The Midwest is also known as the Midwestern United States or the Middle West. It was officially known as the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984. The Midwest is one of the four census regions of the United States the others being, the West, Northeast, and South regions. The Midwest region occupies the north-central part of the country. The Midwest is both the population and geographic center of the United States.
It consists of the states of Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. The census bureau further subdivides the Midwest into West North Central and East North Central. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the region west of Mississippi was known as the West while the land east of the Mississippi and west of the Appalachians became the Midwest. In time, the states of Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota became part of the Midwest.
Much of the Midwest is relatively flat except for the eastern Midwest that lies on the foothill of the Appalachians, the northern parts of Minnesota, and Iowa that demonstrate topographical variation. The Midwest west of the Mississippi is majorly covered by prairies except for the southern end of Illinois, southern Missouri, and eastern Minnesota. The rainfall pattern in the increases from west to east resulting in tallgrass prairie in the east and short grass prairie in the Rockies. Hardwood forests were logged to extinction in the 1800s and replaced by agriculture land and urban areas.
Culture of the Midwest
The Midwest includes religious heritage of the abolitionist, stalwart Calvinist, Midwestern Protestants, and agricultural values instilled by the early settlers of the lands. The region remains a hotbed of Calvinism and Protestantism, and a mistrust of power and authority. The small agricultural communities of Kansas, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa represent the traditional Midwestern values and lifestyle while the more developed cities of the Great Lakes represent modern American culture characterized by immigration, politics, manufacturing, and improved infrastructure.
Politics of the Midwest
The politics of the Midwest is more cautious than the rest of the country, but at times the caution is peppered with protest especially by minority communities associated with labor, agriculture, and populist roots. This was represented well in the early 20th century when the West became a hub for socialist movements in the country by electing socialist leaders. The Great Lakes region is the most liberal area but the liberal presence decreases gradually towards the South and West.