Large area of the north-central USA. It is loosely defined geographically, but is generally taken to comprise the states of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado that lie east of the Rocky Mountains. Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana are often variously included as well. In its broadest sense, the Midwest has an area of 986,800 sq mi/2,556,000 sq km and a population (2010) of about 66,927,000 – roughly a quarter of the national total. The region is generally flat and well-watered, with good transportation links. Traditionally its economy is divided between agriculture and heavy industry. The main urban Midwest centre is Chicago.
The term ‘Midwest’ identifies an area within which a number of circumstances coincide, and these define the region's general character. These circumstances include occupancy by American settlers in the period 1800–50; a uniform system of rectangular survey imposed by the US government, which created a generally uniform size of holding; an economy initially based on agriculture, and a fertile surface relatively free from physical obstacles; remoteness from the coast and consequent insulation from the impact of the non-American world; markets largely within the region, so that it remained indifferent to questions of foreign trade and American interests overseas; and the growth of cities with uniform economic functions and with few differences between them.
Although Midwesterners are sometimes perceived to be conservative socially and politically, liberal and socialistic ideals have a long tradition in the states that supported the Populist and Grange movements (which championed the common people and agricultural interests) of the late 19th century.
In the summer of 1993 the Midwest was devastated by floods, which left tens of thousands of people homeless.