How Land Diversity in Iowa Compares to Other States

Spanning nearly 3.8 million square miles, the United States is one of the largest countries in the world by total landmass. From the Smokey Mountains to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains to the Great Lakes, it is also one of the most geographically diverse.

Not all states in the Lower 48 are equally endowed with that diversity, however. Some are defined largely by their geographic uniformity, while others have a wide range of varying landscapes, including mountains, deserts, farmland, forests, lakes, and cities. (If you like mountains, this is the highest point in every state.)

Based on a land diversity index, created using data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa ranks as having the least diverse landscape of the Lower 48 states, with a 33.5% likelihood that two randomly selected parcels would have a different land cover type.

Of Iowa’s total surface area of 56,273 square miles, agricultural and developed vegetation is the most common type of land cover, accounting for 80.6% of the state’s area.

Landscape diversity rankStateOdds two random land parcels have a different use (%)Total land area (sq. mi.)1Texas80.2268,5962Montana78.5147,0403California77.9163,6954Washington77.171,2985Delaware76.62,4896Colorado76.6104,0947Louisiana76.252,3788Maryland75.612,4069Florida74.365,75810New Jersey73.28,72311Idaho72.783,56912Oregon71.298,37913North Carolina70.053,81914Utah69.884,89715Rhode Island69.51,54516Oklahoma69.569,89917Michigan68.296,71418New Mexico68.2121,59019Wisconsin67.965,49620Ohio66.444,82621Massachusetts66.310,55422Minnesota64.286,93623South Carolina63.932,02024New York63.654,55525Tennessee63.242,14426Virginia63.042,77527Wyoming62.597,81328South Dakota62.477,11629Connecticut61.35,54330Kentucky61.140,40831Georgia60.859,42532Mississippi60.748,43233Arkansas58.653,17934Nebraska57.977,34835Missouri57.769,70736Pennsylvania57.746,05437Alabama57.652,42038Indiana54.336,42039Kansas53.582,27840Arizona53.4113,99041North Dakota53.470,69842Illinois51.157,91443Nevada43.7110,57244Vermont42.69,61645Maine39.535,38046New Hampshire34.59,34947West Virginia34.424,23048Iowa33.556,273

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