This subject keeps coming up for me, so I’m reblogging it so no one has to dig through my blog archive. Not that you shouldn’t dig through it – there’s great stuff in there.
For years it has bothered me that the area called the “Midwest” includes states like Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Geographically, that just doesn’t make sense. The term “Mid” implies that they should be near the center of the country, and “west” implies they should be west of that center. But what is the “middle” of the U.S.?
The Mississippi River has always served as the unofficial border between the East and West of the U.S. However, the population center of the U.S. is in southern Missouri. The geographic center of the lower 48 states is in northern Kansas. The center between the two major continental divides is about halfway between those two points. The borders of 11 states seem to make up a very distinct border between East and West – Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas on one side, and Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana on the other. I would argue that those 11 states should be considered the “Middle” of the country. Anything east of those states should be considered “Eastern.”