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Updated November 30, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
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Nebraska State Information

Capital: Lincoln

Official Name: Nebraska

Organized as a territory/republic: 1854

Entered Union (rank): March 1, 1867 (37th state)

Present constitution adopted: October 12, 1875 

State abbreviation/Postal code: Neb./NE

State Area Codes 308, 531, 402

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Nickname: Cornhusker state

Origin of name: An Otos word, Nebraskatha, that describes the Platte River and means “flat river.”

Motto: “Equality before the law”

Slogan: "Nebraska, its not for everyone."

State symbols: 

Bird: Western meadowlark (1929)

Flower: Goldenrod (1895)

Tree: Cottonwood (1972)

Fossil: Mammoth (1967)

Gemstone: Blue agate (1967)

Rock: Prairie agate (1967)

Grass: Little bluestem (1969)

Insect: Honeybee (1975)

Soil: Typic Argiustolls (1979)

Mammal: White-tailed deer (1981)

Fish: Channel catfish (1997)

Folk Dance: Square dance (1997)

Ballad: “A Place Like Nebraska” (1997)

River: Platte River (1998)

Soft Drink: Kool-Aid (1998)

Beverage: Milk (1998)

Poet: Matt Mason (2019)


Governor: Jim Pillen (to Jan. 2027) 

Lieut. Governor: Joe Kelly (to Jan. 2027)

Secretary of State: Robert Evnen (to Jan. 2027) 

General Treasurer: John Murante (to Jan. 2027) 

Atty. General: Mike Hilgers (to Jan. 2027) 

U.S. Representatives: 3

Senators: Deb Fischer, R (to Jan. 2025); Pete Ricketts, R (to Jan. 2025)

State website:


Residents: Nebraskans

Resident population: 1,976,923 (39th largest state, 2022) 

10 largest cities (2022): Omaha, 488,059; Lincoln, 289,136; Bellevue, 62,888; Grand Island, 52,755; Kearney, 33,558; Fremont, 27,245; Hastings, 25,247; Norfolk, 24,964; Columbus, 23,954; Papillion, 23,875

Race/Ethnicity: White (87.7%); Black (5.3%); American Indian or Alaskan Native (1.6%); Asian (2.8%); Two or more races (2.4%); Hispanic/Latino (12.0%)

Religion: Evangelical Protestant (25%); Mainline Protestant (24%); Catholic (23%); Unaffiliated (20%); Mormon (1%); Jewish (<1%); Muslim (<1%); Buddhist (1%); Hindu (1%)

Sex: Male (50.3%); Female (49.7%)

Age: Under 18 (24.6%); 18-64 (59%); 65 and over (16.4%). Median Age: 36.6


GDP: 123.5 billion dollars (21st in U.S., 2022) 

Unemployment: 2% (2023)


Land area: 77,384 sq mi. (200,358 sq km)

Geographic center: In Custer Co., 10 miles NW of Broken Bow

Number of counties: 93

Largest county by population and area: Douglas County, 604,752 (2023); Cherry County, 6,009 sq mi. 

State parks/recreation areas: 70+


Nebraska, a constituent state of the United States of America, was admitted to the Union on March 1, 1867, as the 37th state. As a state in the Midwest region, rolling plains, grasslands, and bluffs characterize the landscape.

Rivers have been important to Nebraska’s growth and development. The Missouri River runs along the eastern border, and the Platte River and its tributaries, the North Platter River, and the South Platte River traverse the center of the state. Explorers and pioneers used these rivers for navigation and irrigation in the state’s early years.

Nebraska was a stopover point for pioneers migrating from the eastern United States to the West in the mid-1800s. The development of railroads led to a rapid increase in the state’s population. The fertile soil and open lands led to the development of large farms and ranches. The state continues to be a major food producer.

Nebraska Geography

Nebraska is located in the center of the continental United States in the Great Plains and is bordered to the east by Iowa and Missouri, the north by South Dakota, the west by Wyoming and Colorado, and the south by Kansas.

Nebraska has two major geographic regions — the Dissected Till Plains in the east and the Great Plains in the west. The Great Plains has four subregions: the Loess Plains, the Loess Hills, the Sandhills, and the High Plains. Although plains and prairies cover most of the state, cliffs and bluffs dot the western and northwestern regions.

The Missouri River lines the northern and eastern borders. The Platte River, a wide, shallow, slow-flowing river, runs through the middle of the state and feeds into the Missouri River. Not suitable for navigation, the Platte River and its northern and southern tributaries are used for irrigation. Part of the Ogallala Aquifer supplies water to the state.

Nebraska’s climate experiences annual fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. The winters are generally cold and summers warm, with pleasant weather in the spring and fall. Precipitation, temperature, and humidity decrease from the east to the west. Precipitation and temperature changes can lead to drought or flooding. Nebraska also experiences frequent tornado activity in the spring through the summer.

Nebraska’s forests consist of oak and hickory trees in the deciduous forests and western yellow pin in the conifer forests. The plains include a variety of slough grasses and needle grasses. Common wildflowers are wild rose, phlox, petunia, columbine, goldenrod, and sunflowers. Over 80 species of mammals, including white-tailed deer, pronghorns, coyotes, bobcats, bats, prairie dogs, and foxes are native to the state. Over 400 bird species, almost 50 species of reptiles and snakes, and 14 species of amphibians live in Nebraska.

Nebraska People & Population

According to the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the state of Nebraska had a population of about 1,967,923. The population centers of the state are Omaha and Lincoln, with the rest of the state being more sparsely populated. 

Nebraska’s demographics are mostly White (76.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (13.8%), Black or African American (5.4%), Asian (2.8%), two or more races (2.5%), American Indian or Alaskan Native (1.6%), and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders (0.1%).

In 2021, the median household income in Nebraska was an estimated $66,644. Per capita, or individual, income in 2021 was estimated at $35,189. The poverty rate in 2021 was 10.8%, 2% lower than the national average.

75% of Nebraskans identify as Christian, with Evangelical Christians (25%), Mainline Christians (24%), and Catholics (23%) making up that majority. Historically, Black Christians (2%) round out the majority. 20% identify as unaffiliated or non-Christian, and non-Christian faiths (4%) complete the religious makeup of the state.

Nebraska Government

Nebraska’s state government is unique because it is the only state in the United States that has a unicameral legislature. Nebraska has 49 senators, the name for elected representatives, making it the smallest state government of all U.S. states. The legislature meets for 90 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered days.

The Nebraska legislature became bicameral in 1935 when U.S. Senator George W. Norris campaigned to change the state government. He argued that a unicameral structure would be more equal, cost less, and better represent the citizens of Nebraska than a bicameral legislature. In 1934, Nebraskans voted to approve the change. Those running for state office are not affiliated with any political parties.

The governor oversees the executive branch of government and serves above the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general. The governor and treasurer can only run for two consecutive terms, while the other executives are not restricted to term limits. The current governor is Jim Pillen.

The executive branch also oversees several state agencies and departments, including: 

  • Nebraska Department of Education

  • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

  • Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles

  • Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

The Supreme Court oversees the state judicial branch. The branch is composed of seven district courts, conciliation courts, county courts, municipal courts in Omaha and Lincoln, juvenile courts, and a Workers’ Compensation Court.

Nebraska has five representatives in the federal government. Nebraska’s two senators are Deb Fischer (R), and Pete Ricketts (R). Mike Flood (R), Don Bacon (R), and Adrian Smith (R) represent Nebraska in the United States House of Representatives.

Local governments in Nebraska are organized by county governments. Seventy counties are commissioner counties, which are governed by a board of elected commissioners, while twenty-three counties are run by township governments. Townships are led by a board of supervisors.

Nebraska historically votes Republican in presidential elections. Since 1986, Nebraskans have elected four congresspeople from the Democratic Party. Since 1978, only three governors have been affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Nebraska Economy

Agriculture is Nebraska’s most important and largest industry, contributing $21 billion to the state’s economy annually. 92% of state land, 45.2 million acres, is used for agriculture and ranching.

Nebraska’s cash crop is corn, and more than 8 million acres of land are used for corn farming. Nebraska also leads the United States in the production of Great Northern beans. Nebraska also produces a large portion of alfalfa, pinto beans, light red kidney beans, soybeans, hay, and potatoes. The state is among the top producers of cattle and hogs.

Outside of agriculture, healthcare, retail trade, and manufacturing are top contributors to Nebraska’s economy. Five Fortune 500 companies are based in Nebraska: Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Peter Kiewit Sons, and TD Ameritrade Holding are all headquartered in Omaha. Additionally, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln contributes greatly to the economy.

Nebraska Interesting Facts

Despite being a small state in the Midwest, Nebraska has a rich history and cultural influence on the United States. The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha houses the largest indoor rainforest in the United States. Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge in England, is north of Alliance. Omaha is home to one of America’s richest businessmen, Warren Buffet. Also, the Nebraska State Museum houses the largest ancient mammoth fossil in the world.

The frontier experience shapes Nebraska’s history. In two generations, the land in Nebraska changed from a vast wilderness inhabited by Native Americans to hosting a population of almost a million people. Because Nebraska is located in the center of the country, many pioneers passed through the state during westward migration.

Nebraska is known for its agricultural importance, college football legacy, and simple, relaxed way of life. The state boasts a low cost of living and a quintessential small-town way of life. 

The Arts

Nebraska is the birthplace of several celebrities, including dancer and film star Fred Astaire, actor Marlon Brando, actress Gabriel Union, actor Nick Nolte, and singer/songwriter Conor Oberst. Governor Pete Ricketts named poet Matt Mason Nebraska’s state poet in 2019. Mason is an award-winning poet and executive director of the Nebraska Writers Collective.

Poet Ted Kooser was a U.S. Poet Laureate. Also the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 12 poetry collections, Kooser is a Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. John G. Neihardt wrote poetry about pioneer life in the West and Native American life.

Other famous authors from Nebraska include Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and Bess Streeter Aldrich who all wrote extensively about plain life. Author Rainbow Rowell, author of several young adult and adult novels, lives in Nebraska. 

Talk show hosts Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson called Nebraska home. Although Carson was born in Iowa, his family moved to Nebraska in his youth.

Nebraska has a rich museum and art culture. The Joslyn Art Museum and Durham Western Heritage Museums in Omaha hold collections that highlight American Indian and Western cultural art and relics. The Sheldon Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus houses American art, while the Museum of Nebraska Art houses art from Nebraska-based artists. The museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln houses one of the largest fossil collections in the United States. Nebraska has a variety of historical sites, including the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, the Fort Robinson Museum, and the Willa Cather State Historic Site. 


Nebraska has a rich sports history. Hall of Fame baseball players Richie Ashburn and Wade Boggs were born in Nebraska. Omaha has hosted the College World Series since 1950. Nebraskans enjoy rooting for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers each football season. The university played its first game in 1890 and grew a strong history of winning seasons. The Cornhuskers have won five National Championships and won 46 Conference Championships.


The newspapers “Nebraska Palladium” and “Platte Valley Advocate” were first published in 1854 by Thomas Morton. The first Black newspaper, “The Progress”, was published in Omaha in 1889. The largest newspapers are the “Omaha World-Herald” and the “Lincoln Journal Star”.

Nebraska has 158 commercial and noncommercial radio stations and 26 commercial and noncommercial TV stations. The Associated Press has a wire service based in Omaha, and bureaus in Omaha and Lincoln.

Nebraska History

Nebraska has a rich and diverse history. Westward expansion turned land that was once untamed wilderness into thriving settlements. The Kansas-Nebraska Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska but drew both territories into the bitter sectional battle over slavery. On March 1, 1867, Nebraska joined the Union as the 37th state. Since joining the United States, Nebraska has faced trials and hardships due to drought, falling crop prices, and other environmental factors. 

Pre-Colonial History

The Pawnees and Arikaras have lived in Nebraska for the longest, having arrived in the region about four or five hundred years ago. They settled along the Platte, Loup, and Republican rivers. The Pawnees hunted buffalo and farmed beans, corn, and squash. In the 18th century, the Omaha, Ponca, and Oto tribes settled in eastern Nebraska along the Missouri River. Other tribes migrated to Nebraska from the east. Estimates predict that up to 40,000 Native Americans lived in Nebraska in 1800.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, contact with Spanish traders and explorers profoundly changed Native cultures. With the introduction of the horse, the Pawnees and Omahas changed their hunting style to use horses on buffalo hunts in western and central Nebraska. Nomadic tribes developed their culture around the horse, using the animal for transportation and following bison.

Colonial History

Both Spain and France claimed the land that became Nebraska several times. In 1541, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado claimed the Southwest of the U.S. into Kansas for Spain, although Spain never established settlements in Nebraska. In 1682, French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, traveled down the Mississippi River and claimed the land and tributaries that fed into the river for France. The French explorer Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont traveled up the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Platte River. Two French explorers, Pierre Antoine, and Paul Mallet, named and traveled the length of the Platte River in 1739. 

After the Seven Years' War, France surrendered the land west of the Mississippi River to Spain. In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte took back the land for France. He then sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803. 

In 1804 and 1806, Meriweather Lewis and William Clark traveled through Nebraska on their surveying expedition of the American West. Various American explorers traveled through the state on other survey missions. In 1813, fur trader Robert Stuart explored the North Platte River to its junction at the Platte River to the Missouri River, which would later become part of the Oregon Trail. From 1824 through the 1840s, fur traders used the Platte River extensively to move products. By the “Great Migration” of the 1840s, Nebraska was a main juncture on the Oregon Trail. 

Pre-Civil War History

The Kansas-Nebraska Act established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The desire for a transcontinental railroad and the battle between slave and free states drove Congress to create the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. The Republican Party emerged from the conflict between free and slave state supporters in Nebraska and caused border conflicts in the years leading to the Civil War. Slaves were first bought and sold in Nebraska in the 1850s. The Kansas-Nebraska Act overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing slavery by a vote of the population. 

The Nebraska territory’s borders extended from the 40th parallel north to the Canadian border and from the Missouri River to the continental divide, occupying parts of present-day Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. By 1863, several new territories were carved from this region, reducing the size of Nebraska to about its current size. developments

Land speculation drove the economy of Nebraska in the 1850s. The economic panic of 1854 led many Nebraskans to turn to agriculture. The development of the Union Pacific Railroad and other railway developments drove population and economic growth in the state. 

Post-Civil War History 

The Civil War delayed Nebraska’s ratification by several years. On March 1, 1867, Nebraska was admitted as the 37th state after it removed a provision from the state constitution that restricted voting to white males, violating the Fourteenth Amendment. 

In 1873, various economic and environmental problems slowed the state’s growth and development. From 1874 to 1877, swarms of grasshoppers severely damaged crops. Many settlers left and returned to the east. In the 1890s, land prices, which had soared in the 1880s, plummeted because of drought, overuse of credit, and low crop prices. 

The populations of Omaha and Lincoln continued to grow, driven by the construction of railroads and immigration.

Nebraskans supported the Populist Party, which advocated for agricultural reforms. Since many farmers blamed the railroads and banks for problems, many believed in the party’s platform. Nebraska native William Jennings Bryan served two terms in Congress and unsuccessfully ran for president as a Democrat with a populist platform. 

Following the Civil War, many African Americans moved to Nebraska, hoping to work on the railroads or packing houses. In 1860, an estimated 82 African Americans were living in Nebraska. By 1900, that number was 6,269. Many African Americans found success in Nebraska in the post-Civil War years. 

Irrigation methods contributed to the growth of western Nebraska in the 1890s. Growth and prosperity continued until the stock market crash of 1929. The Great Depression crippled the state’s economy. Additionally, the Dust Bowl decimated many western counties. 

World War II brought the state out of the depression. Demand for increased beef production drove the economic recovery. The state also produced millions of pounds of corn, barley, wheat, and potatoes to aid in food shortage. Fort Crook, south of Omaha, produced aircraft. In 1948, it became the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command. 

Modern History

Since World War II, Nebraska has experienced continued growth and development. Developments in irrigation, particularly the pivot system, have brought water to otherwise dry land. Water pollution and over-irrigation concerns continue to drive controversy between land developers and environmentalists. 

Farms have increased in size and reduced in number since 1950. More efficient farming methods have reduced the need for farm workers. Many have moved from rural areas to larger towns and cities for more job opportunities. Manufacturing employment, brought in by the state government’s efforts to attract outside investment, has also increased service industry jobs. 

In the 1960s, Nebraska experienced some of the same civil unrest as the rest of the country. Civil Rights demonstrations in Omaha in the 1960s led to clashes between protestors and police. These struggles led to the creation of the Omaha Human Rights Commission. In the late 1960s, clashes between African American and civil rights supporters and the National Guard rocked the state. The 1970s also saw several conflicts in northwestern Nebraska between Native Americans and white citizens. 

In the 1970s, inflation, rising oil prices, and plummeting land prices threatened Nebraskan farmers. The recession of the early 1980s also threatened Nebraska’s economy. The state government implemented tax incentives to attract outside businesses. These jobs attracted workers of Latino and Asian descent, diversifying the population. Debates about the effectiveness of these tax incentives continue today, even as the state continues to diversify and grow. 

In 2023, Nebraska attracted national attention as Senator Machaela Kavanaugh launched a months-long filibuster to block the passage of a bill that would significantly limit gender-affirming care for minors in the state. 

People Also Ask…

If you are interested in more information about the state of Nevada, then keep reading — we have compiled answers to the most common FAQs below. Plus, test your newfound state knowledge by taking our quiz on State Nicknames! Additionally, check out information on the University of Nebraska or the process of Irrigation

Is Nebraska A Good Place to Live? 

Nebraska ranked number four in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best states to live. The state ranked above the national average in infrastructure, education, economy, fiscal stability, and natural environment. The state boasts a low cost of living because of the large size of its middle class, low state taxes, excellent schools, and a below-national average poverty rate. 

What Is the State of Nebraska Best Known For?

Nebraska is best known for its agriculture. Additionally, Nebraska was the first state to make Arbor Day a state holiday. Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska invented Kool-Aid. Nebraska is also home to billionaire investor Warren Buffet. The state also has a thriving music, art, and theater scene. The natural beauty of the state attracts visitors from all over the country. 

What Are 5 Interesting Facts About Nebraska? 

Quick facts include:

  1. Nebraska is the birthplace of Kool-Aid.

  2. The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha houses the largest indoor rainforest in the United States.

  3. Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge, is located north of Alliance.

  4. Omaha is home to the American billionaire investor, Warren Buffet.

  5. The University of Nebraska State Museum houses the largest ancient mammoth fossil in the world.

See more on Nebraska:
Encyclopedia: Nebraska
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
Monthly Temperature Extremes

Selected famous natives and residents:

The 50 States of America | U.S. State Information
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