Geography of Indiana

Geography of Indiana

The Geography of Indiana refers to the U.S. State of Indiana.


The state of Indiana is divided into several cultural regions.Fact|date=September 2008

Northern Indiana

Northern Indiana consists of 27 counties in the northern third of the state.

The landscape is characterized physically by fairly level terrain ranging from 600 to 1,000 feet above sea level and is probably the flattest part of the state. The Eastern Continental Divide goes through Northern Indiana following the top of the Valparaiso Moraine part of the way. Besides some urban areas, much of Northern Indiana is farmland. Also, one must not forget the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Heavy industry is as much a part of the economy in the Eastern two thirds of Northern Indiana as agriculture and as a result, the region tends to be associated with the Rust Belt. Northern Indiana as a whole is also the most ethnically diverse region in Indiana.

Northwest Indiana

The western third of this region, Northwest Indiana, borders Illinois and Lake Michigan, and is commonly considered a part of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Thus, it can be said that Chicago is the most dominant city in the region. Chicago's influence is fairly strong in Northwest Indiana, as it share's Chicago's time zone (Central Standard Time), receives Chicago area media, and follows Chicago professional teams like the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls.


The center third of this region is known as the Indiana section of Michiana. South Bend is the cultural and economic center of the Michiana region. The culture of this area is typically more closely associated with Chicago and Michigan than with Central Indiana.

Maumee Valley

The Eastern third of this region centers around the Fort Wayne area and the Maumee River basin. With its stong links to the culture of this area is typically more closely associated with Michigan and Ohio than with Central Indiana.

Central Indiana

Central Indiana refers to the 33 or so counties in the middle third of the state. However, many Hoosiers consider Central Indiana as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. The region's dominant city by far is Indianapolis. Other prominent cities include Anderson, Muncie, and Terre Haute. Central Indiana is the most populous region of Indiana. The primary economic engines of Central Indiana are agriculture and manufacturing, and as a result, some of the larger cities in the region are dealing with Rust Belt issues similar to Northern Indiana. Major universities include Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ball State University, and Indiana State University.

Physically, the land in Central Indiana is characterized primarily by low, gently rolling hills and shallow valleys. Some counties of the region, like Howard County, are more flat in nature, while others, such as Morgan County are more rugged and hilly. Elevation ranges from 600 feet to over 1,000 feet above sea level. Forests and farmland line Central Indiana's gently rolling plains, and river valleys dissect the otherwise monotonous landscape. The highest point in Indiana is Hoosier Hill, at 1,257 feet above sea level in northern Wayne County.

Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana refers to the southernmost third of the state and was the first region to be settled, in the late eighteenth century. Evansville, located in Southwestern Indiana, is the largest city in the region. Other prominent cities include Bloomington, home of Indiana University Bloomington, and Columbus, a city known for its architecture. The area code for the region is 812.

The most recent glaciers from the Ice Age did not advance this far into Indiana and, as a result, this portion of the state is extremely hilly and very rugged in contrast to the rest of the state. Numerous caves and springs can be found in this region. South Central Indiana is characterized by a series of steep hills that rise 1,000 above sea level and are known as The Knobs. Indiana limestone is found in this region.

Culturally, the 32 counties that comprise Southern Indiana are seen as a transition zone between The Midwest and The South and share characteristics of both regions.

Extreme Southern Indiana lies within the humid subtropical climate zone and, as a result, it has noticeably milder winters in contrast with the rest of the state.


Indiana is broken up into three main physical regions: The Great Lakes Plain in the northern third of the state, the Tipton Till Plain in the central third, and the Southern Hills and Lowlands region in the southern third.

See also

*Midwestern United States
*Southern Indiana
*Northern Indiana

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