70 Fun Facts About Iowa: Get To Know The Hawkeye State

Iowa is famous for its corn.
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From facts about North Carolina to Wisconsin facts, the United States are full of fascinating things to discover, and Iowa is no different.  

Did you know there are almost eight times more pigs than people in Iowa state? Of course, that's not the only thing Iowa's famous for: from Des Moines and Iowa City to empty plains and pine forest, the United States' 29th member is fascinating.

Facts About Iowa Geography

Everything you need to know about the USA state Iowa, from the Iowa state population to which city is the Iowa capital.

1. Iowa covers 56,273 square miles, and has a population of just over 3 million people.

2. Iowa is a Midwestern state which has borders with Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.

3. Iowa's capital is Des Moines, which is also the state's largest city.

4. The state animal of Iowa, chosen in 1933,  is the American goldfinch. It's also known as the wild canary.

5. Iowa's state flower is the wild rose, usually represented as the prairie rose.

6. Iowa's state tree is the oak, often shown as a burr oak.

7. The Iowa state bird and flower, as well as the state tree, were chosen as Iowa's state symbols because they're common in the area and help support a wide variety of wildlife.

8. Iowa's state motto is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we maintain." The Iowa motto is a reference to its fight to be recognized as a state in its own right instead of a colony of Wisconsin.

9. Iowa has 99 counties. One of them is named Madison - yes, the one with the bridges. There are six.

10. The postal code for Iowa state, IA, uses the first and last letters instead of the first two, so it doesn't get mistaken for a number 10.

Nature Facts From Iowa

Iowa, USA is home to an incredible amount of wildlife. Plan your next national park trip with our facts about nature in the Hawkeye State.

11. With the Mississippi River on its east and the Missouri on its west, Iowa is the only state bordered by two parallel rivers.

12. Iowa is about 92% farmland, but it still has more people living in urban areas than rural ones.

13. The highest point in Iowa is Hawkeye Point, at 1670 feet, while its lowest point is the Mississippi River at 480 feet.

14. Iowa has three geological areas. The Young Drift Plains are flat and make excellent farmland, the Driftless Area is mostly pines forest and cliff faces, and the Dissected Till Plains, where rivers have cut into the soil to create ridges.

15. Iowa is home to lots of wildlife. Among the most common animals are red foxes, least weasels, thirteen-lined ground squirrels and white-tailed deer.

16. Iowa's most common birds are grasshopper sparrows, cerulean warblers and scarlet tanagers as well as the American goldfinch.

17. Iowa is home to reptiles including western hognose snakes, Great Plains skinks and yellow mud turtles, and amphibians like Great Plains toads, blue-spotted salamanders and mudpuppies.

18. Although it has a national monument and a national park museum (the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site), Iowa still has no official National Park. The closest is Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.

19. Effigy Mounds National Monument's prehistoric mounds are considered sacred by Native Americans. They're made of earth and shaped like animals including bears, birds, panthers, bison and deer.

20. Preparation Canyon State Park gets its name from a Mormon ghost town. When their leader demanded they give him everything they owned to show their devotion to God, the townspeople abandoned the town.

Des Moines is the state capital of Iowa.

Facts About Iowa History

Iowa state history is full of interesting incidents and total firsts, from the first female lawyer to the presidential race. Fill up on these facts about the history of Iowa for next time they show up in a pop quiz.

21. The first people to inhabit Iowa came there as long as 12,000 years ago.

22. Before European settlers arrived, the state was home to the Ioway, Missouria, Otoe, Illini and Dakota Sioux tribes.

23. In 1673, French explorers arrived in Iowa. They claimed it as French in 1682. For the next hundred years, Spain and France fought over the rights to the land, calling it French Louisiana or Spanish Louisiana.

24. Iowa was admitted to the USA as part of the Louisiana Purchase on 18 December 1846, making it the 29th state to join the Union.

25. Iowa name origin stories suggest it's named after the Ioway (or Iowa) people, its original Native American inhabitants.

26. Another name origin story is that Ioway means 'the sleepy ones', and was a joking nickname given to the Bah Kho-je by another Native American tribe.

27. In 1869, Arabella Mansfield became the United States' first female lawyer, thanks to Iowa's Supreme Court ruling that women should be allowed to practice law.

28. Iowa had the highest percentage of its male population of any state serve in the Civil War. Out of a population of just 600,000 people, over 76,000 signed up.

29. After the Sioux City Elevated Railway was converted from steam to electric power in 1892, it became the first electric elevated railway in the world.

30. Ever since 1972, Iowa has always held the first caucus in all the presidential elections, right up to the most recent one in 2020.

Interesting Facts About Iowa

These Iowa interesting facts include little-known tales about Iowan inventions.

31. The butterfly stroke in swimming was invented by a swim coach at the University of Iowa.

32. A professor at Iowa State University and his grad student assistant created the first electronic digital computer. It wasn't much like today's laptops though - it weighed over 750 pounds.

33. Iowan Otto Rohwedder invented pre-sliced bread in 1912. Sadly, his invention was toast shortly afterwards. His workshop set on fire, destroying the slicing machine.

34. There are about 25 million hogs and pigs on Iowa's farms - more than eight times the state's human population.

35. Iowa, known for its corn, produces about 2.4 billion bushels of the stuff every year. That's the most out of any state in America, and more than some whole countries.

36. Iowan company Quaker Oats is the biggest cereal company anywhere in the world.

37. Iowa's nickname 'the Hawkeye State' comes either from the name of a character in the novel 'Last of the Mohicans' or is a tribute to real-life tribal leader, Chief Black Hawk.

38. As well as its Hawkeye State nickname, Iowa is often also called the Corn State.

39. Sioux City may be only the fourth largest city in Iowa, but its metropolitan area covers bits of three states: Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Sliced bread was invented in Iowa.

Cool Facts About Iowa

Find out what's famous in Iowa as well as some features of Iowa's culture with these Iowa cool facts.

40. The house in the famous Grant Wood painting 'American Gothic' is a real house in Eldon. It's still standing today.

41. A whopping 20 Olympic athletes have come from Iowa.

42. Des Moines gymnastics coach Liang Chow has successfully trained two Olympic gold medalists in the sport.

43. Every year, thousands of people take part in a 7-day bike ride across the state. It's called the Register Annual Great Race Across Iowa.

44. Iowa City is UNESCO's only designated City of Literature in the USA.

45. Iowa has the largest literacy rate in the whole USA. 99% of Iowans can read and write.

46. Britt in Iowa is home to the National Hobo Convention, celebrating the days when hobos rode the rails.

47. Elk Horn west of Des Moines is the largest Danish settlement in the USA. It's even got a Danish museum.

48. Way back in prehistoric times, 17-foot tall, 5-ton giant sloths used to roam the state's plains.

49. The Corn State is the only state whose name starts with two vowels.

50. The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is the most complete artificial collection of minerals, fossil and shells in the world.

Weird Facts About Iowa

These Iowa trivia facts are all about the stranger side of the Corn State.

51. Iowa has more than 67 million chickens - larger than the population of the UK! They lay almost 15 billion eggs a year, an egg-straordinary number.

52. Strawberry Point is home to a 15-foot tall fiberglass strawberry. It's the largest in the world.

53. Iowa is also home to the World's Largest Wooden Nickel and the World's Largest Ball of Popcorn.

54. The state has the world's largest truck stop. At four times the usual size, it's even got its own dentist's office.

55. In 2017, Ripley's Believe It Or Not named Burlington's Snake Alley as #1 in its Odd Spots Across America for being "unbelievably crooked".

56. The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque is the shortest and steepest railway in the world. It's only 296ft long but rises 189ft.

57. Small town Hiteman has a tiny city park tucked away in the middle of a road. It's just big enough to fit a bench, water pump and sign.

58. Despite being landlocked, Iowa has its very own miniature island city. It's called Sabula, and was created by a damming project in 1938.

59. People in Mahaska County keep on finding woolly mammoth bones. The prehistoric giants were once common in the area during the last Ice Age.

60. Not only does Iowa have a town called Peru, the town is the birthplace of the Red Delicious apple.

Famous Iowans

From Herbert Hoover to Buffalo Bill, find out about the state's most famous residents with our celebrity Iowa facts.

61. President Herbert Hoover was born in Iowa. His childhood home is now a national museum.

62. Television host Johnny Carson is another native Iowan. He was born in the state's southwest and lived there until he was eight.

63. Famous showman William "Buffalo Bill" Cody is from Scott County, where his boyhood home has been preserved as a visitor attraction.

64. Mildred Wirt Benson, better known as one of Nancy Drew authors Carolyn Keene, was born in Iowa.

65. Actor and producer (and restaurant owner) Ashton Kutcher is originally from Cedar Rapids.

66. Actor Elijah Wood is another Cedar Rapids native, although he moved away to pursue his Hollywood career at a young age.

67. Olympic bobsledder and hurdler Lolo Jones calls Des Moines her hometown. She's one of the rare athletes to compete in both the winter and summer Olympics.

68. Youtube's gymnastic and cheerleading enthusiasts Megan and Ciera Stitz are from Iowa and attended Iowa State University.

69. Western movie legend John Wayne was born in Iowa, where he wrote for a student newspaper.

70. A fictional one, but we still think it counts. Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame is due to be born in Riverside, Iowa in 2228.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Fun Facts About Iowa then why not take a look at facts about Idaho, or fun facts about Colorado?

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