Missouri facts for kids
|State of Missouri|
|Nickname(s): The Show Me State; The Cave State; Mother of the West|
|Motto(s): Salus populi suprema lex esto (Latin) Let the good of the people be the supreme law'|
|State anthem: Missouri Waltz|
|Largest city||Kansas City|
|Largest metro||St. Louis|
|- Total||69,704 sq mi
|- Width||240 miles (390 km)|
|- Length||300 miles (480 km)|
|- % water||1.17|
|- Latitude||36° 0′ N to 40° 37′ N|
|- Longitude||89° 6′ W to 95° 46′ W|
|Number of people||Ranked 18th|
|- Total||6,083,672 (2015 est.)|
|- Density||87.1/sq mi (33.7/km2)
|- Average income||$59,196 (22nd)|
|Height above sea level|
|- Highest point||Taum Sauk Mountain
1,772 ft (540 m)
|- Average||800 ft (244 m)|
|- Lowest point||St. Francis River at Arkansas border
230 ft (70 m)
|Became part of the U.S.||August 10, 1821 (24th)|
|Governor||Eric Greitens (R)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC −6/−5|
|Abbreviations||MO, Mo. US-MO|
|The Flag of Missouri.|
|The Seal of Missouri.|
|Insect||Western honey bee|
|Released in 2003|
|Lists of United States state insignia|
With over six million residents, it is the eighteenth most populous state.
The French established Louisiana, a part of New France, and founded Ste. Genevieve in 1735 and St. Louis in 1764. After a brief period of Spanish rule, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, rushed into the new Missouri Territory.
Missouri played a central role in the westward expansion of the United States, as memorialized by the Gateway Arch. The Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and California Trail all began in Missouri.
St. Louis is also a major center of beer brewing; Anheuser-Busch is the largest producer in the world.
Missouri wine is produced in the nearby Missouri Rhineland and Ozarks.
Missouri has been called the "Mother of the West" and the "Cave State"; however, Missouri's most famous nickname is the "Show Me State," as Missourians are known for being skeptical.
Etymology and pronunciation
The state is named for the Missouri River, which was named after the indigenous Missouri Indians, a Siouan-language tribe. They were called the ouemessourita (wimihsoorita), meaning "those who have dugout canoes", by the Miami-Illinois language speakers. As the Illini were the first natives encountered by Europeans in the region, the latter adopted the Illini name for the Missouri people.
Missouri is landlocked and borders eight different states as does its neighbor, Tennessee. No state in the U.S. touches more than eight. Missouri is bounded by Iowa on the north; by Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee across the Mississippi River on the east; on the south by Arkansas; and by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (the last across the Missouri River) on the west.
The two largest rivers are the Mississippi (which defines the eastern boundary of the state) and the Missouri River (which flows from west to east through the state) essentially connecting the two largest metros of Kansas City and St. Louis.
North of, and in some cases just south of, the Missouri River lie the Northern Plains that stretch into Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. Here, rolling hills remain from the glaciation that once extended from the Canadian Shield to the Missouri River. Missouri has many large river bluffs along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Meramec Rivers. Southern Missouri rises to the Ozark Mountains, a dissected plateau surrounding the Precambrian igneous St. Francois Mountains. This region also hosts karst topography characterized by high limestone content with the formation of sinkholes and caves.
The southeastern part of the state is known as the Bootheel region, which is part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain or Mississippi embayment. This region is the lowest, flattest, warmest, and wettest part of the state. It is also among the poorest, as the economy there is mostly agricultural. It is also the most fertile, with cotton and rice crops predominant. The Bootheel was the epicenter of the four New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812.
Missouri generally has a humid continental climate with cold snowy winters and hot, humid, and wet summers. In the southern part of the state, particularly in the Bootheel, the climate becomes humid subtropical.
Located in Tornado Alley, Missouri also receives extreme weather in the form of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The most recent tornado in the state to cause damage and casualties was the 2011 Joplin tornado, which destroyed roughly one-third of the city of Joplin. The tornado caused an estimated $1–3 billion in damages, killed 159 (+1 non-tornadic), and injured over 1,000 people. It was the first EF5 to hit the state since 1957 and the deadliest in the U.S. since 1947, making it the seventh deadliest tornado in American history and 27th deadliest in the world.
St. Louis and its suburbs also have a history of experiencing particularly severe tornadoes, the most recent memorable one being an EF4 tornado that damaged Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on April 22, 2011. One of the worst tornadoes in American history struck St. Louis on May 27, 1896, killing at least 255 and causing $10 mil. damage ($3.9 bil. damage in 2009) or $3.9 billion in today's dollars.
Missouri is home to a diversity of both flora and fauna. There is a large amount of fresh water present due to the Mississippi River, Missouri River, and Lake of the Ozarks, with numerous smaller tributary rivers, streams, and lakes. North of the Missouri River, the state is primarily rolling hills of the Great Plains, whereas south of the Missouri River, the state is dominated by the Oak-Hickory Central U.S. hardwood forest.
Indigenous peoples inhabited Missouri for thousands of years before European exploration and settlement. Archaeological excavations along the rivers have shown continuous habitation for more than 7,000 years. Beginning before 1000 CE, there arose the complex Mississippian culture, whose people created regional political centers at present-day St. Louis and across the Mississippi River at Cahokia, near present-day Collinsville, Illinois. The Mississippian culture left mounds throughout the middle Mississippi and Ohio river valleys, extending into the southeast as well as the upper river.
The first European settlers were mostly ethnic French Canadians, who created their first settlement in Missouri at present-day Ste. Genevieve, about an hour south of St. Louis. They had migrated about 1750 from the Illinois Country. Sainte-Geneviève became a thriving agricultural center, producing enough surplus wheat, corn and tobacco to ship tons of grain annually downriver to Lower Louisiana for trade. Grain production in the Illinois Country was critical to the survival of Lower Louisiana and especially the city of New Orleans.
St. Louis was founded soon after by French fur traders, Pierre Laclède and stepson Auguste Chouteau from New Orleans in 1764. From 1764 to 1803, European control of the area west of the Mississippi to the northernmost part of the Missouri River basin, called Louisiana, was assumed by the Spanish as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, due to Treaty of Fontainebleau (in order to have Spain join with France in the war against England). The arrival of the Spanish in St. Louis was in September 1767.
St. Louis became the center of a regional fur trade with Native American tribes that extended up the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, which dominated the regional economy for decades. River traffic and trade along the Mississippi were integral to the state's economy, and as the area's first major city, St. Louis expanded greatly after the invention of the steamboat and the increased river trade.
Early nineteenth century
Napoleon Bonaparte had gained Louisiana for French ownership from Spain in 1800 under the Treaty of San Ildefonso, after it had been a Spanish colony since 1762. But the treaty was kept secret. Louisiana remained nominally under Spanish control until a transfer of power to France on November 30, 1803, just three weeks before the cession to the United States.
Part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase by the United States, Missouri earned the nickname Gateway to the West because it served as a major departure point for expeditions and settlers heading to the West during the 19th century.
St. Charles, just west of St. Louis, was the starting point and the return destination of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which ascended the Missouri River in 1804, in order to explore the western lands to the Pacific Ocean.
As many of the early settlers in western Missouri migrated from the Upper South, they brought enslaved African Americans as agricultural laborers, and they desired to continue their culture and the institution of slavery. They settled predominantly in 17 counties along the Missouri River, in an area of flatlands that enabled plantation agriculture and became known as "Little Dixie." In 1821 the former Missouri Territory was admitted as a slave state, in accordance with the Missouri Compromise, and with a temporary state capital in St. Charles.
Conflicts over slavery exacerbated border tensions among the states and territories. From 1838 to 1839, a border dispute with Iowa over the so-called Honey Lands resulted in both states' calling-up of militias along the border.
With increasing migration, from the 1830s to the 1860s Missouri's population almost doubled with every decade. Most of the newcomers were American-born, but many Irish and German immigrants arrived in the late 1840s and 1850s. Nineteenth-century German immigrants created the wine industry along the Missouri River and the beer industry in St. Louis.
Most Missouri farmers practiced subsistence farming before the American Civil War. In order to control the flooding of farmland and low-lying villages along the Mississippi, the state had completed construction of 140 miles (230 km) of levees along the river by 1860.
American Civil War
After the secession of Southern states began in 1861, the Missouri legislature called for the election of a special convention on secession. The convention voted decisively to remain within the Union. Pro-Southern Governor Claiborne F. Jackson ordered the mobilization of several hundred members of the state militia who had gathered in a camp in St. Louis for training. Alarmed at this action, Union General Nathaniel Lyon struck first, encircling the camp and forcing the state troops to surrender. Lyon directed his soldiers, largely non-English-speaking German immigrants, to march the prisoners through the streets, and they opened fire on the largely hostile crowds of civilians who gathered around them. Soldiers killed unarmed prisoners as well as men, women and children of St. Louis in the incident that became known as the "St. Louis Massacre".
These events heightened Confederate support within the state. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price, president of the convention on secession, as head of the new Missouri State Guard. In the face of Union General Lyon's rapid advance through the state, Jackson and Price were forced to flee the capital of Jefferson City on June 14, 1861.
With the elected governor absent from the capital and the legislators largely dispersed, the state convention was reassembled with most of its members present, save 20 that fled south with Jackson's forces. The convention declared all offices vacant, and installed Hamilton Gamble as the new governor of Missouri. President Lincoln's administration immediately recognized Gamble's government as the legal Missouri government. The federal government's decision enabled raising pro-Union militia forces for service within the state as well as volunteer regiments for the Union Army.
Fighting ensued between Union forces and a combined army of General Price's Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas under General Ben McCulloch. After winning victories at the battle of Wilson's Creek and the siege of Lexington, Missouri and suffering losses elsewhere, the Confederate forces retreated to Arkansas and later Marshall, Texas, in the face of a largely reinforced Union Army.
20th century to present
Between the Civil War and the end of World War II, Missouri transitioned from a rural economy to a hybrid industrial-service-agricultural economy as the Midwest rapidly industrialized.
The expansion of railroads to the West transformed Kansas City into a major transportation hub within the nation.
The growth of the Texas cattle industry along with this increased rail infrastructure and the invention of the refrigerated boxcar also made Kansas City a major meatpacking center, as large cattle drives from Texas brought herds of cattle to Dodge City and other Kansas towns. There, the cattle were loaded onto trains destined for Kansas City, where they were butchered and distributed to the eastern markets. The first half of the twentieth century was the height of Kansas City's prominence and its downtown became a showcase for stylish Art Deco skyscrapers as construction boomed.
During the mid-1950s and 1960s, St. Louis and Kansas City suffered deindustrialization and loss of jobs in railroads and manufacturing, as did other Midwestern industrial cities.
In 1956 St. Charles claims to be the site of the first interstate highway project. Such highway construction made it easy for middle-class residents to leave the city for newer housing developed in the suburbs, often former farmland where land was available at lower prices.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Missouri was 6,083,672 on July 1, 2015.
In 2011, the racial composition of the state was:
- 84.0% White American (81.0% non-Hispanic white, 3.0% White Hispanic)
- 11.7% Black or African American
- 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native
- 1.7% Asian American
- 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
- 1.9% Multiracial American
- 0.1% Some other race
In 2011, 3.7% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).
A notable Cherokee Indian population exists in Missouri.
The vast majority of people in Missouri speak English. Approximately 5.1% of the population reported speaking a language other than English at home. The Spanish language is spoken in small Latino communities in the St. Louis and Kansas City Metro areas.
Missouri is home to an endangered dialect of the French language known as Missouri French. Speakers of the dialect, who call themselves Créoles, are descendants of the French pioneers who settled the area then known as the Illinois Country beginning in the late 17th century.
Missouri is ranked 6th in the nation for the production of hogs and 7th for cattle. Missouri is ranked in the top five states in the nation for production of soy beans, and it is ranked fourth in the nation for the production of rice.
In 2001, there were 108,000 farms, the second-largest number in any state after Texas.
Missouri actively promotes its rapidly growing wine industry.
Missouri has vast quantities of limestone. Other resources mined are lead, coal, and crushed stone. Missouri produces the most lead of all of the states. Most of the lead mines are in the central eastern portion of the state. Missouri also ranks first or near first in the production of lime, a key ingredient in Portland cement.
Missouri also has a growing science, agricultural technology and biotechnology field. Monsanto, one of the largest biotech companies in America, is based in St. Louis.
Tourism, services and wholesale/retail trade follow manufacturing in importance.
Missouri is the only state in the Union to have two Federal Reserve Banks: one in Kansas City and one in St. Louis.
Missouri has two major airport hubs: Lambert–St. Louis International Airport and Kansas City International Airport.
Two of the nation's three busiest rail centers are located in Missouri. Kansas City is a major railroad hub for BNSF Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad.
Kansas City is the second largest freight rail center in the US (but is first in the amount of tonnage handled). Like Kansas City, St. Louis is a major destination for train freight. Springfield remains an operational hub for BNSF Railway.
A proposed high-speed rail route in Missouri as part of the Chicago Hub Network has received $31 million in funding.
The only urban light rail/subway system operating in Missouri is MetroLink, which connects the city of St. Louis with suburbs in Illinois and St. Louis County. It is one of the largest systems (by track mileage) in the United States. The KC Streetcar in downtown Kansas City opened in May 2016.
Many cities have regular fixed-route systems, and many rural counties have rural public transit services. Greyhound and Trailways provide inter-city bus service in Missouri. Megabus serves St. Louis, but discontinued service to Columbia and Kansas City in 2015.
The Mississippi River and Missouri River are commercially navigable over their entire lengths in Missouri. The Missouri was channelized through dredging and jettys and the Mississippi was given a series of locks and dams to avoid rocks and deepen the river. St. Louis is a major destination for barge traffic on the Mississippi.
Several highways traverse the state.
Cities and towns
Missouri's largest cities
- Kansas City - population 612,780
- St. Louis - population 315,685
- Springfield - population 166,810
- Columbia - population 119,108
- Independence - population 117,255
- Lee's Summit - population 95,094
- O'Fallon - population 85,040
- St. Joseph - population 76,596
- St. Charles - population 68,796
- St. Peters - population 56,971
Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri.
The five largest cities in Missouri are Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia, and Independence.
Many well-known musicians were born or have lived in Missouri. These include guitarist and rock pioneer Chuck Berry, singer and actress Josephine Baker, "Queen of Rock" Tina Turner, pop singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers, and rappers Nelly, Chingy and Akon, all of whom are either current or former residents of St. Louis.
Country singers from Missouri include New Franklin native Sara Evans, Cantwell native Ferlin Husky, West Plains native Porter Wagoner, Tyler Farr of Garden City, and Mora native Leroy Van Dyke, along with bluegrass musician Rhonda Vincent, a native of Greentop. Rapper Eminem was born in St. Joseph and also lived in Savannah and Kansas City. Ragtime composer Scott Joplin lived in St. Louis and Sedalia. Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker lived in Kansas City. Rock and Roll singer Steve Walsh of the group Kansas was born in St. Louis and grew up in St. Joseph.
The Kansas City Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are the state's major orchestras. The latter is the nation's second-oldest symphony orchestra and achieved prominence in recent years under conductor Leonard Slatkin. Branson is well known for its music theaters, most of which bear the name of a star performer or musical group.
Missouri is the native state of Mark Twain. His novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are set in his boyhood hometown of Hannibal. Famed authors Kate Chopin, T. S. Eliot and Tennessee Williams were all from St. Louis.
Filmmaker, animator, and businessman Walt Disney spent part of his childhood in the Linn County town of Marceline before settling in Kansas City. Disney began his artistic career in Kansas City, where he founded the Laugh-O-Gram Studio.
Several Film versions of Mark Twain's novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been made. Meet Me in St. Louis, a musical involving the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, starred Judy Garland. Part of the 1983 road movie National Lampoon's Vacation was shot on location in Missouri, for the Griswold's trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Up in the Air starring George Clooney was filmed in St. Louis. John Carpernter's Escape from New York was filmed in Saint Louis in the early eighties, due to the high number of abandoned buildings in the city.
Images for kids
Missouri Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.