The capital was named after the nearby Des Moines River, a tributary of the Mississippi River and whose name in French traces back to River of the Monks.
A popular nickname for Des Moines is Hartford of the West since both Hartford and Des Moines are established centers for financial services notably insurance. Iowa is known as the Hawkeye State.
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is an indoor conservatory holding over 15,000 exotic plants and is one of the biggest collections of desert-growing plants in America’s Midwest.
Downtown Des Moines has a vast skywalk system, with an enclosed walkway stretching over four miles–among America’s most extensive.
Research website numbeo ranks in first place compared to the 250 cities evaluated on its overall quality of life index at June 2020. Des Moines scored well on index factors such as traffic commute time (fastest 2%), property price to income ratio (least expensive 3%), purchasing power (strongest 4%), health care (best 6%) and pollution (cleanest 10%). On the negative side, Des Moines rates among the highest 37% for cost of living.
Des Moines was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the home for the world’s oldest living person as of December 5, 2012, namely 115-year-old Dina Manfredini. Unfortunately, she died in a nursing home 12 days after setting the longevity record.
Des Moines serves as headquarters for two major corporations recognized as belonging to the Forbes Global 2000 world’s biggest companies. These leading businesses are Principal Financial Group and American Equity Investment.
Leading publisher and marketing firm Meredith Corporation is based in Des Moines. The firm is best known for Better Homes and Gardens–one of America’s most widely circulated magazines.
From an international trade perspective, Iowa shipped U$13.221 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. Its most valuable exports include corn (5.7% of Iowa’s global total), tractors (5.7%), frozen pork (3.5%), soya bean residues including oilcake (3.3%), fresh or chilled pork (2.9%), herbicides and anti-sprouting products (2.8%), combines and harvester-threshers (2.5%), civilian aircraft including engines and other parts (2.4%), brewing or distilling waste (2.2%), and molybdenum ores and concentrates (1.9%) according to United States Census Bureau data.
The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Polk County, for which Des Moines is the county seat, was 9.6% at June 2020. That jobless rate was up from 2.9% one year earlier.
Capital Facts for Des Moines, United States: Quick Reference
Capital landmarks: Des Moines Civic Center, Iowa State Fairgrounds, Principal Park, Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens, Salisbury House, Terrace Hill and the Wells Fargo Arena
Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in Des Moines, United States.
- Shawn Johnson, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist (born Jan. 19, 1992)
- Brandon Routh, actor (born Oct. 9, 1979)
- Cloris Leachman, Academy Award-winning actress (born Apr. 30, 1926)
- Ben Silbermann, Pinterest founder & CEO (born Jul. 14, 1982)
- Marcos Ramirez (aka Flaco), featherweight boxing champion (born Mar. 31, 1981)
- Steve Higgins, comedian, writer & producer (born Aug. 13, 1963)
- Casey Blake, professional MLB baseball player (born Aug. 23, 1973)
- Victor Jackovich, U.S. diplomat & ambassador (born Apr. 24, 1948)
- Stephen Collins, actor, director & musician (born Oct. 1, 1947)
- Joe Corso, Olympic bantamweight wrestler (born Dec. 22, 1951)
Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches of published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.
Demonym for a Des Moines resident: Des Moinesite
Population: 217,891 (Des Moines) at August 24, 2020
Density: 2,471 people per square mile (954 per square kilometer)
Population: 3,179,850 (Iowa) at August 24, 2020
Density: 57 people per square mile (22 per square kilometer)
Real GDP: US$173.688 billion in 2019 (Iowa)
Real GDP per person: $55,139
Note: The above GDP metrics are on a current basis and are in Chained 2012 U.S. dollars.
Official currency used in Des Moines: U.S. dollars
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data). Accessed on June 2, 2017
Dilemma X, U.S. Census Bureau metropolitan population estimates July 1, 2016. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Total Real Gross Domestic Product for Topeka, KS (MSA).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Unemployment Rate in Polk County, IA.
Forbes Global 2000, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Guinness World Records, Dina Manfredini declared world’s oldest living person at age 115. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Guinness World Records, Largest sea turtle ever.
Nations Online, Capital Cities of the USA. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Numbeo, Quality of Life Index by City.
Official Government Website, City of Des Moines official website. Accessed on June 2, 2017
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade: State by 6-Digit HS Code and Top Countries. Accessed on June 2, 2017
United States Census Bureau, State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016. Accessed on June 2, 2017
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates. Accessed on June 2, 2017
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product by Metropolitan Area, 2015 (Tables Only). Accessed on June 2, 2017
Wikimedia Commons, Des Moines city flag. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Wikipedia, Des Moines, Iowa. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Wikipedia, Des Moines metropolitan area. Accessed on June 2, 2017
Wikipedia, Iowa. Accessed on June 2, 2017
World Population Review, Des Moines, Iowa Population.
Des Moinesites celebrate Independence Day as a national holiday each July 4.
Des Moines occupies 88.18 square miles (228.39 square kilometers) in land area. The state capital city had a population of 217,891 Des Moinesites at August 24, 2020.
At the state level, Iowa covers 56,273 square miles (145,746 square kilometers) in which 3.2 million people lived.
Population density for Des Moines averages 2,471 residents per square mile (954 per square kilometer).
Zooming out to Iowa’s land boundaries, population density dilutes to an average 57 inhabitants per square mile (22 per square kilometer).