Wisconsin, situated in the north-central United States, borders two Great Lakes—Michigan to the east and Superior to the north—along with sharing its northern boundary with the state of Michigan, its eastern boundary with Lake Michigan, its southern boundary with Illinois, and its western boundary with Minnesota and Iowa. The state encompasses a total area of 65,498 mi2 (169,640 km2).
Wisconsin, from northwest to southeast, is divisible into five primary geographic regions:
Lake Superior Lowland characterizes the northernmost part of Wisconsin, lying adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Superior. This region features a narrow, level plain that serves as a transitional area between the lake and the more elevated Northern Highland. The Lake Superior Lowland includes the Apostle Islands and part of Chequamegon Bay, contributing significantly to the state's 820 miles (1,320 kilometers) of shoreline along the Great Lakes.
Northern Highland is a vast, wooded upland occupying the northern portion of the state. Dominated by a forested landscape with numerous lakes and wetlands, the Northern Highland stands as the epitome of Wisconsin's glaciated areas. It is here that the state's highest point, Timms Hill, rises to 1,951 feet (595 meters) above sea level. This highland is interspersed with a variety of habitats and is recognized for its substantial elevation changes.
Central Plain, stretching across the middle of Wisconsin, offers a contrast with its mixture of savanna, marsh, farmland, and sandstone formations. This region is relatively flat compared to the Northern Highland, with a gradual transition to the more rugged terrains to the east and west. The Central Plain hosts part of the Wisconsin River, which carves through the landscape, creating distinctive features such as the Wisconsin Dells.
Western Upland borders the Mississippi River along the western edge of Wisconsin and is characterized by its rugged terrain, with steep bluffs and narrow valleys. The Mississippi River, along with its tributaries, shapes the region's geography, providing rich alluvial soils in the river valleys. The Western Upland also includes parts of the Driftless Area, which escaped glaciation during the last Ice Age, thus preserving its unique topographical features.
Eastern Ridges & Lowlands is located in the southeastern quadrant of the state and features a series of ridges paralleling Lake Michigan. This area transitions from the higher land of the Western Upland and Northern Highland to the low-lying areas adjacent to Lake Michigan. The lowest point in Wisconsin is found here, at the shore of Lake Michigan, at 579 feet (177 meters) above sea level. The region is also home to the state's largest cities and is crisscrossed by several significant rivers, including the Fox and Milwaukee.
Major Bodies of Water: Besides the bordering Great Lakes, the state is home to part of the St. Lawrence Seaway via the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system to the west. Inland, the Wisconsin River is a major waterway, flowing through the Central Plain. Other notable bodies of water include Lake Winnebago, the state's largest inland lake, and the Green Bay, a prominent sub-basin of Lake Michigan.
The State of Wisconsin is divided into 72 counties. In alphabetical order, these counties are: Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Fond du Lac, Forest, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Iron, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Lafayette, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Portage, Price, Racine, Richland, Rock, Rusk, Saint Croix, Sauk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Vilas, Walworth, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, are Wood.
With an area of 169,640 sq.km, Wisconsin is the 23rd largest and the 20th most populous state in the USA. Located in the central region of the southern part of the state is Madison – is the capital city of Wisconsin. It serves as an administrative, educational, commercial, cultural, industrial, and technological center of the state. Situated on the western shores of Lake Michigan is Milwaukee – the largest city in Wisconsin. It serves as the major cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area. In 2018, it was named “The Coolest City in the Midwest” by the Vogue Magazine.
The State of Wisconsin is located in the East North Central (Great Lakes and Midwestern) region of the United States. Wisconsin is bordered by the state of Illinois in the south; by Iowa in the southwest; by Minnesota in the west and by Michigan in the northeast. It is also bounded by Lake Superior in the north.
Regional Maps: Map of North America
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This page was last updated on February 5, 2024