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Harlan is a city in Shelby Countymarker, Iowamarker, United Statesmarker, along the West Nishnabotna Rivermarker. The population was 5,282 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Shelby Countymarker .


Harlan was named for one of Iowa's early U.S. Senators, James Harlan. The town was incorporated on May 2, 1879. When Nelson G. Kraschel was elected Governor of Iowa in 1936 he was a resident of Harlan. Harlan is also the home of DeWayne Louis "Tiny" Lund, who won the Daytona 500 in 1963 and former NASCAR racer Johnny Beauchamp (who came in 2nd at the 1959 Daytona 500 to Lee Petty).


Harlan is located at (41.654609, -95.322019) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.3 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 5,282 people, 2,204 households, and 1,498 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,209.8 people per square mile (466.7/km²). There were 2,306 housing units at an average density of 528.2/sq mi (203.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.30% White, 0.08% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.62% of the population.

There were 2,204 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.0% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,899, and the median income for a family was $45,888. Males had a median income of $31,365 versus $19,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,514. About 5.3% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.


The Harlan School District also serves residents of Jacksonville, Corley, Defiancemarker, Panamamarker, Portsmouthmarker, Earlingmarker, and Westphaliamarker.


Harlan has won 12 Class 3-A state championships in football including 1982-1984 and 2003-2005. Harlan also is home to Shelby County Speedwaywhich holds the Tiny Lund Memorial races held in September.


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