Midwestern United States

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The Midwestern United States (in the U.S. generally referred to as the Midwest) is one of the four geographic regions within the United States of America used by the United States Census Bureau in its reporting.

The region consists of twelve states in the north-central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.[1] A 2006 Census Bureau estimate put the population at 66,217,736. Both the geographic center of the contiguous U.S. and the population center of the U.S. are in the Midwest. The United States Census Bureau divides this region into the East North Central States (essentially the Great Lakes States) and the West North Central States.

Chicago is the largest city in the region, followed by Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, and Milwaukee. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA is the largest metropolitan statistical area, followed by the Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI MSA, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA, and the Greater St. Louis area.[2] Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is the oldest city in the region, having been founded by French missionaries and explorers in 1668.

The term Midwest has been in common use for over 100 years. A variant term, "Middle West", has been in use since the 19th century and remains relatively common.[3] Another term sometimes applied to the same general region is "the heartland".[4] Other designations for the region have fallen into disuse, such as the "Northwest" or "Old Northwest" (from "Northwest Territory") and "Mid-America". Since the book Middletown appeared in 1929, sociologists have often used Midwestern cities (and the Midwest generally) as "typical" of the entire nation.[5] The region has a higher employment-to-population ratio (the percentage of employed people at least 16 years old) than the Northeast, the West, the South, or the Sun Belt states.[6]

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