Officially, the United States Census Bureau defines the Midwest as comprising twelve states in the upper middle portion of the Continental United States. The area largely east of the Mississippi River, known as the East North Central states, includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The seven West North Central States include Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota just west of the Mississippi, and the Great Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota further to the west.
All of these twelve states are relatively flat, though only the western half of the region comprises true grasslands, or prairies. Moving from east to west through this vast region, the elevation increases, the rainfall decreases, and the native grass becomes shorter. These states are heavily industrialized along their Great Lakes coasts, but the remaining areas are largely agricultural. The eastern region is known as a rich production area for corn and soybeans while the prairies to their west are the great grain belt of the United States, specializing in wheat.
The largest city in the Midwest is Chicago in Illinois, a manufacturing and transportation center on the shores of Lake Michigan. Other large metropolitan areas include Detroit in the state of Michigan, the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota, St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati in Ohio, Indianapolis in Indiana, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, and Omaha in Nebraska.
Next Section:The Great Lakes Region
Land, History and Language: Chapter Home
Life in the USA Home Page.