Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 15th most populous of the 50 United States.
Indiana is the least extensive state in the continental US west of the Appalachian Mountains. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis.
Before it became a territory, varying cultures of indigenous peoples and historic Native Americans inhabited Indiana for thousands of years.
Since its founding as a territory, settlement patterns in Indiana have reflected regional cultural segmentation present in the Eastern United States; the state’s northernmost tier was settled primarily by people from New England and New York, Central Indiana by migrants from the Mid-Atlantic states and from adjacent Ohio, and Southern Indiana by settlers from the Southern states, particularly Kentucky and Tennessee.
Indiana has a diverse economy with a gross state product of $214 billion in 2005.
Indiana has several metropolitan areas with populations greater than 100,000 and a number of smaller industrial cities and towns. Indiana is home to several major sports teams and athletic events including the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, and the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 motorsports races.
The state has several universities ranked among the best in 2011 rankings of the U.S. News & World Report. Purdue, Indiana, and the University of Notre Dame are ranked among the top 50 in the National Universities Rankings, while Butler, Valparaiso and the University of Evansville are ranked among the top 10 in the Regional University Midwest Rankings.
The first inhabitants in what is now Indiana were the Paleo-Indians, who arrived about 8000 BC after the melting of the glaciers at the end of the Ice Age. Divided into small groups, the Paleo-Indians were nomads who hunted large game such as mastodons. They created stone tools made out of chert by chipping, knapping and flaking.
The Archaic period, which began between 5000 and 4000 BC, covered the next phase of indigenous culture. The people developed new tools as well as techniques to cook food, an important step in civilization.
Such new tools included different types of spear points and knives, with various forms of notches. They made ground-stone tools such as stone axes, woodworking tools and grinding stones. During the latter part of the period, they built earthwork mounds and middens, which showed that settlements were becoming more permanent.
The Archaic period ended at about 1500 BC, although some Archaic people lived until 700 BC.
Afterward, the Woodland period took place in Indiana, where various new cultural attributes appeared. During this period, the people created ceramics and pottery, and extended their cultivation of plants. An early Woodland period group named the Adena people had elegant burial rituals, featuring log tombs beneath earth mounds.
In the middle portion of the Woodland period, the Hopewell people began developing long-range trade of goods. Nearing the end of the stage, the people developed highly productive cultivation and adaptation of agriculture, growing such crops as corn and squash. The Woodland period ended around 1000 AD.
The Mississippian culture emerged, lasting from 1000 until the 15th century, shortly before the arrival of Europeans. During this stage, the people created large urban settlements designed according to their cosmology, with large mounds and plazas defining ceremonial and public spaces.
The concentrated settlements depended on the agricultural surpluses. One such complex was the Angel Mounds. They had large public areas such as plazas and platform mounds, where leaders lived or conducted rituals. Mississippian civilization collapsed in Indiana during the mid-1400s for reasons that remain unclear.
The historic Native American tribes in the area at the time of European encounter spoke different languages of the Algonquian family. They included the Shawnee, Miami, and Illini. Later they were joined by refugee tribes from eastern regions.
With a total area (land and water) of 36,418 square miles (94,320 km2), Indiana ranks as the 38th largest state in size.
The state has a maximum dimension north to south of 250 miles (400 km) and a maximum east to west dimension of 145 miles (233 km).
The state’s geographic center (39° 53.7’N, 86° 16.0W) is in Marion County.
Located in the midwestern United States, Indiana is one of eight states that make up the Great Lakes Region. Indiana is bordered on the north by Michigan, on the east by Ohio, and on the west by Illinois, while Lake Michigan borders Indiana on the northwest and the Ohio River separates Indiana from Kentucky on the south.
The average altitude of Indiana is about 760 feet (230 m) above sea level. The highest point in the state is Hoosier Hill in Wayne County at 1,257 feet (383 m) above sea level. The lowest point at 320 feet (98 m) above sea level is located in Posey County, where the Wabash River flows into the Ohio River.
Only 2,850 square miles (7,400 km2) have an altitude greater than 1,000 feet (300 m) and this area is enclosed within 14 counties. About 4,700 square miles (12,000 km2) have an elevation of less than 500 feet (150 m).
The state includes two natural regions of the United States, the Central Lowland and the Interior Low Plateau.
The till plains make up the central allotment of Indiana. Much of its appearance is a result of elements left behind by glaciers. The area includes some low hills and the soil is composed of glacial sands, gravel and clay, which results in exceptional farmland in central Indiana.
The unglaciated segment of the state carries a different and off-balance surface, characterized in places by profound valleys and expeditious streams. A limited area in the southeastern area of the state possesses these types of characteristics.
The soil is fertile in the valleys of Indiana, most notably Whitewater Valley which is known for its prodigious farming. In northwest Indiana, there are various sand hills and dunes, due in some measure to a former extension of the lake and wind action. In the basin of the Kankakee River there is an extensive scope of lakes, marshes and prairies.
In northeastern Indiana there is a region of tall moraines, one of which is 200 to 500 feet (61 to 150 m) deep, 25 miles (40 km) wide and stretching across a distance of 100 miles (160 km).
Major river systems in Indiana include the Whitewater, White, Blue, Wabash, St. Joseph, and Maumee rivers.
According to the Indiana Department of National Resources, in 2007 there were 65 rivers, streams, and creeks of environmental interest or scenic beauty, which included only a portion of an estimated 24,000 total river miles within the state.
The Wabash River, which is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi River, is the official river of Indiana.
At 475 miles (764 km) in length, the river bisects the state from northeast to southwest before flowing south, mostly along the Indiana-Illinois border. The river has been the subject of several songs, such as On the Banks of the Wabash, The Wabash Cannonball and Back Home Again, In Indiana.
The Kankakee River passes through northern Indiana before emptying into the Illinois River and serves as a demarcating line between suburban northwest Indiana and the rest of the state.
There are over 1,000 lakes in Indiana. To the northwest, Indiana borders Lake Michigan, where the Port of Indiana operates the state’s largest shipping port. Tippecanoe Lake, the deepest lake in the state, reaches depths at nearly 120 feet (37 m), while Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in Indiana.
Indiana has a humid continental climate, with cool winters and warm, irriguous summers.
The extreme southern portion of the state is within the humid subtropical climate area and receives more precipitation than other parts of Indiana.
Temperatures generally diverge from the north and south sections of the state. In the middle of the winter, average high/low temperatures range from around 30 °F/15 °F (−1 °C/-10 °C) in the far north to 39 °F/22 °F (4 °C/-6 °C) in the far south.
In the middle of summer there is generally a little less variation across the state, as average high/low temperatures range from around 84 °F/64 °F (29 °C/18 °C) in the far north to 90 °F/69 °F (32 °C/21 °C) in the far south.
The record high temperature for the state was 116 °F (47 °C) set on July 14, 1936 at Collegeville. The record low was −36 °F (−38 °C) on January 19, 1994 at New Whiteland.
The growing season typically spans from 155 days in the north and 185 days in the south.
While droughts occasionally occur in the state, rainfall totals are distributed relatively equally throughout the year. Precipitation totals range from 35 inches (89 cm) near Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana to 45 inches (110 cm) along the Ohio River in the south, while the state’s average is 40 inches (100 cm).
Annual snowfall in Indiana varies widely across the state, ranging from 80 inches (200 cm) in the northwest along Lake Michigan to 14 inches (36 cm) in the far south. Lake effect snow accounts for roughly half of the snowfall in northwest and north central Indiana due to the effects of the moisture and relative warmth of Lake Michigan upwind. The mean wind speed is 8 miles per hour (13 km/h).
In a 2012 report, Indiana was ranked eighth in a list of the top 20 tornado-prone states based on National Weather Service data from 1950 through 2011.
A 2011 report ranked South Bend 15th among the top 20 tornado-prone cities in the United States, while another report from 2011 ranked Indianapolis eighth.
Despite its vulnerability, Indiana is not a part of tornado alley.