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, indigenous people of North America
Iowa (īˈəwə, –wāˌ), 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).


, state, United States

Iowa (īˈəwə), 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. (2020) 3,155,070, a 3.6% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 90.6%; Black alone, 4.1%; Hispanic or Latino, 6.3%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 0.5%; Asian alone, 2.7%; Two or More Races, 2%. 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℉ (−18℃) 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. The state has trended Republican in recent decades.

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.

Terry Branstad, a Republican, is the state's longest-serving governor, serving from 1983-98 and then again from 2014-17, when he resigned to become ambassador to China. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, succeeded him and was elected governor in 2018, the first woman in the state's history to serve in this position, who has pursued a conservative agenda. While Republicans have controlled the governorship of late, Democrats Tom Vilsack (1997-2007) and Chet Culver (2007-11) had a 14-year run governing the state. Vilsack subsequently became Secretary of Agriculture during the Obama (2009-17) and Biden (2021-) administrations.

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).


, 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Iowa State Information

Phone: (515) 281-5011

Area (sq mi):: 56271.55 (land 55869.36; water 402.20) Population per square mile: 53.10
Population 2005: 2,966,334 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 1.40%; 1990-2000 5.40% Population 2000: 2,926,324 (White 92.60%; Black or African American 2.10%; Hispanic or Latino 2.80%; Asian 1.30%; Other 2.70%). Foreign born: 3.10%. Median age: 36.60
Income 2000: per capita $19,674; median household $39,469; Population below poverty level: 9.10% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $26,554-$28,340
Unemployment (2004): 4.70% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.90% Median travel time to work: 18.50 minutes Working outside county of residence: 21.80%

List of Iowa counties:

  • Adair County
  • Adams County
  • Allamakee County
  • Appanoose County
  • Audubon County
  • Benton County
  • Black Hawk County
  • Boone County
  • Bremer County
  • Buchanan County
  • Buena Vista County
  • Butler County
  • Calhoun County
  • Carroll County
  • Cass County
  • Cedar County
  • Cerro Gordo County
  • Cherokee County
  • Chickasaw County
  • Clarke County
  • Clay County
  • Clayton County
  • Clinton County
  • Crawford County
  • Dallas County
  • Davis County
  • Decatur County
  • Delaware County
  • Des Moines County
  • Dickinson County
  • Dubuque County
  • Emmet County
  • Fayette County
  • Floyd County
  • Franklin County
  • Fremont County
  • Greene County
  • Grundy County
  • Guthrie County
  • Hamilton County
  • Hancock County
  • Hardin County
  • Harrison County
  • Henry County
  • Howard County
  • Humboldt County
  • Ida County
  • Iowa County
  • Jackson County
  • Jasper County
  • Jefferson County
  • Johnson County
  • Jones County
  • Keokuk County
  • Kossuth County
  • Lee County
  • Linn County
  • Louisa County
  • Lucas County
  • Lyon County
  • Madison County
  • Mahaska County
  • Marion County
  • Marshall County
  • Mills County
  • Mitchell County
  • Monona County
  • Monroe County
  • Montgomery County
  • Muscatine County
  • O'Brien County
  • Osceola County
  • Page County
  • Palo Alto County
  • Plymouth County
  • Pocahontas County
  • Polk County
  • Pottawattamie County
  • Poweshiek County
  • Ringgold County
  • Sac County
  • Scott County
  • Shelby County
  • Sioux County
  • Story County
  • Tama County
  • Taylor County
  • Union County
  • Van Buren County
  • Wapello County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County
  • Wayne County
  • Webster County
  • Winnebago County
  • Winneshiek County
  • Woodbury County
  • Worth County
  • Wright County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Iowa Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    a state in the midwestern USA between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Area, 145,800 km. Population, 2,750,000 in 1969, of which 53 percent is urban. Capital, Des Moines.

    Iowa is one of the states in the so-called corn belt. It is second, after California, in the USA in the value of its farm production. Iowa is flat (mean altitude, 400–500 meters). The soil is fertile, chernozem or chernozem-like. The climate is warm, temperately continental. Precipitation, 700–1,000 millimeters a year.

    Approximately 70 percent of the state’s territory is arable land, 11–12 percent, meadows and pastures, and approximately seven percent, forests. More than 90 percent of the harvest area is for fodder crops—that is, corn (approximately 50 percent), oats (25 percent), grasses (15–16 percent); the soy bean crops are usually the first or second largest in the USA. The major goal of animal husbandry is meat: 7.2 million head of horned cattle and 12.5 million hogs were fattened on farms in 1966. Poultry raising, with the production of eggs and meat chickens, is also important. Stock-raising provides approximately 80 percent of agricultural commodity output.

    Small farms are being ruined: there were 215,000 farms in 1930 and 155,000 farms in 1964. Powerful capitalistic enterprises, which make up approximately one-third of all farms, provide two-thirds of Iowa’s agricultural commodity output. In 1969, 220,000 people—that is, 25 percent of the people not in agriculture—worked in manufacturing. The most developed industries are meat, dairy, and flour; agricultural machinery is built in Iowa. There are defense industries in cities along the Mississippi River—for instance, Dubuque and Davenport.


    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Twenty-ninth state; admitted on December 28, 1846

    State capital: Des Moines

    Nicknames: The Hawkeye State; The Corn State

    State motto: Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We Will Maintain
    State bird: Eastern goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
    State flower: Wild rose (Rosa pratincola)
    State song: “The Song of Iowa”
    State stone: Geode
    State tree: Oak (Quercus)

    More about state symbols at:

    More about the state at:


    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 859 AnnivHol-2000, p. 214


    State web site:

    Office of the Governor State Capitol Bldg Des Moines, IA 50319 515-281-5211 fax: 515-281-6611

    Secretary of State 321 E 12th St 1st Fl Des Moines, IA 50319 515-281-5204 fax: 515-242-5953

    Iowa State Library 112 E Grand Ave Des Moines, IA 50319 515-281-4105 fax: 515-281-6191

    Legal Holidays:

    Day after ThanksgivingNov 25, 2011; Nov 23, 2012; Nov 29, 2013; Nov 28, 2014; Nov 27, 2015; Nov 25, 2016; Nov 24, 2017; Nov 23, 2018; Nov 29, 2019; Nov 27, 2020; Nov 26, 2021; Nov 25, 2022; Nov 24, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    a state of the N central US, in the Midwest: consists of rolling plains crossed by many rivers, with the Missouri forming the western border and the Mississippi the eastern. Capital: Des Moines. Pop.: 2 944 062 (2003 est.). Area: 144 887 sq. km (55 941 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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    "Coach was out there preaching to us in the defensive huddle this is what we wanted, to show people that we'd learned from what we'd been through," Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning said.
    Soike makes some key points about the involvement of Iowa that can help historians think about the relationship between free states, slave states, and the territories in new ways.
    "It once stretched 3,652 miles from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Long Beach, California, right through the heart of Iowa." The Route 6 Tourist Association is responsible for an ongoing campaign to designate Historic Route 6 with special signs from Davenport to Council Bluffs.
    Some believe that the shortcut around the bar exam would create a crop of incompetent lawyers and damage the reputation of the Iowa bar.
    The wineries must be members of the Iowa Wine Growers Association (IWGA) and pay the group's annual dues of $250.
    Not only that, but once the media leave and Iowa returns to the normality that is Iowa, the public finds out that the winner of the Iowa caucus didn't really win.
    Summary: Republican White House hopefuls Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are in a tight race in Iowa, which kicks off next year's presidential nominating contests, according to a closely watched opinion poll published Saturday.
    Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, the first female chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, is one of the nation's most admired and respected jurists.
    of Little Rock announced last week that it had completed its acquisition of Iowa Telecommunications Services Inc.