Heartland (United States)

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The term "heartland" often invokes imagery of rural farming regions, such as this picture of a Kansas wheat field.

Heartland is an American political term referring to U.S. states that "don't touch an ocean,"[1] whether the Atlantic or Pacific, or to the Midwestern United States.[2] The phrase not only refers to a tangible region but is also a cultural term connoting many ideas and values, such as hard work, rustic small town communities, rural heritage, simplicity, and honesty. Citizens of the Heartland—referred to as simply "Heartlanders"—are often seen as Blue collar.

Old North-West, Louisiana (colony of France) and Great Lakes region are traditional definition of the Mid-West. US Census Bureau said 12 states such as North Dakota, South Dakota[3], Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota[4], Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio are the Mid-West. These are typically associated with "Small Heartland". Large Heartland means "Small Heartland" plus Montana, Kentucky, Idaho, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nevada, West Virginia, Wyoming[5], Utah and Southern States Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas[6].


There is no consensus as to "where" America's heartland is physically located. However, the American Midwest is the most commonly cited area as being the nation's heartland, although many other places have been referred to as part of it, often extending to rural or farming regions in the great plains.[7][8] At least as early as 2010, the term Heartland has been used to refer to many so-called "red states", including those in the Bible belt.[9]

Corn field in Iowa.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the mean center of population in the U.S. in 2010 was in or around Texas County, Missouri. In 2000 it had been northeast from there, in Phelps County, Missouri. It is projected for the mean center of population to leave the Midwest and enter the Western U.S. by the middle of the 21st century.[10]

The geographic center of the 48 contiguous U.S. states is near Lebanon, Kansas. When Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union in 1959, the geographic center of the United States moved from Smith County, Kansas to Butte County, South Dakota.

Use of the term[edit]

Halford Mackinder, a British geographer, coined the word in 1904 to refer to the heart of the Eurasian land mass: a strategic center of industry, natural resources and power.[7] The use of the term "heartland" to apply to the American Midwest did not become common until sometime in the 20th century.[11][2][12]


Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty have sung about the working man in the Mid-West. They are often called Heartland rock musicians; however, Springsteen was born in New Jersey and Petty in Florida, so this does not actually refer to a specifically Midwestern genre of music.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brownstein, Ronald (November 4, 2010). "Heartland Headache: Democrats have to be more competitive in states that don't touch an ocean if they want to bounce back". National Journal. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia, pp. 71-73 (2006)
  3. ^ "America's Heartland - South Dakota". Americasheartland.org. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  4. ^ "America's Heartland - Minnesota". Americasheartland.org. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ "America's Heartland - Wyoming". Americasheartland.org. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  6. ^ "America's Heartland - Arkansas". Americasheartland.org. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b Badger, Emily; Quealy, Kevin (2017-01-03). "Where Is America's Heartland? Pick Your Map". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  8. ^ "HEARTLAND - What is Heartland". Heartlandeindhoven.nl. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  9. ^ Boyer, Paul S., Clifford E. Clark, Karen Halttunen, Joseph F. Kett, and Neal Salisbury. The enduring vision: A history of the American people Volume II: Since 1865. Cengage Learning, 2016.
  10. ^ Yen, Hope (March 8, 2011). "US 'heartland' near historic shift from Midwest". Forbes. Associated Press.
  11. ^ Imagined Heartland, Frontier to Heartland, Newberry Library (2009), Retrieved 4 February 2015
  12. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2017-05-16.

Further reading[edit]