17 Most Populated Cities in Iowa [2024 Edition]


Iowa is a Midwestern state of the United States. As it is surrounded by the Big Sioux River and the Mississippi River, this state offers fantastic scenic views, tons of activities, and beautiful landscapes to explore.

With the well-developed cities, people are attracted to the living lifestyle and amenities of Iowa. Bounded by rivers, the state encompasses 145,743 square km. In the entire state, there are some cities which are attracting more residents to shift there because of convenience and other factors.

To explore those cities, read this list of the most populated cities in Iowa.

1. Des Moines

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Des Moines is one of the most populated cities in Iowa.

With a population of 214,133, the most populous city in Iowa is the capital, Des Moines. Sitting in Polk County, this city is large enough to extend into neighboring Warren County. With its numerous attractions, this city has the largest center of the insurance industry along with many other notable industries and companies that provide livelihood to the largest population. This city is also a cultural hub which is evident through its historical landmarks, museums and other attractions.

2. Cedar Rapids

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Cedar Rapids has a population of 137,710. This city is a major center for food production and agricultural processing in the country. It is home to fantastic places like the Paramount Theater,  Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids Kernels, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, and more. The large population of the city loves going to these attractions like the museum, stadium, library and more to enjoy their lifestyle.

3. Davenport

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Davenport is the seat of Scott County with a population of 101,724. In Iowa, it is the city that faces the most flooding, but the strategic infrastructure allows comfortable life for the large population of residents. The city has seen large and consistent growth projects under the last few decades. The retail industry and infrastructure makes it a great place to relocate. It is also a city with a cultural hub for the diverse population.

These are the biggest cities in Iowa.

4. Sioux City

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Sioux City is located in northwest Iowa where the population is 85,791. Despite being a populated city, there are tons of places to explore, roam around and spend time. The museums, monuments, parks and other amazing attractions attract people to move into this city. As it is located near the upstream point of the Missouri River, the city has the best views.

5. Iowa City

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Iowa City

Before 1857, Iowa City was the capital city of the state. Presently, even if it is not the capital, it remains one of the most populous cities with a total population of 74,828. The residents get to enjoy exploring different parks, museums, shopping outlets, and more in this city. The medical centers of the city are exemplary. The city is home to the Old Capitol building and the University of Iowa.

6. Ankeny

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According to the census, Ankeny has a population of 67,887. The population has grown by over 20% in the last decade. This city is part of the West Des Moines Metropolitan. The city has a lot of attractions and notable infrastructure which attracts tourists and residents to live and enjoy the many amenities offered by the city.

Check out this list of the cheapest cities to live in Iowa.

7. Waterloo

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Located in the center east of Iowa with a population of 67,314, Waterloo is a city with rich history and heritage. The active government made great efforts to increase the standard of living and presently the city is thriving. With many interesting places to visit, including the Veterans Museum, the Museum of History and Science, the Imaginarium and Grout Museum District.

8. Ames

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Ames offers a number of amenities and beautiful attractions for its 66,427 population. The city has developed as a city full of culture, heritage and fantastic attractions. With its economic backbone strengthening, the residents of the city enjoy high standards of living. It is home to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, headquarters of the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University Research Park.

9. Council Bluffs

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In Iowa, Council Bluffs has a total population of 62,799. Previously known as Kanesville, this city has a number of historic starting points of the Mormon Trail which attracts nature lovers. The city also sits near the Missouri River, so with high quality fish and great agricultural aspect, the living standard is high and comfortable.

10. Dubuque

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With a population of 59,667, Dubuque is a city serving as the commercial, educational, industrial and cultural center of the Tri-State Area of Iowa. Located at the junction of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, this city is geographically a great spot. It attracts a lot of tourists yearly and because of the architecture and river location, it is a fantastic city to revisit or move in.

11. Urbandale

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Urbandale has a population of 45,580. Compared to the last decade, the population has almost doubled. With infrastructural development, and economic growth, the city is on the prosperous side. The residents get to enjoy tons of amenities along with getting the chance to explore the natural charm of the city.

12. Marion

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Part of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area, Marion is a city with a total population of 41,535. The city is named after the hero of the Revolutionary War, Francis Marion. With its plenty of open space to enjoy outdoor activities and development of many institutions, offices, and attractions, the city has been growing in offering employment opportunities and high living standards.

13. Cedar Falls

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Home to one of the three public universities of the state, Cedar Falls is a beautiful city with a population of 40,713. It has wonderful attractions to explore, many facilities for the residents and scope of employment. Many students and their families or the staff of the University of Northern Iowa settle in the city.

14. Bettendorf

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Bettendorf is the fourth-largest city in the Quad Cities and has a population of 39,102. Many hotels, schools, offices, markets and other structures are built to enhance the city into a modern day wonder city. With its increase in local businesses, the city has one of the greatest scrap metal and barge companies, called the Alter Companies.

15. Marshalltown

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Marshalltown has a population of 27,591 and sits along the Iowa River. It is the 16th largest city in the state. The city has a number of notable infrastructures and some future projects are going to flourish the city more. It is home to the Iowa Veterans Home and Marshalltown Community College. There are plenty of areas to visit within the vicinity of the city.

16. Mason City

Mason City is the county seat of Cerro Gordo County. Mason City has a very diverse employment base covering multiple sectors of the economy including Manufacturing, Health, Financial Services, Technology and Education, with no one sector or employer dominating the market.

17. Ottumwa

Ottumwa is located in the southeastern part of Iowa, and the city is split into northern and southern halves by the Des Moines River.

Iowa offers a wonderful lifestyle, but there are some cities which offer more features than the other cities. This list of the most populated cities in Iowa is created on the basis of census results, so you can look for the features that resulted in these cities to have a larger population and make your decision if you want to live there.

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