Indiana – The Indian State

Indiana joined the United States on December 11, 1816 as the 19th state. In the early 20th century, industry was the most important economic factor, but by the 90s Indiana was also one of the leading states in agriculture, especially in the cultivation of corn and soy beans as well as pig breeding. The state’s name means Indian Land and was coined in the 1860s. The state’s nickname is Hoosier State, a nickname of uncertain origin. Most important cities include the state’s capital Indianapolis, as well as Fort Wayne, Evansville, Gary, South Bend and Hammond.

Already 150,000 years ago, prehistoric Indian cultures settled in the region of present day Indiana. The best known is the so-called Woodland-culture (ca. 500 BC until 1,000 AD). Some of their pottery and evidence of their burial rituals were found in the area. Around 750 AD it was replaced by the Mississippi culture, whose people already established big cities such as Angel Site on the Ohio near Evansville. However, all those cultures had already disappeared by the time the European settlers arrived. The most populous Indian tribes at the time of the settlers were the Delaware, the Miami and the Potawatomi, and also the Piankashaw, the Shawnee and the Wea. In 1679 French researchers came from Quebec to Indiana and crossed the territory for the first time. The French built three forts in Indiana during the early 18th century – among them Vincennes (1732), the first permanent settlement in the region that was to become Indiana. The state was not very densely populated, so French supremacy over the region was unstable. In 1763, at the end of the French-Indian war, the territory went to the British.

Indiana’s state parks – especially Brown County, Indiana Dunes, McCormick’s Creek and Spring Hill – are popular tourist destinations. Apart from those, the state has a number of historic sites commemorating the state’s pioneer period or persons from the Civil War. The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park near Vincennes commemorates the taking of British Fort Sackville by the United States of America (1779); Historic New Harmony in New Harmony reminds of two early commune experiments (from 1814); the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial near Lincoln City displays exhibits from the old farm, and a complete reconstruction of the same, where Lincoln’s family lived from 1816 to 1830; and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument commemorates the soldiers of the Civil War.

Indiana has a low grade of urbanization, which makes it a state of mainly small and mid-sized towns. The biggest and also best-known city is Indianapolis, location of one of the most famous annual car races, the Indy 500.

Real GDP per capita was US$ 34,058 in 2006, (national average of all 50 states: US$ 37,714), number 33 in the national ranking.

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