,080 adherents.
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 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. Dubuque is home to a Catholic archdiocese, which spans the northeastern section of Iowa.
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.
English is the most common language used in Iowa, used by 94% of the population. William Labov and colleagues, in the monumental Atlas of North American English found that the English spoken in Iowa divides into multiple 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, Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City – tend to speak the North Midland dialect also found in eastern Nebraska, central Illinois, and central Indiana. Natives of East-Central Iowa - including cities such as Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Clinton tend to speak with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, a dialect that extends from this area and east across the Great Lakes Region.
After English, Spanish is the second-most-common language spoken in Iowa, with 120,000 people in Iowa of Hispanic or Latino origin and 47,000 people born in Latin America. The third-most-common language is German, spoken by 17,000 people in Iowa; two notable German dialects used in Iowa include Amana German spoken around the Amana Colonies, and Pennsylvania German, spoken among the Amish in Iowa. The Babel Proclamation of 1918 banned the speaking of German in public.
No other language is spoken by more than 0.5 percent of the Iowa population. The only indigenous language used regularly in Iowa is Meskwaki, used around the Meskwaki Settlement.
Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa and the state's political and economic center. It is home to the Iowa State Capitol, the State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, Drake University, Des Moines Art Center, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Principal Riverwalk, the Iowa State Fair, Terrace Hill, and the World Food Prize. Nearby attractions include Adventureland, Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino, Living History Farms in Urbandale, Trainland USA in Colfax, and the Iowa Speedway and Valle Drive-In in Newton.
Ames is the home of Iowa State University, the Iowa State Center, and Reiman Gardens.
Boone hosts the biennial Farm Progress Show and is home to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower museum, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, and Ledges State Park.
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, based on the popular novel of the same name, took place and was filmed in Madison County. Also in Madison County is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset.
Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Newton, Indianola, Pella, Knoxville, Marshalltown, Perry, and Story City.
Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Old Capitol building. 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.
The Amana Colonies are a group of settlements of German Pietists comprising seven villages listed as National Historic Landmarks.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Cedar Rapids is also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Iowa's only National Trust for Historic Preservation Site, Brucemore mansion.
Davenport boasts the Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience, Putnam Museum, Davenport Skybridge, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Quad Cities, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, and the Quad City Air Show, which is the largest airshow in the state.
Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include West Liberty, Fairfield, Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Fort Madison, LeClaire, Mount Vernon, Ottumwa, Washington, and Wilton.
Some of the most dramatic scenery in Iowa is found in 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, Arnolds Park Amusement Park (one of the oldest amusement parks in the country) in Arnolds Park, The Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, and the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge are regional destinations.
Sioux City boasts a revitalized downtown, attractions include the Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sergeant Floyd River Museum, and the Orpheum Theater.
Council Bluffs, the major city of southwest Iowa, sits at the base of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. With three casino resorts, the city also includes such cultural attractions as the Western Hills Trails Center, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the Grenville M. Dodge House, and the Lewis and Clark Monument.
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, Red Oak, Denison, Creston, Mount Ayr, Sac City, and Walnut.
The Driftless Area of northeast Iowa has many steep hills and deep valleys, checkered 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.
Waterloo is home of the Grout Museum and is headquarters of the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area. Cedar Falls is home of the University of Northern Iowa.
Dubuque is a regional tourist destination with attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and the Port of Dubuque.
Dyersville is home to the famed Field of Dreams baseball diamond. Maquoketa Caves State Park, near Maquoketa, contains more caves than any other state park.
Fort Atkinson State Preserve in Fort Atkinson has the remains of an original 1840s Dragoon fortification.
Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Decorah, McGregor, Mason City, Elkader, Guttenberg, 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.
CNBC's list of "Top States for Business in 2010" has recognized Iowa as the sixth best state in the nation. Scored in 10 individual categories, Iowa was ranked 1st when it came to the "Cost of Doing Business"; this includes all taxes, utility costs, and other costs associated with doing business. Iowa was also ranked 10th in "Economy", 12th in "Business Friendliness", 16th in "Education", 17th in both "Cost of Living" and "Quality of Life", 20th in "Workforce", 29th in "Technology and Innovation", 32nd in "Transportation" and the lowest ranking was 36th in "Access to Capital".
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).
As of March 2014, the state's unemployment rate is 4.4%.
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. Besides processed food, industrial outputs include 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, Tone's Spices, General Mills, and Quaker Oats. Meatpacker Tyson Foods has 11 locations, second only to its headquarter state Arkansas.
Major non-food manufacturing firms with production facilities in Iowa include 3M, ALCOA, Amana Corporation, Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc., Electrolux/Frigidaire, Emerson Process Management, Fisher Controls International, Hagie Manufacturing Company, HON Industries, The HON Company, IPSCO Steel, John Deere, Lennox Manufacturing, Maytag Corporation, Pella Corporation, Rockwell Collins, Vermeer Company, Procter & Gamble, and Winnebago Industries.
Directly and indirectly, agriculture has been a major component of Iowa's economy. As of 2007 the direct production and sale of raw agricultural products contributed only about 3.5% of Iowa's gross state product. In 2002 the total impact of the indirect role of agriculture in Iowa's economy, including agriculture-affiliated business, was calculated at 16.4% in terms of value added and 24.3% in terms of total output. This was lower than the economic impact of non-farm manufacturing, which accounted for 22.4% of total value added and 26.5% of total output. Iowa's main agricultural products 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.
As of 2009[update] 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.
As of 2014, there were 16 organizations offering health insurance products in Iowa, per the State of Iowa Insurance Division. Iowa was the 4th out of 10 states with the biggest drop in competition levels of health insurance between 2010 and 2011, per the 2013 annual report on the level of competition in the health insurance industry by the American Medical Association using 2011 data from HealthLeaders-Interstudy, the most comprehensive source of data on enrollment in health maintenance organization (HMO), preferred provider organization (PPO), point-of-service (POS) and consumer-driven health care plans. According to the AMA annual report from 2007 Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield had provided 71% of the state's health insurance.
The Iowa Insurance Division "Annual report to the Iowa Governor and the Iowa Legislature" from November 2014 looked at the 95% of health insurers by premium, which are 10 companies. It found Wellmark Inc to dominate the 3 health insurance markets it examined (individual, small group and large group) at 52-67%.:2 Wellmark HealthPlan of Iowa and Wellmark Inc had the highest risk-based capital percentages of all 10 providers at 1158% and 1132%, respectively.:31 Rising RBC is an indication of profits.:31
Iowa has a strong financial and insurance sector, with approximately 6,100 firms, including AEGON, Nationwide Group, Aviva USA, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Voya Financial, Marsh Affinity Group, MetLife, Principal Financial Group, Principal Capital Management, Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo Financial Services.
Biotechnology has expanded dramatically in Iowa in the past decade[when?], with firms including Bio-Research Products Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim, Vetmedica, Diosynth, Inc., Wyeth Fort Dodge Animal Health, Penford Products Co., Integrated DNA Technologies., Roche Applied Science, Wacker Biochem Corp., and Wyeth.
Ethanol production consumes approximately one-third of Iowa's corn production, and renewable fuels account for 8% of the state's gross domestic product. A total of 39 ethanol plants produced 3.1 billion US gallons (12,000,000 m3) of fuel in 2009.
Renewable energy has become a major economic force in northern and western Iowa, with wind turbine electrical generation increasing exponentally since 1990. In 2010, wind power in Iowa accounted for 15.4% of electrical energy produced, and 3675 megawatts of generating capacity had been installed at the end of the year. Iowa ranked first of U.S. states in percentage of total power generated by wind and second in wind generating capacity behind Texas. Major producers of turbines and components in Iowa include Acciona Energy of West Branch, TPI Composites of Newton, and Siemens Energy of Fort Madison.
In 2009 Iowa was 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, estates, and trusts. There are currently nine income tax brackets, ranging from 0.36% to 8.98%. The state sales tax rate is 7%, 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.
Iowa has four primary interstate highways. Interstate 29 (I-29) travels along the western edge of the state through Council Bluffs and Sioux City. I-35 travels from the Missouri state line to the Minnesota state line through the center of the state, including Des Moines. I-74 begins at I-80 just northeast of Davenport. I-80 travels from the Nebraska state line to the Illinois state line through the center of the state, including Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Iowa City, and the Quad Cities. I-380 is an auxiliary Interstate Highway, which travels from I-80 near Iowa City through Cedar Rapids ending in Waterloo and is part of the Avenue of the Saints highway.
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 Davenport Municipal Airport (Iowa), 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). Fort Madison is served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief, running daily between Chicago and Los Angeles.
As of 2014[update] the Governor is Terry E. Branstad (R)
Other statewide elected officials are:
The Code of Iowa contains Iowa's statutory laws. 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.
The two U.S. Senators:
The four U.S. Congressmen:
After the 2010 census and the resulting redistricting, Iowa lost one seat, falling to 4 seats in the House of Representatives. Incumbent congressmen Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) ran against each other in the new Third District; Latham won. Steve King represented the old Fifth District.
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 Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Pirate Party, and the Socialist Workers Party.
For many years[vague], Iowa was Republican-leaning. From statehood until 1969, it elected seven Democratic candidates to the U.S. Senate, and supported a Democratic Candidate for president seven times from statehood until 1984. Since the 1980s, it has become more of a swing state in national politics. As of 2012[update] the state leans Democratic; it has supported a Democratic candidate in all but one presidential election since 1988. The Cook Partisan Voting Index gives Iowa a score of D+1. The state is far from homogeneous in its political leanings. Generally, eastern Iowa leans Democratic while western Iowa leans Republican. Central Iowa is more split, though Des Moines tends Democratic. Cook found that Iowa's five former congressional districts ranged in political orientation. Iowa's 2nd congressional district, in the Eastern/Southeastern part of the state, leaned Democratic, with a D+7 (strong Democratic) score, Iowa's 5th congressional district, which covers most of Western Iowa, leaned Republican, scoring R+9.
As a result of congressional reapportionment, Iowa's House caucus was reduced to four representatives beginning with the 2012 elections. The old 3rd district was eliminated. Its congressman, Republican Tom Latham, moved from Ames to Clive and challenged Democratic 4th district incumbent Leonard Boswell in the reconfigured 3rd District, which covers southwestern Iowa and stretches from Council Bluffs to Des Moines. Republican Steve King saw his 5th district renumbered as the 4th and reconfigured to take in northwestern and some of north-central Iowa. Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack (wife of former Democratic governor and current United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack) moved to Ames to challenge King for the seat. Incumbent Democratic Congressmen Bruce Braley of the 1st District and Dave Loebsack of the 2nd District ran for reelection in their newly configured eastern Iowa districts; Loebsack moved to Iowa City since his former home in Mount Vernon was drawn into the new 1st District.
Redistricting proposals are designed by computer software that disregards all factors except population, and are submitted to the state legislature for approval. Counties may not be subdivided.
From 1968 to 1984, Iowa voted for the Republican candidate in presidential elections, and from 1988 to 2000 the state voted for the Democratic candidate; in the latter election, the Democratic candidate won by just over 4,000 votes. In the 2004 election, Iowa went by about 10,000 votes for George W. Bush, but in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama won by about 150,000 and 92,000 votes.
As a result of the 2010 elections, each party controls one house of the Iowa General Assembly: the House has a Republican majority, while the Senate has a Democratic majority. Since the defeat of incumbent Democrat Chet Culver in 2010, Iowa's governor has been Republican Terry Branstad, who served as governor from 1983 to 1999. As of 2014, Branstad has served 20 years and is the second longest-serving governor in U.S. history, closely behind George Clinton (vice president), who served 21 years until 1804.
The state gets considerable attention every four years because the Iowa caucus, gatherings of voters to select delegates to the state conventions, is the first presidential caucus in the country. 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 presidential primary election. 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 national and international media give Iowa and New Hampshire extensive attention, which gives Iowa voters leverage. Those who enter the caucus race often expend enormous effort to reach voters in each of Iowa's 99 counties.
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. Iowa did add the word "women" to the Iowa Constitution, ARTICLE I, BILL OF RIGHTS; SECTION 1, Rights of persons, in 1998. After Amendment, it reads: "All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights — among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness." 
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. The state's law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity was repealed in June 1976, 27 years before Lawrence v. Texas.
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 made Iowa the third state in the U.S. and first in the Midwest to permit same-sex marriage.  (See LGBT rights in Iowa.)
Iowa has nine official partner jurisdictions:
Iowa is often credited with the start of the high school movement in the U.S. Around 1910, secondary schools as we know them today were established across the state, which was unprecedented at the time. As the high school movement gathered pace and went beyond Iowa, there was clear evidence of how more time spent in school led to greater income.
The four-year graduation rate for high schoolers was 87.2% in 2009. The state has the third highest graduation rate in the nation. Iowa has 365 school districts, and has the 12th lowest student-to-teacher ratio of 13.8. Teacher pay is ranked 42nd, 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. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners is an autonomous board in control of teacher licensure standards and professional discipline; it has a majority of licensed teachers as members and is the oldest state educational board.
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:
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:
Private liberal arts colleges include:
Iowa has professional sports teams in baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. 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 and affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
The Sioux City Bandits are an Indoor football team in the Champions Indoor Football. The Iowa Barnstormers play in the Indoor Football League. They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena. The Cedar Rapids Titans are an indoor football team in the Indoor Football League. As of 2014, they play at the renovated U.S. Cellular Center.
Des Moines is home to the Iowa Wild, who are affiliated with the Minnesota Wild and are members of the American Hockey League. The Quad City Mallards games are played in Moline, Illinois as part of the Central Hockey League.
The United States Hockey League has five teams in Iowa: the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks, Des Moines Buccaneers, and the Dubuque Fighting Saints The Omaha Lancers previously played in Council Bluffs, Iowa 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. The Quad City Jr Flames are a Tier III Jr. A hockey team located in Davenport, Iowa and are part of the Central States Hockey League.
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, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Washington Wizards of the NBA. The Quad Cities Riverhawks of the Premier Basketball League are based in Davenport, Iowa but play at Wharton Field House in Moline, Illinois.
The Des Moines Menace of the USL Premier Development League play their home games at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines, Iowa.
The state has four NCAA Division I college teams—in NCAA FBS, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Conference and the Iowa State University Cyclones of the Big 12 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.
The Iowa Speedway oval track has hosted auto racing championships such as the IndyCar Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Truck Series since 2006. Also, the Knoxville Raceway dirt track hosts the Knoxville Nationals, one of the classic sprint car racing events.
The John Deere Classic is a PGA Tour golf event held at Iowa since 1971. The Principal Charity Classic is a Champions Tour event since 2001. The Des Moines Golf and Country Club hosted the 1999 U.S. Senior Open and has scheduled the 2017 Solheim Cup.
Iowa was 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 President Ronald Reagan, President Richard Nixon, John L. Lewis, Harry Hopkins, Carrie Chapman Catt, Jefferson Davis, Chief Black Hawk, and John Brown.
Five Nobel Prize winners hail from Iowa: Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Thomas Cech, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Alan J. Heeger, also a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; John Mott, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; 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 from Iowa include Bill Bryson, Corey Taylor, George Gallup, Susan Glaspell, Mauricio Lasansky, Harry Reasoner, Phil Stong, and Grant Wood.
Musicians, actors, and entertainers from Iowa include Tom Arnold, Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, Simon Estes, Corey Taylor, Shawn Crahan, William Frawley, Charlie Haden, Ashton Kutcher, Cloris Leachman, Glenn Miller, Donna Reed, George Reeves, Brandon Routh, John Wayne, Brooks Wheelan, Andy Williams, Meredith Willson, and Elijah Wood.
Many athletes from Iowa have become famous enough to be noted in the List of people from Iowa. Iowan athletes winning Olympic gold medals are Tom Brands, Jay Clark, Chuck Darling, Dan Gable, Shawn Johnson, Edward Lindberg, Allie Morrison, George Saling, Cael Sanderson, Kenneth Sitzberger, and Frank Wykoff. Iowan athletes inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame are Cap Anson, Fred Clarke, and Bob Feller. In college football Jay Berwanger was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935 which was later renamed the Heisman Trophy which Nile Kinnick won in 1939. In professional football Kurt Warner was the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP winner and 2 time NFL MVP award winner. Frank Gotch was a World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and Zach Johnson won the 2007 Masters Golf Tournament. Iowan native Jeremy Hellickson won the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year award pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. Whitney Sharpe: AFC Ajax (women) BeNe League FIFA