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Updated November 30, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
Kansas flag


Kansas State Information

Capital: Topeka

Official Name: Kansas

Entered Union (rank): January 29th, 1861 (33rd state)

Present constitution adopted: 1861, with amendments in 2022

State abbreviation/Postal code: Kan/KS

State Area Codes: 785, 913, 620

Fun Facts About Kansas

Nickname: The Sunflower State

Origin of name: The name Kansas derives from the Algonquian term, Akansa, which was the name for the Quapaw people. The stem “-kansa” is named after the Kaw people, who are also called the Kansa which  federally recognized Native American tribe

Motto: "Ad Astra per aspera” (To the stars through difficulties”)

State symbols:

Flower: Wild Native Sunflower (1903)

Tree: Cottonwood Tree (1937)

Bird: Western meadowlark (1937)

Animal: American Buffalo (1955)

Fish:   Channel Catfish (2018)

Gem: Jelinite (2018)

Song: "Home on the Range” (1947)


Gov. Laura Kelly D (to Jan. 2027)

Lieut. Governor David Toland, D (to Jan. 2027)

Secretary of State: Scott Schwab, R (to Jan. 2027)

Attorney General: Kris Kobach, R (to Jan. 2027)

State Auditor: Steven Johnson, R (to Jan. 2027)

U.S. Representatives: 4

Senators: Jerry Moran, R (to Jan. 2029); Roger Marshall, R (to Jan. 2025)

State website: www.kansas.gov 


Residents: Kansan

Resident population: 2,937,150

10 largest cities (2022):   Wichita (392,878); Overland Park (196,147); Kansas City (151,208); Olathe (146,297); Topeka (125,353); Lawrence (95,905); Shawnee (67,723); Lenexa (60,204); Manhattan (55,204); Salina (45,843)

Race/Ethnicity: White: 86.0% Black: 6.2% Hispanic/Latino: 12.7% American Indian: 1.2% Asian: 3.2% Two or more races: 3.3%

Religion: Christian: 76%; Non-Christian Faiths: 4%; Unaffiliated: 20%

Sex: Male: 9,342,825 (49.2%); Female: 12,901,998 (50.8%)

Age: Under-18: 24.0% 65 and over: 16.7% Median Age: 36.9


GDP: $164.94 (37th in U.S., 2022)

Unemployment: 2.9% (2022)


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, 629,567 (2022), Butler, 1,428 sq mi.

State parks: 24 

See additional census data

Tourism office

The state of Kansas is a diverse and vibrant state with many attractions to offer. From the bustling cities of Shawnee, Lenexa, Manhattan, and Salina to the rural areas where agriculture and ranching are still thriving, Kansas offers something for everyone!

Kansas Geography

Kansas is bordered by four states: Nebraska to the north; Missouri to the east; Oklahoma to the south; and Colorado to the west. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states of the United States is in Smith County near Lebanon. Topographically, western Kansas lies within the great central plain of the United States, and has a generally flat surface incorporating roughly two-thirds of the state’s geography, while the eastern third has many hills and forests. While the state is mostly flat plains, there are numerous rivers that flow through the state. 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), joins the Missouri River at Kansas City. The Arkansas River rises in Colorado, but has tributaries such as the Little Arkansas, Ninnescah, Walnut, Cow Creek, Cimarron, Verdigris, and the Neosho. Kansas's 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.

Kansas People and Population

Kansas’s early settlers were principally antislavery New Englanders of British ancestry. After the American Civil War and with the building of the railroads, many central Europeans were attracted by the promise of jobs laying track and of free land when the jobs were finished. The communities that arose in Kansas were mostly Russian, German, or Scandinavian.  African Americans, mostly from the Deep South, arrived in number in the 1870s, establishing farming settlements. During World War II, there was an influx of military personnel and aircraft workers, many of whom remained. There is now a small but growing Hispanic minority, and a slightly smaller proportion of African Americans. Religiously, the state is mainly Protestant, with large communities of Methodists, Baptists, and Lutherans. 

Kansas Government

Under the constitution adopted in 1859, Kansans elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state; most other state officers are appointed. The Kansas Legislature has the House of Representatives, which comprises of 125 members, and the Kansas Senate, which consists of 40 senators. Judges of the 31 judicial districts are elected, but the seven justices of the Supreme Court and seven judges of the Court of Appeals are appointed by the governor from a panel presented by a Supreme Court nominating commission. The justices are subject to the approval of the voters. Kansas also has numerous state agencies within the government, as the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment being two of the most active departments over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kansas Economy

The national trend away from manufacturing and toward the service sector has been experienced to a lesser degree in Kansas, which has remained slightly above the national average in the proportion of employees in manufacturing. Both agriculture and manufacturing are the two largest industries that contribute to Kansas’s economy. Farm and ranch production in Kansas ranks it first in the U.S. in wheat, as well as first in sorghum grains. Kansas also places highly wild hay, hogs, and beef. Furthermore, the state’s sales tax is 6.15%.

Kansas Interesting Facts

As shown in the history section below, Kansas was the first state to adopt the constitutional prohibition of alcoholic beverages. The prohibitory amendment was added to the state constitution in 1880 and was not repealed until 1948.

Blues Music

During the 1940s and 1950s, Kansas City, Kansas was one of the leading centers of jazz and blues music in the United States with artists such as Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Big Joe Turner. Most of the state’s biggest cities of the larger cities have amateur theatre groups, and Topeka and Wichita support symphony orchestras. The numerous colleges and universities in the state provide a concentration of art and music in many small communities that otherwise would have no comparable activities. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, at Abilene, boyhood home of the 34th U.S. president, contains the papers and memorabilia of his presidency and military career. Worldwide, Kansas became most famous with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. According to the United States’ Library of Congress in 2010, this film is most likely the most seen film in history. The Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, near Manhattan, houses memorabilia related to L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s book. Liberal, Kansas, which is in the southwestern part of the state, contains a replica Dorothy’s house, a 1907 farmhouse furnished with antiques from the 1930s to look like the house depicted in the 1939 movie version.

Parks and Rec

Kansas has an extensive system of state parks and recreation areas, many of them associated with reservoirs. There are no national parks or monuments in the state, but the National Park Service does operate several national historic sites and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills near Emporia. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service maintains Cimarron National Grassland in the southwest corner of the state. The city of Wichita is also home of the nationally recognized Sedgwick County Zoo.

Arts and Entertainment

When it comes to other forms of entertainment, sports are high on the list for Kansans. With regards to American professional sports teams, Kansas only has one team located within the state: Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. However, many Kansans are fans of the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. College sports are important in the state as well. The University of Kansas Jayhawks basketball team is historically one of the best teams in the country and Wichita State University’s basketball team has done well over the past decade as well. Additionally, similar to other states in the U.S. that do not have professional sports teams, high school sports are important to local communities as well.

Kansas History

Prior to European contact, Kansas was occupied by the Caddoan Wichita and later the Siouan Kaw people. The first European to set foot in present-day Kansas was the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who explored the area in 1541. Between 1763 and 1803 the territory of Kansas was integrated into Spanish Louisiana. During this period, the governor Luis de Unzaga 'le Conciliateur promoted expeditions and good relations with the indigenous people.  

In 1803, most of modern Kansas was acquired by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase when French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte sold the area to American President Thomas Jefferson and the United States. However, the southwestern portion of Kansas was still under Spanish, Mexican, and the Republic of Texas control until the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848.

Fort Leavenworth became the first permanent settlement of white Americans in the future state in 1827, while The Kansas–Nebraska Act becoming law on May 30, 1854, established the Nebraska Territory and Kansas Territory. This opened the area to wider settlement by whites.   and opening the area to broader settlement by whites Missouri and Arkansas continually sent settlers into Kansas Territory along its eastern border to sway votes in favor of slavery. As a result, skirmishes and guerrilla conflicts occurred that earned the territory the name of Bleeding Kansas. One of the most famous events during this period was the Pottawatomie Massacre of 1856 by famed abolitionist John Brown. These events still play a role in the modern state rivalries by Kansas and Missouri.

The state of Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861, making it the 34th state to join the United States. By that time, the violence in Kansas had largely subsided, but there was a raid of Lawrence, Kansas during the Civil War on August 21st, 1863. As a result, the city was mostly destroyed and nearly 200 people died.  during the Civil War, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led several hundred of his supporters 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 looked to Kansas as the land of "John Brown" and, led by freedmen like Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, began establishing black colonies in the state. This led to an exodus of African Americans in the 1870s from the southern states, and they became known as Exodusters.  

Following the American Civil War and Reconstruction, Kansas became the first U.S state in 1881 to prohibit all alcoholic beverages. This was almost forty years prior of national Prohibition in the United States. Prohibition in Kansas occurred earlier due to demands by Methodists and other Protestants to ban alcohol.

In another first, suffragist Ella Uphay Mowry became the first female gubernatorial candidate in 122. the state when she ran as "Mrs. W.D. Mowry." She later stated that, "Someone had to be the pioneer. I firmly believe that someday a woman will sit in the governor's chair in Kansas.”

Kansas also played a significant role in the United States Civil Rights Movement. Most importantly, the state was the subject of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education. This took place in Topeka with the result of the Supreme Court deciding that state sponsored segregation of schools was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United State Constitution.

During the 1970s and 1980s, there was a slow but steady population growth in the state. Throughout these two decades, Kansas had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country as industries such as mining and health care services saw exponential growth. This continued throughout the 1990s, but other states such as Colorado saw faster growth in almost all areas in the region.

Today, Kansas is a Republican stronghold politically. This can be partially attributed to the increasing number of Hispanic people who arrived from Mexico and other Central American countries. This has created a more diverse demographic as the population repopulated small, abandoned towns, and continued farming as one of the state’s main professions. Finally, Kansas is one of the top five states in the U.S. in terms of renewable energy and looks forward to one day leading the nation in renewables.

People Also Ask...

That’s everything you need to know about Michigan, but how well do you know the other U.S. states and their geography? For the ultimate test, try out this challenge in which you identify states by their shapes: Infoplease's State Outlines Quiz.

What is the state of Kansas known for?

Kansas is known for its vast prairies, rolling hills, and natural beauty. The state has one of the most miles of river than any otallgrassther state in the Great Plains and is home to the world’s largest contiguous tall grass prairie. Kansas is also known for being the larger producer of wheat in the United States.

What is the climate in Kansas?

Generally, the summers are pretty warm, the winters are mild, and the humidity is moderate. January is the coldest month, with average high temperatures near 31 degrees Fahrenheit, while July is the warmest month with average high temperatures near 81 degrees Fahrenheit. However, hot summers and cold winters are not uncommon as temperatures can reach single digits during the winter and triple digits during the summer.

Does Kansas get tornadoes?

Based on a study by Policygenius, Kansas experienced an average of 86 tornadoes per year from 1997 to 2022. In 2022 there were 66 confirmed tornadoes throughout the state. Traditionally, the months from April through June is considered “tornado season” but they can happen at any time. The state of Kansas is also part of the United States that is called “Tornado Alley.”

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