Indiana - Geography

Geography

Main article: Geography of Indiana See also: List of Indiana rivers, Watersheds of Indiana, and List of counties in Indiana

With a total area (land and water) of 36,418 square miles (94,320 km2), Indiana ranks as the 38th largest state in size. The state has a maximum dimension north to south of 250 miles (400 km) and a maximum east to west dimension of 145 miles (233 km). The state’s geographic center (39° 53.7’N, 86° 16.0W) is in Marion County.

Located in the midwestern United States, Indiana is one of eight states that make up the Great Lakes Region. Indiana is bordered on the north by Michigan, on the east by Ohio, and on the west by Illinois, while Lake Michigan borders Indiana on the northwest and the Ohio River separates Indiana from Kentucky on the south.

The average altitude of Indiana is about 760 feet (230 m) above sea level. The highest point in the state is Hoosier Hill in Wayne County at 1,257 feet (383 m) above sea level. The lowest point at 320 feet (98 m) above sea level is located in Posey County, where the Wabash River flows into the Ohio River. Only 2,850 square miles (7,400 km2) have an altitude greater than 1,000 feet (300 m) and this area is enclosed within 14 counties. About 4,700 square miles (12,000 km2) have an elevation of less than 500 feet (150 m).

The state includes two natural regions of the United States, the Central Lowland and the Interior Low Plateau. The till plains make up the central allotment of Indiana. Much of its appearance is a result of elements left behind by glaciers. The area includes some low hills and the soil is composed of glacial sands, gravel and clay, which results in exceptional farmland in central Indiana. The unglaciated segment of the state carries a different and off-balance surface, characterized in places by profound valleys and expeditious streams. A limited area in the southeastern area of the state possesses these types of characteristics. The soil is fertile in the valleys of Indiana, most notably Whitewater Valley which is known for its prodigious farming. In northwest Indiana, there are various sand hills and dunes, due in some measure to a former extension of the lake and wind action. In the basin of the Kankakee River there is an extensive scope of lakes, marshes and prairies. In northeastern Indiana there is a region of tall moraines, one of which is 200 to 500 feet (61 to 150 m) deep, 25 miles (40 km) wide and stretching across a distance of 100 miles (160 km).

Major river systems in Indiana include the Whitewater, White, Blue, Wabash, St. Joseph, and Maumee rivers. According to the Indiana Department of National Resources, in 2007 there were 65 rivers, streams, and creeks of environmental interest or scenic beauty, which included only a portion of an estimated 24,000 total river miles within the state. The Wabash River, which is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi River, is the official river of Indiana.

At 475 miles (764 km) in length, the river bisects the state from northeast to southwest before flowing south, mostly along the Indiana-Illinois border. The river has been the subject of several songs, such as On the Banks of the Wabash, The Wabash Cannonball and Back Home Again, In Indiana. The Kankakee River passes through northern Indiana before emptying into the Illinois River and serves as a demarcating line between suburban northwest Indiana and the rest of the state.

There are over 1,000 lakes in Indiana. To the northwest, Indiana borders Lake Michigan, where the Port of Indiana operates the state's largest shipping port. Tippecanoe Lake, the deepest lake in the state, reaches depths at nearly 120 feet (37 m), while Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in Indiana.

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