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Kansas

Kansas flag

Capital: Topeka

State abbreviation/Postal code: Kans./KS

Governor: Sam Brownback, R (to Jan. 2015)

Lieut. Governor: Jeff Colyer, R (to Jan. 2015)

Senators: Jerry Moran, R (to Jan. 2017); Pat Roberts, R (to Jan. 2015)

U.S. Representatives: 4

Historical biographies of Congressional members

Secy. of State: Kris Kobach, R (to Jan. 2015)

Treasurer: Ron Estes, R (to Jan. 2015)

Atty. General: Derek Schmidt, R (to Jan. 2015)

Organized as territory: May 30, 1854

Entered Union (rank): Jan. 29, 1861 (34)

Present constitution adopted: 1859

Motto: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)

State symbols:

flowersunflower (1903)
treecottonwood (1937)
birdwestern meadowlark (1937)
animalbuffalo (1955)
song“Home on the Range” (1947)

Nicknames: Sunflower State; Jayhawk State

Origin of name: From a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind”

10 largest cities (2010): Wichita, 382,368; Overland Park, 173,372; Kansas City, 145,786; Topeka, 127,473; Olathe, 125,872; Lawrence, 87,643; Shawnee, 62,209; Manhattan, 52,281; Lenexa, 48,190; Salina, 47,707

Land area: 81,815 sq mi. (211,901 sq km)

Geographic center: In Barton Co., 15 mi. NE of Great Bend

Number of counties: 105

Largest county by population and area: Johnson, 544,179 (2010); Butler, 1,428 sq mi.

State parks: 24

Residents: Kansan

2010 resident population: 2,853,118

2010 resident census population (rank): 2,853,118 (33). Male: 1,415,408 (49.6%); Female: 1,437,710 (50.4%). White: 2,391,044 (83.8%); Black: 167,864 (5.9%); American Indian: 28,150 (1.0%); Asian: 67,762 (2.4%); Other race: 110,127 (3.4%); Two or more races: 85,933 (3.0%); Hispanic/Latino: 300,042 (10.5%). 2000 population 18 and over: 2,126,179; 65 and over: 376,116 (13.2%); median age: 35.9.

See additional census data

Area codes

Tourism office

Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado, in 1541, is considered the first European to have traveled this region. Sieur de la Salle's extensive land claims for France (1682) included present-day Kansas. Ceded to Spain by France in 1763, the territory reverted to France in 1800 and was sold to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Lewis and Clark, Zebulon Pike, and Stephen H. Long explored the region between 1803 and 1819. The first permanent white settlements in Kansas were outposts—Fort Leavenworth (1827), Fort Scott (1842), and Fort Riley (1853)—established to protect travelers along the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails.

Just before the Civil War, the conflict between the pro- and anti-slavery forces earned the region the grim title of Bleeding Kansas.

Today, wheat fields, oil-well derricks, herds of cattle, and grain-storage elevators are chief features of the Kansas landscape. A leading wheat-growing state, Kansas also raises corn, sorghum, oats, barley, soybeans, and potatoes. Kansas stands high in petroleum production and mines zinc, coal, salt, and lead. It is also the nation's leading producer of helium.

Wichita is one of the nation's leading aircraft-manufacturing centers, ranking first in production of private aircraft. Kansas City is an important transportation, milling, and meat-packing center.

Points of interest include the Kansas History Center at Topeka, the Eisenhower boyhood home and the Eisenhower Memorial Museum and Presidential Library at Abilene, John Brown's cabin at Osawatomie, re-created Front Street in Dodge City, Fort Larned (an important military post on the Santa Fe Trail), Fort Leavenworth, and Fort Riley.

On May 31, 2009, while serving as an usher at his church in Wichita, Kansas, abortion doctor George Tiller was fatally shot.

See more on Kansas:
Encyclopedia: Kansas
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
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