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State of Iowa

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for Iowa Indians of the Siouan family.

NICKNAME: The Hawkeye State.

CAPITAL: Des Moines.

ENTERED UNION: 28 December 1846 (29th).

SONG: "The Song of Iowa."

MOTTO: Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain.

FLAG: There are three vertical stripes of blue, white, and red; in the center a spreading eagle holds in its beak a blue ribbon with the state motto.

OFFICIAL SEAL: A sheaf and field of standing wheat and farm utensils represent agriculture; a lead furnace and a pile of pig lead are to the right. In the center stands a citizen-soldier holding a US flag with a liberty cap atop the staff in one hand and a rifle in the other. Behind him is the Mississippi River with the steamer Iowa and mountains; above him an eagle holds the state motto. Surrounding this scene are the words "The Great Seal of the State of Iowa" against a gold background.

BIRD: Eastern goldfinch.

FLOWER: Wild rose.

TREE: Oak.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.


Located in the western north-central United States, Iowa is the smallest of the midwestern states situated w of the Mississippi River and ranks 25th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Iowa is 56,275 sq mi (145,752 sq km), of which land takes up 55,965 sq mi (144,949 sq km) and inland water 310 sq mi (803 sq km). The state extends 324 mi (521 km) e-w; its maximum extension n-s is 210 mi (338 km).

Iowa is bordered on the n by Minnesota; on the e by Wisconsin and Illinois (with the line formed by the Mississippi River); on the s by Missouri (with the extreme southeastern line defined by the Des Moines River); and on the w by Nebraska and South Dakota (with the line demarcated by the Missouri River and a tributary, the Big Sioux).

The total boundary length of Iowa is 1,151 mi (1,853 km). The state's geographic center is in Story County near Ames.


The topography of Iowa consists of a gently rolling plain that slopes from the highest point of 1,670 ft (509 m) in the northwest (Osceola County) to the lowest point of 480 ft (146 m) in the southeast at the mouth of the Des Moines River. About two-thirds of the state lies between 800 ft (244 m) and 1,400 ft (427 m) above sea level; the mean elevation of land is 1,100 ft (336 m).

Supremely well suited for agriculture, Iowa has the richest and deepest topsoil in the United States and an excellent watershed. Approximately two-thirds of the state's area is drained by the Mississippi River, which forms the entire eastern boundary, and its tributaries. The western part of the state is drained by the Missouri River and its tributaries. Iowa has 13 natural lakes. The largest are Spirit Lake (9 mi/14 km long) and West Okoboji Lake (6 mi/10 km long), both near the state's northwest border.

The Iowa glacial plain was formed by five different glaciers. The last glacier, which covered about one-fifth of the state's area, retreated from the north-central region some 10,000 years ago, leaving the topsoil as its legacy. Glacial drift formed the small lakes in the north. The oldest rock outcropping, located in the state's northwest corner, is about 1 billion years old.


Iowa lies in the humid continental zone and generally has hot summers, cold winters, and wet springs.

Temperatures vary widely during the year, with an annual average of 49°f (9°c). The state averages 166 days of full sunshine and 199 cloudy or partly cloudy days. Des Moines, in the central part of the state, has an average maximum temperature of 86°f (30°c) in July and an average minimum of 11°f (4°c) in January. The record low temperature for the state is 47°f (44°c), established at Washta on 12 January 1912 and recorded again on Elkader on 3 February 1996; the record high is 118°f (48°c), registered at Keokuk on 20 July 1934. Annual precipitation averages 32.4 in (82 cm) at Des Moines; statewide, snowfall averages 33.2 in (84 cm) annually and relative humidity averages 72%.


Although most of Iowa is under cultivation, such unusual wild specimens as bunchberry and bearberry can be found in the northeast, where the loess soil supports tumblegrass, western beard-tongue, and prickly pear cactus. Other notable plants are pink lady's slipper and twinleaf in the eastern woodlands, arrow-grass in the northwest, and erect dryflower and royal and cinnamon ferns in sandy regions. More than 80 native plants can no longer be found, and at least 35 others are confined to a single location. The federal government classified five plant species as threatened as of April 2006. Among these are the northern wild monkshood and the eastern and western prairie fringed orchids.

Common Iowa mammals include red and gray foxes, raccoon, opossum, woodchuck, muskrat, common cottontail, gray fox, and flying squirrel. The bobolink and purple martin have flyways over the state; the cardinal, rose-breasted grosbeak, and eastern goldfinch (the state bird) nest there. Game fish include rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and walleye; in all, Iowa has 140 native fish species.

Rare animals include the pygmy shrew, ermine, black-billed cuckoo, and crystal darter. Listed as threatened or endangered by the federal government in April 2006 were eight species of animal, including the Indiana bat, bald eagle, Higgins' eye pearlymussel, piping plover, Topeka Shiner, Iowa Pleistocene snail, pallid sturgeon, and the least tern.


Because this traditionally agricultural state's most valuable resource has been its topsoil, Iowa's conservation measures beginning in the 1930s were directed toward preventing soil erosion and preserving watershed runoff. In the 1980s and 1990s, Iowans were particularly concerned with improving air quality, preventing chemical pollution, and preserving water supplies. While wetlands once covered about 11% of the state, as of 1997, that percentage had dwindled down to about 1.2%. The Wetlands Reserve Program of the 1990 Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act was created to reclaim some of the state's lost wetlands.

On 1 July 1983, the Department of Water, Air and Waste Management came into operation, with responsibility for environmental functions formerly exercised by separate state agencies. Functions of the new department include regulating operation of the state's 2,900 public water supply systems, overseeing nearly 1,200 municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, inspecting dams, and establishing chemical and bacterial standards to protect the quality of lakes. The department also enforces laws prohibiting open dumping of solid wastes, regulates the construction and operation of 140 solid waste disposal projects, and monitors the handling of hazardous wastes. It also establishes standards for air quality and regulates the emission of air pollutants from more than 600 industries and utilities.

In 2003, 37.4 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, Iowa had 172 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 11 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Iowa Ammunition Plant and the John Deere Ottumwa works landfill. In 2005, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $17.9 million for a clean water revolving fund.


Iowa ranked 30th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 2,966,934 in 2005, an increase of 1.4% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Iowa's population grew from 2,776,755 to 2,926,324, an increase of 5.4%. The population is projected to reach 2,993,222 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 52.9 persons per sq mi.

Iowa's population growth was rapid during the early years of settlement. When the first pioneers arrived in the early 19th century, an estimated 8,000 Indians were living within the state's present boundaries. From 1832 to 1840, the number of white settlers increased from fewer than 50 to 43,112. The population had almost doubled to more than 80,000 by the time Iowa became a state in 1846. The great influx of European immigrants who came via other states during the 1840s and 1850s caused the new state's population to soar to 674,913 at the 1860 Census. By the end of the next decade, the population had reached nearly 1,200,000; by 1900, it had surpassed 2,200,000. The state's population growth leveled off in the 20th century.

In 2004, the median age in Iowa was 38. About 23% of the populace was under age 18, while 14.7% was age 65 or older.

In 2004, the largest cities with populations of 100,000 or more were Des Moines, 194,311, and Cedar Rapids, 122,206. Other large cities include Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Iowa City. In 2004, the Des Moines metropolitan area had 511,878 residents; the Davenport metropolitan area had 375,437 residents that year.


In 2000, there were 61,853 black Americans, 8,989 American Indians, and 82,473 Hispanics and Latinos living in Iowa. In 2004, blacks made up 2.3% of the population, Hispanics and Latinos 3.5%, Asians 1.4%, and American Indians 0.3%. That year, 0.9% of the population reported origin of two or more races.

In 2000, among Iowans of European descent, there were 1,046,153 Germans (35.7% of the state total); 395,905 Irish (13.5%); and 277,487 English (9.5%). The foreign-born population numbered 91,085 (3.1%), more than double the total of 43,316 in 1990. Primary countries of origin included Germany, Mexico, Laos, Canada, Korea, and Vietnam.


A few Indian place-names are the legacy of the early Siouan Iowa Indians and the westward-moving Algonkian Sauk and Fox tribes who pushed them out: Iowa, Ottumwa, Keokuk, Sioux City, Oskaloosa, Decorah.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other West Germanic languages" includes Dutch, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Afrikaans. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Scandinavian languages" includes Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Population 5 years and over 2,738,499 100.0
  Speak only English 2,578,477 94.2
  Speak a language other than English 160,022 5.8
Speak a language other than English 160,022 5.8
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 79,491 2.9
  German 17,262 0.6
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 7,476 0.3
  Serbo-Croatian 6,452 0.2
  Vietnamese 6,182 0.2
  Chinese 5,191 0.2
  Laotian 3,939 0.1
  Other West Germanic languages 3,552 0.1
  Korean 2,493 0.1
  Scandinavian languages 2,385 0.1
  Russian 2,233 0.1
  African languages 2,137 0.1
  Arabic 2,053 0.1

In 2000, 94.2% of all Iowans aged five or more spoke only English at home, down from 96.1% in 1990.

Iowa English reflects the three major migration streams: Northern in that half of the state above Des Moines and North Midland in the southern half, with a slight South Midland trace in the extreme southeastern corner. Although some Midland features extend into upper Iowa, rather sharp contrasts exist between the two halves. In pronunciation, Northern features contrast directly with Midland: /hyumor/ with /yumor/, /ah/ in on and fog with /aw/, the vowel of but in bulge with the vowel of put, and /too/ with / tyoo/ for two. Northern words also contrast with Midland words: crab with crawdad, corn on the cob with roasting ears, quarter to with quarter till, barnyard with barn lot, and gopher with ground squirrel.


The first church building in Iowa was constructed by Methodists in Dubuque in 1834; a Roman Catholic church was built in Dubuque the following year. By 1860, the largest religious sects were the Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Baptists, and Congregationalists. Other religious groups who came to Iowa during the 19th century included Lutherans, Dutch Reformers, Quakers, Mennonites, Jews, and the Community of True Inspiration, or Amana Society, which founded seven communal villages.

Mainline Protestantism is predominant in the state, even though the largest single Protestant denomination is the Evangelical Free Church of America, which had about 268,211 members in 2000. Other major Protestant denominations include the United Methodist Church (with 195,024 adherents in 2004), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (120,075 adherents in 2000), the Presbyterian Church USA (69,974 adherents in 2000), and the United Church of Christ (36,326 adherents in 2005). Roman Catholic Church membership was about 506,698 in 2004. The Jewish community had about 6,400 members in 2000. The same year, Muslims numbered about 4,717. Nearly 41.5% (over 1.2 million) of the state population did not specify a religious affiliation.


Early settlers came to Iowa by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the Great Lakes, then traveled overland on trails via wagon and stagecoach. The need of Iowa farmers to haul their products to market over long distances prompted the development of the railroads, particularly during the 1880s. River traffic still plays a vital role in the state's transport.

In 2003, Iowa had 4,248 mi (6,839 km) of track, including 2,849 route miles (4,587 km) of Class I track operated by four railroads. Amtrak operates the long-distance California Zephyr (Chicago to Oakland, California) and Southwest Chief (Chicago to Los Angeles, California), serving six major stations in Iowa.

Iowa had 113,377 mi (182,536 km) of public roadway in 2004. In that same year, there were about 3.461 million registered vehicles in the state, including some 1.872 million automobiles, approximately 1.448 million trucks of all types, and around 1,000 buses, with 2,003,723 licensed drivers.

Iowa is bordered by two great navigable rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri. They provided excellent transport facilities for the early settlers via keelboats and paddle-wheel steamers. Today, rivers remain an important part of Iowa's intermodal transportation system. In 2004, Iowa had 492 miles (792 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 14.471 million tons. Important terminal ports on the Mississippi are Dubuque and Davenport, and on the Missouri, Sioux City and Council Bluffs. These rivers provide shippers a gateway to an extensive inland waterway system that has access to ports in St. Paul, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Houston, and New Orleans. Most docks in Iowa are privately owned, and all are privately operated.

In 2005, Iowa had a total of 322 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 233 airports, 87 heliports, and 2 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing). Iowa's busiest airfield is Des Moines International Airport, which in 2004 had 975,859 enplanements.


The fertile land now known as the state of Iowa was first visited by primitive hunting bands of the Paleo-Indian period some 12,000 years ago. The first permanent settlers of the land were the Woodland Indians, who built villages in the forested areas along the Mississippi River, introduced agriculture, and left behind only their animal-shaped burial mounds.

Not until June 1673 did the first known white men come to the territory. When Louis Jolliet, accompanied by five French voyageurs and a Jesuit priest, Jacques Marquette, stopped briefly in Iowa on his voyage down the Mississippi, the region was uninhabited except for the Sioux in the west and a few outposts of Illinois and Iowa Indians in the east. Iowa was part of the vast, vaguely defined Louisiana Territory that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border and was ruled by the French until title was transferred to Spain in 1762. Napoleon took the territory back in 1800 and then promptly sold all of the Louisiana Territory to the amazed American envoys who had come to Paris seeking only the purchase of New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi. After Iowa thus came under US control in 1803, the Lewis and Clark expedition worked its way up the Missouri River to explore the land that President Thomas Jefferson had purchased so cheaply. Iowa looked as empty as it had to Jolliet 130 years earlier. The only white man who had come to explore its riches before the American annexation was an enterprising former French trapper, Julien Dubuque. Soon after the American Revolution, he obtained from the Fox Indians the sole right to work the lead mines west of the Mississippi, and for 20 years Dubuque was the only white settler in Iowa.

The first wave of migrants into Iowa were the Winnebago, Sauk, and Fox, driven there by the US Army, which was clearing Wisconsin and Illinois of their Indian populations to make way for white farmers. Although President Andrew Jackson had intended that the Louisiana Territory lying north of Missouri should forever be Indian land, the occupation of Iowa by the Indians was brief. Following an abortive attempt by an aging Sauk chieftain, Black Hawk, to win his lands in Illinois, the Sauk and Fox were driven westward in 1832 and forced to cede their lands in eastern Iowa to the incoming white settlers.

Placed under the territorial jurisdiction of Michigan in 1834, and then two years later under the newly created territory of Wisconsin, Iowa became a separate territory in 1838. The first territorial governor, Robert Lucas, extended county boundaries and local government westward, planned for a new capital city to be located on the Iowa River, resisted Missouri's attempt to encroach on Iowa territory, and began planning for statehood by drawing boundary lines that included not only the present state of Iowa but also southern Minnesota up to present-day Minneapolis.

Because a new state seeking admission to the Union at that time could expect favorable action from Congress only if accompanied by a slave state, Iowa was designed to come into the Union with Florida as its slaveholding counterpart. A serious dispute over how large the state would be delayed Iowa's admission into the Union until 28 December 1846, but by the delay the people of Iowa got what they wantedall the land between the Mississippi and Missouri riverseven though they had to abandon Lucas's northern claim.

The settlement of Iowa was rapidly accomplished. With one-fourth of the nation's fertile topsoil located within its borders, Iowa was a powerful magnet that drew farmers by the thousands from Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee, and even from faraway Virginia, the Carolinas, New York, and New England. Except for German and Irish immigrants along the eastern border and later Scandinavian immigrants during the 1870s and 1880s, Iowa was settled primarily by Anglo-American stock. The settlers were overwhelmingly Protestant in religion and remarkably homogeneous in ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Although New Englanders made up only 5% of Iowa's early population, they had a cultural influence that far exceeded their numbers. Many small Iowa townswith their large frame houses, elm-lined streets, and Congregational churcheslooked like New England villages faithfully replicated on the prairie.

Fiercely proud of its claim to be the first free state created out of the Louisiana Purchase, Iowa was an important center of abolitionist sentiment throughout the 1850s. The Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves from the South ran across the southern portion of Iowa to the Mississippi River. Radical abolitionist John Brown spent the winters of 1857 and 1859 in the small Quaker village of Springdale, preparing for his attack on the US arsenal at Harpers Ferry, in western Virginia.

Although the Democrats had a slight edge over their Whig opposition in the early years of statehood, a majority of Iowa voters in 1856 supported the new Republican Party and, for the most part, did so in succeeding years. A Republican legislative majority in 1857 scrapped the state's first constitution, which had been written by Jacksonian Democrats 12 years earlier. The new document moved the state capital from Iowa City westward to Des Moines, but it provided that the state university would remain forever in Iowa City.

When the Civil War came, Iowa overwhelmingly supported the Union cause. Iowans fought not only for their ideals, the abolition of slavery, and the preservation of the Union but also for the very practical objective of keeping open the Mississippi River, the main artery for transport of agricultural products.

In the decades following the Civil War, Iowans on the national scene, most notably US senators James Harlan and his successor William B. Allison, belonged to the conservative Republican camp, but they frequently faced liberal Republican and Populist opposition inside the state. The railroad had been lavishly welcomed by Iowans in the 1850s; by the 1870s, Iowa farmers were desperately trying to free themselves from the stranglehold of the rail lines. The National Grange was powerful enough in Iowa to put through the legislature the so-called Granger laws to regulate the railroads. At the turn of the century, as the aging Allison's hold on the state weakened, Iowa became a center for Republican progressivism.

Following World War I, the conservatives regained control of the Republican Party. They remained in control until, during the 1960s, new liberal leadership was forced on the party because of the debacle of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, controversy over US involvement in Vietnam, and effective opposition from a revitalized Democratic Party led by Harold Hughes. After Hughes gave up the governorship in 1969 to become a US senator, Republicans once more dominated the executive branch, but Democrats gained control of the state legislature and made strong inroads at the top levels of state government.

Iowa's economy suffered in the 1980s from a combination of high debt, high interest rates, numerous droughts, and low crop prices. Businesses left the state or automated, shrinking their workforces. The population dropped by 7.9%. By the 1990s, the companies that had survived were in a much stronger position, and diversification efforts in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors had ushered in a period of prosperity. The number of jobs in the service sector grew by 10%, and the state's unemployment rate in 1992 was 4.7%, substantially lower than the national average. By 1999, it had dropped to 2.5%, the lowest rate in the nation. In Iowa, as elsewhere in the Midwest, high-tech and service industries continued to pull workers away from farmingand away from the state, causing many to worry about a disappearing way of life. While the governor worked with state officials to entice young Iowans who had fled the state to return home, farming promised to be a hard sell for even the best marketers, as many of the state's agricultural producers eked by. By 2003, the US economy was slowly recovering from its 2001 recession, and Iowa was also feeling the effects.

A debilitating drought hit Iowa in 1988, reducing corn and soybean harvests to their lowest levels in 14 years and prompting Governor Terry Branstad to declare a statewide emergency. In 1993, unusually heavy spring and summer rains produced record floods along the Mississippi River by mid-July. Countless levees, or earthen berms designed to raise the height of river banks, collapsed or were overrun. The entire state of Iowa was declared a disaster area. Altogether, it was estimated that 40 million acres of farmland had been severely damaged and 500,000 acres permanently ruined. Agricultural woes continued to plague the state later in the decade. In 1999, Governor Tom Vilsack declared that Iowa was in a farm crisis, warning that problems plaguing the state's agricultural economy would soon affect urban and suburban areas. With the state's farmers getting record low prices for corn, soybeans, cattle, and hogs, producers were struggling to pay their loans.

In 1999, Governor Vilsack proposed one of the most dramatic increases in environmental spending in the state's recent history, asking for $10.5 million in new spending to improve the quality of Iowa's rivers and streams. He said the money was necessary to clean the state's waterways and boost recreation.

In 2001, the state took steps to allow refugees from other countries, including Afghanistan, to locate in small Iowa towns. During the early 2000s Governor Vilsack established a record for promoting education, signing into law over $200 million in new bills aimed at reducing class sizes. In 2003, he aimed to further improve education, health care, and the environment. Iowa House and Senate Republican leaders created an "Iowa Values Fund," a $503 economic development program, also supported by Vilsack. In 2005, the state was pursuing a comprehensive economic growth strategy focusing on renewable energy, life sciences, financial services, advanced manufacturing, and improving cultural and recreational opportunities. The governor made Iowa's energy independence a goal, and to that effect, the state from 2000 to 2005 nearly tripled its ethanol production and by 2006 was projected to be the nation's leading producer of ethanol.


Iowa has had two state constitutions. The constitution of 1857 replaced the original constitution of 1846 and, with 52 amendments as of January 2005 (three of which were later nullified by the state supreme court), is still in effect.

The state legislature, or General Assembly, consists of a 50-member Senate and a 100-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four-year terms, with half the members elected every two years. Representatives are elected to two-year terms. The legislature convenes each year on the second Monday in January. Length of the session is 110 calendar days in odd years, and 100 calendar days in even years. Special sessions may only be called by the governor and length is not limited. Each house may introduce or amend legislation, with a simple majority vote required for passage. Proposed amendments must be approved by a majority vote in two sessions of the legislature before they are sent to voters for ratification. The governor's veto of a bill may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the elected members in both houses. Unless vetoed, a bill becomes law after three days when the legislature is in session. Legislators must be US citizens and must have resided in the state for a year and in the district for at least 60 days prior to election; a representative must be at least 21 years old, and a senator 25. The legislative salary was $21,380.54 in 2004.

Iowa Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election
1948 10 *Truman (D) 522,380 494,018 12,125 3,382 4,274
1952 10 *Eisenhower (R) 451,513 808,906 5,085 2,882
1956 10 *Eisenhower (R) 501,858 729,187 3,202
1960 10 Nixon (R) 550,565 722,381
1964 9 *Johnson (D) 733,030 449,148 1,902
1968 9 *Nixon (R) 476,699 619,106 3,377 66,422
1972 8 *Nixon (R) 496,206 706,207 22,056 1,332
1976 8 Ford (R) 619,931 632,863 3,040 1,452
1980 8 *Reagan (R) 508,672 676,026 2,191 NA 12,324
1984 8 *Reagan (R) 605,620 703,088
1988 8 Dukakis (D) 670,557 545,355 755 540 2,494
IND. (Perot)
1992 7 *Clinton (D) 586,353 504,891 253,468 3,079 1,177
1996 7 *Clinton (D) 620,258 492,644 105,159 2,315
2000 7 Gore (D) 638,517 634,373 5,731 29,374 3,209
2004 7 *Bush, G. W. (R) 741,898 751,957 1,304 5,973 2,992

The state's elected executives are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor, and secretary of agriculture, all serving four-year terms. The governor and lieutenant governor, elected jointly, must be US citizens for at least two years, at least 30 years old, and residents of the state for at least two years. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $107,482.

To vote in Iowa, a person must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old, a state resident, and not able to claim the right to vote elsewhere. Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court to be mentally incompetent to vote.


For 70 years following the Civil War, a majority of Iowa voters supported the Republicans over the Democrats in nearly all state and national elections. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Iowa briefly turned to the Democrats, supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt in two presidential elections. But from 1940 through 1984, the majority of Iowans voted Republican in 10 of 12 presidential elections. Republicans won 35 of the 45 gubernatorial elections from 1900 through 2002 and controlled both houses of the state legislature for 112 of the 130 years from 1855 to 1984.

In the 1960s, Iowa showed signs of a Democratic upsurge. Harold Hughes, a liberal Democrat, revitalized the party in Iowa and was elected governor for three two-year terms before moving on to the US Senate. During the post-Watergate period of the mid-1970s, Democrats captured both US Senate seats, five of the six congressional seats, and both houses of the Iowa legislature.

By the 1990s, a balance had reasserted itself. In 2000, Iowa gave Democrat Al Gore 49% of the vote, while Republican George W. Bush received 48%, and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader picked up 2%. In 2004, Bush increased his support to 50% to Democrat John Kerry's 49%. In 2004, there were 2,107,000 registered voters. In 1998, 32% of registered voters were Democratic, 33% Republican, and 35% unaffiliated or members of other parties. The state had seven electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.

Republican Terry Branstad won election to a fifth term as governor in 1994. But in the 1998 election, he was succeeded by Democrat Tom Vilsack, who won reelection in 2002. As of 2005, a Democrat and a Republican both served in the US SenateRepublican Charles Grassley, who won election to a fourth term in 1998, and Democrat Tom Harkin, who won reelection in 2002. In the 2004 elections, Iowans sent four Republicans and one Democrat to represent them in the US House. In mid-2005, in the state Senate was evenly split, with 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans. The state House was narrowly controlled by the Republicans, with 51 to the Democrats 49.

Iowa's presidential caucuses are held in January of presidential campaign years (ahead of New Hampshire, which also has a primary in January). This is earlier than any other state, thus giving Iowans a degree of influence in national politics.


The state's 99 counties are governed by boards of supervisors. In general, county officials, including the auditor, treasurer, recorder, and sheriff, are elected to four-year terms. They enforce state laws, collect taxes, supervise welfare activities, and manage roads and bridges.

Local government was exercised by 948 municipal units in 2005. The mayor-council system functioned in the great majority of these municipalities, though some of the larger cities employ the council-manager or commission system. Iowa's towns and cities derive their local powers from the state constitution, but the power to tax is authorized by the state General Assembly. In 2005, there were 374 public school districts and 542 special districts.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 132,928 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Iowa operates under gubernatorial authority and state statute; the emergency management director is designated as the state homeland security adviser.

The Department of Education is responsible for educational services in Iowa. It assists local school boards in supplying special educational programs and administers local education agencies.

Transportation services are directed by the Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of highways, motor vehicles, airports, railroads, public transit, and river transportation. The department's Motor Vehicle Division licenses drivers, road vehicles, and car dealers. Other departments include those for corrections, cultural affairs, economic development, human services, justice, and revenue. Iowa 2010 and IowAccess provide internet gateways to the state.

Health and welfare services are provided by the Department of Human Services. Public protection is the responsibility of the Departments of Public Defense and of Public Safety.


The Iowa Supreme Court consists of seven justices who are appointed by the governor and confirmed to eight-year terms by judicial elections held after they have served on the bench for at least one year. Judges may stand for reelection before their terms expire. The justices select one of their number as chief justice. The court exercises appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, supervises the trial courts, and prescribes rules of civil and appellate procedure. The Iowa Supreme Court transfers certain cases to the court of appeals, a six-member appellate court that began reviewing civil and criminal cases in 1977, and may review its decisions. Judges on the court of appeals are appointed and confirmed to six-year terms in the same manner as supreme court justices; they elect one of their members as chief judge.

The state is divided into eight judicial districts, each with a chief judge appointed to a two-year term by the chief justice of the supreme court. District court judges are appointed to six-year terms by the governor from nominations submitted by district nominating commissions. Appointees must stand for election after they have served as judges for at least one year.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 8,525 prisoners were held in Iowa's state and federal prisons, a decrease from 8,546 or 0.2% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 757 inmates were female, up from 716 or 5.7% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Iowa had an incarceration rate of 288 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iowa in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 270.9 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 8,003 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 85,836 reported incidents or 2,905.3 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Iowa does not have a death penalty.

In 2003, Iowa spent $52,308,231 on homeland security, an average of $18 per state resident.


In 2004, 2,772 active-duty military personnel were stationed in Iowa: Reserves and National Guard personnel numbered 5,008. Iowa firms received defense contract awards amounting to $733 million in 2004, and another $480 million in defense payroll spending was paid in the state.

There were 265,960 veterans of US military service in Iowa as of 2003, of whom 41,922 served in World War II; 35,402 in the Korean conflict; 84,106 during the Vietnam era; and 34,411 in Persian Gulf War. The federal government expended $586 million for veterans in Iowa during fiscal year 2004.

As of 31 October 2004, the Iowa Department of Public Safety employed 559 full-time sworn officers.


Iowa was opened, organized, and settled by a generation of native migrants from other states. According to the first federal census of Iowa in 1850, 31% of the total population of 192,214 came from nearby midwestern states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio), 14% from the five southern border states, and 13% from the Middle Atlantic states.

Another 10% of the state's 1850 population consisted of immigrants from northern Europe. The largest group were Germans who had fled military conscription; the next largest group had sought to escape the hardships of potato famine in Ireland or agricultural and technological displacement in Scotland, England, and Wales. They were joined in the 1850s by Dutch immigrants seeking religious liberty, and in the 1860s and 1870s by Norwegians and Swedes. During and immediately after the Civil War, some former slaves fled the South for Iowa, and more blacks settled in Iowa cities after 1900.

But many of the migrants who came to Iowa did not stay long. Some Iowans left to join the gold rush, and others settled lands in the West. Migration out of the state has continued to this day as retired Iowans seeking warmer climates have moved to California and other southwestern states; from 1970 through 1990, Iowa's net loss through migration amounted to over 266,000.

An important migratory trend within the state has been from the farm to the city. Although Iowa has remained a major agricultural state, the urban population surpassed the rural population by 1960 and increased to over 60.6% of the total population by 1990. Between 1990 and 1998, Iowa had a net loss of 13,000 in domestic migration and a net gain of 19,000 in international migration. In 1998, 1,655 foreign immigrants arrived in the state. Between 1990 and 1998, Iowa's overall population increased by 3.1%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 29,386 and net internal migration was 41,140, for a net loss of 11,754 people.


Iowa is a signatory to the Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission, the Iowa-Missouri and Iowa-Nebraska boundary compacts, and a number of other major interstate compacts and agreements. Federal grants to the Iowa state government amounted to $2.951 billion in fiscal year 2005, an estimated $3.056 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $3.119 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Iowa's economy is based on agriculture. Although the value of the state's manufactures exceeds the value of its farm production, manufacturing is basically farm centered. The major industries are food processing and the manufacture of agriculture-related products, such as farm machinery.

Periodic recessionsand especially the Great Depression of the 1930shave afflicted Iowa farmers and adversely affected the state's entire economy. But technological progress in agriculture and the proliferation of manufacturing industries have enabled Iowans to enjoy general prosperity since World War II. Because the state's population is scattered, the growth of light manufacturing has extended to hundreds of towns and cities.

In the late 1970s, the state's major economic problem was inflation, which boosted the cost of farm equipment and fertilizers. In the early 1980s, high interest rates and falling land prices created serious economic difficulties for farmers and contributed to the continuing decline of the farm population. By 1992, the state had recovered, but annual growth rates remained comparatively low. At the end of the 20th century, growth rates accelerated somewhat (from 1.7% in 1998 to 3% in 1999 to 4.8% in 2000), but then fell to 1.4% in the national recession of 2001. The recession's impact on Iowa's unemployment rate was relatively mild, as the increase peaked at 4.4% in January 2002, and then fell to 3.9% by the end of the year. From 1997 to 2001, manufacturing output decreased almost every year in both absolute and relative terms, declining 5.7% in absolute terms across these five years, and, as a share of total state output, from about 25% in 1997 to 21% of the total in 2001. During the same period, output from general services increased 28.6%; from financial services, 24.4%; from the transportation and utilities sector, 23.7%; and from the government sector, 21.6%. Performance in Iowa's agricultural sector was positive in 2002, largely because Iowa escaped the drought that was hampering output in other states and the prices received by Iowa farmers.

In 2001, Iowa's gross state product (GSP) totaled $111.114 billion, of which manufacturing contributed $22.859 billion or 20.5% of GSP, followed by real estate at $9.834 billion (8.8% of GSP) and health care and social services at $7.475 billion (6.7% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 243,932 small businesses in Iowa. Of the 69,354 businesses having employees, an estimated 67,648 or 97.5% were small companies. An estimated 5,954 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 7.6% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 7,391, up 0.2% from 2003. There were 360 business bankruptcies in 2004, up 11.5% from the previous year. In 2005, the personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 417 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Iowa as the 36th highest in the nation.


In 2005, Iowa had a gross state product (GSP) of $114 billion, which accounted for 0.9% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 30 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Iowa had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $31,058. This ranked 28th in the United States and was 94% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.3%. Iowa had a total personal income (TPI) of $91,712,120,000, which ranked 30th in the United States and reflected an increase of 9.1% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 4.7%. Earnings of persons employed in Iowa increased from $62,520,383,000 in 2003 to $69,573,490,000 in 2004, an increase of 11.3%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $43,042 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period, 9.7% of the population was below the poverty line, as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006, the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Iowa numbered 1,674,200. Approximately 59,800 workers were unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.6%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,502,600. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemploy-ment rate recorded in Iowa was 8.5% in May 1983. The historical low was 2.6% in January 2000. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 5% of the labor force was employed in construction; 15.5% in manufacturing; 20.5% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 6.6% in financial activities; 7.6% in professional and business services; 13.2% in education and health services; 8.7% in leisure and hospitality services; and 16.4% in government.

The labor movement generally has not been strong in Iowa, and labor unions have had little success in organizing farm laborers. The Knights of Labor, consisting mostly of miners and railroad workers, was organized in Iowa in 1876 and enrolled 25,000 members by 1885. But the Knights practically disappeared after 1893, when the American Federation of Labor (AFL) established itself in the state among miners and other workers. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) succeeded in organizing workers in public utilities, meat packing, and light industries in 1937. After 1955, when the AFL and CIO merged, the power and influence of labor unions increased in the state.

Iowa did not forbid the employment of women in dangerous occupations or prohibit the employment of children under 14 years of age in factories, shops, or mines until the early 1900s.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 157,000 of Iowa's 1,369,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 11.5% of those so employed, up from 10.5% in 2004 but still below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 185,000 workers (13.5%) in Iowa were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Iowa is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Iowa had a state-mandated minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 47.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


Iowa recorded a (realized) gross farm income of $14.2 billion in 2005, the third-highest in the United States. Nearly half of all cash receipts from marketing came from the sale of livestock and meat products; about one-fifth derived from the sale of feed grains. During 200004, Iowa ranked first in output of corn for grain and soybeans and fifth for oats.

The early settlers planted wheat. Iowa ranked second in wheat production by 1870, but as the Wheat Belt moved farther west, the state's farmers turned to raising corn to feed their cattle and hogs. Two important 20th-century developments were the introduction in the 1920s of hybrid corn and the utilization of soybeans as a feed grain on a massive scale during World War II. Significant postwar trends included the rapid mechanization of farming and the decline of the farm population.

In 2004, Iowa had 89,700 farms, with an average size of 353 acres (143 hectares) per farm. This total represents a decrease of 50,000 farms since 1970, although the amount of land being farmed has only declined 1% to 31,700,000 acres (14,400,000 hectares) over the same period.

Nearly all of Iowa's land is tillable, and about nine-tenths of it is given to farmland. Corn is grown practically everywhere; wheat is raised in the southern half of the state and in counties bordering the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

In 2004, production of corn for grain totaled 2.24 billion bushels, valued at $4.26 billion; soybeans, 497.4 million bushels, $2.51 billion; oats, 10.1 million bushels; and hay, 6.24 million tons.


Iowa had an estimated 3.6 million cattle and calves in 2005, worth around $3.2 billion. In 2004, Iowa was ranked first among the 50 states in the number of hogs and pigs with 16.1 million, worth around $1.77 billion.

Pigs, calves, lambs, and chickens are raised throughout the state, particularly in the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys, where good pasture and water are plentiful. Iowa farmers are leaders in applying modern livestock breeding methods to produce lean hogs, tender corn-fed cattle, and larger-breasted chickens and turkeys.

In 2003, Iowa farmers produced an estimated 30.7 million lb (14 million kg) of sheep and lambs, which grossed a total of around $31.6 million. Also during 2003, Iowa farmers produced 267.7 million lb (121.6 million kg) of turkeys, worth $96.4 million. In the same year an estimated 10.4 billion eggs were produced (first in the United States), worth around $460.5 million.

Iowa dairy farmers produced 3.8 billion lb (1.7 million kg) of milk from 201,000 dairy cows in 2003.


Fishing has very little commercial importance in Iowa. Game fishing in the rivers and lakes, however, is a popular sport. In 2004, there were 429,689 sport fishermen licensed in the state.


Lumber and woodworking were important to the early settlers, but the industry has since declined in commercial importance. In 2004, Iowa had 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) of forest-land, which represents 7.5% of the state's land area, up from 1.6 million acres (650,000 hectares) in 1974. The state's lumber industry produced 78 million board feet of lumber in 2004.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the value of Iowa's nonfuel mineral production in 2003 (the latest year for which data was available) was $478 million, a decrease from 2002 of about 2%. The USGS data ranked Iowa as 29th among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for over 1% of total US output.

In descending order, the data showed cement (portland and masonry), crushed stone, construction sand and gravel, and gypsum as the state's leading nonfuel minerals produced in 2003, which collectively accounted for 97% of total output by value.

The preliminary data for 2003 showed crushed stone output by Iowa as totaling 34.7 million metric tons, with a value of $187 million, while construction grade sand and gravel production stood at 13 million metric tons or $60.2 million. That same year Iowa was also shown to be a producer of common clays with output at 256,000 metric tons, and with a value of $763,000.


Although Iowa's fossil fuel resources are extremely limited, the state's energy supply has been adequate.

As of 2003, Iowa had 186 electrical power service providers, of which 138 were publicly owned and 44 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, three were investor owned, and one was an owner of an independent generator that sold directly to customers. As of that same year, there were 1,477,518 retail customers. Of that total, 1,068,855 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 205,658 customers, while publicly owned providers had 202,844 customers. There were 161 independent generator or "facility" customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 10.074 million kW, with total production that same year at 42.116 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 93.8% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 35.819 billion kWh (85%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear plants in second place at 3.987 billion kWh (9.5%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 2.6% of all power generated, with hydroelectric, petroleum, and natural gas-fueled generating plants accounting for the remainder.

As of 2006, Iowa had one nuclear power generating plant, the single-reactor Duane Arnold plant in the town of Palo.

Extensive coalfields in southeastern Iowa were first mined in 1840. The boomtown of Buxton, in Monroe County, mined sufficient coal in 1901 to support a population of 6,000 people, of whom 5,500 were transplanted southern blacks, but the mines closed in 1918 and Buxton became a ghost town. The state's annual bituminous coal production reached nearly 9 million tons in 191718. Coal output in 1994 was only 46,000 tons; recoverable coal reserves totaled 1.1 billion tons in 2001.

As of 2004, Iowa had no known proven reserves nor any production of crude oil or natural gas. However, the state did have a single rotary rig in operation. There were no refineries in Iowa.


Because Iowa was primarily a farm state, the first industries were food processing and the manufacture of farm implements. These industries have retained a key role in the economy, with over 100,000 farms operating in the state in 2000. Iowa has also added a variety of other manufacturesincluding pens, washing machines, and even mobile homes.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Iowa's manufacturing sector covered some 18 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $79.469 billion. Of that total, food manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $28.137 billion. It was followed by machinery manufacturing at $13.726 billion; chemical manufacturing at $9.244 billion; transportation equipment manufacturing at $3.770 billion; and fabricated metal product manufacturing at $3.541 billion.

In 2004, a total of 217,229 people in Iowa were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 157,675 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 49,239, with 39,085 actual production workers. It was followed by machinery manufacturing at 31,014 employees (20,233 actual production workers); transportation equipment manufacturing at 16,410 employees (13,196 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 19,804 employees (15,355 actual production workers); plastics and rubber products manufacturing at 15,004 employees (12,168 actual production workers); and electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing at 10,704 employees (7,806 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Iowa's manufacturing sector paid $8.496 billion in wages. Of that amount, the food manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.742 billion. It was followed by machinery manufacturing at $1.432 billion; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $752.822 million; and transport equipment manufacturing at $597.232 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Iowa's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $33.5 billion from 4,926 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 2,635 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 2,018 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 273 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $11.3 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $18.8 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $3.2 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Iowa was listed as having 13,859 retail establishments with sales of $31.1 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were gasoline stations stores (1,997); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,879); building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers (1,705); and miscellaneous store retailers (1,590). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $7.9 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $4.9 billion; food and beverage stores $4.2 billion; and building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers $3.7 billion. A total of 176,251 people were employed by the retail sector in Iowa that year.

The leading export commodities are feed grains and products, soybeans and soybean products, and meats and meat products. Diversity has been rising with the addition of industrial machinery, instruments and measurement devices, electronics, specialized transportation equipment, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Exports of goods from Iowa in 2005 were valued at $7.3 billion.


Iowa has laws prohibiting fraud and misrepresentation in sales and advertising and harassment in debt collecting, in addition to other consumer protection laws. There is a cooling-off period of three days for door-to-door purchases, and there is also a defective motor vehicle or "Lemon Law" statute. The Iowa attorney general's Consumer Protection Division deals with consumer fraud complaints, educates the public about such schemes, and litigates cases of consumer fraud. The Iowa Consumer Fraud Act is the primary piece of legislation enforced by the Consumer Protection Division.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office (through its Consumer Protection Division) can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office cannot act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own but can initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts and initiate criminal proceedings. However, the office has no authority to represent counties, cities, and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The Iowa attorney general's Consumer Protection Division is located in Des Moines.


As of June 2005, Iowa had 413 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 155 state-chartered and only two federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Omaha-Council Bluffs market area (which includes portions of Nebraska and Iowa) had the bulk of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004 at 74 and $14.442 billion, respectively. The Des Moines area was second with 49 institutions and $9.845 billion in deposits for that same year. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 9.3% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $5.275 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 90.7% or $51.740 billion in assets held.

The Division of Banking supervises and regulates the state's chartered banks, loan companies, and mortgage bankers/brokers. As of fourth quarter 2005, the net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) stood at 3.73%, down from 3.80% in 2004 and 3.79% in 2003, which has resulted in an earnings decline for 2005.


In 2004, there were 2.1 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $145 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was over $213 billion. The average coverage amount was $68,600 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled at over $651 million.

In 2003, Iowa had 26 life and health and 55 property and casualty insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $4.4 billion. That year, there were 9,746 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $1 billion. About $119 million of coverage was offered through FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance) Plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high-risk areas.

In 2004, 59% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 7% held individual policies, and 23% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 10% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged 21% for single coverage and 26% for family coverage. The state offers a nine-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 2.2 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $20,000 per individual and $40,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $15,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $580.15, the third-lowest average in the nation (above South Dakota and North Dakota).

The commissioner of insurance, appointed by the governor, supervises all insurance business transacted in the state.


There are no securities exchanges in Iowa. In 2005, there were 780 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 2,120 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 49 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 18 NASDAQ companies and 15 NYSE listings. In 2006, the state had two Fortune 500 companies; Principal Financial Group ranked first in the state and 261st in the nation with revenues of over $9 billion, followed by Maytag. Rockwell Collins ranked 550th in the Fortune 1,000 listing. All three companies are listed on the NYSE.


The state budget is prepared by the Department of Management with the governor's approval and is adopted or revised by the General Assembly. Each budget is prepared for the biennium of the upcoming fiscal year (FY) and the one following. The fiscal year runs from 1 July to 30 June.

In fiscal year 2006, general funds were estimated at $5.2 billion for resources and $4.9 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Iowa were nearly $4.0 billion.


In 2005, Iowa collected $5,751 million in tax revenues or $1,939 per capita, which placed it 33rd among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Sales taxes accounted for 29.9% of the total, selective sales taxes 15.7%, individual income taxes 39.2%, corporate income taxes 3.2%, and other taxes 11.9%.

As of 1 January 2006, Iowa had nine individual income tax brackets ranging from 0.36 to 8.98%. The state taxes corporations at rates ranging from 6.0 to 12.0% depending on tax bracket.

In 2004, local property taxes amounted to $3,188,869,000 or $1,080 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 18th nationally. Iowa does not collect property taxes at the state level.

Iowa taxes retail sales at a rate of 5%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 2%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 7%. Food purchased for consumption off premises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 36 cents per pack, which ranks 42nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Iowa taxes gasoline at 20.7 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

IowaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 15,291,539 5,178.31
  General revenue 11,845,227 4,011.25
    Intergovernmental revenue 4,038,220 1,367.50
    Taxes 5,143,126 1,741.66
      General sales 1,617,505 547.75
     Selective sales 819,818 277.62
     License taxes 575,515 194.89
     Individual income tax 1,958,697 663.29
     Corporate income tax 89,826 30.42
      Other taxes 81,765 27.69
    Current charges 1,776,175 601.48
    Miscellaneous general revenue 887,706 300.61
  Utility revenue 410 .14
  Liquor store revenue 135,957 46.04
  Insurance trust revenue 3,309,945 1,120.88
Total expenditure 13,424,350 4,546.00
  Intergovernmental expenditure 3,529,971 1,195.38
  Direct expenditure 9,894,379 3,350.62
    Current operation 7,063,915 2,392.11
    Capital outlay 1,103,983 373.85
    Insurance benefits and repayments 1,299,364 440.01
    Assistance and subsidies 265,644 89.96
    Interest on debt 161,473 54.68
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 2,299,205 778.60
Total expenditure 13,424,350 4,546.00
  General expenditure 12,031,051 4,074.18
    Intergovernmental expenditure 3,529,971 1,195.38
    Direct expenditure 8,501,080 2,878.79
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 4,670,535 1,581.62
    Public welfare 3,112,742 1,054.09
    Hospitals 898,849 304.39
    Health 195,740 66.29
    Highways 1,365,758 462.50
    Police protection 71,393 24.18
    Correction 219,859 74.45
    Natural resources 224,415 76.00
    Parks and recreation 20,330 6.88
    Government administration 470,965 159.49
    Interest on general debt 161,473 54.68
    Other and unallocable 618,992 209.61
  Utility expenditure 855 .29
  Liquor store expenditure 93,080 31.52
  Insurance trust expenditure 1,299,364 440.01
Debt at end of fiscal year 4,857,614 1,644.98
Cash and security holdings 27,063,116 9,164.62

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Iowa citizens received $1.11 in federal spending.


Since World War II, the state government has attracted new manufacturing industries to Iowa by granting tax incentives and by encouraging a favorable business climate. The Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) coordinates economic development activity in the state. It helps local communities diversify their economies, assists companies already in the state, and helps exporters to sell their products abroad. In the 1990s, the Iowa state government stressed such development goals as agricultural diversification, increased small business support, creation of high-tech jobs, and expansion of tourism. The Iowa Values Fund (IVF) is a 10-year economic development program designed to transform Iowa's economy by creating high-quality jobs through business development and expansion across Iowa. With a $35 million annual appropriation for business development and marketing, the IVF assists Iowa companies to expand, as well as attract new businesses to the state. The Venture Network of Iowa is a statewide forum operated by the Iowa Communications Network where Iowa entrepreneurs, investors, and business advisers interact, network, and find financial and intellectual capital. Iowa combines community development block grant and HOME funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund housing activities, including rehabilitation, new construction, assistance to homebuyers, assistance to tenants, administrative costs, and lead-safe housing. The state also offers financial assistance programs to businesses for programs to retain or create jobs, capital investment, to utilize agricultural commodities, to establish or expand minority and women-owned enterprises, to support low income and disabled entrepreneurs, to build or improve a community's infrastructure (railroads, roads, etc.), and to foster construction of new industrial facilities. In 2006, the US Chamber of Commerce ranked all 50 states on legal fairness to-ward business. The chamber found Iowa to be one of five states with the best legal environment for business. The other four were Nebraska, Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 5.2 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 13 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 9.8 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 88.9% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 86% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 9.5 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were as follows: heart disease, 278.6; cancer, 220.4; cerebrovascular diseases, 75.8; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 53.8; and diabetes, 25. Iowa has the second-highest rate in the nation for cerebrovascular disease, following Arizona. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 1 per 100,000 population, the lowest in the nation. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 2.2 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 58.8% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 20.8% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Iowa had 116 community hospitals with about 11,000 beds. There were about 363,000 patient admissions that year and 9.7 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 6,500 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $952. Also in 2003, there were about 454 certified nursing facilities in the state with 35,428 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 78.5%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 75.1% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Iowa had 218 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 1,009 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,546 dentists in the state.

About 23% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 10% of the state was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $2.7 million.


In 2004, about 89,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $261. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 206,696 persons (89,655 households); the average monthly benefit was about $88.60 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $219.7 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Iowa's TANF program is called the Family Investment Program (FIP). In 2004, the state program had 45,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $60 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 545,990 Iowa residents. This number included 358,340 retired workers, 60,150 widows and widowers, 58,310 disabled workers, 34,490 spouses, and 34,700 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 18.6% of the total state population and 96.1% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $952; widows and widowers, $925; disabled workers, $857; and spouses, $480. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $517 per month; children of deceased workers, $644; and children of disabled workers, $266. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 42,618 Iowa residents in December 2004, averaging $370 a month. An additional $1.4 million of state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 4,448 residents.


In 2004, there were 1,292,976 housing units in Iowa, of which 1,175,771 were occupied; 73.8% were owner occupied, placing the state fourth in the nation in the percentage of homeownership. About 74.7% of all units were single-family, detached homes. About 31.5% of all units were built in 1939 or earlier. Most households relied on utility gas and electricity for heating. It was estimated that 52,215 lacked telephone service, 4,728 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 5,037 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.42 members.

In 2004, 16,300 privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. Median home value was $95,901. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $942. Renters paid a median of $533 per month. In 2006, the state received over $26.4 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


In 2004, 89.8% of Iowans age 25 and older were high school graduates, compared to the national average of 84%. Some 24.3% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Iowa's public schools stood at 482,000. Of these, 326,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 156,000 attended high school. Approximately 88.2% of the students were white, 4.5% were black, 4.9% were Hispanic, 1.8% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.6% were American Indian/Alaska Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 476,000 in fall 2003 and was expected to be 452,000 by fall 2014, a decline of 6.3% during the period 200214. There were 45,309 students enrolled in 266 private schools in fall 2003. Expenditures for public education in 200304 were estimated at $4.28 billion. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005 eighth graders in Iowa scored 284 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 202,546 students enrolled in institutions of higher education; minority students comprised 8.2% of total postsecondary enrollment. As of 2005, Iowa had 63 degree-granting institutions. Iowa has three state universities and 35 private four-year colleges. Since the public community college system began offering vocational and technical training in 1960, total enrollment has increased rapidly, and the number of different career programs has grown. Iowa's small liberal arts colleges and universities include Briar Cliff College, Sioux City; Coe College, Cedar Rapids; Cornell College, Mt. Vernon; Drake University, Des Moines; Grinnell College, Grinnell; Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant; Loras College, Dubuque; and Luther College, Decorah.


Beginning with the public lecture movement in the late 19th century and the Chautauqua shows in the early 20th century, cultural activities have gradually spread throughout the state. There is now an opera company in Des Moines and art galleries, little theater groups, symphony orchestras, and ballet companies in other major cities and college towns. The University of Iowa receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the development of its music and theater activities.

The Des Moines Arts Center is a leading exhibition gallery for native painters and sculptors. The Des Moines Arts Festival, established in 1998, draws an attendance of nearly 800,000 people each year. There are regional theater groups in Des Moines, Davenport, and Sioux City. The Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa has an international reputation and was the first creative writing degree program in the United States. In 2003, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a National Humanities Medal to the workshopthe first medal awarded to the university and only the second medal given to an institution rather than an individual.

The Iowa Arts Council (IAC) was established as a state agency in 1967. In 1986, the IAC became a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, which also includes the State Historical Society of Iowa. In 2005, state organizations received 16 grants totaling $776,700 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Humanities Iowa, founded in 1971, sponsors over $1.5 million of programs each year. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored 11 programs with grants totaling $906,482. The state also contributes to the efforts of the Arts Council and Humanities Iowa, and private sources provide additional funding.


Iowa's first tax-supported public library was founded in Independence in 1873. Since then, the system has continued to expand. For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, the state had 537 public library systems, with a total of 561 libraries, of which 24 were branches. In that same year, Iowa's public library system had total book and serial publication holdings of 11,450,000 volumes, and a total circulation of 25,498,000. The system also had 446,000 audio and 402,000 video items, 15,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and six bookmobiles. Among the principal libraries in Iowa are the State Library in Des Moines, the State Historical Society Library in Iowa City, the libraries of the University of Iowa (also in Iowa City), and the Iowa State University Library in Ames. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system was $73,270,000, which included $582,000 from federal grants and $2,236,000 from the state.

Iowa had 134 museums and zoological parks in 2000. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, in West Branch, houses the birthplace and grave of the 31st US president and a library and museum with papers and memorabilia. Other historical sites include the grave of French explorer Julien Dubuque, near the city named for him; the girlhood home of suffragist Carrie Chapman Cat at Charles Cityt; and the seven communal villages of the Amana colonies.


The first post office in Iowa was established at Augusta in 1836. Mail service developed slowly with the spread of population, and rural free delivery of mail did not begin until 1897.

The first telegraph line was built between Burlington and Bloomington (now Muscatine) in 1848. Telegraph service throughout the state is provided by Western Union. In 2004, about 95.4% of all occupied housing units had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 1,445,711 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 64.7% of Iowa households had a computer and 57.1% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 325,711 high-speed lines in Iowa, 293,824 residential and 31,887 for business.

Among the first educational radio broadcasting stations in the United States was one established in 1919 at the State University in Iowa City and another in 1921 at Iowa State University in Ames. The first commercial radio station west of the Mississippi, WDC at Davenport, began broadcasting in 1921. In 2005, there were 110 major radio stations, including 37 AM stations and 73 FM stations. In the same year, Iowa had a total of 21 network television stations.

A total of 34,789 internet domain names were registered in the state in 2000.


Iowa's first newspaper, the Dubuque Visitor, was founded in 1836 but lasted only a year. The following year, the Fort Madison Patriot and the Burlington Territorial Gazette were established; the latter paper, now the Hawk Eye, is the oldest newspaper in the state. In 1860, the Iowa State Register was founded. As the Des Moines Register and Tribune, it grew to be the state's largest newspaper. The Tribune ceased publication in 1982; the Register remains preeminent, with a morning circulation of 152,800 and a Sunday circulation of 243,302 as of 2005.

Major newspapers and their estimated circulations at 200102 are listed as follows:

Cedar Rapids Gazette (m,S) 63,493 76,828
Des Moines Register (m,S) 152,800 243,302
Dubuque Telegraph Herald (m,S) 28,621 34,195
Sioux City Journal (m,S) 41,182 42,268
Waterloo Courier (e,S) 42,679 51,836

Overall, Iowa had 37 dailies (21 evening, 16 morning) and 12 Sunday papers in 2005. Also published in Iowa were over 100 periodicals, among them Better Homes and Gardens and Successful Farming, Midwest Today, and The Iowan.


In 2006, there were over 5,085 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 3,031 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Among the organizations headquartered in Iowa are the National Farmers Organization (Corning), the American College Testing Program (Iowa City), the National Meals on Wheels Foundation (Iowa City), the National Collegiate Honors Council (Ames), and the Antique Airplane Association (Ottumwa). State educational and cultural organizations include the Iowa Arts Council, the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, and the State Historical Society of Iowa. There is a Czech Heritage Foundation in Cedar Rapids and a Danish American Heritage Society in Ames. Special interest associations with offices in Iowa include the Balloon Federation of America and the Bohemia Ragtime Society.


The Mississippi and Missouri rivers offer popular water sports facilities for both out-of-state visitors and resident vacationers. Iowa's "Little Switzerland" region in the northeast, with its high bluffs of woodlands overlooking the Mississippi, is popular for hiking and camping. Notable tourist attractions in the area include the Effigy Mounds National Monument (near Marquette), which has hundreds of prehistoric Indian mounds and village sites, and the Buffalo Ranch (at Fayette), with its herd of live buffalo. Tourist sites in the central part of the state include the state capitol and the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, with its Presidential Library and Museum. Tourists can also visit the Amana colonies, a reconstructed site of an experimental living community. Arnolds Park is the home of the Iowa Rock and Roll Museum. The city of Le Mars is known as the ice cream capital of the world and the home of Well Dairy. Sioux City hosts the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The city of Boone is the birthplace of Mamie Doud Eisenhower, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Iowa has about 85,000 acres (34,400 hectares) of lakes and reservoirs and 19,000 mi (30,600 km) of fishing streams. There are 52 state parks covering 33,811 acres and seven state forests, covering 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares); these and other state recreational areas attract numerous visitors every year.

In 2005, there were some 30.5 million visitors to the state. This showed an increase from 17.1 million in 2001. Travel generated expenditures of $4.3 billion in 2002 and increased to $5.0 billion. In 2005, there were over 62,290 travel-related jobs in the state in 2005, generating a $969 million payroll. Travel and tourism is fast becoming one of the major sources of income in Iowa.


Iowa has no major professional sports teams, but the state is proud of its Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League. The team has advanced to two Arena Bowls in the league's short existence. Minor league baseball and basketball teams make their home in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Sioux City, Burlington, and the Quad Cities. High school and college basketball and football teams draw thousands of spectators, particularly to the state high school basketball tournament at Des Moines in March. Large crowds also fill stadiums and fieldhouses for the University of Iowa games in Iowa City and Iowa State University games in Ames. In intercollegiate competition, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes belong to the Big Ten Conference. They have a legendary wrestling program that has won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship 20 times. Iowa went to the Rose Bowl in 1957, 1959, 1982, 1986, and 1991, winning in 1957 and 1959. The Iowa State University Cyclones are in the Big Twelve Conference. A popular track-and-field meet for college athletes is the Drake Relays, held every April in Des Moines. Horse racing is popular at state and county fairgrounds, as is stock car racing at small-town tracks. The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa is held each July. There are rodeos in Sidney and Fort Madison, and the National Balloon Classic is held in Indianola.


Iowa was the birthplace of Herbert Clark Hoover (18741964), the first US president born west of the Mississippi. Although he was orphaned and left the state for Oregon at the age of 10, he always claimed Iowa as his home. His long and distinguished career included various relief missions in Europe, service as US secretary of commerce (192129), and one term in the White House (192933). Hoover was buried in West Branch, the town of his birth. Iowa also produced one US vice president, Henry A. Wallace (18881965), who served in that office during Franklin D. Roosevelt's third term (194145). Wallace was also secretary of agriculture (193341) and commerce (194547); he ran unsuccessfully as the Progressive Party's presidential candidate in 1948.

Two Kentucky-born members of the US Supreme Court were residents of Iowa prior to their appointments: Samuel F. Miller (181690) and Wiley B. Rutledge (18941949). Iowans who served in presidential cabinets as secretary of the interior were James Harlan (b.Illinois, 182099), Samuel J. Kirkwood (b.Maryland, 181394), Richard Ballinger (18581922), and Ray Lyman Wilbur (18751949). Ray Wilbur's brother Curtis (18671954) was secretary of the Navy, and James W. Good (18661929) was secretary of war. Appropriately enough, Iowans have dominated the post of secretary of agriculture in this century. They included, in addition to Wallace, James "Tama Jim" Wilson (b.Scotland, 18351920), who served in that post for 16 years and set a record for longevity in a single cabinet office; Henry C. Wallace (b.Illinois, 18661924), the father of the vice president; and Edwin T. Meredith (18761928). Harry L. Hopkins (18901946) was Franklin D. Roosevelt's closest adviser in all policy matters, foreign and domestic, and served in a variety of key New Deal posts. Prominent US senators from Iowa have included James W. Grimes (b.New Hampshire, 181672), whose vote, given from a hospital stretcher, saved President Andrew Johnson from being convicted of impeachment charges in 1868; earlier, Grimes had been governor of the state when its 1857 constitution was adopted. William Boyd Allison (b.Ohio, 18291908) was the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for nearly 30 years.

Among Iowa's most influential governors were the first territorial governor, Robert Lucas (b.Virginia, 17811853); Cyrus C. Carpenter (b.Pennsylvania, 182998); William Larrabee (b.Connecticut, 18321912); Horace Boies (b.New York, 18271923); and, in recent times, Harold Hughes (192296) and Robert D. Ray (b.1928).

Iowa has been home to a large number of radical dissenters and social reformers. Abolitionists, strong in Iowa before the Civil War, included James W. Grimes, Josiah B. Grinnell (b.Vermont, 182191), and Asa Turner (b.Massachusetts, 17991885). George D. Herron (b.Indiana, 18621925) made Iowa a center of the Social Gospel movement before helping to found the Socialist Party. William "Billy" Sunday (18621935) was an evangelist with a large following among rural Americans. James B. Weaver (b.Ohio, 18331912) ran for the presidency on the Greenback-Labor ticket in 1880 and as a Populist in 1892. John L. Lewis (18801969), head of the United Mine Workers, founded the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

Iowa can claim two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize: religious leader John R. Mott (b.New York, 18651955) and agronomist and plant geneticist Norman E. Borlaug (b.1914). Three other distinguished scientists who lived in Iowa were George Washington Carver (b.Missouri 18641943), Lee De Forest (18731961), and James Van Allen (b.1914). George H. Gallup (190484), a publicopinion analyst, originated the Gallup Polls.

Iowa writers of note include Hamlin Garland (b.Wisconsin, 18601940), Octave Thanet (Alice French, b.Massachusetts, 18501934), Bess Streeter Aldrich (18811954), Carl Van Vechten (18801964), James Norman Hall (18871951), Thomas Beer (18891940), Ruth Suckow (18921960), Phillip D. Strong (18991957), MacKinlay Kantor (190477), Wallace Stegner (190993), and Richard P. Bissell (191377). Iowa's poets include Paul H. Engle (190891), who directed the University of Iowa's famed Writers' Workshop, and James S. Hearst (190083). Two Iowa playwrights, Susan Glaspell (18821948) and her husband, George Cram Cook (18731924), were instrumental in founding influential theater groups.

Iowans who have contributed to America's musical heritage include popular composer Meredith Willson (190284), jazz musician Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke (190331), and bandleader Glenn Miller (190444). Iowa's artists of note include Grant Wood (18921942), whose American Gothic is one of America's best-known paintings, and printmaker Mauricio Lasansky (b.Argentina, 1914).

Iowa's contributions to the field of popular entertainment include William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody (18461917); circus impre-sario Charles Ringling (18631926) and his four brothers; the reigning American beauty of the late 19th century, Lillian Russell (Helen Louise Leonard, 18601922); and one of America's best-loved movie actors John Wayne (Marion Michael Morrison, 190779). Johnny Carson (19252005), host of the Tonight Show for many years, was born in Corning. Iowa sports figures of note are baseball Hall of Famers Adrian C. "Cap" Anson (18511922) and Robert "Bob" Feller (b.1918) and football All-American Nile Kinnick (191844).


Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Friedricks, William B. Covering Iowa: The History of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, 18491985. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 2000.

Landau, Diana. Iowa: the Spirit of America. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998.

Maharidge, Dale. Denison, Iowa: Searching for the Soul of America through the Secrets of a Midwest Town. New York: Free Press, 2005.

Mobil Travel Guide. Great Plains 2006: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma. Lincolnwood, Ill.: ExxonMobil Travel Publications, 2006.

Morain, Thomas J. (ed.). Family Reunion: Essays on Iowa. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1995.

Offenburger, Chuck. Ah, You Iowans!: At Home, At Work, At Play, At War. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1992.

Riley, Glenda, (ed.). Prairie Voices: Iowa's Pioneering Women. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1996.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Iowa, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

Winebrenner, Hugh. Iowa Precinct Caucuses: the Making of a Media Event. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1998.

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IOWA, located in the center of the Midwest in the north-central region of the continental United States, is characterized by its gently rolling terrain and bountiful agriculture. The earliest European explorers to visit Iowa observed a lush landscape covered primarily by tall prairie grass with trees mostly along rivers and streams. A century and a half later, the first white settlers quickly sensed the immense agricultural potential of that lush landscape. The newcomers' initial impressions held true. By 1870, with most of Iowa settled, the state was recognized nationally as a premier agricultural area.

Exploration and Changes

Iowa's recorded history began with the journey of Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette when they explored the Mississippi River. On 25 June 1673, the exploring party stepped ashore on Iowa soil, the first Europeans to do so. During the next 100 years, numerous explorers traveled up and down the Mississippi and visited Iowa. In 1682, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle traveled the Mississippi River, claiming the river and its valley for France. He named the area Louisiana, in honor of Louis XIV. The French sold Louisiana to Spain in 1762, but some forty years later regained control of the territory, and in 1803, sold it to the United States. The area containing the future state of Iowa then belonged to the United States. Little remained of the Spanish presence in the Upper Mississippi area, but French legacy continued in the names of Mississippi River towns such as Dubuque and Prairie Du Chien.

Iowa's early history also includes the presence of seventeen Native American tribes. All tribes were a part of the Prairie-Plains Indian culture where members lived both a sedentary and a migratory lifestyle. The Ioway were the first prominent tribe in Iowa, but in 1830, sold their land and relocated in Kansas. The two largest tribes, the Sauk and Meskwaki, dominated the eastern part of Iowa for almost 100 years. By 1845, the two tribes had sold their lands to the federal government, and were relocated in Kansas. The Sauk remained there but some Meskwaki returned to Iowa and later purchased land, creating the Meskwaki settlement in east-central Iowa.

From 1803 until Iowa became an independent territory in 1838, the area underwent continual political change. It was first a part of the District of Louisiana that extended from the 33-degree parallel northward to the Canadian border. From 1805 to 1838, the area was a part of four different territories. In reality, federal officials had simply assigned Iowa to the nearest political entity for most of that period. For a time, between 1821 and 1834, Iowa had no governmental jurisdiction. Finally in 1838, Congress created the Territory of Iowa.

Almost immediately Iowans began to agitate for statehood. They made the first attempt in 1844 but Congress rejected the proposed constitution. In 1846, Iowans tried again and were successful. The state benefited from the delay, as the area included in 1846 was larger than two years earlier. The state's final boundaries were the Mississippi River on the east; the Missouri–Big Sioux Rivers on the west; 43 degrees, 30 minutes on the north; and the Missouri border on the south. On 18 December 1846, Iowa became the twenty-ninth state to enter the Union.

Even before Iowa became an independent territory, white settlers had crossed the Mississippi River and staked out land in eastern Iowa. Federal officials started land surveys in 1836, and land sales began two years later. Settlement moved across Iowa in a fairly steady manner, moving from the southeast to the northwest. By 1870, small towns and farms covered most of the state and settlement in northwest Iowa signaled the end of the frontier era. Towns also appeared quickly, especially along the Mississippi River, and included Dubuque, Davenport, and Keokuk. Early settlements along the Missouri River included Council Bluffs and Sioux City. Iowa's population grew rapidly, reaching 1,194,020 by 1870.

The Late Nineteenth Century

Iowa's agricultural production varied in the nineteenth century. Farmers raised large quantities of wheat before the Civil War (1861–1865). They also raised oats, barley, hay, and sorghum. Unlike farmers in the Great Plains or the South who relied on staple crops, Iowa farmers diversified their production, providing greater economic stability in the event of drought or low farm prices. With ever-increasing agricultural production, farmers were soon looking for ways to market their surplus crops and livestock. Before the Civil War, farmers relied heavily on the Mississippi River for transportation, but in the 1850s, railroad construction got under way in Iowa. In 1867, the Chicago and North Western Railroad was the first route to reach Iowa's western border. By 1870, three more rail-roads—the Illinois Central, the Burlington Northern, and the Rock Island—had completed east-west routes across the state. Later, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad also spanned the state. From 1870 until the early twentieth century, railroads would not only dominate transportation in the state, but they would also be a powerful political entity in the state legislature.

The Civil War brought disruption to economic development, including railroad building, in a state still in the process of initial settlement. Even so, Iowa still contributed some 70,000 men to fight for the Union. No battles of any consequence took place on Iowa soil. On the home front, Iowa women contributed to the war effort, working tirelessly to provide clothing and food for Iowa soldiers. Women also took over family businesses and operated family farms while their husbands were away at war.

Following the Civil War, great expansion and change took place in both agriculture and the industrial sector. By 1870, Iowa farmers had switched from raising wheat to specializing in the production of corn and hogs. Iowa farmers had discovered by the 1870s that the state's climate and soil were especially well suited to raising corn. They also discovered they could realize greater profit from feeding corn to hogs, which they then marketed, rather than selling their corn commercially. The development of these economic practices produced the so-called corn-hog complex and resulted in the state being ranked first or second in the production of corn and hogs. Women also played major roles in Iowa farm life. Women typically raised poultry, which by 1900 made Iowa first in the nation in egg production, helped process dairy products, and raised huge vegetable gardens. With these practices, farm families were nearly self-sufficient in food needs. Women also routinely bartered eggs, cream, and butter for staple groceries. During difficult economic times, women's food production sustained many Iowa farm operations.

Iowans also began to create businesses and manufacturing firms in the nineteenth century, most of which were agriculture-related. Before the Civil War, the first ones appeared in towns along the Mississippi River. Most river towns had pork-slaughtering operations and breweries, and many also developed specialties. Davenport became a flour-milling center in the 1850s, while Burlington workers manufactured shoes and carriages. All river cities benefited from the daily steamboat travel on the Mississippi. Following the construction of railroads, larger agriculture-related industries appeared. Quaker Oats constructed an oat processing plant in Cedar Rapids, and John Morrell and company set up a meatpacking operation in Ottumwa. By century's end, meatpacking had become the most visible industrial operation in the state with plants in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Des Moines, Mason City, and Sioux City. Eventually, Sioux City became Iowa's largest meat processing center. After 1900, more industries appeared, many not related to agricultural production. Frederick Maytag began to manufacture washing machines, and a tractor works developed in Waterloo. In southeastern Iowa, Sheaffer Pen Company began operations.

Iowa's second largest industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was coal mining. Beginning in the 1840s in southeastern Iowa, the industry gradually moved into south central Iowa. By 1880, the state had 450 underground mines with a total of 6,028 miners, and Iowa's operation was ranked fifteenth nationally. The industry was tied to railroad development and as railroad mileage increased, so did the number of coal mines.


Throughout the nineteenth century, as more land opened for settlement and as new industries developed, the need for additional labor was often filled by immigrants. The majority of foreign-born workers arrived from Western Europe and the British Isles. Germans composed the largest group. German Americans settled everywhere within the state, with most of the newcomers going into farming. German Americans were also numerous in the Mississippi River cities where they established small businesses and worked in industry. Even in the early twenty-first century, cities like Dubuque, Davenport, and Burlington are known for their high numbers of German descendants.

Other major immigrant groups in Iowa included the Irish, the state's second largest foreign-born group. Many Irish helped build railroads across the Midwest, and some workers settled permanently in Iowa. A large number of Irish settled in Dubuque, where they worked in factories. Some Irish families also became farmers. Today, several communities, including Emmetsburg, annually celebrate their Irish ancestry.

People of many other nationalities from Western Europe and the British Isles also immigrated to Iowa. Scan-dinavians constituted Iowa's third largest group, including Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes, with the largest group being the Swedes. Swedes settled in southwest and west-central Iowa, where most became farmers. Many Swedish men also worked as coal miners. Norwegians settled in northeastern and central Iowa, where most families took up farming, and the Danes created a large farming community in southwestern Iowa. Other groups settling in Iowa included the English, especially in southern Iowa, and also Dutch, Welsh, Scots, and Czechs. Most of these ethnic groups still celebrate their heritage by operating ethnic museums and holding ethnic festivals.

Around 1900, immigration patterns changed. The foreign-born continued to emigrate from Western Europe and the British Isles, but people also began arriving from Eastern and Southern Europe, although in smaller numbers than the earlier groups. Newcomers arriving after 1900 included emigrants from Russia, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Frequently lacking resources to begin farming, many of these newcomers went to work in the coal mines and in meatpacking plants. Italians also set up small businesses in Des Moines, and others went to work for the Chicago Great Western Railroad in Oelwein. Like their fellow immigrants elsewhere, Iowa's Southern and Eastern Europeans often suffered discrimination because of their national origins and their Roman Catholic religion.

The Twentieth Century and After

Like all states, Iowa was strongly influenced by the two world wars. During World War I (1914–1918), federal government subsidies encouraged farmers to expand their landholdings and to increase their production. Following the war, many farmers were unable to meet mortgage payments and lost their farms through foreclosure. World War II (1939–1945) brought greatly increased production and a strong push for greater mechanization in farming. Corn yields increased as more and more farmers adopted hybrid seed corn.

After World War II, farmers moved quickly to mechanize farming, using combines, corn pickers, and larger tractors. They also began using chemicals to control weeds and increase yields. Farm acreages increased and farmers began to specialize in corn and soybean production, but they continued to raise large numbers of hogs. These many developments had changed the face of agriculture and the way farm families lived. By 1960, Iowa farms had a new look. Gone were the flocks of chickens, the small dairy herds, and often the large gardens. Farm families had begun to buy their food rather than produce it. With rural electrification, which started in 1935, farm homes could be as modern as town and city homes.

For most of its history, Iowa has been a Republican state even though Iowans initially voted for Democrats. During the 1850s Iowans shifted to the Republican Party and remained almost solidly Republican until the 1930s. Between 1854 and 1932, only one Democrat, Horace Boies, was elected governor. Between 1932 and 1974, four Democrats and eight Republicans served as governor. In the more recent past, Iowans have distinguished themselves by keeping Republicans in the governorship for long periods of time. In 1968, Robert D. Ray was elected governor and remained in that office for fourteen years. Republican Terry Branstad was elected in 1982 and served sixteen years as governor. Iowans have elected both Democrats and Republicans to the U.S. Congress but tend to elect Democrats to the state legislature. Since the 1950s, Iowa has been regarded as a two-party state.

Iowa experienced major economic and social change in the second half of the twentieth century. Most evident has been the trend toward urbanization. Shifts from rural to urban populations had been moderate but steady since the latter nineteenth century. In 1880, 84.4 percent of Iowans lived in rural areas, including towns of fewer than 2,500 people. But in 1956, for the first time, more Iowans lived in urban areas than in rural areas. As more Iowans moved to the cities and as farming became more mechanized and specialized, rural institutions began to disappear. Rural churches closed their doors, public schools consolidated at a rate faster than before, and small-town businesses began to close. Reapportionment of the state legislature in 1972 led to a lessening of rural influence in the state government. Given these changes along with the founding of new industries such as Winnebago Industries, Iowa has developed a political balance between rural and urban interests and a steadily growing industrial sector.

The decade of the 1980s brought major change to the agricultural sector as the farm economy suffered a major depression and farmland values plummeted. By mid-decade, news of the farm crisis dominated all statewide media. By the end of the decade, conditions had improved but more than 140,000 people had moved off Iowa farms. Although by the end of the twentieth century, Iowa remained either first or second in production of corn, hogs, and soybeans, approximately 50 percent of farm families augmented their income through off-farm employment. By 2000, the number of Iowa farms had shrunk to 94,000. While many Iowa farmers still raise hogs, a major shift in the countryside has been the development of large-scale hog confinement operations. Large poultry confinement facilities have also been constructed. These changes have produced strong protest, especially from rural residents, because such facilities produce environmental pollution and sometimes reduce their quality of life.

Iowans have also faced numerous key political issues with long-term social and economic implications. In 1962, Iowans adopted liquor-by-the-drink, allowing the establishment of bars and abolishing the State Liquor Commission. At the same time, a struggle to reapportion the state legislature, where both legislative chambers were weighed heavily in favor of rural residents, pitted the state's liberal and conservative forces against each other for more than a decade. After various efforts by the legislature, the state supreme court stepped in, declaring reapportionment legislation unconstitutional. The court then drew up its own reapportionment plan, effective in 1972, which gave Iowa the most equitably apportioned legislature in the nation.

Two political issues of the 1980s and 1990s proved contentious. In 1985, in strongly contested legislation, Iowa established a state lottery. Opponents, many of them church officials, predicted that the lottery was only the first step in opening the state to all types of gambling. The creation of the lottery was quickly followed by an increase in pari-mutuel betting facilities and the building of steamboat casinos and three Native American gambling casinos. A second issue dealt with gender. In 1980 and 1992, Iowans considered adding an equal rights amendment to the state constitution. The amendment was defeated both times, in 1992 by a vote of 595,837 to 551,566. In analyzing the defeat, supporters pointed to a long ballot, which confused some voters, and to the amendment's unclear wording.

Iowa demographics have changed slowly since the 1960s. In 2000, Iowa had 2,926,324 residents and its population had grown just 5.4 percent since 1990. Since its admission to the Union in 1846, Iowa gradually increased in population until 1980 (with the exception of the 1910 census) and then lost population for each of seven years. In 1987, that trend was reversed, and the state experienced the beginning of slow but steady population increases. Iowa has long had a high percentage of elderly residents; by 2000, Iowa's percentage of people age sixty-five and older had risen to 14.9 percent, one of the highest in the nation. The percentage of urban and rural residents also changed: in 2000, fewer than one in ten Iowans lived on a farm.

For most of its history, Iowa has remained a state characterized by cultural variations but with little racial diversity. African Americans have historically been the largest racial group although their total numbers have been small. In 2000, they constituted approximately 2 percent of the state's total population. African Americans have traditionally lived in Iowa's larger cities, although early in 1900 many men worked as coal miners. Since the 1970s, however, the state has become more racially diverse. In 1975, 13,000 Southeast Asian refugees were resettled in Iowa, mainly due to the efforts of then-Governor Robert D. Ray. By the 1990s, their numbers had increased to 25,037. Beginning in the 1960s, a small but increasing number of Hispanics arrived in Iowa. Hispanics had earlier worked as migrant farmworkers, but in the 1990s, they were employed in a wider range of industries, especially in meatpacking. They had settled in both large cities and small towns. In the 1990s, the number of Hispanics rose sharply, an increase of almost 40 percent in ten years. The newly arrived Hispanics came from Mexico as well as from California and Texas. Spanish is the second major language used in the state on an everyday basis. In 2002, the number of Hispanics in Iowa was 82,473. In the 1990s, Iowa also became home to small numbers of Bosnian and Sudanese refugees who settled in Iowa's larger communities.

Despite severe economic dislocations in most segments of Iowa's economy during the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Iowans remain unchanged in major ways. They continue to express strong support for public education and to produce well-educated young people who often score highest in the nation on college entrance exams. Iowa communities remain stable, with community institutions—family, church, and school—in-tact and still held in high esteem. Although the state now experiences a balance between rural and urban interests and between agriculture and other industries, its character is still defined largely by the culture of its small towns and its agricultural preeminence. As Iowans experience the twenty-first century, they remain somewhat conservative in their politics, usually liberal in their social thinking, and almost always optimistic about their economic future.


Bergman, Marvin, ed. Iowa History Reader. Ames: State Historical Society of Iowa in association with Iowa State University Press, 1996.

Sage, Leland L. A History of Iowa. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1974.

Schwieder, Dorothy. Iowa: The Middle Land. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1996.

———. "Iowa: The Middle Land." In Heartland: Comparative Histories of the Midwestern States. Edited by James H. Madison. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Wall, Joseph Frazier. Iowa: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1978.


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Iowa (state, United States)

Iowa (ī´əwə), midwestern state in the N central United States. It is bounded by the Mississippi River, across which lie Wisconsin and Illinois (E); Missouri (S); Nebraska and South Dakota, from which it is separated by the Missouri and the Big Sioux rivers, respectively (W); and Minnesota (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 56,290 sq mi (145,791 sq km). Pop. (2010) 3,046,355, a 4.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Des Moines. Statehood, Dec. 28, 1846 (29th state). Highest pt., 1,670 ft (509 m), Osceola co.; lowest pt., Mississippi River, 480 ft (146 m). Nickname, Hawkeye State. Motto, Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain. State bird, Eastern goldfinch. State flower, wild rose. State tree, oak. Abbr., IA


Iowa is bordered on two sides by rivers; the Mississippi separates it on the east from Wisconsin and Illinois, and the Missouri and the Big Sioux separate it on the west from Nebraska and South Dakota. The state is bounded on the north by Minnesota and on the south by Missouri. Iowa is an area of rich, rolling plains, interrupted by many rivers. The terrain is low and gently sloping, except for the hills in the unglaciated area of NE Iowa, the steeply sloping bluffs on the banks of the Mississippi, and the moundlike bluffs on the banks of the Missouri. The rivers of the eastern two thirds of Iowa flow to the Mississippi; those of the west flow to the Missouri. The original woodlands, which included black walnut and hickory, were destroyed by lumbering and land clearing in the 19th cent., and present wooded sections are covered only with second or third growths of timber. Only 0.1% of Iowa, the lowest total in the 50 states, is owned by the federal government.

Historically typical of Iowa was the prairie. Covered a little more than a century ago with grass higher than the wheels of the pioneers' prairie schooners, or covered wagons, the prairies gave way to fields of corn and other grains. Wildflowers still brighten the roadsides, but few areas of the original grassland remain, and several prairie preserves have been established. The former habitat of wild turkeys, prairie chickens, and quail, Iowa abounds with migratory geese and ducks and the imported ring-necked pheasant and European partridge, all of which are hunted in the autumn.

Des Moines is the capital and largest city. Other major cities are Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Sioux City.

Iowa's climate is continental—northwest winds drive the mercury down below 0°F (-18°C) in winter, and in the summer hot air masses bring oppressive heat; there are violent thunderstorms, hail, and occasional droughts. Floods have periodically inflicted great losses of life and property, necessitating control measures. In the devastating midwestern flood of 1993 all 99 counties of Iowa were declared disaster areas. Overall, the average annual rainfall in Iowa is 31 in. (78.7 cm), and, since most of this falls in summer, soil is often washed away. Iowans have had to fight erosion with modern plowing and planting practices, control of water flow, and reforestation. Still, Iowa has some of the most fertile agricultural land (about 70% of the state's area is cropland) in the world.


The deep, porous soil yields corn and other grains in tremendous quantities, and the corn-fed hogs and cattle are nationally known. In 1997, Iowa led the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, hogs, and pigs, and ranked in the top 10 in the raising of cattle. Other major crops are hay and oats. Iowa has in recent years taken in the second highest farm income of any state.

Agriculture also benefits the state's chief industry, food processing, and in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids many factories process farm products. Nonelectrical machinery, farm machinery, tires, appliances, electronic equipment, and chemicals are among the other manufactures. Cement is the most important mineral product; others are stone, sand, gravel, and gypsum. Mineral production is small, however. Communications, finance, and insurance industries are especially important in Des Moines.

Government and Higher Education

Iowa's constitution was adopted in 1857. The governor is elected for a term of four years. The general assembly, or legislature, has a senate with 50 members and a house of representatives with 100 members. Iowa is represented in the U.S. Congress by two senators and four representatives. The state has six electoral votes. Terry Branstad, a Republican, served as governor from 1983 through 1998, when Democrat Tom Vilsack was elected. Vilsack was reelected in 2002, and was succeeded by fellow Democrat Chet Culver, elected in 2006. Culver lost to Republican Terry Branstad in 2010; Branstad was reelected in 2014.

Among the educational institutions in Iowa are Iowa State Univ. of Science and Technology, at Ames; the Univ. of Iowa, at Iowa City; Grinnell College, at Grinnell; Cornell College, at Mount Vernon; Drake Univ., at Des Moines; Univ. of Northern Iowa, at Cedar Falls; and the Univ. of Dubuque, Loras College, and Clarke College, at Dubuque.


European Incursions into Native Lands

In prehistoric times, the Mound Builders, a farming people, lived in the Iowa area. When Europeans first came to explore the region in the 17th cent., various Native American groups, including the Iowa, reputedly the source of the state's name, occupied the land. The Sac and Fox also ranged over the land, but it was the combative Sioux who dominated the area. In 1673 the French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet traveled down the Mississippi River and touched upon the Iowa shores, as did Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, in 1681–82. The areas surrounding the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers were profitable for fur traders, and a number of Iowa towns developed from trading posts.

Late in the 18th cent. a French Canadian, Julien Dubuque, leased land from Native Americans around the Dubuque area and opened lead mines there. After his death they refused to permit others to work the mines, and U.S. troops under Lt. Jefferson Davis protected Native American rights to the land as late as 1830. However, their hold was doomed after the United States acquired Iowa as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

In 1832 the Black Hawk War broke out as the Sac and Fox, led by their chief, Black Hawk, fought to regain their former lands in Illinois along the Mississippi River. They were defeated by U.S. troops and were forced to leave the Illinois lands and cede to the United States much of their land along the river on the Iowa side. Within two decades after the Black Hawk War, all Native American lands in the region had been ceded to the United States. Meanwhile, a great rush of frontiersmen came to settle the prairies and take the mines.

Territorial Status

Slavery was prohibited in Iowa under the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which excluded it from the lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of lat. 36°30′N. Included in the Missouri Territory prior to 1821, Iowa was subsequently part of Michigan Territory and Wisconsin Territory. By 1838, Iowa Territory was organized, with Burlington as the temporary capital. In the following year, Iowa City became the capital. The Iowans quickly built a rural civilization like that of New England, where many of them had lived. Later, immigrants from Europe, notably Germans, Czechs, Dutch, and Scandinavians, brought their agricultural skills and their own customs to enrich Iowa's rural life, and a group of German Pietists established the Amana Church Society, a successful attempt at communal social organization. A system of public schools was set up in 1839, and efforts made soon thereafter resulted in the establishment of a number of colleges and universities.

Statehood, Railroads, and Reform Movements

Iowa became a state in 1846, and Ansel Briggs was elected as the first governor. In 1857 the capital was moved from Iowa City to Des Moines. In that same year the state adopted its second constitution. Iowa prospered greatly with the beginning of railroad construction, and the rivalry between towns to get the lines was so fierce that the grant of big land tracts to railroad companies was curtailed by legislative act in 1857. Two years earlier the state's first railroad line was completed between Davenport and Muscatine along the eastern border. Before and during the Civil War, Iowans, generally owners of small, independent farms, were naturally sympathetic to the antislavery side, and many fought for the Union. The Underground Railroad, which helped many fugitive slaves escape to free states, was active in Iowa, and the abolitionist John Brown made his headquarters there for a time.

Iowa's farmers prospered after the Civil War, but during the hard times that afflicted the country in the 1870s they found themselves burdened with debts. Feeling oppressed by the currency system, corporations, and high railroad and grain-storage rates, many of Iowa's farmers supported, along with other farmers of the West, the Granger movement, the Greenback party, and the Populist party. The reform movements had some success in the state. Granger laws were enacted in 1874 and 1876 regulating railroad rates, but these laws were repealed in 1877 under pressure from the railroad companies. By the end of the 19th cent., times improved, and the agrarian movements declined. Farm units grew larger, and mechanization brought great increases in productivity.

Modern Iowa

Much of Iowa's society may still resemble that depicted in the paintings of Grant Wood, an Iowan, but the state's industrial economy as well as other elements of modernization have altered this image. While on a visit to the United States in 1959, Nikita S. Khrushchev, then premier of the Soviet Union, was invited to a farm in Iowa to observe part of the U.S. farm economy. The volatile nature of agricultural prices combined with a steady decline in manufacturing has made Iowa susceptible to economic recession. This was especially true in the 1980s, when Iowa was second in the United States in outmigration with a 4.7% decline in population.

Notable Iowans

Among Iowa's colorful native sons were Buffalo Bill Cody, labor leader John L. Lewis, and baseball player–evangelist Billy Sunday. Other public figures associated with the state are James Wilson, U.S. secretary of agriculture for 16 years (1897–1913), and the noted members of the Wallace family—Henry Wallace, Henry Cantwell Wallace, and Henry Agard Wallace. Herbert C. Hoover and Harry L. Hopkins were born in Iowa. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, which contains Hoover's birthplace, childhood home, and grave, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library are at West Branch.


See H. Hahn, Urban-Rural Conflict (1971); M. M. Rosenberg, Iowa on the Eve of the Civil War (1972); R. B. Talbot, Iowa in the World Economy (1985); O. J. Fargo, ed., Iowa Geography (1988), "History of Iowa" series; D. Schwieder et al., Iowa: Past to Present (1989).

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Situated in the center of the nation and between two major rivers, Iowa had some built-in advantages as pioneers began to move westward to establish farms on the prairie grasslands. Spurred on by the development of railroads, more and more people came to this fertile territory. Although the economy of contemporary Iowa actually depends more on industry and the service sector than on farming, the image of Iowa as a state of rolling farmlands and small towns persists. As the diary of Elmer Powers, a 1930s rural Iowan, indicated, Iowa farmers take pride in "[t]he responsibility of growing the food and flesh for a distant and often unappreciative city."

A trip down the Mississippi River in 1673 made Father Jacques Marquette the first European to visit Iowa. The territory was inhabited by several Native American tribes. The only permanent white settler for many years was a French trapper, Julien Dubuque, who obtained the right from the Fox Indians to work the lead mines in the area, which later bore his name. Iowa came under United States control when France included it as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark then went up the Missouri River on their famous expedition, stopping in Iowa and finding it a fairly empty region.

The westward wave of white settlement caused Winnebago, Sauk, and Fox Indians to flee to Iowa. Their stay was brief, however, as more whites moved into the territory and drove them out. Iowa was successively part of the Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin territories, becoming a separate territory in 1838. It entered the Union in 1846 as a free state at the same time Florida was admitted as a slave state.

Settlement in the territory proceeded at a rapid pace, since the new state boasted one-fourth of the nation's fertile topsoil. Farmers from Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee, and from far-reaching states, such as Virginia, New York, and the Carolinas, came in droves. According to historian Joseph Frazier Wall, the convenience of waterways was important to the development of Iowa. Travelers from the East could come via canals to the Ohio River, and from there down the Mississippi to Davenport or Dubuque. "The entire water trip," according to Frazier, "might take a month, but this was lightning-quick compared to the wagon and cart journey from interior Pennsylvania or Ohio or even farther east across a third of the continent from the Great Smokies of Carolina or the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia." These mostly Anglo-Americans made the state's culture quite homogeneous in religion and ethnicity. Later immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia during the 1870s and 1880s. Iowa was the second-highest producer of wheat by 1870, but in the following decades the wheat belt moved farther west and Iowa began to produce more corn to feed cattle.

Despite the abundance of farmable land in Iowa, pioneers by no means had an easy time taming it. The high prairie grass with its extensive root system made it necessary in many cases to hire a professional "prairiebreaker," a person who made his living by breaking up the soil with a team of oxen and a special, heavy-duty plow. According to Frazier, this process was effective but very costly to the average farmer who might have to work six to eight years to make his land claim pay for its cost. In addition farmers had to cope with periodic plagues of grasshoppers and plant diseases.

Some interesting sidelights in Iowa's history were the experimental socialist communities that developed in several areas of the state during the mid-nineteenth century, particularly the Amana colonies in Iowa County. In Amana, founded by a religious group called the Community of True Inspiration, all lands, mills, factories, tools, and livestock were held in common. While other utopian communities had failed, Amana flourished, growing to 26,000 acres of farmland and 1,800 inhabitants by the turn of the century. The communitarian character of Amana, however, was weakened by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Amana soon became a capitalist corporation with each member a stockholder. Today it is a cooperative company town that has become famous for its manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners, and microwave ovens, as well as for its tourist appeal.

Iowa supported the Union during the American Civil War (18611865), not only because of its anti-slavery sentiment but because of its strong desire to keep Mississippi River shipping alive during a time of crisis. Railroads were vital to the growth of agriculture in the state; the Mississippi and Missouri railroad was the first to cross the state, followed by the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska, and later the Chicago & Northwestern railroads. Three other major railroads were the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Illinois Central, and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific. By the 1870s, despite the railroads' obvious benefits to commerce, Iowa farmers were against the high rates and monopolistic practices of the railroads. A powerful lobby in the state, the National Grange, succeeded in getting the legislature to pass the Granger laws to regulate railroads.

During the late nineteenth century Iowa was slowly becoming a center for much scientific experimentation in farming, especially in animal and plant genetics. Livestock and poultry were refined to meet the tastes of urbanized people who liked more tender beef and chicken. Soybeans were introduced from the Orient, and hybrid corn appeared early in the twentieth century, increasing corn yields significantly. Giant seed companies, such as Pioneer, DeKalb, and Cargill, grew rapidly to accommodate the farmers' increasing desire for the hybrids.

Because so much of Iowa's land was valuable for agriculture, towns and cities tended to stay relatively small. At first they grew up along the riverstowns such as Dubuque, Burlington, Davenport, Bellevue, Keokuk, and Fort Madison. Railroads made possible the development of inland cities such as Grinnell and Waterloo. Still, the state did not develop major metropolitan areas comparable to Chicago or Indianapolis. Des Moines, the state's largest city, still has only around 200,000 people, and the second-largest city, Cedar Rapids, is only about half that size. Since much of Iowa's industrial production is related to agriculture no one metropolitan area dominates, nor is there any natural port of entry that would create a concentration of population and industry.

After World War I (19141918) prices for farmland rose considerably, forcing many cash-poor farmers to lose their land around the time of the Great Depression. A small number of farmers joined the Farmers Holiday Association, which staged a number of violent strikes in 1932. Most farmers, however, sought relief in political change within the system. Overwhelmingly, Democrats were elected to office in 1932 on all levels, and the state began to benefit from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (19331945) New Deal programs. High demand for farm products improved the farmers' situation during World War II (19391945). After the war, however, the state's economy shifted emphasis from agriculture to manufacturing and service industries. Food processing and farm implement manufacture, early industries in the state, remain important to the economy. In the 1990s the service sector encompassed nearly 50 percent of the economy, with manufacturing at 25 percent, and agriculture at only nine percent.

Inflation plagued Iowa during the late 1970s, driving up the cost of fertilizers and farm equipment. Iowa also suffered during the recession of the 1980s, losing 7.9 percent of its population. A serious drought in 1988 prompted Iowa's governor to declare a state of emergency, as soybean and corn harvest dropped to their lowest levels in 14 years; this disaster was followed by an early frost, which further damaged the already ruined farmlands. Since 1970 the state has seen a loss of 41,000 family farms; more than 90 percent of all of Iowa's land, however, is still farmland. By the early 1990s diversification of businesses, industries, and agriculture had helped the state's economy to make a cautious recovery.

Iowa ranked well below the national average in unemployment, at 3.8 percent, in 1996. Its per capita income in that year was $22,560, placing it 28th among all states. Iowa's farm income, nearly $12 billion in 1995, came from the sale of livestock and meat products, feed grains, and soybeans. Some of the important industries in the state, all members of the Fortune 500, include Caterpillar Tractor, General Motors, Mobil, General Electric, General Foods, Procter & Gamble, and U.S. Steel. Around 12.5 percent of all employees in the state are members of labor unions.

See also: National Grange, Utopian Communities,


Iowa Development Commission. 1985 Statistical Profile of Iowa. Des Moines, 1985.

Powers, Elmer G. Years of Struggle. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1976.

Sage, Leland. A History of Iowa. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1974.

Swierenga, Robert P. Pioneers and Profits. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1968.

Wall, Joseph Frazier. Iowa: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1978.

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Cedar Rapids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

Davenport . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

Des Moines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

The State in Brief

Nickname: Hawkeye State

Motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain

Flower: Wild rose

Bird: Eastern goldfinch

Area: 56,271 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 26th)

Elevation: Ranges from 480 feet to 1,670 feet above sea level

Climate: Continental, with extremes in temperature (30 degrees in winter, 100 degrees in summer)

Admitted to Union: December 28, 1846

Capital: Des Moines

Head Official: Governor Tom Vilsack (D) (until 2007)


1980: 2,914,000

1990: 2,795,000

2000: 2,926,382

2004 estimate: 2,954,451

Percent change, 19902000: 5.4%

U.S. rank in 2004: 30th

Percent of residents born in state: 74.8% (2000)

Density: 52.4 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 101,265

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 2,748,640

Black or African American: 61,853

American Indian and Alaska Native: 8,989

Asian: 36,635

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,009

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 82,473

Other: 37,420

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 188,413

Population 5 to 19 years old: 639,570

Percent of population 65 years and over: 14.9%

Median age: 36.6 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 38,243

Total number of deaths (2003): 28,138 (infant deaths, 207)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 728


Major industries: Manufacturing; agriculture; finance, insurance, and real estate; trade; services

Unemployment rate: 5.1% (March 2005)

Per capita income: $28,398 (2003; U.S. rank: 36th)

Median household income: $41,985 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 8.5% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 0.36% to 8.98%

Sales tax rate: 5.0%

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Iowa (indigenous people of North America)

Iowa (ī´əwə, –wā´), Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages); also called the Ioway. They, with the Missouri, the Omaha, the Oto, and the Ponca, are thought to have once formed part of the Winnebago people in their primal home N of the Great Lakes. Iowa culture was that of the Eastern Woodlands area with some Plains area traits. In 1700 the Iowa, separated from the parent nation, lived in Minnesota. Their population in 1760 was some 1,100. In 1804, according to Lewis and Clark, the Iowa lived on the Platte River and there were some 800, smallpox having reduced the population. In 1824 they ceded all their lands in Missouri and in 1836 were assigned a reservation in NE Kansas. Some of them later moved to central Oklahoma, and in 1890 land was allotted to them in severalty. In 1990 there were some 1,500 Iowa in the United States.

See A. B. Skinner, Ethnology of the Ioway Indians (1926).

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Iowa State in n central USA, lying between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers; the capital is Des Moines. First discovered in 1673, the land was claimed for France in 1682. The region was sold to the USA in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Iowa was admitted to the Union in 1846. Industrial development was encouraged after World War II. Originally prairie that was ploughed to create farmland, the region is known for its fertile soil. Maize and other cereals are produced and Iowa stands second only to Texas in the raising of prime cattle. Industries: food processing, farm machinery. Area: 145,790sq km (56,290sq mi). Pop. (2000) 2,926,324.

Statehood :

December 28, 1846

Nickname :

Hawkeye state

State bird :

Eastern goldfinch

State flower :

Wild rose

State tree :


State motto :

Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain

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The Iowa (Pahodja) lived throughout much of the present state of Iowa and in adjoining parts of Minnesota and Missouri and were culturally related to the neighboring Oto and Missouri. They now live principally on the Iowa Indian Reservation (which straddles the Kansas-Nebraska state boundary along the Missouri River) and in a federal trust area in central Oklahoma. They speak a Chiwere Siouan language and numbered about one thousand in the mid-1980s.


Gussow, Zachary (1974). Sac, Fox, and Iowa Indians. Vol. I. New York: Garland Publishing.

Skinner, Alanson (1926). "Ethnology of the Ioway Indians." Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee 5:181 354.

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Iowa (river, United States)

Iowa, river, 329 mi (529 km) long, rising in the lakes of N Iowa and flowing SE to the Mississippi River, SE Iowa; Cedar River (300 mi/483 km long) is its chief tributary. A power dam crosses the gorge at Iowa Falls. The Iowa River has an extensive flood-control system; Coralville Dam and reservoir, N of Iowa City, is the largest unit.

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Iowa •Aconcagua •aqua, sub-aqua •Chihuahua, Kurosawa, Massawa, Okinawa, Tokugawa •Qwaqwa • Quechua •Chichewa, rewarewa •Ojibwa • Interlingua • siliqua • Iowa •Medawar • Te Kanawa • Ottawa

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