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Kansas, derived from the Siouan word Kansa meaning "People of the south wind", is a midwestern state in the United States. The U.S. postal abbreviation for the state is KS.



Main article: History of Kansas

Kansas, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, was annexed to the United States in 1803 as unorganized territory. Kansas then became part of the Missouri Territory until 1821. The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law on May 30, 1854 and established the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

Fort Leavenworth was the first community in the area around 1827. To travellers enroute to Utah, California, or Oregon, Kansas was a waystop and outfitting place. On March 30, 1855 "Border Ruffians" from Missouri invaded Kansas during the territory's first election and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature.

Kansas became the 34th state of the Union on January 29, 1861. Civil War veterans constructed homesteads in Kansas following the war. On February 19, 1861 it became the first U.S. state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.

On August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led Quantrill's Raid into Lawrence destroying much of the city and killing many people.

Wild Bill Hickok was a deputy marshal at Fort Riley and a marshal at Hays and Abilene.

Kansas was home to President Eisenhower, presidential candidates Bob Dole and Alf Landon, Amelia Earhart, and Carrie Nation. Famous sport athletes from Kansas include Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim Ryun, Walter Johnson and Lynette Woodard.

Law and government

The state capital is Topeka.

The top executives of the state are Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Lieutenant Governor John E. Moore. Both are elected on the same ticket to a maximum of two consecutive 4-year terms. Their current term will end in January of 2007, and they are able to run for re-election in 2006.

The state's current delegation to the United States Congress includes Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts and Representatives Jerry Moran (District 1), Jim Ryun (District 2), Dennis Moore (District 3), and Todd Tiahrt (District 4). Moore is the only Democrat in the delegation; all others are Republicans.

Kansas has a reputation as a progressive state with many firsts in legislative initiatives including being the first state to institute a system of workers compensation (1910). 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 schools both public and private continue to have some of the highest standards in the nation. Kansas was first among the states to ban the concept of separate but equal schools. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka banned racially segregated schools throughout the U.S.

See also: List of Governors of Kansas; U.S. Congressional Delegations from Kansas


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 geographic 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. Its altitude above the sea ranges from 750 feet at the mouth of the Kansas River to 4000 feet on the western border. (Mount Sunflower is the highest point.) The rivers flow through bottomlands, varying from ¼ to 6 miles in width, and bounded by bluffs, rising 50 to 300 feet. The Missouri River forms nearly 75 miles of the state's northeastern boundary. The Kansas River, formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers, joins the Missouri at Kansas City, after a course of 150 miles across the state. The Arkansas River, rising in Colorado, flows with a tortuous course, for nearly 500 miles, across three-fourths of the state. It forms, with its tributaries, the Little Arkansas, Walnut , Cow Creek , Cimarron, Verdigris (which is the lowest point in Kansas at 680 feet), 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.


  • The disputed World's Largest Ball of Twine created August 15, 1953, in Cawker City, Kansas, is still growing.
  • Samuel Dinsmoor created the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas in 1905, and opened it up to tourists in 1908. The garden features sculptures of biblical scenes and political messages. One scene has labor being crucified by a doctor, lawyer, banker, and preacher. Dinsmoor even built his own mausoleum in which you can still see him today in his concrete coffin by paying for the tour. [1]
  • Lucas, Kansas is also home to the Grassroots Art Center [2]. The museum features many works of art created by people with no formal training, and it sits only a block or two from the Garden of Eden.
  • The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto, Kansas opened in 1942 to manufactor gunpowder and munition propellants for World War II. The plant sits on over 9000 acres (36 km²) of land which was made up of more than 100 farms.
  • The boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Library, and his grave are located in Abilene, Kansas. The Greyhound Hall of Fame is located in Abilene. Abilene, Kansas is also the ending point of the Chisholm Trail where the cattle driven from Texas were rail loaded.
  • Constitution Hall in Lecompton, Kansas is the location where the Kansas Territorial Government convened and drafted a pro-slavery constitution. (website)
  • The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics houses the largest collection of papers for a politician other than a president. The institute is located in Lawrence, Kansas on the campus of the University of Kansas. (website)

Major highways

The state is served by two interstate highways with six spur routes. I-70 is a major east/west route connecting to St. Louis, Missouri, in the east and Denver, Colorado, in the west. Cities along this route (from east to west) include Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Junction City, Salina, Hays, and Colby. I-35 is a major north/south route connecting to Des Moines, Iowa, in the north and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the south. Cities along this route (from north to south) include Kansas City (and its suburbs), Ottawa, Emporia, El Dorado, and Wichita.

Spur routes serve as connections between the two major routes. I-135, a north/south route, connects I-70 at Salina to I-35 at Wichita. I-335, a northeast/southwest route, connects I-70 at Topeka to I-35 at Emporia. I-335 and portions of I-35 and I-70 make up the Kansas Turnpike. I-435 and I-635 serve a dual purpose as connections between the major routes and bypasses around the Kansas City metropolitan area. Other bypasses are I-235 around Wichita and I-470 around Topeka.

In January 2004, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced the new Kansas 511 traveler information service.[3] By calling 511, callers will get access to information about road conditions, construction, closures, detours, and weather conditions for the state highway system. Weather and road condition information is updated every 15 minutes.

See also: KDOT road condition information


The 1999 total gross state product of Kansas was $81 billion, placing it 31st in the nation. Its per-capita income is $27,816. The agricultural outputs of the state are cattle, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, hogs and corn. The industrial outputs are transportation equipment, commercial and private aircraft, food processing, publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum and mining.


As of 2003, the population of Kansas was 2,723,507.

Racially, the state is:

The five largest ancestries in the state are German (25.9%), Irish (11.5%), English (10.8%), American (8.8%), and African American (5.7%).


Kansas is mostly Protestant, although there are some Roman Catholics.

  • Protestant – 71%
  • Roman Catholic – 17%
  • Other Christian – 2%
  • Other religions – 1%
  • Non-religious – 5%

The three largest Protestant denominations in Kansas are Baptist (16% of the total state population), Methodist (15%), and Lutheran (5%).

"Rural flight"

Kansas, in common with five other Mid-West states (Nebraska, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota and Iowa), is feeling the brunt of falling populations. 89% of the total number of cities in those states have fewer than 3000 people; hundreds have fewer than than 1000. Between 1996 and 2004 almost half a million people, nearly half with college degrees, left the six states. "Rural flight" as it is called has led to offers of free land and tax breaks as enticements to newcomers.

Major cities and towns

Population > 10,000 (urbanized area) Population > 100,000 (urbanized area)
Important Suburbs (of Kansas City, Missouri)

See also: List of cities in Kansas


Main article: Education in Kansas

Colleges and universities

The Kansas Board of Regents governs or supervises thirty-seven public institutions. It also authorizes numerous private and out-of-state institutions to operate in the state. In Fall 2004 the state’s six public universities reported a combined enrollment of 88,270 students, of which almost a quarter were non-resident students and a tenth were off-campus enrollments.

Among the state-funded universities, the University of Kansas (KU) is the largest in terms of enrollment, with 26,980 at its Lawrence campus, KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, and Public Management Center (formerly the Capitol Complex) in Topeka. The total university enrollment, which includes KU Medical Center , was 29,590. About 31% were non-resident students.

Kansas State University (KSU) has the second largest enrollment, with 23,151 students at its Manhattan and Salina campuses and Veterinary Medical Center. About 19% were non-resident students. Wichita State University (WSU) ranks third largest with 14,298 students; about 12% were non-resident students. Fort Hays State University (FHSU), Pittsburg State University (PSU), and Emporia State University (ESU) are smaller public universities with total enrollments of 8500, 6537, and 6194, respectively. FHSU has the fastest growing enrollment in Kansas with most of it coming from non-resident and off-campus enrollment. The composition of FHSU's enrollment includes 35% non-resident students and 44% off-campus enrollments. PSU also has almost a quarter of enrollment from non-residents.

For more on the universities and colleges in Kansas, see the complete list.

Professional sports teams

See also

External links

Last updated: 10-11-2005 10:20:50
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