Visiting the United States? There are 50 states in all.

Indiana is a Midwestern state known for farms, sports and car racing.

Indiana is called the “Hoosier State,” but no one really knows why. The name came into usage in the 1830s, not long after Indiana became a state. One theory is “Who’s here?” was the response when an unknown visitor knocked on a settler’s door. And the word stuck.

Some speculate the Hoosier term originally was used with contempt to refer to people living in the woods. Today people in Indiana say with pride that they are Hoosiers.

U.S. map with Indiana highlighted in red (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

Farms and forest make up more than 80 percent of Indiana. Corn is the top crop, helping to make the state the second-largest producer of popcorn in the United States.

Start your engines

A man standing and two people seated in a car (Courtesy of
(Courtesy of

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Speedway, is the home of the Indianapolis 500 car race, which is 200 laps, or 500 miles (805 km), long. The Brickyard 400, an annual 400-mile (640 km) NASCAR Sprint Cup, also is held in Speedway.

You can climb into a real Indy Car, either to ride in a two-seater with a speedway driver at the wheel or to drive yourself around the world-famous speedway.

Nearby Indianapolis, the state capital and the state’s largest city, notes with pride that the speedway is large enough to hold all of these places in total: the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, London’s Wimbledon tennis campus, the Rose Bowl athletic stadium in California, New York’s Yankee baseball stadium and the Kentucky Derby’s Churchill Downs horse track.

Honor collegiate sports

Memorabilia and exhibits from the NCAA Hall of Champions (Courtesy of
(Courtesy of

Sports lovers can shoot a basketball on a vintage basketball court, make a team mascot and play on the simulated sports machines at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA’s) Hall of Champions. The museum, not far from the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, includes memorabilia from 23 college sports.

IndyFringe Festival

Three girls walking outdoors (Courtesy of Daniel Axler,
(Courtesy of Daniel Axler,

Sponsors of the IndyFringe call it “uncensored and unjuried,” meaning the performing arts festival accepts all applications of those who want to participate, without question. The 10-day festival each August in Indianapolis features 56 shows on seven stages of local and out-of-town performing groups. Festival organizers say what makes the annual event such a big draw is that no one has any idea what the artists will be doing.

Santa Claus all year

Santa Claus statue and Christmas tree near welcome sign outdoors (Sarah Afshar/Creative Commons)
(Sarah Afshar/Creative Commons)

The town of Santa Claus, located in the southwestern part of the state, is home to the world’s only post office with the Santa Claus postmark. Volunteers there answered 22,000 letters in 2015 from children across the world who wrote to Santa. The town has a theme park and Christmas-themed attractions, such as Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa’s Stables.

Read more about Indiana and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.