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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.
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, Maurice Greene 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 had a reputation as a progressive state with many firsts in legislative initiativesit was 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 v. Board of Education of Topeka 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, and the Kansas State Board of Education resumed hearings to determine if evolution should once again be removed from state science standards.
Kansas has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state's 6 electoral votes by an overwhelming margin of 25 percentage points with 62% of the vote. The only two counties to support Democrat John Kerry were those containing the city of Kansas City and the college town of Lawrence.
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.
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. 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.
The 2003 total gross state product of Kansas was $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 $29,438. The December 2003 unemployment rate was 4.9%. 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.
Kansas ranks 8th in oil production, behind only Texas, Alaska, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. 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 natural gas production, behind only Texas, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Production has steadily declined since the mid-1990s with the depletion of the Hugoton natural gas fieldthe 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.
The state sales tax rate has increased twice since January 1990first
from 4.25% to 4.9% in June 1992, and most recently to 5.3% in July 2002.
Except during the 2001 recession (MarchNovember 2001) when monthly
sales tax collections were flat, collections have trended higher as
the economy has grown and the two rate increases have been enacted.
Total sales tax collections for 2003 amounted to $1.63 billion, compared
to $805.3 million in 1990.
As of 2004, the population of Kansas was 2,735,502. This includes 149,800 foreign-born (5.5% of the state population), and an estimated 47,000 illegal aliens (1.7% of state population).
The increase in population was only 0.4% from the prior year. Only
eight states and the District of Columbia have slower growth rates.
Between 1990 and 2004, the state grew by 246,000, a 9% increase.
The racial makeup of the state:
* 83.1% White
The five largest reported ancestries in the state are: German (25.9%), Irish (11.5%), English (10.8%), American (8.8%), and African American (5.7%).
Americans of British ancestry are present throughout Kansas, as are
German-Americans. People of German ancestry are especially strong in
the northwest, people of British and American ancestry are especially
strong in the southeast. Mexicans are present in parts of the southwest.
Kansas City and Junction City are heavily black. Many African Americans
in Kansas are descended from the "Exodusters", newly freed
blacks who fled the South for land in Kansas following the Civil War.
Kansas, as well as 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
site of University of 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 states 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.
Professional sports teams
Thunder, Topeka Tarantulas.