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Iowa State Guide

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Iowa is nicknamed as the "Hawkeye State" and is located in the Mid western part of the United States. Nebraska became the 29th state of the United States on December 28, 1846 [1]. Des Moines is the capital and the largest city of the state. Iowa is also commonly referred as the “American Heartland”.

Iowa Fast Facts:

  • Capital city: Des Moines
  • Largest metro: Des Moines metropolitan area
  • Sate Bird: Eastern goldfinch or the Wild canary
  • State Tree: Oak
  • State Flower: Wild Rose
  • State Rock: Geode
  • State Motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain
  • Official language: English
flower tree bird

History of Iowa

Prior to European exploration, Iowa was occupied by many Native Tribes. They were mainly gatherers and hunters who lived in Pleistocene glacial landscape. In the Archaic period, the American Indians are more settled and adapted as settled farmers. The Woodland period marked an era rich in agriculture and crafts. Social flourishing and complexity grew during the late Prehistoric period.

In the 17th century, the first European explorer landed in Iowa. Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were considered the first to arrive at Iowa. The French claimed the area of Iowa and until 1763, it continued as the French territory. The French were defeated in the Indian and French War, and Spain took claim and ownership of the area of Iowa. The European traders showed great interest in furs and lead acquired by the Indians.

historyIn the 18th century, trade flourished in the state. Iowa was included in the territory referred as Louisiana. In the later half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, trade on the Mississippi was efficiently controlled by the Sauk and Meskwaki. In 1800, Louisiana was purchased from Spain, and the United States claimed control of Iowa.

The Indians were forced to move to the west in the first half of the 19th century and effected their cultures and economies. Black Hawk War broke out in 1832, which resulted due to the unsatisfactory treaty between Quashquame and William Henry Harrison in 1804 that enraged many Sauk. Later all Indians are removed from Iowa based on many treaties signed as a punishment to the Indians revolt.

The Territory of Iowa was established by the United States Congress on July 4, 1838. Robert Lucas was appointed as the governor of the territory by President Martin Van Buren. Iowa was designated as the 29th state of the Union on December 28, 1846. Iowa had shown immense support to the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865). No battles were held in the state. The population of Iowa grew after the Civil War. Railroads were established in the state which increased the state's connectivity with many trade markets and Iowa became a significant agricultural producer.

Geography of Iowa

Total Area: 56,272 sq mi (145,743 km2)
Longitude: 90o 8′ W to 96o38′ W
Latitude: 40o 23′ N to 43o 30′ N
Highest point: Hawkeye Point at 1,671 ft (509 m)
Mean point: 1,100 ft (340 m)
Lowest point: Confluence of Mississippi River and Des Moines River 480 ft (146 m)
Time Zone: Central: UTC -6/-5
Iowa is the state in the mid western part of the nation, covering a total land area of 55,857.13 square miles. Iowa's western and eastern borders are entirely made up of rivers, on the east by the Mississippi River; on the west by the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River. Iowa is bordered to the east by Wisconsin and Illinois, to the south by Missouri, to the west by Nebraska and South Dakota, and to the north by Minnesota. Iowa’s geographic center is located in Story County. Iowa consists of 99 counties, but there are 100 county seats because Lee County has two. The highest point in Iowa is the Hawkeye Point.

Topography of Iowa

Iowa's land areas may be classified into three main regions; namely, the Young Drift Plains, the Driftless Area and the Dissected Till Plains. Iowa encompasses the world's most fertile top soil in areas between the Missouri River and the Mississippi River. The state is the nation's top corn producer owing to its fertile soil. Iowa comprises of rolling hills and is not flat. Based on soils, glaciation, river drainage and topography, the state may be divided into 8 landforms. The bedrock geology of the state shows an increase in age from west to east. The Cretaceous bedrock in northwest Iowa may be around 74 million years old, and Cambrian bedrock in eastern Iowa is dated back to 500 million years ago.

Young Drift Plains

The plains lie in most of the state's central and northern areas. These regions are mostly flat and fertile lands which are considered the world's most fertile top soil. Deposits of clay, rocks, sand and gravel which are remains of the glaciers of the ice age are found in the plains.plains

Driftless Area

The Driftless Area is located in the state's northeatern part, along the Mississippi River. This area features rugged hills and cliffs and is not as flat as the young drift plains. The soil of this area is thin and non fertile which is not suitable for farming. The region encompasses the beautiful pine-forested hills which attract many locals and tourists for outdoor recreation. The Iowans commonly called it the Switzerland of America by Iowans because of its scenic beauty.

Dissected Till Plains

In the southern Iowa lies the Dissected Till Plains which stretches to the north, along the Big Sioux and Missouri rivers into the northwestern part of the state. The regions have deposits called till consisting of sand, clay, boulders and gravel left from Ice age glaciers. The areas are made up of low rolling hills and ridges which are formed by dissected rivers and streams over thousands of years.

Some of the significant natural lakes that exist in Iowa, include Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake and West Okoboji Lake that lie in the northwestern region of the state while in the eastern Iowa lies the Clear Lake. There are also several man made lakes found in the state, such as Lake Odessa, Lake MacBride, Lake Red Rock, Saylorville Lake, Coralville Lake, and Rathbun Lake.

Forests of Iowa

The forest and its multiple resources are important for the economic growth of the state. Apart from being a home to varied flora and fauna, forests enhance the people's quality of life by clearing the pollutants and providing cleaner, clearer air to breathe in and also preserve drinking water resources. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources manages and maintain the state’s forests and the resources.

Iowa's State Forests are:

Yellow River State Forest - located in in Allamakee County in northeast Iowa.

Contact Information
YRSF, 729 State Forest Road
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146
e-mail: Bruce.Blair@dnr.iowa.gov

Shimek State Forest - located in Lee and Van Buren Counties in Southeast Iowa

Contact Information
Shimek State Forest, 33653 Route J56
Farmington, Iowa 52626.
e-mail: John.Byrd@dnr.iowa.gov

Loess Hills State Forest - located in Monona and Harrison Counties in west central Iowa

Contact Information
Loess Hills State Forest, P.O. Box 158, 206 Polk Street
Pisgah, Iowa 51564
e-mail: Brent.Olson@dnr.iowa.gov

Stephens State Forest - It stretches between five counties: Lucas, Clarke, Monroe, Appanoose and Davis.

Contact Details:
1111 N8th St
Chariton, IA 50049
e-mail: stephens_forest@dnr.iowa.gov

Iowa also encompasses six smaller state forests, namely -
Backbone State Forest in Delaware County

Contact information:
YRSF, 729 State Forest Road
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146
e-mail: Bruce.Blair@dnr.iowa.gov

White Pine Hollow State Forest in Dubuque County

Contact Information
Yellow River State Forest
729 State Forest
RoadHarpers Ferry
IA. 52146.563-586-2254
e-mail: Bruce.Blair@dnr.iowa.gov

Holst in Boone County

Barkely in Boone County

Pilot Mound State Forests in Boone County

Gifford State Forest in Pottawattamie County

Contact Details:
Iowa DNR Headquarters
Wallace State Office Building
502 East 9th Street, 4th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
Phone: Iowa DNR Customer Service: 515-725-8200
Fax: Iowa DNR Customer Service: 515-725-8202
TTY- use relay Iowa: 800-735-7942
Website: http://www.iowadnr.gov

Climate of Iowa

Iowa has a humid continental climate across the entire state. The summers and winters have extreme high and low temperatures. The summer months in Iowa are harsh with extreme heat and humidity. Also the winter temperatures drop well below freezing and winters are extremely cold.

Iowa has smooth varying spread of precipitation throughout the state with more rainfall during the summer months. The state's southeastern regions receive more rainfall annually than the northwestern parts. The state is well known of experiencing many severe thunderstorms and tornadoes activities annually.

Demographics of Iowa

Iowa had an estimated population of 3,107,126 as of 2014 estimation by the U.S census bureau, which reflected an increase of 2.0 % since the year 2010. The population density of the state is 54.5 persons per square mile [2]. Iowa's center of population lies in Marshall County, in Marshalltown city. There are many ancestry groups in Iowa. The five largest groups among them include German, English, Irish, Norwagian and American.

Iowa Population Quick Facts: [2]

  • Population, 2014 - 3,107,126
  • Population, 2013 - 3,092,341
  • Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014 –2.0%
  • Persons under 5 years, percent, 2013 - 6.3%
  • Persons under 18 years, percent, 2013 -23.4%
  • Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2013 - 15.6%
  • Female persons, percent, 2013 –50.4%

Iowa Racial Groups in 2013- [2]

  • White alone: 92.5%
  • Black or African American alone: 3.3%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: 0.5%
  • Asian alone: 2.0%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1%
  • Two or More Races: 1.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 5.5%
  • White alone, not Hispanic or Latino: 87.6%

The major religious groups in Iowa are Protestant and Catholic. English is the most common language spoken in Iowa, followed by Spanish and German.

Economy of Iowa

Iowa has been recognized as among the top states for business in 2010 by CNBC. Iowa has a diversified economy, though often regarded as a farming state, but there are many sectors which promote the economy growth of the state. Manufacturing, finance and insurance services, biotechnology, and government services contribute significantly to Iowa's economy. Additionally the state's unemployment rate is considerably lower than the rest of the nation.


Agriculture in Iowa

  • Iowa is among the leading states in agricultural sector. The top 5 agricultural products based on revenue generated include corn for grain, soybeans, hogs, dairy products and cattle and calves.

  • Kentucky's most important crop is corn and is the leading producer of corn in the nation.

  • The other major crops of the state are hay, oat, flaxseed, red clover,wheat and rye.

  • Apple is the most important fruit grown in the state.

  • Primary vegetables include cabbages, green beans, potatoes cucumbers, onions, and sweet corn.

  • The state's major livestock products are hogs, beef cattle. The state leads the nation in hogs raising.

  • Other important livestock products include milk, chicken eggs and chickens.

Industry in Iowa

  • Leading service industries in Iowa is wholesale and retail. Ranked 2nd in the state's service sector is the finance, real estate industry and insurance sector. Ranked 3rd is the business, community and personal services.

  • In manufacturing sector, the food processing industries are the most significant in the state.

  • The production of machinery ranked 2nd and production of electrical equipments ranked 3rd in the state's manufacturing sector.

  • The primary mined product of Iowa is limestone.

  • Sand and gravel, gypsum and clays are the valuable mined products in Iowa.

Tourism in Iowa

Tourism is also a principal part of Nebraska’s economy and is one of the largest employers of the state. Many plans and programs are implemented to improve Iowa’s transportation network and accordingly enhance the tourism sector.

Some of the top tourist attractions in Iowa are-

  • Iowa State Capitol
  • Amana Colonies
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Center
  • Lost Island Waterpark
  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
  • Pikes Peak State Park
  • Visit Okoboji
  • Field of Dreams
  • Grotto of the Redemption

Government of Iowa

governmentThe Government of Iowa is guarded and established by the Iowa Constitution. Iowa became a 29th state of the United States on December 28, 1846. The government of Iowa is divided into three distinct branches, namely the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judicial branch. Iowa is also nicknamed as the “Hawkeye State”.

The Iowa Executive Branch is a well functioning body of the government of Iowa and several state government departments work under the executive branch. The Governor of Iowa leads the government as well as the state as the chief executive head. The governor may serve the State for a four year term. Iowa's legislative branch is a bicameral body which is called the Iowa General Assembly or the "Iowa Legislature". The general assembly is divided into two separate bodies, namely Iowa Senate and House of Representatives.

Under the Iowa Constitution, the Judiciary branch applies and interprets laws and regulations to ensure justice in the state. The judicial system of Iowa is served by numerous efficient professionally trained judges. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court heads the Iowa's court system. There are two general types of courts Judicialin Iowa, namely appellate courts (the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals) and trial courts (called District Courts in Iowa).

Learn more: Government of Iowa

Education in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Education along with the Iowa State Board of Education overview and administers the education system of the state. The state education system include public elementary and secondary schools, and private schools. Iowa is one of the pioneer states that adopted and established many secondary schools around 1910. Since the start of the high school movement, Iowa is well known recognized and credited in education system. The state boasts of achieving the 3rd highest graduation rate in the nation.

Iowa's public universities are -

Iowa's private universities are -

  • Buena Vista University, Storm Lake
  • Clarke University, Dubuque
  • Des Moines University, Des Moines
  • Divine Word College, Epworth
  • Drake University, Des Moines
  • Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque
  • Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, Ankeny
  • Graceland University, Lamoni
  • Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant
  • Kaplan University, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Mason City, and Urbandale
  • Loras College, Dubuque
  • Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield
  • Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids
  • Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport
  • Saint Ambrose University, Davenport
  • University of Dubuque, Dubuque
  • Upper Iowa University, Fayette
  • Waldorf College, Forest City
  • William Penn University, Oskaloosa

Sports in Iowa

Iowa is home to many professional sports teams and college sports teams. The professional sports played in the state are baseball, hockey, basketball and football. There are four major college teams that play in Division I for all sports in the state.

The NCAA Division I college teams are-

  • NCAA FBS - The University of Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Conference and the Iowa State University Cyclones of the Big 12 Conference.

  • NCAA FCS - The University of Northern Iowa Panthers of the Missouri Valley Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Drake University Bulldogs of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Iowa Health Care

The Iowa Department of Public Health works efficiently to improve the health and living standards of the community by implementing many health regulation services and policies. Various divisions and sub-divisions work concurrently with the department to optimize the health of the community. The department works in collaboration with local public health, health care providers, policymakers, and many others to successfully protect the health of the community. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) overviews the entire health care plans and policies of the residents of Iowa to support and assist the Iowans in their medical and health care needs. The Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME) is a division of DHS that works with the state’s qualified and certified professional health care to ensure quality health insurance and coverage for all Iowans.

Learn more: Iowa Health Care


  1. Iowa Statehood
  2. Demographics of Iowa
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