Kansas is a state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; Missouri to the east; Oklahoma to the south; and Colorado to the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along its banks. The tribe’s name (natively kką:ze) is often said to mean “people of the (south) wind” although this was probably not the term’s original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.
Kansas is bordered by Nebraska to the north; Missouri to the east; Oklahoma to the south; and Colorado to the west. The state is divided into 105 counties with 628 cities, with its largest county by area being Butler County. Kansas is located equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is in Smith County near Lebanon. Until 1989, the Meades Ranch Triangulation Station in Osborne County was the geodetic center of North America: the central reference point for all maps of North America. The geographic center of Kansas is in Barton County.
Kansas is underlain by a sequence of horizontal to gently westward dipping sedimentary rocks. A sequence of Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks outcrop in the eastern and southern part of the state. The state’s western half has exposures of Cretaceous through Tertiary sediments, the latter derived from the erosion of the uplifted Rocky Mountains to the west. These are underlain by older Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments which correlate well with the outcrops to the east. The state’s northeastern corner was subjected to glaciation in the Pleistocene and is covered by glacial drift and loess.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Kansas’s climate can be characterized in terms of three types: it has humid continental, semi-arid steppe, and humid subtropical. The eastern two-thirds of the state (especially the northeastern portion) has a humid continental climate, with cool to cold winters and hot, often humid summers. Most of the precipitation falls during both the summer and the spring.
The western third of the state—from roughly the U.S. Route 83 corridor westward—has a semi-arid steppe climate. Summers are hot, often very hot, and generally less humid. Winters are highly changeable between warm and very cold. The western region receives an average of about 16 inches (410 millimeters) of precipitation per year. Chinook winds in the winter can warm western Kansas all the way into the 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) range.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Kansas was 2,913,314 on July 1, 2019, a 2.11% increase since the 2010 United States census and an increase of 58,387, or 2.05%, since 2010. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 93,899 (246,484 births minus 152,585 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 20,742 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 44,847 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 65,589 people.
The population density of Kansas is 52.9 people per square mile. The center of population of Kansas is located in Chase County, at 38°27′N 96°32′W / 38.450°N 96.533°W, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the community of Strong City.
English is the most-spoken language in Kansas, with 91.3% of the population speaking only English at home as of the year 2000. 5.5% speak Spanish, 0.7% speak German, and 0.4% speak Vietnamese.
As of 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) reported that the Catholic Church has the highest number of adherents in Kansas (at 426,611), followed by the United Methodist Church with 202,989 members, and the Southern Baptist Convention, reporting 99,329 adherents.
Kansas’s capital Topeka is sometimes cited as the home of Pentecostalism as it was the site of Charles Fox Parham’s Bethel Bible College, where glossolalia was first claimed as the evidence of a spiritual experience referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1901. It is also the home of Reverend Charles Sheldon, author of In His Steps, and was the site where the question “What would Jesus do?” originated in a sermon of Sheldon’s at Central Congregational Church.
Known as rural flight, the last few decades have been marked by a migratory pattern out of the countryside into cities. Out of all the cities in these Midwestern states, 89% have fewer than 3,000 people, and hundreds of those have fewer than 1,000. In Kansas alone, there are more than 6,000 ghost towns and dwindling communities, according to one Kansas historian, Daniel C. Fitzgerald. At the same time, some of the communities in Johnson County (metropolitan Kansas City) are among the fastest-growing in the country.
Kansas has 627 incorporated cities. By state statute, cities are divided into three classes as determined by the population obtained “by any census of enumeration”. A city of the third class has a population of less than 5,000, but cities reaching a population of more than 2,000 may be certified as a city of the second class. The second class is limited to cities with a population of less than 25,000, and upon reaching a population of more than 15,000, they may be certified as a city of the first class. First and second class cities are independent of any township and are not included within the township’s territory.
Total Employment of the metropolitan areas in the State of Kansas by total Non-farm Employment in 2016
Total Number of employer establishments in 2016: 74,884
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Kansas’s total gross domestic product in 2014 was US$140.964 billion. In 2015, the job growth rate in was .8%, among the lowest rate in America with only “10,900 total nonfarm jobs” added that year. According to the Kansas Department of Labor’s 2016 report, the average annual wage was $42,930 in 2015. As of April 2016, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.2%.
Nearly 90% of Kansas’s land is devoted to agriculture. The state’s agricultural outputs are cattle, sheep, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, hogs, corn, and salt. As of 2018, there were 59,600 farms in Kansas, 86 (0.14%) of which are certified organic farms. The average farm in the state is about 770 acres (more than a square mile), and in 2016, the average cost of running the farm was $300,000.
Education in Kansas is governed at the primary and secondary school level by the Kansas State Board of Education. The state’s public colleges and universities are supervised by the Kansas Board of Regents.
Twice since 1999 the Board of Education has approved changes in the state science curriculum standards that encouraged the teaching of intelligent design. Both times, the standards were reversed after changes in the composition of the board in the next election.
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