Wisconsin (IPA: /wɪsˈkɑn.sən/) (French: Ouisconsin) is a state located near the center of the North American continent. It touches two of the five Great Lakes and is one of the fifty states that constitutes the United States of America. Wisconsin's capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee. Jim Doyle is the current Governor of Wisconsin, having held that office since January 6, 2003.
Wisconsin, bordered by the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois, as well as Lakes Michigan and Superior, has been part of United States territory since the end of the American Revolution; the Wisconsin Territory (which included parts of other current states) was formed on July 3, 1836. Wisconsin ratified its constitution on March 13, 1848, and was admitted to the Union on May 29, 1848, as the 30th state. The state's southern boundary line was originally supposed to reach the southern-most tip of Lake Michigan, but for some reason politics intervened during the debates of the Northwest Ordinance to make it as it appears in the present day . Wisconsin would have possessed the city of Chicago had the state line been pushed further south as originally contemplated.
Wisconsin's economy was originally based on farming (especially dairy), mining, and lumbering. In the 20th century, tourism became important, and many people living on former farms commuted to jobs elsewhere. Large-scale industrialization began in the late 19th century in the southeast of the state, with the city of Milwaukee as its major center. In recent decades, service industries, especially medicine and education, have become dominant. Wisconsin's landscape, largely shaped by the Wisconsin glaciation of the last Ice Age, makes the state popular for both tourism and many forms of outdoor recreation.
Since its founding, Wisconsin has been ethnically heterogeneous, with Yankees being among the first to arrive from New York and New England. They dominated the state's heavy industry, finance, politics and education. Large numbers of European immigrants followed them, including Germans, mostly between 1850 and 1900, Scandinavians (the largest group being Norwegian) and smaller groups of Belgians, Dutch, Swiss, Finns, Irish and others; in the 20th century, large numbers of Poles and African Americans came, settling mainly in Milwaukee.
Today, 42.6% of the population is of German ancestry, making Wisconsin one of the most German-American states in the United States. Numerous ethnic festivals are held throughout Wisconsin to celebrate its heritage. Such festivals are world renowned, and include Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day), Summerfest, Cheese Days (Monroe, WI), African World Festival, Indian Summer, Irish Fest and many others.
During the period of the Civil War, Wisconsin was a Republican and pro-Union stronghold. Ethno-religious issues in the late 19th century caused a brief split in the Republican coalition. Through the first half of the 20th century, Wisconsin's politics were dominated by Robert La Follette and his sons, originally of the Republican Party, but later of their own Progressive Party. Since 1945, the state has maintained a close balance between Republicans and Democrats. Republican Senator Joe McCarthy was a major national figure in the early 1950s. Recent leading Republicans include former Governor Tommy Thompson and Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.; prominent Democrats include Governor Jim Doyle, Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, and Congressman David Obey.