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Ohio State Flag
Ohio State Flag
Ohio State Seal
Ohio State Seal
Ohio Location
Ohio Location


Ohio is a Midwestern state in the northeastern corner of the United States. It was the first and eastern-most state in the Midwest admitted to the Union under the Northwest Ordinance. Its U.S. postal abbreviation is OH; its old-style abbreviation is O. Ohio is an Iroquois word meaning "great water." The name refers to the Ohio River that forms its southern border.

The U.S. Navy has named several ships USS Ohio in honor of this state.

Capital Columbus
Largest City Columbus
Governor (2005) Bob Taft (R)
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water

116,096 km² (34th)
106,154 km²
10,044 km²
- Total (2000)
- Density

11,353,140 (7th)
107.05 /km² (9th)
Admittance into Union
- Date
- Order
March 1, 1803, declared retroactively on August 7, 1953
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
38°27'N to 41°58'N
80°32'W to 84°49'W
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
355 km
355 km

472 m
260 m
139 m
ISO 3166-2 US-OH
Official languages None
State nickname The Buckeye State


Being centrally located in the northeastern corner of the United States' Midwest region, Ohio is located on Lake Erie, is connected by major highways and borders several states. Ohio's southern border is defined by the Ohio River (with the border being at the 1793 low-water mark on the north side of the river), and much of the northern border is defined by Lake Erie. It borders Pennsylvania on the east, Michigan in the northwest near Toledo, Ontario, Canada across Lake Erie to the north, Indiana to the west, Kentucky on the south, and West Virginia on the southeast.

Much of Ohio features glaciated plains, with an exceptionally flat area in the northwest being known as the Great Black Swamp. This glaciated region in the northwest and central state is bordered to the east and southeast first by a belt known as the glaciated Allegheny Plateau, and then by another belt known as the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Most of Ohio is of low relief, but the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau features rugged hills and forests.

The rugged southeastern quadrant of Ohio, stretching in an outward bow-like arc along the Ohio river from the West Virginia Panhandle to the outskirts of Cincinnati, form a distinct socio-economic unit. Known somewhat erroneously as Ohio's "Appalachian Counties" (they are actually in the Allegheny Plateau), this area's coal mining legacy, dependence on small pockets of old manufacturing establishments, and even distinctive regional dialect set this section off from the rest of the state and, unfortunately, create a limited opportunity to participate in the generally high economic standards of Ohio.

Significant rivers within the state include the Cuyahoga River, Maumee River, Miami River, Muskingum River, and Scioto River. The rivers in the northern part of the state drain into the northern Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River, and the rivers in the southern part of the state drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and then the Mississippi.

Grand Lake St. Mary's in the west central part of the state was constructed as a supply of water for canals in the canal-building era of 1820–1850. For many years this body of water, over 20 square miles, was the largest artificial lake in the world. It should be noted that Ohio's canal-building projects were not the economic fiasco that similar efforts were in other states. Some cities, such as Dayton, owe their industrial emergence to location on canals, and as late as 1910 interior canals carried much of the bulk freight of the state.

Lake Erie
The Ohio coast of Lake Erie has played an important part in the history and economy of the U.S. as a whole


Ohio, the region north of the Ohio River and south of the Great Lakes, was originally controlled by various native tribes. At the time of European colonization, the Iroquois federation of the New York area claimed the region including the modern territory of Ohio as a hunting grounds. However, locally, the region was populated by several other peoples, principally the Miamis, Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Ottawas, and Eries. During the 18th century, the French set up a system of trading posts to control the fur trade in the region.

In 1754, France and Great Britain fought a war known in the United States as the French and Indian War. As a result of the Treaty of Paris, the French ceded control of Ohio and the old Northwest to Great Britain.

Britain soon passed the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited the American colonists from settling in Ohio Country. British control of the region ended with the American victory in the American Revolution, after which the British ceded claims to Ohio and the territory in the West to the Mississippi River to the United States.

The United States created the Northwest Territory in 1787 under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, also known as the Freedom Ordinance because for the first time slavery would be prohibited from an entire American region. The states of the Midwest would be known as free states, in contradistinction to those states south of the Ohio River known as slave states, and later, as Northeastern states abolished slavery in the coming two generations, the free states would be known as Northern States. The Northwest Territory originally included areas that had previously been known as Ohio Country and Illinois Country. As Ohio prepared for statehood, Indiana Territory was created, reducing the Northwest Territory to the approximately the size of present-day Ohio plus the eastern half of Michigan's lower peninsula.

Under the Northwest Ordinance, any of the states to be formed out of the Northwest Territory would be admitted as a state once the population exceeded 60,000. Although Ohio's population numbered only 45,000 in December 1801, Congress determined that the population was growing rapidly and Ohio could begin the path to statehood with the assumption that it would exceed 60,000 residents by the time it would become a state. On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed an act of U.S. Congress that recognized Ohio as the 17th state. The current custom of Congress declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, with Louisiana's admission. So, on August 7, 1953 (the year of Ohio's 150th anniversary), President Eisenhower signed an act that officially declared March 1, 1803 the date of Ohio's admittance into the Union.

In 1835, Ohio fought a mostly bloodless boundary war with Michigan over the Toledo Strip known as the Toledo War. Congress intervened, giving the land, which included the city of Toledo, to Ohio. In exchange, Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula.

Federal Hall in Manhattan
Plaque commemorating the Northwest Ordinance outside Federal Hall in lower Manhattan

Law and Government

Ohio's capital is Columbus, located close to the center of the state.

Although historically control of the state has oscillated between the two major parties, Republicans currently dominate state government. The governor, Bob Taft, is a Republican, as are all other non-judicial statewide elected officials: Lieutenant Governor of Ohio Bruce Johnson, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, Ohio State Auditor Betty Montgomery, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and Ohio State Treasurer Jennette Bradley. Both houses of the Ohio General Assembly are also firmly in Republican control, 12 of 18 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives are Republicans, and both U.S. senators, R. Michael DeWine and George V. Voinovich, are members of the GOP. However, all of the mayors of the six largest cities in the state (Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton) are Democrats.

Due to a close split in party registration and historical electoral importance, Ohio was considered a key battleground state in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. The state was vital to President George W. Bush's election chances, as it is a state he won by nearly 4 points in 2000 and by the fact that no Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio. In the election, the President won the state with 51% of the vote, giving him its 20 electoral votes and the margin he needed in the electoral college for re-election.

However, Ohio's status as a bellwether state may soon end, as its electoral vote total has been declining for decades. For the 2004 election, it has 20 electoral votes, down from 21 in 2000 and down from a peak of 26 in 1968. It is the fewest electoral votes for Ohio since 1828, when it cast 16 electoral votes. Ohio will cast 3.71 percent of the total electoral votes in 2004, the smallest percentage since it cast 3.40 percent of the votes in 1820.

Political demographics and history

Politically, Ohio is considered a swing state, although state politics are dominated by Republicans. The mixture of urban and rural areas, and the presence of both large blue-collar industries and significant white-collar commercial districts leads to a balance of conservative and liberal population that (together with the state's 20 electoral votes, more than most swing states) makes the state very important to the outcome of national elections. Ohio was the deciding state in the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Bush narrowly won the state's 20 electoral votes by a margin of 2 percentage points and 50.8% of the vote. The state supported Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but also supported Republican George Bush in 2000 and 2004. Ohio was also a deciding factor in the 1948 presidential election when Democrat Harry S. Truman defeated Republican Thomas Dewey (who had won the state four years earlier) and in the 1976 presidential election when Democrat Jimmy Carter defeated Republican Gerald Ford by a slim margin in Ohio and took the election.

Ohio's demographics cause many to consider the state as a microcosm of the nation as a whole. Interestingly, a Republican presidential candidate has never won the White House without winning Ohio, and Ohio has gone to the winner of the election in all but two contests since 1892, backing only losers Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 (Ohio's John Bricker was his running mate) and Richard M. Nixon in 1960. Consequently, the state is very important to the campaigns of both major parties. Ohio had 20 electoral votes in the Electoral College in 2004. (See also U.S. Electoral College.) The most solidly Democratic areas of the state are in the northeast, including Cleveland, Youngstown, and other industrial areas. Specifically, the core of this region includes eight counties stretching east along Lake Erie from Erie county to the Pennsylvania border and south to Mahoning county. Southwestern Ohio is particularly Republican.

Ohio is known as the "Modern Mother of Presidents," having sent eight of its native sons to the White House. Seven of them were Republicans, and the other was a member of the Whig Party.


Ohio is a major producer of machines, tires and rubber products, steel, processed foods, tools, and other manufactures. Although Ohio is one of the leading industrial states, many people do not realize how significant it is in manufacturing because Ohio specializes in producers goods ( goods used to make other goods, such as factory machinery, industrial chemicals, and plastic moldings). Therefore, Ohio's products are not always visible as off-the-shelf final purchases to the average consumer. Nevertheless, there are some Ohio items that consumers will recognize including Procter and Gamble products, Smuckers jams and jellies, and DayGlo.

Ohio is the site of the invention of the airplane, resulting from the experiments of the Wright Brothers in Dayton. While the actual production of aircraft in the USA is now centered elsewhere, a large experimental and design facility, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has been located near Dayton and serves in the co-ordination of production of US military aircraft. On the base are located Wright Hill and Huffman Prairie, where many of the earliest aerodynamic experiments of the Wright Brothers were performed. Ohio today also has many aerospace, defense, and NASA parts and systems suppliers scattered throughout the state.

As part of the Corn Belt, agriculture also plays an important role in the state's economy. There is also a small commercial fishing sector on Lake Erie, and the principal catch is yellow perch. In addition, however, Ohio's historical attractions, varying landscapes, and recreational opportunities are the basis for a thriving tourist industry. Over 2,500 lakes and 70,000 kilometers of river landscapes are a paradise for boaters, fishermen, and swimmers. Of special historical interest are the Native American archaeological sites—including grave mounds and other sites.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Ohio's total state product in 2003 was $403 billion. Per capital personal income in 2003 was $30,129, 25th in the nation. Ohio's agricultural outputs are soybeans, dairy products, corn, tomatoes, hogs, cattle, poultry and eggs. Its industrial outputs are transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, food processing, and electric equipment.


As of 2004, Ohio's population was estimated to be 11,459,011 people. This includes about 390,000 foreign-born (3.4%).

The racial makeup of the state is:

85.0% White
11.5% Black
1.9% Hispanic
1.2% Asian
0.2% Native American
1.4% Mixed race
The 5 largest ancestry groups in Ohio are German (25.2%), Irish (12.7%), African American (11.5%), English (9.2%), American (8.5%).

German is the largest reported ancestry in most of the counties in Ohio, especially in the northwest. Ohioans of American and British ancestry are present throughout the state as well, particularly in the south-central part of the state. The cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati are heavily black.

6.6% of Ohio's population were reported as under 5, 25.4% under 18, and 13.3% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.4% of the population.


Ohio is mostly Protestant. There are large numbers of Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Pentecostals. Other notable Protestant groups include the nation's largest Amish population, and the headquarters of the United Church of Christ, which is in Cleveland.

The religious affiliations of the people of Ohio are:

Christian – 82%
Protestant – 62%
Baptist – 15%
Methodist – 11%
Lutheran – 5%
Presbyterian – 4%
Pentecostal – 4%
United Church of Christ – 2%
Amish/Pietist – 1%
Other Protestant – 20%
Roman Catholic – 19%
Other Christian – 1%
Other Religions – 1%
Non-Religious – 16%

Historical populations

Important Cities and Towns

Colleges and Universities

(note: the University of Dayton is not one of Ohio's state universities; it is a private, Roman Catholic university run by the Society of Mary)

  • 24 state university branch and regional campuses
  • 46 liberal arts colleges and universities
  • 6 free-standing state-assisted medical schools
    • Medical College of Ohio
    • Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine
    • Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health
    • Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
    • Wright State University School of Medicine
  • 1 private medical school
    • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • 15 community colleges
  • 8 technical colleges
  • over 24 independent non-profit colleges

Professional Sports Teams

  • Major League Baseball
    • Cincinnati Reds
    • Cleveland Indians
  • National Football League
    • Cincinnati Bengals
    • Cleveland Browns
  • National Hockey League
    • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • National Basketball Association
    • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Major League Soccer
    • Columbus Crew
  • Arena Football League
    • Columbus Destroyers
  • Minor League Baseball
    • Akron Aeros
    • Chillicothe Paints
    • Columbus Clippers
    • Dayton Dragons
    • Lake County Captains
    • Mahoning Valley Scrappers
    • Toledo Mud Hens
  • American Hockey League
    • Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
    • Cleveland Barons
  • East Coast Hockey League
    • Dayton Bombers
    • Toledo Storm


Ohio has a highly developed network of roads and highways. Major east-west through routes include the Turnpike in the north, U.S. 30 a bit further south, I-70 through Columbus and Dayton, and the Appalachian Highway running from West Virginia to Cincinnati. Major north-south routes include I-75 in the west through Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati, I-71 through the middle of the state from Cleveland through Columbus (which angles westward toward Cincinnati), and I-77 in the eastern part of the state from Cleveland down into West Virginia. The north-south routes except for I-75 are less important to non-local traffic than the east-west routes because, due to the presence of Lake Erie, they do not go through.


State animal: White-tailed Deer
State bird: Cardinal
State capital: Columbus
State flower: Scarlet Carnation
State wildflower: Large white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
State insect: Ladybird Beetle
State song: "Beautiful Ohio"
State rock song: "Hang On Sloopy"
State tree: Ohio Buckeye
State fossil: Trilobite genus Isotelus
State drink: Tomato juice
State reptile: Black racer snake
State gemstone: Ohio Flint
State motto: "With God all things are possible"


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