State of Kansas
Flag of Kansas State seal of Kansas
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Sunflower State (official);
The Wheat State;
The Free State
Motto(s): Ad astra per aspera (Latin for To the stars through difficulties)
State anthem: Home on the Range
Map of the United States with Kansas highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Kansan
Capital Topeka
Largest city Wichita
Area Ranked 15th
 - Total 82,278 sq mi
(213,100 km2)
 - Width 410 miles (660 km)
 - Length 213 miles (343 km)
 - % water 0.6
 - Latitude 37° N to 40° N
 - Longitude 94° 35′ W to 102° 3′ W
Number of people Ranked 34th
 - Total 2,911,641 (2015 est)
 - Density 35.1/sq mi  (13.5/km2)
Ranked 40th
 - Average income $54,865 (30th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Mount Sunflower
4,041 ft (1232 m)
 - Average 2,000 ft  (610 m)
 - Lowest point Verdigris River at Oklahoma border
679 ft (207 m)
Before statehood Kansas Territory
Became part of the U.S. January 29, 1861 (34th)
Governor Sam Brownback (R)
U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R)
Jerry Moran (R)
U.S. House delegation Roger Marshall (R)
Lynn Jenkins (R)
Kevin Yoder (R)
Vacant (list)
Time zones  
 - Majority of state Central: UTC −6/−5
 - 4 western counties (Hamilton, Greeley, Wallace, and Sherman) Mountain: UTC −7/−6
Abbreviations KS, Kan., Kans. US-KS
Website www.kansas.gov
Kansas State symbols
Flag of Kansas.svg
The Flag of Kansas.

Seal of Kansas.svg
The Seal of Kansas.

Animate insignia
Amphibian Barred tiger salamander
Bird(s) Western meadowlark
Flower(s) Wild sunflower
Grass Little bluestem
Insect Western honey bee
Mammal(s) American bison
Reptile Ornate box turtle
Tree Plains cottonwood

Inanimate insignia
Soil Harney silt loam (unofficial)
Song(s) "Home on the Range"

Route marker(s)
Kansas Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Kansas
Released in 2005

Lists of United States state insignia

Kansas is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States.

Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita.

Kansas is named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes.

Kansas was first settled by European Americans in 1812, in what is the now Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Kansas is in a region known as America's Breadbasket.

By 2015, Kansas was one of the most productive agricultural states, producing high yields of wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

Residents of Kansas are called "Kansans", officially.

Mount Sunflower is Kansas's highest point at 4,041 feet (1,232 m).

History

War dance in the interiour of a Konza lodge
Samuel Seymour's 1819 illustration of a Kansa lodge and dance is the oldest drawing known to be done in Kansas.

For a millennia, the land that is currently Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans.

The first European to set foot in present-day Kansas was Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who explored the area in 1541. In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Southwest Kansas, however, was still a part of Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas until the conclusion of the Mexican–American War in 1848. From 1812 to 1821, Kansas was part of the Missouri Territory.

The Santa Fe Trail traversed Kansas from 1821 to 1880, transporting manufactured goods from Missouri and silver and furs from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wagon ruts from the trail are still visible in the prairie today.

In 1827, Fort Leavenworth became the first permanent settlement of white Americans in the future state.

The Kansas–Nebraska Act became law on May 30, 1854, establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and opening the area to broader settlement by whites. Kansas Territory stretched all the way to the Continental Divide and included the sites of present-day Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

Missouri and Arkansas sent settlers into Kansas all along its eastern border. These settlers attempted to sway votes in favor of slavery. The secondary settlement of Americans in Kansas Territory were abolitionists from Massachusetts and other Free-Staters, who attempted to stop the spread of slavery from neighboring Missouri. Directly presaging the American Civil War, these forces collided, entering into skirmishes that earned the territory the name of Bleeding Kansas.

Kansas was admitted to the United States as a free state on January 29, 1861, making it the 34th state to enter the Union. By that time the violence in Kansas had largely subsided, but during the Civil War, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led several hundred men on a raid into Lawrence, destroying much of the city and killing nearly 200 people.

After the Civil War, many veterans constructed homesteads in Kansas. Many African Americans also looked to Kansas and began establishing black colonies in the state.

Tthe Chisholm Trail was opened and the Wild West-era commenced in Kansas. Wild Bill Hickok was a deputy marshal at Fort Riley and a marshal at Hays and Abilene. Dodge City was another wild cowboy town, and both Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp worked as lawmen in the town.

In one year alone, eight million head of cattle from Texas boarded trains in Dodge City bound for the East, earning Dodge the nickname "Queen of the Cowtowns."

Geography

Great Plains LCC (14285769265)
The Great Plains of Kansas
Kanopolissp
Kanopolis State Park
Wabaunsee County View
Flint Hills in Wabaunsee County

Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. The state is divided into 105 counties with 628 cities, and is located equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is in Smith County near Lebanon. Until 1989, the Meades Ranch Triangulation Station in Osborne County was the geodetic center of North America: the central reference point for all maps of North America. The geographic center of Kansas is in Barton County.

Topography

The western two-thirds of the state, lying in the great central plain of the United States, has a generally flat or undulating surface, while the eastern third has many hills and forests. It is a popular belief that Kansas is the flattest state in the nation. This has since been called into question, with most scientists ranking Kansas between the 20th and 30th flattest state, depending on measurement method. Its average elevation is 2,000 feet (610 m), higher than that of 36 states.

Rivers

Spring River 2006-07-03 2104
Spring River, Kansas

Nearly 75 mi (121 km) of the state's northeastern boundary is defined by the Missouri River. The Kansas River (locally known as the Kaw), formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers at appropriately-named Junction City, joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, after a course of 170 mi (270 km) across the northeastern part of the state.

The Arkansas River (pronunciation varies), rising in Colorado, flows with a bending course for nearly 500 mi (800 km) across the western and southern parts of the state. With its tributaries, (the Little Arkansas, Ninnescah, Walnut, Cow Creek, Cimarron, Verdigris, and the Neosho), it forms the southern drainage system of the state.

Kansas' other rivers are the Saline and Solomon Rivers, tributaries of the Smoky Hill River; the Big Blue, Delaware, and Wakarusa, which flow into the Kansas River; and the Marais des Cygnes, a tributary of the Missouri River. Spring River is located between Riverton and Baxter Springs.

Climate

Kansas Windmills
Clouds in northeastern Kansas
Kansas Summer Wheat and Storm Panorama
Kansas Summer Wheat and Storm Panorama

The Kansas climate can be characterized in terms of three types: it has humid continental, semi-arid steppe, and humid subtropical. The state's eastern two-thirds (especially the northeastern portion) has a humid continental climate, with cool to cold winters and hot, often humid summers. Most of the precipitation falls in the summer and spring.

The western third of the state has a semiarid steppe climate. Summers are hot, often very hot, and generally less humid. Winters are highly changeable between warm and very cold.

The far south-central and southeastern reaches of the state, including Wichita, have a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, milder winters and more rain than elsewhere in Kansas. Some features of all three climates can be found in most of the state, with droughts and changeable weather between dry and humid not uncommon, and both warm and cold spells in the winter.

Kansas is prone to severe weather, especially in the spring and early summer. Despite the frequent sunshine throughout much of the state, due to its location at a climatic boundary prone to intrusions of multiple air masses, the state is vulnerable to strong and severe thunderstorms. Some of these storms become supercell thunderstorms; these can spawn tornadoes, occasionally of EF3 strength or higher. Kansas averages over 50 tornadoes annually. Severe thunderstorms sometimes drop very large hail over Kansas as well as bringing flash flooding and damaging straight line winds.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Kansas was 2,907,289 on July 1, 2016.

Race and ethnicity

According to the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of the population was:

  • 83.8% of the population was White American (77.5% non-Hispanic white)
  • 5.9% was Black or African American
  • 1.0% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 2.4% Asian American
  • 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • 3.0% from two or more races.

Ethnically 10.5% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).

Mexicans are present in the southwest and make up nearly half the population in certain counties. Many African Americans in Kansas are descended from the Exodusters, newly freed blacks who fled the South for land in Kansas following the Civil War.

Language

Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in Kansas, after English.

Economy

Ybsgm 1b (7707847886)
Field of Sorghum in Kansas

The agricultural outputs of the state are cattle, sheep, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, hogs, corn, and salt. Eastern Kansas is part of the Grain Belt, an area of major grain production in the central United States.

The industrial outputs are transportation equipment, commercial and private aircraft, food processing, publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum and mining.

Kansas ranks eighth in U.S. petroleum production.

Kansas ranks eighth in U.S. natural gas production.

The Kansas economy is also heavily influenced by the aerospace industry. Several large aircraft corporations have manufacturing facilities in Wichita and Kansas City, including Spirit AeroSystems, Learjet, and Textron Aviation (a merger of the former Cessna, Hawker, and Beechcraft brands). Boeing ended a decades-long history of manufacturing in Kansas in 2012–13.

Major company headquarters in Kansas include the Sprint Corporation (with world headquarters in Overland Park), Embarq (with national headquarters in Overland Park), YRC Worldwide (Overland Park), Garmin (Olathe), Payless Shoes (national headquarters and major distribution facilities in Topeka), and Koch Industries (with national headquarters in Wichita).

Important cities and towns

See also: List of cities in Kansas

Kansas has 627 incorporated cities.

Cities with population of at least 15,000
City Population* Growth rate** Metro area
1 Wichita 388,143 1.58% Wichita
2 Overland Park 184,525 6.43% Kansas City, MO-KS
3 Kansas City 149,636 2.64% Kansas City
4 Olathe 133,062 5.71% Kansas City
5 Topeka 127,215 -0.20% Topeka
6 Lawrence 92,763 5.84% Lawrence
7 Shawnee 64,599 3.84% Kansas City
8 Manhattan 56,078 7.26% Manhattan
9 Lenexa 51,042 5.92% Kansas City
10 Salina 47,867 0.34%
11 Hutchinson 41,642 −1.04%
12 Leavenworth 36,000 2.12% Kansas City
13 Leawood 34,395 7.93% Kansas City
14 Dodge City 28,117 2.84%
15 Garden City 27,004 1.30%
16 Junction City 24,665 5.62% Manhattan
17 Emporia 24,560 -1.43%
18 Derby 23,234 4.86% Wichita
19 Prairie Village 21,877 2.00% Kansas City
20 Hays 21,044 2.60%
21 Liberal 21,012 2.37%
22 Gardner 20,667 8.07% Kansas City
23 Pittsburg 20,394 0.80%
24 Newton 19,120 -0.06% Wichita
25 Great Bend 15,840 −0.97%
*2014 Estimate
**Growth rate 2010–2014
‡Defined as a micropolitan area

Northeast Kansas

Amelia Earhart 1928
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison

The northeastern portion of the state, extending from the eastern border to Junction City and from the Nebraska border to south of Johnson County is home to more than 1.5 million people in the Kansas City (Kansas portion), Manhattan, Lawrence, and Topeka metropolitan areas. Overland Park, a young city incorporated in 1960, has the largest population and the largest land area in the county.

Olathe is the county seat and home to Johnson County Executive Airport. The cities of Olathe, Shawnee, and Gardner have some of the state's fastest growing populations. The cities of Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe, and Gardner are also notable because they lie along the former route of the Santa Fe Trail.

To the north, Kansas City, with the second largest land area in the state, contains a number of diverse ethnic neighborhoods.

Its attractions include the Kansas Speedway, Sporting Kansas City, Kansas City T-Bones, Schlitterbahn, and The Legends at Village West retail and entertainment center. Nearby, Kansas's first settlement Bonner Springs is home to several national and regional attractions including the Providence Medical Center Amphitheather, the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, and the annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

Leavenworth, KS 007
Leavenworth is on the west bank of the Missouri River

Historic Leavenworth, founded in 1854, was the first incorporated city in Kansas. North of the city, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River.

The city of Atchison was an early commercial center in the state and is well known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart.

To the west, nearly a quarter million people reside in the Topeka metropolitan area. Topeka is the state capital. Built at a Kansas River crossing along the old Oregon Trail, this historic city has several nationally registered historic places.

Wichita

Wichita pan 1
Wichita, the largest city in the state of Kansas

In south-central Kansas, the Wichita metropolitan area is home to over 600,000 people.

Wichita is the largest city in the state in terms of both land area and population.

'The Air Capital' is a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry. Before Wichita was 'The Air Capital' it was a Cowtown.

Up river (the Arkansas River) from Wichita is the city of Hutchinson. The city was built on one of the world's largest salt deposits, and it has the world's largest and longest wheat elevator. It is also the home of Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Prairie Dunes Country Club and the Kansas State Fair.

North of Wichita is the city of Newton, the former western terminal of the Santa Fe Railroad and trailhead for the famed Chisholm Trail. To the southeast of Wichita are the cities of Winfield and Arkansas City with historic architecture and the Cherokee Strip Museum (in Ark City).

The city of Udall was the site of the deadliest tornado in Kansas on May 25, 1955; it killed 80 people in and near the city.

Around the state

Located midway between Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita in the heart of the Bluestem Region of the Flint Hills, the city of Emporia has several nationally registered historic places.

Southeast Kansas

Downtown Pittsburg, Kansas 9-2-2012
Downtown_Pittsburg

Southeast Kansas has a unique history with a number of nationally registered historic places in this coal-mining region.

Located in Crawford County (dubbed the Fried Chicken Capital of Kansas), Pittsburg is the largest city in the region.

The neighboring city of Frontenac in 1888 was the site of the worst mine disaster in the state in which an underground explosion killed 47 miners. "Big Brutus" is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the city of West Mineral. Along with the restored fort, historic Fort Scott has a national cemetery designated by President Lincoln in 1862.

Central and North-Central Kansas

Salina water tower
Water tower in Salina

Salina is the largest city in central and north-central Kansas.

South of Salina is the small city of Lindsborg with its numerous Dala horses. Much of the architecture and decor of this town has a distinctly Swedish style. To the east the historic city of Abilene was formerly a trailhead for the Chisholm Trail and was the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is the site of his Presidential Library and the tombs of the former President, First Lady and son who died in infancy.

Northwest Kansas

Westward along the Interstate, the city of Russell, traditionally the beginning of sparsely-populated northwest Kansas, was the base of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and the boyhood home of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.

Two other landmarks are located in smaller towns in Ellis County: the "Cathedral of the Plains" is located 10 miles (16 km) east of Hays in Victoria, and the boyhood home of Walter Chrysler is 15 miles (24 km) west of Hays in Ellis.

Southwest Kansas

Dodge City, famously known for the cattle drive days of the late 19th century, was built along the old Santa Fe Trail route. The city of Liberal is located along the southern Santa Fe Trail route.

The first wind farm in the state was built east of Montezuma. Garden City has the Lee Richardson Zoo.

Transportation

I35Kansas
Interstate 35 as it enters Kansas in Rosedale.

Kansas is served by two Interstate highways.

Spur routes serve as connections between the two major routes.

Kansas also has the third largest state highway system in the country after Texas and California. This is because of the high number of counties and county seats (105) and the intertwining of them all.

The state's only major commercial (Class C) airport is Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport located on the western edge of the city.

The Southwest Chief Amtrak route also runs through the state on its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. Stops in Kansas include Lawrence and Dodge City.

Culture

Overland Theater
The Famous Rio Theatre in Overland Park

Music

The rock band Kansas was formed in the state capital of Topeka, the hometown of several of the band's members.

Joe Walsh, guitarist for the famous rock band, The Eagles, was born in Wichita.

Literature

The state's most famous appearance in literature was as the home of Dorothy Gale, the main character in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie, published in 1935, is another well-known tale about Kansas.

The winner of the 2011 Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature, Moon Over Manifest, tells the story of a young and adventurous girl named Abilene who is sent to the fictional town of Manifest, Kansas, by her father in the summer of 1936. It was written by Kansan Clare Vanderpool.

Film

Fox Theater, Hutchinson, KS
Fox Theater, Hutchinson
  • As was the case with the novel, the main character in the 1939 fantasy film The Wizard of Oz was a young girl who lived in Kansas with her aunt and uncle. The line, "We're not in Kansas anymore", is now used even in the United Kingdom to describe finding oneself in a totally new situation.

Kansas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.