Indiana, a Midwest State in the United States Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Indiana, a Midwest State in the United States

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Indiana is a Midwest state in the USA bounded by Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. The residents of Indiana call themselves 'Hoosiers' and have done so since the early 1800s. Like Florida 'Crackers' or Georgia 'Rednecks', the term was probably first used as a term of contempt by those farther east, indicating uncivilized country bumpkins. By 1900, the term had lost much of that derogatory meaning and today Hoosiers bear the name with pride.

In 2008, Indiana grew 3.9% of all US crops and this gave them a ranking of seventh in the nation. That year, Indiana ranked fourth in the nation for soybeans, fourth for egg production, and fifth for corn, hogs, and turkey production. Whether you are looking to relax and watch the sun set above a cornfield, watch the cars zip by at high speed in the annual Indy 500 or are in the state on business, Indiana can be an interesting place.

Hoosiers consider their state the 'Crossroad of America' as much interstate commerce must as a matter of geography pass through Indiana; however most of the traffic does not stop in places like Gary, Indiana but uses the Interstate to bypass it.

The 2010 Census showed the median age of Hoosiers as 37, which is about two years less than that of Michiganders.

  • Indianapolis is the State Capital.
  • The total area is 36,417 square miles (94,320km²).
  • The population is 6,483,8031.
  • State Bird: Cardinal
  • State Flower: Peony
  • State Tree: Tulip Tree
  • State Song: On the banks of the Wabash

The Land

Long ago, during the Ice Age, a glacier levelled off this area, leaving much of the state a large flat plain which today is mainly covered with farm land. The southern section near the Ohio river is a bit more hilly than the northern part. The Wabash and Ohio rivers are found there, both of which eventually connect with the Mississippi.


The Shawnee and Miami tribes were here before the Europeans arrived. The indigenous peoples were not willing to give up their lands and the invaders did not give up trying to get those lands, causing problems for both the holders and the invaders subsequently when the French and British took possession here. When the treaty of Paris in 1783 gave this land to the United States, the conflict became their problem. The US also gave land to revolutionary war soldiers and many of them settled in Indiana, much to the dismay of the indigenous tribes.

In 1801, William H Harrison became Governor of the Indiana Territory. As Governor, he sought to obtain title to Indian lands so settlers could press forward into the wilderness. When the Indians naturally retaliated, Harrison was responsible for defending the settlements. In a famous battle on the Tippecanoe River (7 November, 1811) the Shawnee were defeated. Later when Harrison ran for President with Tyler as his running mate, the slogan was heard: 'Tippecanoe and Tyler too.' Hostilities continued as the Shawnee, Kickapoo, Winnebago and Pottawatomie tribes allied themselves with Britain against the US in the War of 1812. After several battles, they were subdued and following the end of the war, Indiana was admitted as the 19th state of the union on 11 December, 1816. Then in the 1830s the railroad came to Indiana, reaching Indianapolis in 1847. By 1840 the last big tribe, the Miami, sold all their land to the United States.

From the beginning, slavery was not allowed in Indiana and during the 1860s, Indiana was a major source of troops to the Union Army. After the Civil War, many sought farmland in Indiana and others looked for jobs in industry. The life of a farm town is portrayed in an 1871 novel about 19th Century rural life written by Edward Eggleston, Hoosier Schoolmaster.

Elbert H Gary from the US Steel Company chose a spot in Northwest Indiana for its proximity to Chicago, Great Lakes shipping and railroad access to bring in ore from Minnesota and coal from the south and east. The City of Gary, Indiana at one point had 12 blast furnaces and 47 steel furnaces: the pollution from them remained a major problem for the region well into the 20th Century. The town also had a bad reputation in the 1960s. There is a story about a man connected with the steel industry at a hotel during that time:

Back in the 60s, Gary had a bad reputation as a dangerous town - at least, if you came from Pittsburgh. My dad was nervously waiting in the lobby. There was only one other man there at the time - like my dad, tall, with a short haircut, conservative suit, and pale complexion. They eyed each other suspiciously for a while...

Finally, the man came up and demanded ID. He was the house detective.

- An h2g2 Researcher

In Indianapolis during the early 20th Century, inventors like Charles H Black were building an automotive manufacturing society. In 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built and there have been races held there annually ever since. During the 1970s, other sports facilities arose and on 5 February, 2012, Indianapolis hosted America's premier football event: the Superbowl.

The Rise and Fall of Indiana Manufacturing

Indianapolis was not the only city to become dependent on the automotive industry. From the 1940s to the 1970s, Muncie had a growing plant making parts for Chevrolet. Then began a long process of lay-offs as foreign competition was able to make quality parts for less. A partnership between GM and Chrysler to make transmission gears in Indiana was not able to survive and by 2006 the plant closed. Today this is part of the so-called 'rust belt' and, except for a few smaller firms, the high-paying jobs that once existed there are history.


Indiana holds an open primary on 8 May, 2012 and this is an official state holiday. In 2005, Indiana passed a law requiring photo ID to vote2. This requirement was challenged in court as not giving equal treatment to the poor or minorities. The suit went all the way to the US Supreme Court. Eight days before the 2008 Presidential primary, the court voted 6-3 to let the law stand. Indiana, that year, gave the Democrat candidate (Obama) its 11 electoral votes and this was the first time since 1964 that the state had gone Democratic.

In state politics, Indiana elected a Republican as their Governor in 2004 and re-elected him in 2008 by a wide margin.

In 2012, Indiana became the first state in more than a decade to approve a ban on requiring workers to pay union dues. 2012 was also the year that the Indiana Secretary of State had to be replaced after a jury convicted him of fraud.


Indy 500

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5 mile (4km) asphalt oval racetrack, is home to the 'Indy 500', a 500-mile (805km) race for top international competitors. Traditionally held on or near Memorial Day3, the city of Indianapolis has many related events leading up to the big race.

Children's Museum

At the corner of 30th and Meridian Street in Indianapolis sits the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Open 10am to 5pm with displays and activities ranging across the sciences, arts and humanities, it receives over a million visitors every year.

State Parks

Indiana has many State Parks ranging from something like Lincoln's boyhood home in southern Indiana to Dunes along Lake Michigan on the northwest corner.

Other Places

Perhaps you might like to check out some universities, such as Notre Dame which is at South Bend or the University of Indiana at Bloomington, Indiana.

There are also smaller places you can visit like Bluffton, Indiana or Kokomo, Indiana.


The annual mean temperature in Indiana is 49°F (9°C) in the north and about 10 degrees warmer in southern Indiana. In winter, expect sub-freezing temperatures, occasionally even dropping below 0°F (−18°C). In the summer, temperatures during July vary from 63°F (17°C) to 88°F (31°C). The record high for the state was 116°F (47°C) set on 14 July, 1936. The record low was −36°F (−38°C) in January 1994.

Winter snowfall is a matter of location. In Southern Indiana it snows less than ten days a year with an annual total snowfall of about 12 inches (30cm). Meanwhile in Fort Wayne, which is in Northeast Indiana, the annual total is 33.5 inches (85cm) and at South Bend 40 miles (64km) from Lake Michigan, the annual total is 66.6 inches (1.69 metres).

Famous Hoosiers

  • Larry Bird - Athlete (Boston Celtics)
  • Harry Carmichael - Musician
  • James Dean - Actor
  • Virgil 'Gus' Grissom - Astronaut
  • Florence Henderson - Actress
  • Mark Honeywell - Industrialist
  • David Letterman - American TV Personality
  • Abraham Lincoln - President of the United States (1861-1865)
  • Steve McQueen - Actor
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Sr - Architect
  • Bernard Vonnegut - Scientist
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr - Author
  • Jane Pauley - American TV Journalist
  • Dan Quayle - Vice President of the US (under Bush 1989-1993)
  • Richard 'Red' Skelton - American Comedian
1US Census 2010.2Indiana's law also allows voters who lack photo identification to cast a provisional ballot, then appear at their county courthouse within 10 days to show identification.3An American holiday held the last Monday in May.

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