70 Fun & Interesting Facts About Indiana, USA

Have you ever wondered what Indiana is famous for? A few answers might include Michael Jackson, the Indy 500, and the Studebaker.

Find out what else the “Hoosier State” is known for with these fascinating and fun Indiana facts!

General Indiana Facts

  • Indiana is located in the Midwestern region of the United States and the Great Lakes region.
  • Indiana is bordered to the northwest by Lake Michigan, to the north by Michigan, to the east by Ohio, to the south and southeast by the Ohio River and Kentucky, and to the west by the Wabash River and Illinois.
  • Indiana is the 13th smallest state, between Kentucky and Maine in size, with a total area of 36,418 mi² (94,321 km²).
  • Indiana is almost exactly the same size as the country Taiwan.
  • The northwestern corner of Indiana is on Lake Michigan, where the suburbs of Greater Chicago spill into the state.
  • With a population of 6.8 million, Indiana ranks 17th in the nation, sitting between Tennessee and Maryland in terms of population.
  • Indianapolis is the capital of Indiana and its largest city. With a population of 887,000 (metropolitan 2.1 million), it is the 15th largest city, or 33rd largest metropolitan area in the US.
  • Indiana has one federally recognized Native American tribe, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
A circular plaza with tall sculpture in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis
  • The state’s name means “Land of the Indians” or “Indian Land”. Despite the name, almost all of the native people were forcefully removed from the state.
  • Residents of Indiana are known as Hoosiers or Indianians.
  • Hoosier State is Indiana’s official state nickname. Hoosier refers to men who worked for Samuel Hoosier when building the Louisville and Portland Canal along the Ohio River in the 1820s. Another nickname is “Hospitality State.”
  • The official state motto of Indiana is “The Crossroads of America”, as the state has more miles of interstate highway per square mile than any state.
  • Tourism slogans for Indiana have included “Honest to Goodness Indiana”, “Wander Indiana”, and “Enjoy Indiana.”
The Indiana state flag
The state flag of Indiana
  • Indiana is one of the only states that doesn’t have an official state fish or state mammal, but the river otter has been proposed.
  • Indiana’s state flag features a gold torch, representing enlightenment, and rays on a blue background. They are surrounded by an outer circle of 13 stars, the original 13 states, and an inner circle of 5 stars, the following states, with the largest, central one representing Indiana.

Random Interesting Facts About Indiana

  • There’s a Christmas-themed town in Indiana called Santa Claus. Hundreds of thousands of letters are mailed there each year at Christmas time.
Looking out at a sand dune with Lake Michigan in the background
Indiana Dunes National Park
  • Indiana has one national park: Indiana Dunes National Park. It protects a 20 mi (32 km) stretch of Lake Michigan’s shoreline that features large sand dunes.
  • Indiana is home to about 900 lakes, the largest of course being Lake Michigan. The largest natural lake entirely in Indiana is Lake Wawasee.
  • There are also 43 national historic landmarks in Indiana. On the list you’ll find ancient earth mounds, a historic courthouse, carousels, car factory, cotton mill, aqueduct, racetrack, war memorial, churches, covered bridge, and more.
A wall of hotel room windows faced a domed atrium of West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana
The huge domed atrium of West Baden Springs Hotel
  • The West Baden Springs Hotel has what was the world’s largest dome from 1902 to 1913 covering its atrium. When it first opened, the hot spring hotel was billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
  • The Indianapolis 500, or Indy 500, is one of the most famous car races in the world. It is the oldest of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and the Monaco Grand Prix. It is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • More than 80% of Indiana was covered with forests before the arrival of the pioneers. Today, only 17% of Indiana is still forested.
  • A high percentage of the state’s income comes from manufacturing, with 17% of people working in the industry, more than any other state.
A studebaker car
Studebaker was founded in Indiana
  • More than 200 different makes of cars were produced from 1900 to 1920 in Indiana, including Maxwells, Auburns, Duesenbergs, and Stutzes.
  • Over a quarter of American-made steel is produced in northwest Indiana.
  • At 1257 ft (383 m), Hoosier Hill is the highest point in eastern Indiana, while the lowest is the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers, at 320 ft (97 m).
  • Collegeville in northwest Indiana recorded the state’s hottest temperature on July 14, 1936, at 116°F (46.67°C), while New Whitekand in central Indiana recorded the coldest temperature on January 19, 1994 at -36°F (-37.78°C).
Aerial view of a large factory
A factory in Indiana
  • Indiana’s time zones have fluctuated over the past century. Currently, most of Indiana observes Eastern Time, while Central Time is observed by 6 counties near Evansville and 6 near Chicago. The matter continues to be debated.
  • Some of the most famous movies filmed in the state include A League of Their Own, Hoosiers, and Rudy.
  • Famous Indianians include actor James Dean, actress Anne Baxter, basketball plater Larry Bird, and comedian Mike Epps.
  • Well-known musicians from Indiana are Michael, Janet and other members of the Jackson family, John Mellencamp, Axl Rose, David Lee Roth, Adam Lambert, Renée Fleming, and Babyface.
  • Indiana is home to several Pulitzer Prize winners, including Albert Beveridge for biography, Harold Urey for chemistry, Ernie Pyle for foreign correspondence, and Paul Samuelson for economics.
A mosaic of famous people from Indiana
Famous Indianians Anne Baxter, James Dean, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, John Mellencamp, and Janet Jackson (clockwise from top-left)
  • Indiana has produced more NBA players per capita than any other state.
  • The first self-made female millionaire in the country was Madam C. J. Walker. She became famous after developing a conditioning treatment for straightening hair. Born in Louisiana, she made her fortune mostly in Indiana.
  • Some of the world’s most incredible inventions come from Indiana, including gas-powered vehicles, medicines like Prozac, Cialis, Insulin, Penicillin, and the polio vaccine, stainless steel, seat belts, and more.
  • Indiana native Chuck Taylor, a basketball player and Converse shoe salesman, invented the iconic shoes, which are often nicknamed “Chuck Taylors” today.
Looking down at a pair of Converse shoes worn by a person, with their pants visible
Converse’s “Chuck Taylors” are named after an Indiana man
  • According to an old Indiana law, it’s illegal to force a monkey to smoke a cigarette in South Bend.
  • If you enjoy eating watermelon at picnics, just make sure it’s not at the park in Beech Grove, Indiana, where it’s specifically forbidden.
  • In Elkhart, it’s unlawful for a barber to threaten to cut off a child’s ears.
  • Catching a fish with a crowbar is also against the law in Indiana.

Historical Facts About Indiana

  • The region of Indiana and the Great Lakes was shaped by immense glaciers during the ice age and inhabited by mastodons and saber-toothed cats.
  • Indigenous people first arrived in the area around 10,000 years ago.
Waves lapping against the shore on Lake Michigan in Indiana
Lake Michigan in Indiana
  • On April 3, 1671, the French claimed the region of Indiana.
  • The first permanent European settlement was built near Fort Wayne in 1686, followed by the first trading post in 1702.
  • Fort Miami was built by the French in 1715. The settlement later became Fort Wayne.
  • In 1732, missionaries established the first permanent settlement at Fort Vincennes.
  • The name Indiana was first used in 1768, when Philadelphia-based company called its land in modern day West Virginia Indiana after the Iroquois people who lived there.
A garden in front of the The Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis
The Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis
  • In 1800, the Indiana Territory was partitioned from the Northwest Territory (not to be confused with the Northwest Territories in Canada), which it had been a part of.
  • In 1804, the state’s first newspaper was published in Vincennes, the Indiana Gazette.
  • In 1816, Indiana became the 19th state to join the Union, with Corydon as the state capital.
  • In 1818, several Native American tribes were forced to give up their claim to a portion of central Indiana in the “New Purchase”. The tribes included the Potawatomis, Wea, Miamis, Delawares and Kickapoos.
  • In 1825, the state capital was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis.
A red covered bridge in Indiana
The Cataract Falls Covered Bridge dates to 1876
  • The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 in South Bend.
  • In 1846, what were left of the Native Americans in the state were removed.
  • The state’s first major railroad line was completed in 1847. The line linked Madison and Indianapolis. In 1853, Austin was founded, becoming an important rail stop between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky.
  • In 1871, the first professional/major league baseball game was played in Fort Wayne. The stadium in which it was played burned down six months later.
  • The first Indy 500 car race took place in 1911.
  • Indianapolis businessman Herbert Baumeister killed 16 gay men in the early 1980s.
A race car on a race track in Indianapolis
Indy 500 race cars
  • In 1985, Ryan White, an AIDS patient, was barred from attending public school in Indiana.
  • The Pan American Games took place in the summer of 1987 in Indianapolis. 4,453 athletes participated from 38 nations.
  • In 2001, the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was executed at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
  • In 2008, the world’s oldest person at the time, Edna Parker, died in Shelbyville, Indiana. She was 115 years old.
  • In 2021, a judge upheld Indiana state’s decision to require all university students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID.