Midwest or Middle West, region of the United States centered on the western Great Lakes and the upper-middle Mississippi valley. It is a somewhat imprecise term that has been applied to the northern section of the land between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mts. More often it is restricted to the Old Northwest Territory and the neighboring states to the southern border of Missouri, E of the Great Plains. It thus includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. The area has some of the richest farming land in the world and is known for its corn and cattle. The extended area also includes great wheat fields, particularly W of the Missouri River. The heavily industrialized parts of the Midwest known as the Rust Belt have declined in recent decades. The chief cities are Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis–St. Paul. In popular tradition the Midwest is conservative, isolationist, Protestant, and "American." Actually it has a variety of political, economic, and religious opinion as well as a mixture of peoples and ethnicities.
See A. Carpenter, The Encyclopedia of the Midwest (1982); J. H. Madison, ed., Heartland: Comparative Histories of the Midwestern States (1988); J. R. Shortridge, The Middle West (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.