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Iowa Education and Regional Information

Iowa is a mostly rural Midwestern state. It has a wide variety of postsecondary education options, including several universities, private colleges, community colleges and career schools. Find out more about Iowa's schools, economy and population below.

Information about Iowa

Iowa is a Midwestern state with about 3.1 million residents, as of 2014 U.S. census estimates. Its large cities include Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Davenport. Des Moines is the state capital and largest city, with 209,220 residents, as of 2014 census estimates. Since the middle of the 20th century, Iowa has experienced a migration of residents from its more rural counties to its larger towns and cities, leading to a population loss for many agricultural counties.

Also known as the Hawkeye State, Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on its eastern side and the Missouri River to its west. The topography is generally flat, with only a slight rise in elevation from east to west, although there is an area of rolling bluff country around the Mississippi. A number of state parks and protected forests provide opportunities for residents to camp, fish and hike in relatively untouched wilderness, while Effigy Mounds National Monument in the state's northeastern part is a draw for tourists interested in Native American culture. The climate in Iowa typically features cold winters, with January averages across the state ranging from 14 to 31 degrees, and humid, warm summers.

Higher Education

Iowa has 91 colleges, universities, community colleges and career and specialty schools. Its state universities are Iowa State University in Ames, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The University of Iowa is home to a creative writing program, the Iowa Writer's Workshop. A number of well-known writers, such as Louise Glück and Kurt Vonnegut, have served as faculty in the program.

Grinnell College is found in Grinnell, Iowa. A small college of around 1,700 students, it was ranked 19th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national liberal arts colleges in 2016. It was also named the 7th best value school among liberal arts colleges in the nation, according to U.S. News rankings for that same year. Cornell College, another small school with nearly 1,100 students, was ranked 93rd on the list of top national liberal arts colleges by the same publication.

Other private 4-year colleges in Iowa include Drake University, Upper Iowa University and Saint Ambrose University. A large number of community colleges are available, including Des Moines Area Community College, which has programs for about 23,500 students, Kirkwood Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College District.

The state's numerous school offerings also include several theological seminaries and bible colleges, a college of health sciences and a business college. Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center is the largest medical school in the state.

Economic Facts

Iowa has some of the most world's most fertile agricultural land. Farm products include corn, soy, pork products, dairy and beef. In recent years, Iowa has become a leader in ethanol production as more of the state's corn yield is used for creating fuel rather than for livestock or human consumption. The cities of Des Moines and Cedar Rapids are home to a number of factories that process farm products, while the state's industrial sector also produces non-electrical machinery, farm machinery, tires, appliances, chemicals and electronic equipment.

Cement is Iowa's most important mineral product; others include stone, gravel, sand, and gypsum. Des Moines, the state capital, is a major insurance industry center and is home to the headquarters of such firms as the Principal Financial Group, EMC Insurance Companies and Holmes Murphy.


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