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Northern Indiana
Northern Indiana counties are highlighted in red.
Northern Indiana counties are highlighted in red.
Country  United States
State  Indiana
Largest city Flag of Fort Wayne, Indiana.svg Fort Wayne

Northern Indiana is a region of the U.S. State of Indiana, including 26 counties which border the states of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. Northern Indiana is also considered part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis. The area is generally classified into other sub-regions; Northwest Indiana (or the Calumet Region) is closely tied with Chicago economically, culturally, and politically and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. The north central region (or Michiana) centers on South Bend metropolitan area, with economic connections to southwest Michigan. Northeast Indiana is centered on the Fort Wayne metropolitan area.

The Northern Indiana landscape is physically characterized by very flat to very rolling terrain, ranging from 600 to 1,000 feet (180 to 300 m) above sea level. Glacial kettle lakes are found throughout Northeast Indiana, with sand dunes sharing the Lake Michigan shoreline with heavy industry in the northwest. Kosciusko County is home to the largest natural lake (Wawasee) and deepest natural lake (Tippecanoe) in the state of Indiana. The Eastern Continental Divide runs through the region following the top of the Valparaiso Moraine. Besides a few urban areas, much of Northern Indiana lies in the agricultural Corn Belt.

Northern Indiana is known for having the third-highest Amish population in the U.S., especially in Allen, Adams, Elkhart, and LaGrange counties.



The following counties are the Northwest Indiana counties that are part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Much of this area in Indiana is known as the Calumet Region.


The following counties are considered part of Michiana:

Northeast Indiana

The following counties are considered Northeast Indiana:

Other counties

Largest municipalities

Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana Skyline from Old Fort, May 2014
Fort Wayne is the largest city in Northern Indiana and second-largest in the state.
South Bend is the second-largest city in Northern Indiana and fourth-largest in the state.

The major cities of Northern Indiana are Fort Wayne (in the northeast), South Bend (in the north central region), and Hammond and Gary located in the extreme northwest along Lake Michigan.

2015 rank City County 2015 estimate 2010 Census Change Highest Population (Year)
1 Fort Wayne Allen 260,326 253,691 &10000000000000002615386+2.62% 260,326 (2015)
2 South Bend St. Joseph 101,516 101,168 &10000000000000000343982+0.34% 132,445 (1960)
3 Hammond Lake 77,614 80,830 Template:Number table sorting/negative−3.98% 111,698 (1960)
4 Gary Lake 77,156 80,294 Template:Number table sorting/negative−3.91% 178,320 (1960)
5 Elkhart Elkhart 52,348 50,949 &10000000000000002745883+2.75% 54,328 (2015)
6 Mishawaka St. Joseph 48,261 48,252 &10000000000000000018652+0.02% 48,261 (2015)
7 Portage Porter 36,738 36,828 Template:Number table sorting/negative−0.24% 36,838 (2010)
8 Merrillville Lake 35,224 35,246 Template:Number table sorting/negative−0.06% 35,246 (2010)
9 Goshen Elkhart 32,983 31,719 &10000000000000003984993+3.98% 32,983 (2015)
10 Valparaiso Porter 32,626 31,730 &10000000000000002823826+2.82% 32,626 (2015)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 524,581
1900 597,433 13.9%
1910 687,867 15.1%
1920 809,770 17.7%
1930 1,015,942 25.5%
1940 1,085,251 6.8%
1950 1,297,939 19.6%
1960 1,621,357 24.9%
1970 1,802,562 11.2%
1980 1,891,741 4.9%
1990 1,901,209 0.5%
2000 2,062,933 8.5%
2010 2,147,765 4.1%
2015 (est.) 2,164,693 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

Northern Indiana has seen a steady population growth over the past century with the exception of 1990. Between 1980 and 1990, Lake County (which includes the city of Gary) saw a population decline of 47,371 residents, and it was this drop in population that hid the population rise which continued to occur in the majority of the region's other counties. The 2015 Census Estimate has shown that the rural counties (i.e., Wabash and Wells) are seeing a gradual population decline when compared to the gradual increase (or steady) population trend in the more urban counties (i.e., St. Joseph). The trend of rural counties losing population has been observed in various counties in other regions, most notably the Great Plains.

Roughly 10.7% of both Huntington and Wells County lives in poverty, as compared to only 15.5% in Pulaski County. At the same time, Northern Indiana, as is the case for much of the Midwest, is predominately made up of people of European heritage. According to the 2010 Census, almost 98% of Whitley County is white, as compared to Lake County (Gary), which is only 64.4% white and 25.9% African American. Lastly, the average family size per household is relatively constant around 3.00 persons per household. In 2010, the average family size per household was 3.66 in LaGrange County, 3.23 in Elkhart County, 3.19 in Lake County, 3.16 in Noble County, 3.15 in Marshall County and 3.12 in Allen County.


The Inland North dialect of American English is mostly found in the Calumet region of Northern Indiana, due to this area's close cultural ties to Chicagoland where it is prevalent. The Northern cities vowel shift is recognizable in Northwest Indiana and the Michiana area. However, the rest of Northern Indiana tends to exhibit North Midland dialect, with little recognizable influences. Because of the city's transitional location between the Inland North, North Midland, and Central Midland dialects, Fort Wayne has been difficult for linguists to define, with some labeling speech here "virtually accent neutral," attributed to historical settlement patterns.

Time zones

The Calumet region observes Central Time, including Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, and Starke counties. The rest of Northern Indiana observes Eastern Time.

Nature areas

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore receives over 2 million visitors annually.


Mass transit

07 21 09 006xRP - Flickr - drewj1946
A South Shore commuter train in Michigan City.


  • Primary
    • Fort Wayne International Airport
    • South Bend International Airport
  • Reliever
    • Griffith-Merrillville Airport
  • General aviation
    • Elkhart Municipal Airport
    • Fulton County Airport
    • Gary/Chicago International Airport
    • Goshen Municipal Airport
    • Huntington Municipal Airport
    • Jasper County Airport
    • Kentland Municipal Airport
    • La Porte Municipal Airport
    • Michigan City Municipal Airport
    • Plymouth Municipal Airport
    • Porter County Regional Airport
    • Smith Field
    • Tri-State Steuben County Airport
    • Warsaw Municipal Airport
    • White County Airport


U.S. STEEL PLANT - NARA - 547097 (retouched)
U.S. Steel's Gary Works mills in 1973.

Northern Indiana bases much of its economy around manufacturing, distribution and transportation, and medical devices. Outside the metropolitan areas, the region's agricultural sector is abundant, given its location within the Corn Belt. Despite the region's storied history in industry, Northern Indiana is also at the heart of the Rust Belt, an area of the U.S. that has suffered deindustrialization and some economic stagnation since the late-20th century.

Corn fields in Marshall County—a common scene in rural Northern Indiana.
Benton County Wind Farm 0011
Wind farms dot the landscape in Benton County.

The Calumet region of Northwest Indiana is home to much heavy industry, notably steel mills. The Calumet region is the nation's second-largest steel producing area. U.S. Steel's Gary Works (in Gary) was once the largest steel mill in the world and employed 30,000. Gary Works remains the largest integrated steel mill in North America. Operated by BP, the Whiting Refinery (in Whiting) is the fifth-largest oil refinery in the nation, processing 405,000 barrels (64,400 m3) of crude oil daily. Northwest Indiana is also a vital trade and shipping center for the state. The Port of Indiana–Burns Harbor handles more ocean-going cargo than any other Great Lakes port in the U.S. Gambling is another important component to the Calumet region's economy, with five riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan (Ameristar, Blue Chip, Horseshoe, Majestic Star, and Majestic Star II).

The north central area of Northern Indiana, centered on Warsaw, is home to several companies specializing in the development and production of orthopaedic medical devices. Nearly one-third of the $38 billion global orthopaedic industry is concentrated in north central Indiana. Elkhart and surrounding municipalities in the Michiana region are home to the largest concentration of recreational vehicle and mobile home manufacturers in the U.S., including Forest River, Gulfstream Coach, Heartland Recreational Vehicles, Jayco, and Monaco Coach, among several others. Some 83 percent of American RVs are produced in Elkhart County.

Benton County is home to several wind farms, including the Benton County Wind Farm, Hoosier Wind Farm, Meadow Lake Wind Farm, and Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, the largest of its kind in the American Midwest and twelfth largest in the world.

Companies headquartered in Northern Indiana:
  • 1st Source (South Bend)
  • AM General (South Bend)
  • Bremen Castings (Bremen)
  • Crowe Horwath (South Bend)
  • Crown International (Elkhart)
  • DePuy (Warsaw)
  • DirectBuy (Merrillville)
  • Do it Best (Fort Wayne)
  • Fleetwood Enterprises (Decatur)
  • Ford Meter Box Company (Wabash)
  • Forest River (Elkhart)
  • Franklin Electric (Fort Wayne)
  • Genteq (Fort Wayne)
  • Heartland Recreational Vehicles (Elkhart)
  • Indiana Michigan Power (Fort Wayne)
  • Jayco (Middlebury)
  • KMC Controls (New Paris)
  • K&K Insurance (Fort Wayne)
  • Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (Decatur)
  • Martin's Super Markets (South Bend)
  • MedPro Group (Fort Wayne)
  • NiSource (Merrillville)
  • North American Van Lines (Fort Wayne)
  • Rea Magnet Wire (Fort Wayne)
  • Schurz Communications (South Bend)
  • Shindigz (Fort Wayne)
  • Steel Dynamics (Fort Wayne)
  • Sweetwater Sound (Fort Wayne)
  • Three Floyds Brewing (Munster)
  • Utilimaster Corporation (Bristol)
  • Vera Bradley (Fort Wayne)
  • Zimmer Biomet (Warsaw)

Notable people

Michael Jackson in 1988
Michael Jackson, arguably the most recognized Northern Indiana native.

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