Kansas

The Sunflower State

Where is it?

State Flag

    

Geography

    

Location:
Midwest
Geographic coordinates:
37°N to 40°N
94°38'W to 102°1'34"W
Area:
total: 82,282 sq mi
land: 81,823 sq. mi
water: 459 sq.mi
coastline: N/A
shoreline: N/A
Bordering States:
Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 679 ft
highest point: Mount Sunflower 4,039 ft
Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. It is located equidistant from the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. The geodetic center of North America is located in Osborne County. This spot is used as the central reference point for all maps produced by the government. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is located in Smith County near Lebanon, Kansas, and the geographic center of Kansas is located in Barton County.

The state is divided up into 105 counties with 628 cities.

Kansas is one of the six states located on the Frontier Strip.

The state, lying in the great central plain of the United States, has a generally flat or undulating surface, and on a large scale appears almost perfectly flat. However, the land displays a gradual slope up from east to west; its altitude above the sea ranges from 684 feet (208 m) along the Verdigris River at Coffeyville in Montgomery County, to 4,039 feet (1,231 m) at Mount Sunflower, in Wallace County.

The Missouri River forms nearly 75 miles (120 km) of the state's northeastern boundary. The Kansas River, formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers at appropriately-named Junction City, joins the Missouri at Kansas City, after a course of 150 miles (240 km) across the northeastern part of the state. The Arkansas River, rising in Colorado, flows with a tortuous course for nearly 500 miles (800 km) across three-fourths of the state. It forms, with its tributaries (the Little Arkansas, Ninescah, Walnut, Cow Creek, Cimarron, Verdigris, and the Neosho), the southern drainage system of the state. Other important rivers are the Saline and Solomon, 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.

    

Population

    

Population:
2,904,021 (2014)
Largest City:
Wichita: 382,368 (2010)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 6.9%
<18 years old: 25.0%
65 years and over: 13.0%
Male: 49.7% Female: 50.3%
Population growth rate:
2.1% (2000-2005)
Population density:
32.9 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 81.9%
Hispanic: 8.1%
Black: 5.9%
Asian: 2.1%
Native American : 1.0%
Multi-Race: 1.6%
Religions:
Christian: %
Other: %
Non-Religious: %

    

History

    

For millennia, the land that is presently Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was the first European to set foot in present-day Kansas, exploring the area in 1541. In 1803, most of 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. 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 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. Kansas Territory stretched all the way to the Continental Divide and included the sites of present-day Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

Some of the first Americans to settle 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. However, during the Civil War, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led Quantrill's Raid into Lawrence, destroying much of the city and killing almost two hundred people.

After the Civil War, many veterans constructed homesteads in Kansas. Many African Americans also looked to Kansas as the land of "John Brown" and led by men like Benjamin "Pap" Singleton began establishing black colonies in the state. At the same time, the 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 in the late 19th century. In one year alone, 8 million head of cattle from Texas boarded trains in Dodge City bound for the East, earning Dodge the nickname "Queen of the Cowtowns." Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp were both lawmen in Dodge City. In part as a response to the violence perpetrated by cowboys, on February 19, 1881, Kansas became the first U.S. state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.

    

Government

    

Capital:
Topeka
Statehood:
January 29, 1861 (34th State)
State Tree:
Cottonwood
State Bird:
Western Meadowlark
State Flower:
Sunflower
The legislative branch of the state government is the Kansas Legislature. The bicameral body consists of the Kansas House of Representatives, with 125 members serving two year terms, and the Kansas Senate, with 40 members serving four year terms.

Kansas has a reputation as a progressive state with many firsts in legislative initiatives—it was the first state to institute a system of workers compensation (1910). Kansas was also one of the first states to permit women's suffrage in 1912. Suffrage in all states would not be guaranteed until ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The council-manager government was adopted by many larger Kansas cities in the years following World War I while many American cities were being run by political machines or organized crime. Kansas was also at the center of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, a 1954 Supreme Court decision that banned racially segregated schools throughout the U.S.

Since the 1960s, Kansas has grown more socially conservative. The 1990s brought new restrictions on abortion, the defeat of prominent Democrats, including Dan Glickman, and the Kansas State Board of Education's infamous 1999 decision to eliminate the theory of evolution from the state teaching standards, a decision that was later reversed. In 2005, voters accepted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The next year, the state passed a law setting a minimum age for marriage at 15 years. On November 8, 2005, The Kansas State Board of Education, at the urging of intelligent design advocates, voted to add criticisms of evolution to the state science standards. However, the Manhattan-Ogden school board has voted to reject the standards, and several board members who supported those standards were defeated for reelection in 2006.

    

Economy

    

The 2003 total gross state product of Kansas was US$93 billion, an increase of 4.3% over the prior year, but trailing the national average increase of 4.8%. Its per-capita income was US$29,438. The December 2003 unemployment rate was 4.9%. The agricultural outputs of the state are cattle, sheep, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, hogs, corn, and salt. The industrial outputs are transportation equipment, commercial and private aircraft, food processing, publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum and mining.

Kansas ranks 8th in U.S. oil production. Production has experienced a steady, natural decline as it becomes increasingly difficult to extract oil over time. Since oil prices bottomed in 1999, oil production has remained fairly constant, with an average monthly rate of about 2.8 million barrels in 2004. The recent higher prices have made carbon dioxide sequestration and other oil recovery techniques more economical.

Kansas ranks 8th in U.S. natural gas production. Production has steadily declined since the mid-1990’s with the depletion of the Hugoton natural gas field—the state's largest field which extends into Oklahoma and Texas. In 2004, slower declines in the Hugoton gas fields and increased coalbed methane production contributed to a smaller overall decline. Average monthly production was over 32 billion cubic feet (0.9 km³).

Kansas is the nation's second largest producer of beef cattle, behind only Texas. Kansas is one of the most productive agricultural states, leading the nation in wheat production.

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