Columbus is the capital and the largest city of Ohio. Named for explorer Christopher Columbus, the city was founded in 1812 at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, and assumed the functions of state capital in 1816. The city has a diverse economy based on education, insurance, healthcare, and technology. Acknowledged by Money Magazine as the eighth best large city in the U.S. in which to live, it is also recognized as an emerging global city. 11

The state government is headed by a term-limited Governor, elected to a four year term. Other officers include: Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, and Treasurer. The legislative branch of the state government, the Ohio General Assembly, is made up of the House of Representatives with 99 Representatives, term-limited to four successive two-year terms, and the Senate, with 33 term-limited members.

The State Supreme Court has seven Justices, elected to a six-year term. The positions are not term-limited, but are age dependent; Justices serve until 70 years of age.

In the United States federal government, Ohio is represented by two US Senators and has 18 seats in the United States House of Representatives.

Political demographics and history

"Ohio has excelled as a recruiting-ground for national political leaders. Between the Civil War and 1920, seven Ohioans were elected to the presidency, ending with Harding's election in 1920. At the same time, six Ohioans sat on the US Supreme Court and two served as Chief Justices… . 'Not since the Virginia dynasty dominated national government during the early years of the Republic' notes historian R. Douglas Hurt, 'had a state made such a mark on national political affairs'." 12

Ohio's demographics cause many to consider the state as a microcosm of the nation as a whole. A Republican presidential candidate has never won the White House without winning Ohio, and Ohio has gone to the winner of the election in all but two contests since 1892, backing only losers Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 (Ohio's John Bricker was his running mate) and Richard M. Nixon in 1960. Consequently, the state is very important to the campaigns of both major parties.

Politically, Ohio is considered a swing state. The Economist notes that, "This slice of the mid-west contains a bit of everything American-part north-eastern and part southern, part urban and part rural, part hardscrabble poverty and part booming suburb." 13

The mix of urban and rural areas, and the presence of both large blue-collar industries and significant white-collar commercial districts leads to a shifting balance of conservative and liberal population that (and the state's 20 electoral votes, more than most swing states) makes the state very important to the outcome of national elections. The state supported Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but supported Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Ohio was a deciding state in the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Bush narrowly won the state's 20 electoral votes by a margin of two percentage points and 50.8 percent of the vote. 14 Ohio was also a deciding factor in the 1948 presidential election when Democrat Harry S. Truman defeated Republican Thomas Dewey (who had won the state four years earlier) and in the 1976 presidential election when Democrat Jimmy Carter defeated Republican Gerald Ford by a slim margin in Ohio and took the election.

The most solidly Democratic areas of the state are in the northeast, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Lorain/Elyria, and other industrial areas. Specifically, the core of this region includes eight counties stretching east along Lake Erie from Erie County to the Pennsylvania border and south to Mahoning County. Southwestern Ohio, especially the suburbs of Cincinnati, Warren County, Butler County, and Clermont County is particularly Republican.


Ohio state quarter

Ohio is a major producer of machines, tires and rubber products, steel, processed foods, tools, and other manufactured goods. This is not immediately obvious because Ohio specializes in capital goods (goods used to make other goods, like machine tools, automobile parts, industrial chemicals, and plastic moldings). Nevertheless, there are well known Ohio consumer items including some Procter & Gamble products, Smuckers jams and jellies, and Day-Glo paints.

The airplane was invented in Ohio, as the outcome of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright's experiments in Dayton. Commercial production of aircraft in the USA has left the state, but a large military experimental and design facility, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base located near Dayton, serves in the co-ordination of production of US military aircraft. Many of the Wright brothers' earliest aerodynamic experiments took place in what is now the military base, Wright Hill and Huffman Prairie. Ohio has many aerospace, defense, and NASA parts and systems suppliers scattered throughout the state as well.

As part of the Corn Belt, agriculture also plays an important role in the state's economy. There is also a small commercial fishing sector on Lake Erie, and the principal catch is yellow perch. In addition, Ohio's historical attractions, varying landscapes, and recreational opportunities are the basis for a thriving tourist industry. Over 2,500 lakes and 43,000 miles (70,000 km) of river landscapes attract boaters, fishermen, and swimmers. Three major amusement parks, Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, and Kings Island, are also important to the tourism industry. Of special historical interest are the Native American archaeological sites-including burial mounds and other sites.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Ohio's gross state product in 2004 was $419 billion 15 Per capita personal income in 2003 was $30,129, 25th in the nation. Ohio's agricultural outputs include soybeans, dairy products, corn, tomatoes, hogs, cattle, poultry, and eggs. As of 2005, there were 76,500 farms in Ohio, covering over 14 million acres (56,656 km²). 16 Its industrial outputs include transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, food processing, and electricity equipment. The largest companies in Ohio are in healthcare, grocery and food products, tire and rubber products, and insurance.

Ohio is recognized for its health care, due to several flagship hospitals that operate in the northeast region of the state. The Cleveland Clinic, ranked among the three leading hospitals in the U.S., has its world headquarters and main campus in Cleveland. Its rival, the University Hospitals of Cleveland health system, includes the Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, ranks among the top ten children's hospitals in the country.


Several major east-west transportation corridors go through Ohio. One of those pioneer routes, known in the early 1900s as "Ohio Market Route 3," was chosen in 1913 to become part of the historic Lincoln Highway which was the first road across America, connecting New York City to San Francisco. In Ohio, the Lincoln Highway linked many towns and cities together across the state and had a major impact on the developing of the state. With the implementation of the federal numbered highway system in 1926, the Lincoln Highway through Ohio became U.S. Highway 30. Ohio also is home to 228 miles of the Historic National Road.

Ohio has a highly developed network of roads and interstate highways. Major east-west through routes include the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90) in the north, I-76 through Akron to Pennsylvania, U.S. 30 (the Lincoln Highway) a bit further south through Canton, Mansfield, Lima, and Van Wert, I-70 through Columbus and Dayton, and the Appalachian Highway (Ohio 32) running from West Virginia to Cincinnati. Major north-south routes include I-75 in the west through Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati, I-71 through the middle of the state from Cleveland through Columbus and Cincinnati into Kentucky, and I-77 in the eastern part of the state from Cleveland through Akron, Canton, New Philadelphia and Marietta down into West Virginia. Interstate 75 between Cincinnati & Dayton is one of the heaviest section of traveled interstate in Ohio.

Air travel includes Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which is a major hub for Continental Airlines, as well as Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (located in the state of Kentucky), which is a major hub for Delta Air Lines. Other major airports are located in Dayton, Columbus, and Akron-Canton.


Ohio's system of public education is outlined in the state constitution's Article VI and Title XXXIII of the Ohio Revised Code. Ohio's system is substantially similar to other states'. Ohio has a Department of Education, a State Board of Education, and then nearly 700 districts that have their own boards of education and administrations. The Ohio Board of Regents governs and assists with Ohio's system of higher education, especially public colleges and universities.

Colleges and universities

  • 13 state universities
    • University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
    • Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
    • Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio
    • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio
    • Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
    • Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
    • Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
    • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
    • Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio
    • University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
    • Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio (Fairborn, Ohio)
    • Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio
(note: the University of Dayton is not one of Ohio's state universities; it is a private, Roman Catholic university run by the Society of Mary)
  • 24 state university branch and regional campuses
  • 46 liberal arts colleges and universities
  • 6 free-standing state-assisted medical schools
    • University of Toledo College of Medicine (formerly Medical University of Ohio)
    • Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine
    • Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health
    • Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
    • Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
  • Two private medical schools
    • Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine
    • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • 15 community colleges
  • Eight technical colleges
  • over 24 independent non-profit colleges


Ohio is home to some of the nation's highest-ranking public libraries. The 2006 study by Thomas J. Hennen, Jr. ranked Ohio as number one in a state-by-state comparison. For 2006, Ohio's three largest library systems were all ranked in the top ten for American cities of 500,000 or more:

  • Cuyahoga County Public Library (first)
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library (third)
  • The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (eighth)

The Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) is an organization that provides Ohio residents with internet access to their 251 public libraries. OPLIN also provides Ohioans with free home access to high-quality, subscription research databases.

Ohio also offers the OhioLINK program, allowing Ohio's libraries (particularly those from colleges and universities) access to materials in other libraries. The program is largely successful in allowing researchers access to books and other media that might not otherwise be available.


Population Growth in Ohio

As of the 2006 census, Ohio had an estimated population of 11,478,006, an increase of 7,321 from the prior year and an increase of 124,861 since the year 2000.

The largest ancestry groups in the state are German (25.2 percent), Irish (12.7 percent), African American (11.5 percent), English (9.2 percent), American (8.5 percent), and Italian (6.0 percent).

German is the largest reported ancestry in most of the counties in Ohio, especially in the northwest. Ohioans who cited American and British ancestry are present throughout the state as well, particularly in the south-central part of the state. The cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton have large African-American communities. The cities of Cleveland and Toledo have sizable Hispanic populations, while the Cleveland and Columbus areas have the largest Asian populations. Greater Cleveland is home to a notably large Jewish community.

Population distribution

Ohio Population Density Map

More than 40 percent of the state's population is concentrated in the Lakeshore and Uplands region in the north and northeast part of the state. Four of the state's largest cities are located in that area.

  • Akron city 209,704, metropolitan area 700,943
  • Canton city 78,924, metropolitan area 409,764
  • Cleveland city 444,313, metropolitan area 2,114,155
  • Youngstown city 81,520, metropolitan area 586,939

The Youngstown metropolitan area extends into Pennsylvania.

The Great Lakes industrial belt on the southwestern shores of Lake Erie holds another of the large Ohio cities,

  • Toledo city 298,446, metropolitan area 653,695

The north central part of the state is basically agricultural, though there are a few small manufacturing cities (Marion, Galion, and Bucyrus). Central Ohio is home to

  • Columbus city 733,203, metropolitan area 1,725,570

which is the home of the state government and numerous education institutions. Approximately half of that city's work force are employed in government, education, finance, and other service occupations.

Ohio's northwest section is primarily agricultural. The largest city in that section of the state is Lima, an industrial and market center.

Southwestern Ohio holds two large cities,

  • Cincinnati city 332,252, metropolitan area 2,104,218
  • Dayton city 156,771, metropolitan area 838,940

The Cincinnati metropolitan area extends into the states of Kentucky and Indiana. Fairborn, in the same region, is the home of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a major research center.


  1. ↑ Ohio Quick Facts. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  2. ↑ City of Columbus: Fun Facts. City of Columbus, Ohio (2006). Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  3. ↑ According to the U.S. Census July 2007 Annual Estimate, Greater Cleveland is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that is entirely within Ohio, with a population of 2,096,471; and Greater Cincinnati is the largest MSA that is at least partially within Ohio, with a a population of 2,133,678, approximately 25% of which is in Indiana or Kentucky. Which MSA is the largest in Ohio depends on the context.
  4. ↑ Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 (CSV). 2011 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division (December 2011). Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Elevations and Distances in the United States. United States Geological Survey (2001). Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  7. ↑ Mary Stockwell, The Ohio Adventure (Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2003, ISBN 978-1586853617), 88.
  8. ↑ Creation of the Board of Elections. Mahoning County Board of Elections. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  9. ↑ The Governors of Ohio. Ohio Historical Society (January 8, 2007). Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  10. ↑ Sherrod Brown. Washington Post. Retrieved February 17, 20127.
  11. ↑ Marla Matzer Rose. "Columbus Among 'Best Places to Live'" The Columbus Dispatch. (July 18, 2006. Business section), 01E
  12. ↑ Melvin G. Holli, 1999. The American Mayor. (Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0271018763), 162
  13. The Economist. December 20, 2005. A grain of sand for your thoughts Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  14. Cable News Network. Election Results Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  15. ↑ Clifford Woodruff. October 26, 2006. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, 2005 Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  16. Ohio Historical Society. Ohio Quick Facts Retrieved November 30, 2007.


  • Anderson, Sherwood. 1960. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 9780670000395
  • Giblin, James, and Michael Dooling. 2006. The boy who saved Cleveland based on a true story. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805073553
  • Heinrichs, Ann. 1999. Ohio. (America the beautiful series.) New York: Children's Press. ISBN 9780516209951
  • Hart, Joyce. 2006. Ohio, It's my state! New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. ISBN 0761419071
  • Holli, Melvin G. The American Mayor. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. ISBN 0271018763
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Stockwell, Mary. The Ohio Adventure. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2003. ISBN 978-1586853617
  • Record Lowest Temperatures by State. NCDC. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  • Record Highest Temperatures by State. NCDC. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  • Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Ohio. Census.Gov. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  • Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas. Census.Gov. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  • Population and Population Centers by State. Census.Gov. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
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