Geographically, Iowa is fairly flat, with rolling hills and a few bluff-like outcroppings near the Mississippi River. Part of this river tract is also referred to as loess hills. The region is characteristically more suddenly hilly with indisputable ridges and jagged cliffs. Glacial formation millions of years ago cut and carved these hilly outcroppings.
Today, the predominance of very rocky soil, thanks to glacial movement, has left the area radon-rich. In fact Iowa is one of the only states where uncommonly high measurements of radon occur. Homeowners are required to test for the gas and contractors to build new homes to specifications that include methods to block or reduce radon gas.
Next time you're at the gas pump and notice the sign for ethanol, think of Iowa. The agricultural state is one of the leaders in corn farming, and now in ethanol, a type of biofuel produced from corn. One other significant way you might recognize Iowa's influence is in each Presidential election year. Iowa kicks off caucuses with a bang. All politicians stump in Iowa, bringing big media and top-level social issues to the state. Academically Iowa wins big points for its collegiate lineup and its emphasis on keeping state residents educated beyond high school. Drake University in Des Moines may not ring a bell to most, but for aspiring Law students it's one of the oldest programs in the U.S. Des Moines is home to Principal Financial Group, just one of a crowd of insurance and financial corporations that have come to settle in this increasingly cosmopolitan Midwest city.
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