heartland

[hahrt-land, -luhnd]
noun
1.
the part of a region considered essential to the viability and survival of the whole, especially a central land area relatively invulnerable to attack and capable of economic and political self-sufficiency.
2.
any central area, as of a state, nation, or continent: a vineyard in California's heartland.

Origin:
1900–05; heart + land

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
heartland (ˈhɑːtˌlænd)
 
n
1.  the central region of a country or continent
2.  the core or most vital area: the industrial heartland of England

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

heartland

landlocked region of central Eurasia whose control was posited by Sir Halford J. Mackinder in the early 20th century as the key to world domination in an era of declining importance for traditionally invincible sea power. Mackinder observed that the majority of the world's population resided on the Eurasian and African landmass and that control of this "world island" would lead to eventual world domination. This world island could be best controlled from the pivot area, which would guarantee self-sufficiency in food for the country dominating the region, and the pivot area's inaccessibility by sea would provide a formidable defensive barrier. The pivot area was vulnerable to land attack only by way of the plains of eastern Europe. Thus, control of eastern Europe would ensure domination of the pivot area and ultimately world domination. Mackinder's landbased theory of world power contradicted the conventional maritime theory advocated by Alfred Thayer Mahan during the 19th century. In 1919 Mackinder renamed the concept the heartland.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The health of the heartland is vital to the country as a whole.
Here in the heartland, it is the heart of tornado season.
Instead it will emphasise the heartland values of family and practicality.
But if you want to settle down with a partner, the suburbs and the heartland
  beckon.
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