Wisconsin, state in the Great Lakes region of north-central United States; considered a Midwestern state; bordered by Lake Superior and Michigan to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Illinois to the south, and the Mississippi River (with Iowa and Minnesota on the opposite side), the St. Croix River, and Minnesota to the west.
Land and climate
Wisconsin has five main land regions. The Eastern Ridges and Lowlands region, in the east along Lake Michigan, is a gently rolling plain that is the state's most fertile area. The Central Plain covers much of the state's center; above it lie the Northern Highland, an area of forested hills and hundreds of small lakes, and the flat plain of the Lake Superior Lowland. Below the Central Plain lies the Western Upland, an area of steep hills, bluffs, and ridges that borders the Mississippi River. Wisconsin has about 15,000 lakes, most small, and hundreds of waterfalls. The state's major rivers are the Wisconsin, Black, St. Croix, Fox, Menominee, and Mississippi. Forests covers about 50% of the state. Wisconsin has relatively short but warm and humid summers and long, cold winters. Principal cities are Milwaukee and Madison.
Wisconsin's economy is led by manufacturing and by wholesale and retail trade and other service industries. Chief manufactured goods are nonelectrical machinery, processed foods, paper products, electrical machinery and equipment, fabricated metal products, and transportation equipment. Agriculture and mining account for a small fraction of Wisconsin's state gross product. Milk and dairy products earn the most agricultural income; other leading livestock products are beef cattle and hogs; chief crops are corn, hay, oats, barley, wheat, and soybeans. Chief mining products are crushed stone, sand and gravel, and lime.
Wisconsin's constitution was adopted in 1848. The governor serves a 4-year term. The state legislature consists of 33 senators serving 4-year terms and 99 assembly members serving 2-year terms. In the U.S. Congress, Wisconsin is represented by 2 senators and 9 representatives.
The Wisconsin area was home to Dakota, Menominee, and Winnebago Native Americans when the first Europeans—led by French explorer Jean Nicolet—arrived in 1634. Other Native American tribes moved into the area in the late 1600s. Wisconsin's European-American settlers battled the Fox Native Americans (1690–1740); the area came under British control in 1763 and became part of the United States in 1783. In the early 1800s European-American settlement grew rapidly; resistance by the Fox and Sauk was crushed in the 1832 Black Hawk War. In 1836 Congress created the Wisconsin Territory; in 1848 Wisconsin became the 30th state. In the early 1900s Wisconsin acquired a reputation for progressivism under Governor Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (elected in 1901). In the 1920s the state became predominantly urban. In 1932 Wisconsin became the first state to pass a state unemployment-compensation act. Manufacturing and agriculture remain important in Wisconsin, although the state's economy has suffered from the auto industry's decline (1980s) and the shrinking number and size of farms. Wisconsin's leaders are seeking more diverse industries and solutions to its problems of high education costs, water pollution, conservation of natural resources, and farm debt.