Although Indiana is primarily a manufacturing state, about three quarters of the land is utilized for agriculture. With a growing season of about 170 days and an average rainfall of 40 in. (102 cm) per year, Indiana farms have rich yields. Grain crops, mainly corn and wheat, are important and also support livestock and dairying industries. Soybeans and hay are also principal crops, and popcorn and widely varied vegetables and fruits are also produced. Hogs, eggs, and cattle are also important. Meatpacking is chief among the many industries related to agriculture. Although the urban population exceeds the rural, many towns are primarily service centers for agricultural communities.
There are, however, cities with varied heavy industries; prominent, besides Indianapolis, are Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Kokomo, South Bend, and Terre Haute. These cities were among the highest in the nation in unemployment during the recession of the early 1980s. Indiana's leading manufactures are iron and steel, electrical equipment, transportation equipment, nonelectrical machinery, chemicals, food products, and fabricated metals. Rich mineral deposits of coal and stone (the S central Indiana area is the nation's leading producer of building limestone) have encouraged construction and industry.
Throughout the state the products of farms and factories are transported by truck and by train. Indiana calls itself the crossroads of America, and its extreme northwest corner—where transportation lines head east after converging on nearby Chicago from all directions—is one of the most heavily traveled areas in the world in terms of rail, road, and air traffic. Waterborne traffic is also important; improvements on the Ohio River and the opening (1959) of the St. Lawrence Seaway have benefited the state. With the opening in 1970 of the Burns Waterway Harbor on Lake Michigan, Indiana gained its first public port and enhanced its shipping facilities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.