Typical Characteristics of the Great Plains Region

Great Plains Region Map

The data from the State Similarity Index groups the Midwestern states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas into the Great Plains region. Missouri is a transitional state between the Great Plains region and the Southeast region, since it has traits of both regions. Here are some of the characteristics most of these states share:

As the name of the region suggests, the Great Plains runs through all these states, so their terrain is relatively flat. A very low percentage of this region is forested. Most of their land is either farmland or pasture land. Soybean and corn are the two primary crops farmed in this region. Before its cultivation, this region was mostly grassland. For the most part, these states are in the Central Time Zone. Furthermore, the states in this region are landlocked. They all border the Missouri River and as a result most of their water flows to the Gulf of Mexico, via the Mississippi River. The population density is also quite low in this region.

The vast majority of the residents in the Great Plains region are White. People with German ancestry are by far the largest group in the region. However, it is not the not the least diverse area of the country either. The Latino population of this region has been increasing steadily due to recent immigration. North Dakota and South Dakota have significant Native American populations as well. The average age of the people in these states is about the same. They generally have a higher percentage of married people than the national average. This region also is not especially rich or poor. Interestingly enough, the people in this region tend to be taller than average.

Before colonization, the Sioux tribe inhabited this region. Later the bulk of this region was part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. With the exception of Missouri, the states in this region never allowed slavery. Their people are not most religious or least religious in the country. They have about an even mix of Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Roman Catholics. The Lutheran church is unusually popular in these states. The people in this region are known to be friendly and practical. A low percentage of their people do illicit drugs, while a relatively high percentage of their people own guns and have hunting licenses. Country music is also more popular in this region than the nation as a whole.

A high percentage of this region’s congressmen are Republicans. Most states in the Great Plains have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Despite the fact that these states are generally run by Republicans, they actually tend to have a wide variety of laws. For example, Iowa has few restrictions on abortion, while Kansas has many. Marijuana is legal in South Dakota but fully illegal in Nebraska. The death penalty is allowed in North Dakota, but allowed in South Dakota. Still these states ban first cousin marriage and smoking in most public places. They also do not allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

A high percentage of people in the Great Plains region live in single family homes. Most heat their houses using either natural gas or electricity. Very few people in these states use public transportation. However, the railroads in these states tend to transport a lot of goods. A relatively high amount of energy per capita is used in the North Plains. A lot of wind power is generated in the region, due to the high winds in the area. With the exception of the far western portion of South Dakota, these states are all on the Eastern Interconnection power grid, despite being located so far to the west. Since these states are landlocked, they only have army and air force bases.

Great Plains Region’s Most Representative State: Nebraska (81.4 regional average)

Most Similar Region to the Great Plains Region: Great Lakes region

(Statistics as of 2020)

List of states by region

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