History of Iowa
Before and during the first European exploration of the region it was inhabited by different Native American tribes, including Otoe, Ho-Chunk, Dakota and, of course, the tribe that the state got its name from, the Ioway. The first European explorers to mention this region were Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, who came to this area in 1673. Soon after the region was claimed for France, and remained in its possession until 1763. Before suffering the defeat in the French and Indian war that they have waged against the British colonists, the French transferred the ownership of the region to Spain. Spain didn’t have a firm grip on the region, and often granted trading licenses to British and French traders and allowed them to establish trading posts along the rivers in the region.
The Louisiana Territory, a part of which was Iowa, was known for a number of tribes that were willing to trade fur with the Europeans. Tribes Meskwaki and Sauk were the dominant tribes when this type of trade was concerned. Before 1808 there were at least five English and French trading houses along the Missouri River. Napoleon Bonaparte has taken control of the region in treaty that Spain signed in 1800. The region came into the control of US after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The area was mapped out in 1805, but the US didn’t really have control over the region before building Fort Madison in the region in 1808.
The purpose of the fort was to control the traffic on the Upper Mississippi and to provide a base for governing the region. However, the fort was not exactly overly sturdy, which was a problem because of the fact the Ho-Chunk and Sauk tribes didn’t really like having it in their vicinity, and neither did their allies, the British, who were still intent on claiming and keeping the region for themselves. This is why the fort was taken without too much effort in 1813, in the course of the War of 1812. Once the war was over, US replaced the old fort with the new Fort Armstrong.
The settlers in the region were becoming more numerous, and the government’s desire to remove the local Native Americans and force them to migrate to the west grew. The trade in fur was still important in the region, but Native American tribes were suffering from the effects of forced migrations. The tensions were building up, until they finally resulted in the Black Hawk War in 1832. This conflict began when Sauk tribes revolted against the decision of one of their chieftains, Quashquame to sign the treaty that gave Sauk land to the US government. Chief Black Hawk tried peacefully settling on the land that was transferred to the government, but this eventually escalated into an armed conflict. When it was over, new treaties were made that placed additional pressure on the Native Americans to leave the region. Soon after, Meskawki and Sauk tribes were gone from the region, with only the Meskawki returning at one point and even being given permission by the government in 1856 to purchase land in the region. Ho-Chunk tribe was gone from Iowa by 1850 and Dakota a decade later.
It was in 1833 that the first American settlers have officially moved to this state. They mostly consisted of families coming from Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Territory of Iowa was established in 1838. Robert Lucas was appointed as the Governor of the territory by the US President Martin Van Buren. At that time, the territory had 23,242 inhabitants and consisted of 22 counties.
As soon as the region officially became Iowa Territory, enthusiastic talks about statehood started. It was finally in 1846 that Iowa was admitted into the Union as its 29th state. As soon as it became a state it purchased a great deal of land from the Native American tribes, and its borders were finally set. Iowa worked hard to create an environment that the new settlers would want to come to and an economy that will not only attract those settlers, but also support them.
In the Civil War, Iowa has heavily supported the Union and Abraham Lincoln. No battles were fought in the state, but Iowa was providing supplies and men to the Union army. Iowa’s population at the time counted 675,000 people, and out of that number 116,000 men served in the military during the Civil War, meaning that with the 75,000 volunteers that it had contributed Iowa has sent proportionally more men to the army than all of the other states participating in the conflict on either side. Most of them fought in the South and in the Mississippi Valley. They were also present at Corinth, Iuka, Vicksburg, Rossville Gap, Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Shiloh, forts Donelson and Henry, Pea Ridge in Arkansas and Wilson’s Creek in Missouri. Until the war was over 27 Iowans were awarded the highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
After the war the settlers came pouring into Iowa and its population grew incredibly fast. In just one decade between 1860 and 1870 the population has increased from 674,913 people to 1,194,020. The same decades were when the railroads were built in the state, and helped it become one of the most significant agricultural producers in the nation. The wartime economy caused by the WW I was good on farmers in Iowa, and the agriculture only kept flourishing in that period.
When the Great Depression came, the small farms could no longer be maintained, and their transformation into larger holds was one of the things that had marked the urbanization of the state’s industry. After the WW II, manufacturing was becoming an ever more prominent and developed aspect of Iowa’s industry. Agriculture was never neglected, but it wasn’t the only major industry any more. The state has suffered a Framing Crisis in 1980, which was almost as devastating for its economy as the Great Depression and which caused a serious, decade-long, population decline in the state. After that the state was becoming less dependent on agriculture and started investing more in other industries. That is why it can now boast efficient and productive government services, finance and insurance services, developed biotechnology and manufacturing.
Iowa was recognized as the 6th best state for business in the US by CNBC's list of ‘Top States for Business in 2010’. When it comes to different categories, it was 1st regarding the costs of doing business, 10th as far as its economy was concerned, 12th in the category of business friendliness, 16th when it came to education, 17th in quality of life and cost of living, 20th with regards to available workforce, 29th for the levels of technology and innovation and 32nd in transportation.
Even though most people perceive it as an agricultural state, that is just one of many well developed industries in Iowa. The other ones are government as well as finance and insurance services, biotechnology and manufacturing. This diversity has helped the state deal with the recent recession better than most of the other states and keep its unemployment rates at low levels of 6.6%. In 2005 the GDP of the state (gross domestic product) was $124 billion, while in 2005 its GSP (gross state product) was $113.5 billion. In 2006 per capita income of the state was $23,340. The state’s credit is AAA, which is something that only 10 other states share with it.
Manufacturing was responsible for 21% or $20.8 billion of Iowa’s GSP in 2003. The most important sectors of manufacturing in Iowa are agricultural chemicals, heavy machinery and food processing. Out of these, food processing is the largest one. Some of the state’s industrial output includes primary metals, publishing, chemical products, electric equipment and machinery. There are a number of processing facilities in this state, Quaker Oats, General Mills, Tone’s Spices, Heinz and Barilla, to name just a few.
Agriculture has always had great impact on Iowa’s economy. Still, the direct sale of raw products is only accountable for 3.5% of the state’s GSP. However, if its indirect impact is measured it comes down to 24.3% in terms of total output and 16.4% in terms of total value added, while manufacturing accounts for 26.5% of total output and 22.4% of value added. The most important agricultural products include dairy products, eggs, cattle, oats, soybeans, corn and hogs. Iowa is the leading state in the nation when it comes to corn and ethanol, and in some years, soybeans. Just in 2008, this state was responsible for 14% of the eggs produced in the US, 30% of hogs, 17% of soybeans and 19% of corn.
Iowa’s financial and insurance sector contains somewhere around 6,100 companies including Principal Capital Management, Principal Financial Group, Met Life, marsh Affinity Group, ING and Farm Bureau Financial Services. Most important biotechnology companies in the state are Wacker Biochem, Roche Applied Science, Integrated DNA Technologies, Penford Products and Fort Dodge Animal Health.
Iowa has taxes on the net state income of trusts, estates and individuals. There are nine tax brackets in the state, ranging from 8.98% to 0.36%. Non prepared food is not subjectable to tax, while the sales tax on other items in the state amounts to 6%. Local taxation can be modified by the county government.
Iowa Geography and Climate
Most of Iowa’s boundaries are natural, on the east Missouri river is dividing it from Illinois and Wisconsin, to the south it has Des Moines River which separates it from Missouri, to the west it has Missouri River and the states of South Dakota and Nebraska just across the river, and to the north it has an artificial border with Minnesota. The state has 99 counties, and its capital is located in Polk County.
Large portions of the state are not flat and instead consist mostly of rolling hills. Southern part of the state contains loess hills, while in the northeast the state has much steeper hills and valleys. Iowa has a number of beautiful natural lakes, such as East and West Okoboji Lakes, Clear Lake and the Spirit Lake. There are also a number of man-made lakes like Rathbun Lake, Lake McBride, Coralville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Saylorville Lake and Lake Odessa.
The upland areas of the state usually consist of savannas and tallgras prairies, while the floodplains are usually covered in thick forests. Somewhere around 60% of the state’s surface is used for growing crops, 30% is covered in grasslands, mostly used as pastures and 7% of the total surface of the state is covered in forests. Water and urban areas cover 1% each.
Like most of the states located in the Midwest region, Iowa has a humid continental climate, with some differences when it comes to average temperatures in the different region of the state. While the average annual temperatures in the northern parts of the state are usually somewhere around 45 °F, the area around Des Moines averages at about 50 °F and the regions on the Mississippi river usually have average temperature of 52 °F. Snow is a common occurrence in this state.
Spring announces the severe weather season during which thunderstorms are quite frequent. It is estimated that the state has around 50 days with thunderstorms every year, as well as 37 tornadoes, although in the year 2008 there were 105 tornadoes recorded in the state.
Summers in Iowa are usually quite humid and hot. Temperatures during the day usually move around 90 °F but it is not uncommon for them to go over 100 °F. Winter temperatures have been known to drop bellow −0 °F. The highest temperature in Iowa was 118 °F, it was recorded in 1934 at Keokuk, while the lowest was −47 °F and it was recorded in 1996 at Elkader.
Population of Iowa
In 2011 population of Iowa was 3,062,309, which presented a 0.52% increase compared to the previous year. It is estimated that 72.2% of Iowa’s residents were born in the state, while 23.2% of them were born in some of the other US states, 0.5% in Puerto Rico, and 4.1% were born somewhere else. In 2008 the state had 3,002,555, which presented a 0.6% (19,000 people) since the previous year, and a 2.6% (76,000 people) increase since 2000. Concerning the population numbers, Iowa is the 30th largest state in the nation. In 2007 Iowa had 143,457 deaths and 197,163 births which resulted in a natural increase of 53,706, while its population decreased due to net migrations by 11,754 people. When it comes to age of the inhabitants, Iowa has 14.7% people over 65 years of age, 22.6% under 18, and 6.1% under 5. Iowa’s population density is 52.7 people per square mile.
In 2010 88.7% of the state’s population was composed of non-Hispanic white people, 2.4% of Hispanic white, 2.9% of African Americans, 0.4% of American Natives or Alaska Natives, 1.7% of Asians, 0.2% of Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders and 1.8% of multiethnic people. There are 35.7% of people with German ancestry, 13.5% with Irish, 9.5% with English, 6.6% with American and 5.7% with Norwegian.
In a survey done in 2001 it was determined that 52% of the people in the state were Protestant, 23% Catholic, 6% belonged to various other religions, 13% of the people were not religious and 5% of them refused to answer. Another survey from the year 2000 determined that the Protestant denominations with the largest number of adherents were Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that had 268,543 members and the United Methodist Church that had 248,211. There are several religious groups in the state that are trying to isolate themselves from the rest of Iowa’s population, such as the Mennonite and the Amish, mostly in eastern parts of the state, Quakers, Pietists and even followers of Transcendental meditation.
English is spoken by 945 of the state’s inhabitants and it is present in two major dialects. The second most common language in the state is Spanish with 120,000 speakers, and then German with 17,000 speaking it in Iowa. There are no other languages in Iowa that are spoken by more than 0.55 of the state’s residents.
Iowa Government and Legislature
Iowa’s government has the same political system as the other US states and the federal government. It consists of three branches, executive, legislative and judicial. Executive branch is led by the state Governor, who, among other things has the power to veto laws that were passed by the houses of the legislative branch. Lieutenant Governor is elected at the same ticket as the Governor and his or her duty is to reside over the state Senate and to take on the duties of the Governor if he or she is for some reason unable to perform them.
Legislative branch is responsible for drafting and adopting new laws. It operates through the General Assembly, which is divided into two houses, the higher house being the Iowa Senate and the lower one being the Iowa House of Representatives. Senate has 50 members while the House of Representatives has 100. If a law is to be adopted it has to be passed by a majority of votes in both houses.
The judicial branch consists of a number of different lower courts, and the highest court in the state, the Supreme Court. Only some rare types of cases are brought directly to the Supreme Court, instead, most of the time, this court is only reserved for the cases that have gone through some of the lower courts first, and failed to be resolved satisfactorily in them.
Transportation in Iowa
Iowa is one of the best states when it comes to the cleanliness and effectiveness of its roads. It has 4 primary interstate highways. Interstate 80 goes from the west to the east passing through Quad Cities, Iowa City, Des Moines and Council Bluffs. Interstate 29 follows the western border of the state connecting Sioux City and Council Bluffs. Interstate 74 starts as a branch of Interstate 80 in the vicinity of Davenport. Finally, Interstate 35 passes the entire length of the state from south to north, going through the center of the state. There is also one auxiliary road, Interstate 380, splitting off from the Interstate 80 somewhere around Iowa City, going through Cedar Rapids and eventually ending up in Waterloo.
Iowa has a number of important airports including Des Moines International Airport, and the Eastern Iowa Airport that is located in Cedar Rapids. It also uses Nebraska’s Eppley Airfield and Illinois’ Quad City International Airport. Iowa also has a number of smaller airports, such as Waterloo Regional Airport, Southeast Iowa Regional Airport, Sioux Gateway Airport, Mason City Municipal Airport, Fort Dodge Regional Airport, Dubuque Regional Airport and Davenport Municipal Airport. The railroad in the country is under Amtrak’s supervision, the most important line being the one stopping in Creston, Osceola, Ottumwa Mount Pleasant and Burlington on its way from Emeryville, California to Chicago, Illinois.