Iowa: The Hawkeye State

The state was named after the Iowa River, which in turn got its name from a word of the Iowa-Indian’s language. As a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, it carries the nickname of “Hawkeye State.” It became the 29th state of the U.S. in 1846. Iowa’s first capital was Iowa City. When, with increasing settlement in the region, the most densely populated area shifted to the West, it was decided to move the capital more to the center of the state. This way, Des Moines became the capital in 1857.

With its fertile prairie soil and a predomination agriculture, Iowa is a typical Mid-western state, since 90% of its total are being used for agricultural purposes. It is also called “Corn State,” due to the extensive production of corn that dominates its agriculture. Most popular outdoor activities include hunting and fishing. In addition, many parks are to be found in the state, most of them of historical relevance. In former times, bison and coyotes walked the prairie, the woods were populated with deer and pumas. Today, apart from deer the state is home to only smaller mammals such as raccoons, foxes, squirrels, muskrats, and rabbits. Among the most important winged game are the quail and the pheasant that has been reintroduced to the wild of Iowa. During bird migration, different kinds of ducks and geese use Iowa’s wetlands as resting places. Many kinds of fishes can be found in the state’s lakes, most of them in high demand among anglers. They include perch, pike, and sunfish in the lakes, and in the rivers trout and catfish.

Many historically interesting places in Iowa commemorate the state’s pioneer period of settlement in Iowa, as well as famous persons who came from this state. At the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch in the Southeast, the birthplace of the 31st President of the United States and the house in which he grew up can be visited. Amana and the six other Amana colonies in the Northwest of Iowa City are former settlements of German immigrants and still convey a lot of the atmosphere of those times. Fort Atkinson State Monument commemorates the glorious pioneer days. The Dvorák Memorial in Spillville (North of Waterloo) is a memorial for Czech composer Antonín Dvorák, who worked there for a short time in 1893. The Effigy Mounds National Monument is in the Northeast of the state, on the shore of the Mississippi River and is a memorial and an archeological preserve for “Mounds,” artificial hills made by an early Native American culture.

The state has a special meaning in U.S. presidential elections: traditionally, Iowa is the state where the first primaries are held. This gets Iowa significant political attention in election years.

Real GDP per capita was $35,662 in 2006, (national average of all 50 states: $37,714), number 24 in the national ranking.

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