Iowa

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Iowa

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states: Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east and southeast, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest, and Minnesota to the north.

Etymology

Iowa derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many Native American nations whose territory comprised the future state at the time of European colonization.

Geography

Boundaries

Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west. The northern boundary is a line along 43 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude. The southern border is the Des Moines River and a not-quite-straight line along approximately 40 degrees 35 minutes north, as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri v. Iowa (1849) after a standoff between Missouri and Iowa known as the Honey War. Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are formed almost entirely by rivers. Carter Lake, Iowa, is the only city in the state located west of the Missouri River. Iowa has 99 counties, but 100 county seats because Lee County has two. The state capital, Des Moines, is in Polk County.

Geology and Terrain

Iowa's bedrock geology generally decreases in age from east to west. In northwest Iowa, Cretaceous bedrock can be 74 million years old; in eastern Iowa Cambrian bedrock dates to c. 500 million years ago. Iowa can be divided into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. Northeast Iowa along the Upper Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Area, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear as mountainous.

Ecology and Environment

Iowa's natural vegetation is tallgrass prairie and savanna in upland areas, with dense forest and wetlands in flood plains and protected river valleys, and pothole wetlands in northern prairie areas. Most of Iowa is used for agriculture; crops cover 60% of the state, grasslands (mostly pasture and hay with some prairie and wetland) cover 30%, and forests cover 7%; urban areas and water cover another 1% each. The southern part of Iowa is categorized as the Central forest-grasslands transition ecoregion. The Northern, drier part of Iowa is categorized as part of the Central tall grasslands.

Climate

Iowa has a humid continental climate throughout the state (Köppen climate classification Dfa) with extremes of both heat and cold. The average annual temperature at Des Moines is 50 °F (10 °C); for some locations in the north, such as Mason City, the figure is about 45 °F (7 °C), while Keokuk, on the Mississippi River, averages 52 °F (11 °C). Snowfall is common, with Des Moines getting about 26 days of snowfall a year, and other places, such as Shenandoah getting about 11 days of snowfall in a year.

Iowa summers are known for heat and humidity, with daytime temperatures sometimes near 90 °F (32 °C) and occasionally exceeding 100 °F (38 °C). Average winters in the state have been known to drop well below freezing, even dropping below −18 °F (−28 °C). Iowa’s all-time hottest temperature of 118 °F (48 °C) was recorded at Keokuk on July 20, 1934, during a nationwide heat wave; the all-time lowest temperature of −47 °F (−44 °C) was recorded in Washta on January 12, 1912.

Settlements

Percent population changes by counties in Iowa, 2000–2009. Dark green counties have gains of more than 5%. Iowa's population is more urban than rural, with 61 percent living in urban areas in 2000, a trend that began in the early 20th century. Urban counties in Iowa grew 8.5% from 2000 to 2008, while rural counties declined by 4.2%. The shift from rural to urban has caused population increases in more urbanized counties such as Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Scott, at the expense of more rural counties.

Demographics

Population

Of the residents of Iowa, 70.8% were born in Iowa, 23.6% were born in a different U.S. state, 0.6% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 5% were foreign born. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 29,386 people, while migration within the country produced a net loss of 41,140 people. 6.5% of Iowa's population were reported as under the age of five, 22.6% under 18, and 14.7% were 65 or older. Males made up approximately 49.6% of the population. The population density of the state is 52.7 people per square mile. As of the 2010 Census, the center of population

Religion

A 2014 survey by Pew Research Center found 60% of Iowans are Protestant, while 18% are Catholic, and 1% are of non-Christian religions. 21% responded with non-religious, and 1% did not answer. A survey from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) in 2010 found that the largest Protestant denominations were the United Methodist Church with 235,190 adherents and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 229,557. The largest non-Protestant religion was Catholicism with 503,080 adherents. The state has a great number of Calvinist denominations. The Presbyterian Church (USA) had almost 290 congregations and 51,380 members followed by the Reformed Church in America with 80 churches and 40,000 members, and the United Church of Christ had 180 churches and 39,000 members.

Language

English is the most common language in Iowa, being the sole language spoken by 91.1% of the population. William Labov and colleagues, in the monumental Atlas of North American English found the English spoken in Iowa divides into multiple linguistic regions. Natives of northern Iowa—including Sioux City, Fort Dodge, and the Waterloo region—tend to speak the dialect linguists call North Central American English, which is also found in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Natives of central and southern Iowa—including such cities as Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City—tend to speak the North Midland dialect also found in eastern Nebraska, central Illinois, and central Indiana. Natives of East-Central Iowa—including cities such as Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Clinton tend to speak with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, a dialect that extends from this area and east across the Great Lakes Region.

Economy

CNBC’s list of “Top States for Business in 2010” has recognized Iowa as the sixth best state in the nation. Scored in 10 individual categories, Iowa was ranked first when it came to the “Cost of Doing Business”; this includes all taxes, utility costs, and other costs associated with doing business. Iowa was also ranked 10th in “Economy”, 12th in “Business Friendliness”, 16th in “Education”, 17th in both “Cost of Living” and “Quality of Life”, 20th in “Workforce”, 29th in “Technology and Innovation”, 32nd in “Transportation” and the lowest ranking was 36th in “Access to Capital”.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the largest sector of Iowa's economy, with $20.8 billion (21%) of Iowa's 2003 gross state product. Major manufacturing sectors include food processing, heavy machinery, and agricultural chemicals. Sixteen percent of Iowa's workforce is dedicated to manufacturing. Food processing is the largest component of manufacturing.

Besides processed food, industrial outputs include machinery, electric equipment, chemical products, publishing, and primary metals. Companies with direct or indirect processing facilities in Iowa include ConAgra Foods, Wells Blue Bunny, Barilla, Heinz, Tone's Spices, General Mills, and Quaker Oats. Meatpacker Tyson Foods has 11 locations, second only to its headquarter state Arkansas.

Agriculture

Though industrial-scale, commodity agriculture predominates in much of the state, Iowa has seen growth in the organic farming sector. Iowa ranks fifth in the nation in total number of organic farms. In 2016, there were approximately 732 organic farms in the state, an increase of about 5% from the previous year, and 103,136 organic acres, an increase of 9,429 from the previous year. Iowa has also seen an increase in demand for local, sustainably-grown food. Northeast Iowa, part of the Driftless Area, has led the state in development of its regional food system and grows and consumes more local food than any other region in Iowa.

Education

Primary and Secondary Schools

Iowa was one of the leading states in the high school movement, and continues to be among the top educational performers today. The four-year graduation rate for high schoolers was 91.3% in 2017. Iowa's schools are credited with the highest graduation rate in the nation as of 2019. Iowa has 333 school districts, 1,329 school buildings and has the 14th lowest student-to-teacher ratio of 14.2. Teacher pay is ranked 22nd, with the average salary being $55,647.

Colleges and Universities

The Iowa Board of Regents is composed of nine citizen volunteers appointed by the governor to provide policymaking, coordination, and oversight of the state's three public universities, two special K–12 schools, and affiliated centers. The special K–12 schools include the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton. Both Iowa State University and The University of Iowa are research universities and members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. In addition to the three state universities, Iowa has multiple private colleges and universities.

Transportation

Interstate Highways

Iowa has four primary interstate highways. Interstate 29 (I-29) travels along the state's western edge through Council Bluffs and Sioux City. I-35 travels from the Missouri state line to the Minnesota state line through the state's center, including Des Moines. I-74 begins at I-80 just northeast of Davenport. I-80 travels from the Nebraska state line to the Illinois state line through the center of the state, including Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Iowa City, and the Quad Cities. I-380 is an auxiliary Interstate Highway, which travels from I-80 near Iowa City through Cedar Rapids ending in Waterloo and is part of the Avenue of the Saints highway. Iowa is among the few jurisdictions where municipalities install speed cameras on interstate highways providing a substantial revenue source from out of state drivers.

Airports with Scheduled Flights

Iowa is served by several regional airports including the Des Moines International Airport, the Eastern Iowa Airport, in Cedar Rapids, Quad City International Airport, in Moline, Illinois, and Eppley Airfield, in Omaha, Nebraska. Smaller airports in the state include the Davenport Municipal Airport (Iowa), Dubuque Regional Airport, Fort Dodge Regional Airport, Mason City Municipal Airport, Sioux Gateway Airport, Southeast Iowa Regional Airport, and Waterloo Regional Airport.

Railroads

Amtrak's California Zephyr serves southern Iowa with stops in Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola, and Creston along its route between Chicago and Emeryville, California. Fort Madison is served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief, running between Chicago and Los Angeles. Both trains currently run tri-weekly and are expected to return to daily service in June.

Culture

Arts

The Clint Eastwood movie The Bridges of Madison County, based on the popular novel of the same name, took place and was filmed in Madison County. What's Eating Gilbert Grape, based on the Peter Hedges novel of the same name, is set in the fictional Iowa town of Endora. Hedges was born in West Des Moines. Des Moines is home to members of the famous metal band Slipknot. The state is mentioned in the band's songs, and the album Iowa is named after the state.

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