West Michigan and Western Michigan are terms for an arbitrary region in the U.S. state of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Most narrowly it refers to the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland area, or more broadly to most of the region along the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Lower Peninsula, but there is no official definition for it.
In general, "West Michigan" often refers to the area bounded by the cities of Muskegon (in the north), Grand Rapids (in the northeast), Kalamazoo-Battle Creek (in the southeast) and St.Joseph-Benton Harbor (in the southwest). However, definitions of the boundaries of the region vary widely; in some contexts, the term "West Michigan" is applied only to the counties of Allegan, Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa, which together compose the Grand Rapids-Wyoming-Muskegon SMSA. Other definitions include the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek and Benton Harbor-St. Joseph regions, which can be considered distinct regions or parts of other regions such as Michiana, Southern Michigan, or Southwest Michigan, in the case of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph.
The northern boundary of the region is also poorly defined; the population density, land use, economic and cultural character, and physical geography most often associated with West Michigan fades in northern Muskegon and Kent Counties, however areas as far north as Ludington and White Cloud may be included because of their close economic ties to the cities to the south. Other areas, such as Montcalm County in the northeast corner of the region, are transitional areas that straddle Michigan regions but are sometimes included for classification purposes. In the case of Montcalm County, the area around Greenville in the county's southwest corner is closely tied economically with Grand Rapids, while the area around Vestaburg and Edmore in the northeastern corner of county are more closely associated with the cities of Mount Pleasant and Alma, which are included in almost any definition of Central Michigan.
The following table contains the largest municipalities of West Michigan according to the 2010 Census. This defines the region fairly broadly, but not at its most broadly; if Battle Creek were included, it would be ranked fourth.
|5||Georgetown Charter Township||Ottawa||46,985|
|8||Holland Charter Township||Ottawa||35,636|
|10||Plainfield Charter Township||Kent||30,952|
|11||Gaines Charter Township||Kent||25,146|
|14||Kalamazoo Charter Township||Kalamazoo||21,918|
|15||Oshtemo Charter Township||Kalamazoo||21,705|
|16||Allendale Charter Township||Ottawa||20,708|
|18||Muskegon Charter Township||Muskegon||17,840|
|20||Cascade Charter Township||Kent||17,134|
|21||Grand Rapids Charter Township||Kent||16,661|
|23||Grand Haven Charter Township||Ottawa||15,178|
Five of the above cities, Wyoming, Kentwood, Portage, Norton Shores, and Walker, are former suburban townships that incorporated in the 1960s in order to prevent annexation by an adjacent city. The presence of these cities in the top ten reflects both the large geographic area of these cities, as well as the long and continuing growth of suburban areas in West Michigan.
Prominent West Michigan corporations include:
This article's list of residents may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. (March 2011)
More comprehensive lists are available at individual cities, villages, etc.