Wisconsin is a state in the Midwest region of the United States of America. It is bordered by Lake Superior and Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the north, Lake Huron to the east, Illinois to the south, and Iowa and Minnesota to the west.
The majority of Wisconsin's population lives in areas located along the shores of Lake Michigan. The largest city, Milwaukee, forms Wisconsin's largest metropolitan area, while Green Bay and Kenosha are the third and fourth most populous cities in Wisconsin, respectively. Madison, the state capital, is currently the second most populous and fastest-growing city in the state. Wisconsin is divided into 72 counties and had a population of approximately 5.9 million as of the 2020 census.

Wisconsin's geography is diverse, with the exception of the Driftless Area, which was heavily glaciated during the Ice Age. In the western part of the state, the northern and western highlands are located along with a portion of the central plain, and the lowlands extend to the shores of Lake Michigan. It has the third longest Great Lakes coastline after Ontario and Michigan. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is located in the northern part of the state. At the time of European contact, the area was inhabited by the Algonquin and Siouan tribes; today it is home to 11 federally recognized tribes. Most of them were German and Scandinavian immigrants. Wisconsin remains a center of German-American and Scandinavian-American culture, and is especially known for its bratwurst and kringle. Wisconsin is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of two of the most important buildings designed by Wisconsin-born architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Taliesen studio near Spring Green and the Jacobs I house in Madison.

The Republican Party was founded in Wisconsin in 1854. In recent years, Wisconsin has been a battleground state, especially in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Wisconsin is one of the nation's leading dairy-producing states and is known as "America's Dairyland," especially for its cheese. The state is also famous for beer, and Milwaukee in particular has historically been home to the headquarters of Miller Brewing Company. Wisconsin is also well known for its drinking culture, with the most permissive alcohol laws in the nation. The economy is dominated by manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, and agriculture (especially dairy, cranberries, and ginseng). Tourism is also a major contributor to the state's economy, with a gross domestic product of $348 billion in 2020.



The division of Wisconsin into regions is inconsistent in the literature. Here on Wikivoyage, for convenience, we use the following structure:
The most densely populated region.
Milwaukee · Kenosha · Racine · Waukesha

Characterized by lovely hilly landscapes.
Madison LaCrosse

On Lake Michigan and around Lake Winnebago.
Appleton · Greenbay · Oshkosh

Lonely region in the north of the state, on the edge of Michigan's "Upper Peninsula".

The region south of Lake Superior.
Eau Claire Superior



1 Madison - The capital city of Madison is notable for its location between 3 lakes (and some smaller ones). Capitol Hill with the symmetrical State Capitol is definitely worth seeing. Heading west from Capitol Hill is a very busy shopping street. Also recommended are the university and the ice cream at Michael's, a mix of soft serve and dairy ice cream.
2 Appleton
3 Eau Claire
4 Green Bay
5 Kenosha
6 LaCrosse
7 Milwaukee With around 600,000 inhabitants, Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin.
8 New Glarus : About 40 kilometers south of Madison is the community of New Glarus, founded by Swiss immigrants.


Other destinations

Secluded beautiful Devil's Lake is situated in the Sauk County, Wisconsin. Despite its name it is a pristine lake that offers many activities.

Wisconsin River is the longest river in the state of Wisconsin, United States. Its total length is measured at 430 miles.

Beautiful pristine wilderness of the Wolf River in North Wisconsin offers both beauty and thrill to those who like white water rafting and kayaking.

Fans of American cult architect Frank Lloyd Wright can visit the master's residence ("Taliesin") and many other works in Spring Green. See also the Wisconsin/Frank Lloyd Wright special article for details.




In terms of area, Wisconsin, with 169,639 km², ranks 23rd among the 50 US states and is a little less than half the size of Germany. 28,976 km² (17%) of the national territory are water areas and 46% are covered by forest. There are around 15,000 lakes and large areas of forest in Wisconsin, so many tourists from the greater Chicago area regularly travel to the neighboring state to the north. The largest inland lake is Lake Winnebago with an area of 557 km². Geographically, Wisconsin can be divided into five regions: The northern Lake Superior Lowland includes an area along Lake Superior. To the south are the Northern Highlands, which are characterized by mixed and coniferous forests, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and thousands of glacial lakes. Timms Hill is also the highest point in the state. The Central Plains have some notable sandstone formations in addition to fertile farmland. The Eastern Ridges and Lowlands of the southeast are home to the state's largest cities. The Western Uplands show an alternation between forests and farmland.


Expansion of the national territory

Wisconsin has a length of 500 km between latitudes 42° 30' N and 47° 3' N and a latitude of 420 km between latitudes 86° 49' W and 92° 54' W.


Neighbore states

Wisconsin is bordered by Lake Superior and Michigan to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Illinois to the south, and Iowa and Minnesota to the west.



Wisconsin's climate shows little regional variation, in part due to the small elevation variation within the state. According to Köppen, the southernmost part of Wisconsin is in the humid continental climate with hot summers (Dfa). All other areas of Wisconsin are in the humid continental climate with warm summers (Dfb). Wisconsin summers are warm and sometimes muggy; Temperatures above 30 degrees occur, but are not the norm. Wisconsin winters begin as early as November as the colorful Indian Summer draws to a close. Significant amounts of snow often fall throughout Wisconsin in the winter.



With its 5.8 million inhabitants (2020), known as Wisconsinites, Wisconsin ranks 20th among the American states, has around 400,000 fewer inhabitants than Hesse and, with 34 inhabitants per square kilometer, is only half as densely populated as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania .

The population was composed of 87.0% White, 6.7% African American, 3.0% Asian, 1.2% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander. 2.0% were of other origins. 2.0% of the population descended from two or more ethnic groups. Regardless, 7.1% of the population was Hispanic or Hispanic.

21.8% of the population was under 18 years old, 60.7% between 18 and 64 and 17.5% 65 or older. 50.2% of the population was female.

Wisconsin is consistently ranked as the worst living state for African Americans. Wisconsin has the highest black infant mortality rate in the United States; in Milwaukee it is twice as high among black infants as among white ones. The black population is far above average often below the poverty line or in prison. 70% of the black people in the state live in Milwaukee, where almost half of all African-American men between the ages of 20 and 40 have already been sentenced to prison. During the 2010 US Census, 12.8% of all black men in Wisconsin were incarcerated, the highest in the US. In addition, there are particularly strict penal laws that disproportionately affect African Americans.

Historically, there are close ties between Germany and Wisconsin. Almost half of the inhabitants are descended from German immigrants. City names such as Berlin, New Berlin, Kiel, New Holstein and Rhinelander indicate the origin of the town's founders. Especially after the failed revolution of 1848, many disappointed and persecuted German democrats were drawn to this part of the USA, which had only recently been opened for settlement. The German revolutionary Carl Schurz was one such forty-eight man and lived in Wisconsin for some time. In 1856, his wife Margarethe Meyer founded the first kindergarten in the United States in Watertown. In order to look after the immigrants religiously, e.g. B. 1860 Franciscan Minorites from Bremen to America. Among them was u. a. Constantin Maria von Droste zu Hülshoff (1841–1901), who worked as a missionary in Wisconsin for over 30 years.

The development of the state's largest city, Milwaukee, was also heavily influenced by German influences. According to Samuel Freeman's The Emigrant Handbook, in 1851 there were six German-language newspapers in the city nicknamed "German Athens." Around 1880, 27 percent of the city's population were native Germans. One legacy of the first generation of immigrants was the strong community spirit of Milwaukee citizens. The city has always been considered very progressive in social matters. In 1910, Emil Seidel became the first Socialist mayor of a major city in the United States.

The German immigrants have also left their mark in the culinary field. The big breweries Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller earned Milwaukee the reputation of the American beer capital. Bratwurst and sauerkraut are still very popular today. Even the fast food chain McDonald's briefly offered sausages in Wisconsin, which are usually just called brats. However, the First World War led to a severe reduction in the emphasis on German traditions and the relationship to the old homeland. Even the sauerkraut was temporarily renamed liberty cabbage; This partly forced, partly voluntary assimilation came to a conclusion during the Second World War. The Germanfest takes place in Milwaukee every year. In 2000 about 1% of the population spoke German.



Christianity is the predominant religion in Wisconsin. As of 2000, there were three major denominations: Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals. The Catholic Church has the largest number of parishioners. Distribution of state population by religion:
Christians - 81%
Protestants - 50%
Lutheranism - 23%
Methodism - 7%
Baptist - 5%
Presbyterianism - 2%
United Church of Christ 2%
Other Protestant churches - 15%
Roman Catholic Church - 29%
Other Christian churches - 2%
Other religions - 1%
Unaffiliated - 15%



According to 2012 FBI statistics, there were 173 intentional and negligent homicides, 1,219 rapes, 4,622 robberies, 10,050 aggravated assaults and 140,513 property crimes in Wisconsin. Per 100 thousand residents, the crime rate in the state is noticeably lower than in the United States as a whole; for example, murders are committed by more than a third less.



The state is named after the Wisconsin River. Although the exact etymology of this name is unknown, it is believed that it came into English through a French interpretation of a Native American name. French explorer Jacques Marquette became the first European to reach the Wisconsin River, visiting in 1673 and naming the river Meskousing in his journal. The French most likely recorded Meskousing as a Miskasinsin Algonquian word meaning "place of red stone." However, it is possible that the name came from the Ojibwe language and means "gathering of waters" or "large rock". The name was later corrupted by other French explorers as Ouisconsin, under which name the river and its surrounding area were marked on French maps, and in the early 19th century, newly arrived English-speaking settlers anglicized it to its current form.

The current pronunciation was officially adopted by the Wisconsin Territory Legislature in 1845. The name is usually abbreviated as WI, Wis or Wisc.



Over the past 12,000 years, Wisconsin has seen a variety of cultures. The first people appeared here around 10,000 BC., during the Wisconsin Glaciation. These were Paleo-Indians who hunted now-extinct Ice Age animals, as evidenced by the Boaz Mastodon, a mastodon skeleton discovered with a hunting spear in southwestern Wisconsin. After the end of the Ice Age around 8,000 BC. people of the subsequent Archaic period lived by hunting, fishing and collecting wild plants. Agricultural society gradually emerged during the Woodland period (ca. 1000 BC - 1000 AD). By the end of this period, Wisconsin was the center of a mound-building culture that left behind thousands of figured mounds. The number of mounds in Wisconsin exceeds the number in the rest of the United States. Later, between 1000 and 1500, the Mississippian and Oneotian cultures built fairly large settlements, including a fortified village near Aztalan in the southeast of the state. The Oneota may be the ancestors of the modern Iowans and Winnebagos, who shared the Wisconsin region with the Menominee at the time of European contact. Other American Indians who inhabited Wisconsin during European colonization, including the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo tribes, migrated to Wisconsin from the east during the 16th and 17th centuries.

In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet, attempting to find the Northwest Passage, landed near Green Bay and became the first European in what is now Wisconsin. Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Chouart de Groselier visited the Green Bay area in 1654–1666 and Shequamegon Bay of Lake Superior in 1659–1660, where they traded furs with local Indians. In 1673, Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet first crossed Wisconsin by canoe along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, thus reaching the Mississippi. The region belonged to France until 1763, but after the Seven Years' War it became part of Great Britain.

After the American Revolution, Wisconsin became part of the Northwest Territory of the United States, but the British effectively continued to control the area until the Anglo-American War of 1812–1815. As this territory split, Wisconsin became part of the Indiana, Illinois and Michigan territories. The Wisconsin Territory organized on July 3, 1836 and became the thirtieth state on May 29, 1848.

Under U.S. control, Wisconsin's primary economy shifted from the fur trade to mining. During the first half of the 19th century, Wisconsin was an important source of lead. As treaties and Indian Wars opened up the territory to white settlers, thousands of miners flocked to southern Wisconsin, many of them immigrants from Cornwall. At one time, Wisconsin produced more than half of America's lead. During the lead boom, it even seemed that the metal-rich southwest of the state would become the most populous, and the city of Belmont briefly became its capital. However, by the late 1840s, readily available reserves were largely depleted, and many miners were caught up in the California gold rush. Wisconsin is still full of echoes of the events of this period. Galena is the state's official mineral, and Wisconsin is nicknamed the "Badger State" because many miners, who arrived faster than housing could be built, lived with their families in the mines, like badgers in dens. Place names like Mineral Point also recall this period of Wisconsin history.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, thousands of immigrants from Germany and Scandinavian countries settled in Wisconsin.

In 1941-1943, the world's largest ammunition production plant, Badger Army Ammunition Plant, was built in Wisconsin near the city of Baraboo on an area of 30 km².

Two battleships were named in honor of the state: USS Wisconsin (BB-9) and USS Wisconsin (BB-64).




The flag of Wisconsin is a blue flag with the Wisconsin Seal centered on it. In the middle, under the lettering 'Wisconsin' and above the year '1848', there is the state coat of arms from 1851, which shows a sailor and a miner as symbols of work on land and at sea as a shield holder.


Political orientation

Wisconsin will have ten voters in the Electoral College for the 2024 United States presidential election, as it has since 2004.

In Germany, people temporarily became aware of Wisconsin in 2002 because the then Prime Minister of Hesse, Roland Koch, also propagated the local welfare model Welfare to Work (work instead of welfare). This model goes back to the former governor and ex-US Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson, who introduced the “Wisconsin Works” (W-2) program in 1997 and was able to significantly reduce the number of welfare recipients. Whether and how this concept can also be implemented in Germany is controversial. In terms of its population and economic structure, Wisconsin can hardly be compared to German conditions. Only in the south (Madison, Milwaukee) are there larger cities where social problems are tangible to a significant extent.

Wisconsin politicians, regardless of party affiliation, have consistently been champions of progressive politics and social reform. The most important political figures in the history of the state include Robert M. La Follette Sr., 1901-1906 governor and 1905-1925 Republican senator of Wisconsin and later founder and presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, Joseph McCarthy, a Republican in the 1950s hunted down actual or alleged communists in social life, and Russ Feingold, a well-known former senator who belonged to the progressive-liberal wing of the Democrats.



Wisconsin is one of the states that can currently be described as swing states in the USA. Its contrasts between rural-conservative and metropolitan-liberal regions ensure a balanced political balance between the major parties in the USA. As a result, the results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in Wisconsin were very close. In 2004, John Kerry won the ten electoral votes with a lead of 0.4 percent; Al Gore's victory four years earlier was even closer. Originally, however, Wisconsin is one of the states where the Democrats have slight advantages over the Republicans. Between 1932 and 2004, the Democrats won eleven times and the Republicans only eight times. From 1988 to 2012 there were only Democratic victories in presidential elections. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump won with 47.2% of the vote (Hillary Clinton 46.5%). Trump, however, lost the 2020 election to his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.


Members in the 117th Congress

In the Senate of the 117th Congress, Wisconsin is represented by Republican Ron Harold Johnson and Democrat Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin. The state's delegation in the House of Representatives consists of five Republicans and three Democrats.


Individual state level

In the spring of 2011, a power struggle raged in Wisconsin between Republican Governor Scott Walker and a large portion of public sector employees because Walker wanted to de facto abolish union bargaining power in order to impose drastic spending cuts. This led to chaotic conditions, such as the occupation of the State House in Madison by demonstrators. Democratic senators also left the state to block a vote on the bill. The opposition's planned recall of the governor failed, with Walker receiving 54% of the vote.



The current governor of Wisconsin is Democrat Anthony Steven Evers, his deputy (Lieutenant Governor) is Sara Rodriguez, who is also a Democrat.


Wisconsin Legislature

The Wisconsin Legislature consists of two chambers, the Wisconsin State Assembly (House of Representatives) with currently 96 members (3 vacant, regular 99) and the Wisconsin Senate which currently has 33 members. Each 3 assembly districts (lower house constituencies) form a Senate constituency. Republicans held the majority in both chambers in July 2022.



The real gross domestic product per capita (per capita real GDP) was USD 53,565 in 2016 (national average of the 50 US states: USD 57,118; national ranking: 20). The unemployment rate was 3.2% in November 2017 (national average: 4.1%).

The main industry is still agriculture. Because of its intensive dairy farming, the state is called “America’s Dairyland.” The country's residents are also jokingly called Cheeseheads, so fans of the famous Green Bay Packers football team like to wear hats in the shape of a triangular Emmentaler. The heyday of Wisconsin's dairy industry began in the 1880s with the introduction of silage technology and the use of refrigerated cars on the railroad. Both made it possible to produce dairy products of consistent quality and export them outside of Wisconsin. As early as 1899, more than 90% of all agricultural businesses specialized in dairy farming. Between 1915 and 1993, Wisconsin was the largest producer of dairy products in the United States. The state was then replaced by California, where dairy farms were often of “industrial size” compared to the family farms of Wisconsin. However, in 2020, Wisconsin was still the largest producer of cheese in the United States.

But Wisconsin also has a strong industrial economic base. Milwaukee became “America’s toolbox” during the New Deal and World War II eras. The Kohler plumbing factory is based in Sheboygan, Harley-Davidson motorcycles as well as Briggs & Stratton lawnmowers come from Milwaukee, and the bicycle manufacturer Trek has its headquarters in Waterloo. The mail order company Lands' End, which is also represented in Germany, has its headquarters in Dodgeville.



Wisconsin is often called "America's Dairy Farm" because the state is famous for its cheese production. According to a common stereotype, Wisconsin is a remote place with nothing but cows. Residents of the state are sometimes jokingly called cheeseheads. Since Wisconsin, like other states of the continental north, was populated primarily by Germans at the beginning of the 20th century, large quantities of beer are produced and consumed there.

Wisconsin's two main cities, Milwaukee and the capital, Madison, are centers of cultural life in the state. Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the top public universities in the United States, and the small town is built largely around it. In contrast, Milwaukee is a large city and part of the Chicago metropolis. The Milwaukee Art Museum is known for its distinctive architecture.



The Green Bay Packers have played in the National Football League since 1921 and hold the record for titles with 13. The Milwaukee Bucks have played in the National Basketball Association since 1968, winning two national championships and three conference titles.

The Milwaukee Braves played Major League Baseball from 1953 to 1965, winning one World Series and two National Leagues, after which they moved states. The Milwaukee Brewers have competed since 1970. In 1982, they won the American League to play in the World Series.

In college sports, the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big Ten Conference have won three Rose Bowls and 14 conference championships in football, as well as a national championship in men's basketball. Meanwhile, the Marquette Golden Eagles won a men's basketball national championship.

The Milwaukee Mile Oval is the oldest active road course in the world, opening in 1903. It is known for hosting the AAA National Championship, AAA National Championship, CART and currently the IndyCar Series, as well as the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Truck Series. For its part, the CART, the IMSA GT Championship, the American Le Mans Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the CanAm and the Trans-Am have competed at Road America.

Whistling Straits Golf Course has hosted the PGA Championship and the US Veterans Open.