Oklahoma

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Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. Partially in the western extreme of the Upland South, it is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the 50 United States. Its residents are known as Oklahomans (or colloquially “Okies”), and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

Etymology

The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw language phrase okla, ‘people’, and humma, translated as ‘red’. Choctaw Nation Chief Allen Wright suggested the name in 1866 during treaty negotiations with the federal government on the use of Indian Territory. He envisioned an all–American Indian state controlled by the United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Oklahoma later became the de facto name for Oklahoma Territory, and it was officially approved in 1890, two years after that area was opened to white settlers.

In the Chickasaw language, the state is known as Oklahomma’, in Arapaho as bo’oobe’ (literally meaning ‘red earth’), Pawnee: Uukuhuúwa, and Cayuga: Gahnawiyoˀgeh.

Geography

Oklahoma is the 20th-largest state in the United States, covering an area of 69,899 square miles (181,040 km2), with 68,595 square miles (177,660 km2) of land and 1,304 square miles (3,380 km2) of water. It lies partly in the Great Plains near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. It is bordered on the east by Arkansas and Missouri, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south and near-west by Texas.

Topography

Oklahoma is between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, generally sloping from the high plains of its western boundary to the low wetlands of its southeastern boundary. Its highest and lowest points follow this trend, with its highest peak, Black Mesa, at 4,973 feet (1,516 m) above sea level, situated near its far northwest corner in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The state's lowest point is on the Little River near its far southeastern boundary near the town of Idabel, which dips to 289 feet (88 m) above sea level.

Among the most geographically diverse states, Oklahoma is one of four to harbor more than 10 distinct ecological regions, with 11 in its borders—more per square mile than in any other state. Its western and eastern halves, however, are marked by extreme differences in geographical diversity: Eastern Oklahoma touches eight ecological regions and its western half contains three. Although having fewer ecological regions Western Oklahoma contains many rare, relic species.

Climate

Oklahoma is in a humid subtropical region which lies in a transition zone between semi-arid further to the west, humid continental to the north, and humid subtropical to the east and southeast. Most of the state lies in an area known as Tornado Alley characterized by frequent interaction between cold, dry air from Canada, warm to hot, dry air from Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The interactions between these three contrasting air currents produces severe weather (severe thunderstorms, damaging thunderstorm winds, large hail and tornadoes) with a frequency virtually unseen anywhere else on planet Earth. An average 62 tornadoes strike the state per year—one of the highest rates in the world.

Because of Oklahoma’s position between zones of differing prevailing temperature and winds, weather patterns within the state can vary widely over relatively short distances, and they can change drastically in a short time. On November 11, 1911, the temperature at Oklahoma City reached 83 °F (28 °C) (the record high for that date), then a cold front of unprecedented intensity slammed across the state, causing the temperature to reach 17 °F (−8 °C) (the record low for that date) by midnight. This type of phenomenon is also responsible for many of the tornadoes in the area, such as the 1912 Oklahoma tornado outbreak when a warm front traveled along a stalled cold front, resulting in an average of about one tornado per hour. The humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) of central, southern and eastern Oklahoma is influenced heavily by southerly winds bringing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Traveling westward, the climate transitions progressively toward a semi-arid zone (Köppen BSk) in the high plains of the Panhandle and other western areas from about Lawton westward, less frequently touched by southern moisture. Precipitation and temperatures decline from east to west accordingly, with areas in the southeast averaging an annual temperature of 62 °F (17 °C) and an annual rainfall of generally over

Demographics

The people of Oklahoma, known as Okies, can be of any race or ethnicity. An Okie is a resident, native, or cultural descendant of Oklahoma.

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates Oklahoma's population was 3,963,516 during the 2020 United States Census, a 5.66% increase since the 2010 United States Census. In 2010, the center of population of Oklahoma was in Lincoln County near the town of Sparks. The state's 2006 per capita personal income ranked 37th at $32,210, though it has the third-fastest-growing per capita income in the U.S. Oklahoma ranks consistently among the lowest states in cost of living index. In 2011, 7.0% of Oklahomans were under the age of 5, 24.7% under 18, and 13.7% were 65 or older. Females made up 50.5% of the population.

Cities and Towns

The state is in the U.S. Census' Southern region. According to the 2020 United States Census, Oklahoma is the 28th-most populous state with 3,963,516 inhabitants but the 19th-largest by land area spanning 68,594.92 square miles (177,660.0 km2) of land. In 2010, Oklahoma was divided into 77 counties and contains 597 incorporated municipalities consisting of cities and towns.

In Oklahoma, cities are all those incorporated communities which are 1,000 or more in population and are incorporated as cities. Towns are limited to town board type of municipal government. Cities may choose among aldermanic, mayoral, council-manager, and home-rule charter types of government. Cities may also petition to incorporate as towns. The Oklahoma City suburb Nichols Hills is first on Oklahoma locations by per capita income at $73,661, though Tulsa County holds the highest average.

Language

English

The English language has been official in the state of Oklahoma since 2010. The variety of North American English spoken is called Oklahoma English, and this dialect is quite diverse with its uneven blending of features of North Midland, South Midland, and Southern dialects. In 2000, 2,977,187 Oklahomans—92.6% of the resident population, five years or older—spoke only English at home, a decrease from 95% in 1990. 238,732 Oklahoma residents reported speaking a language other than English at home in the 2000 census, about 7.4% of the state's population.

Native American languages

The two most commonly spoken native North American languages are Cherokee and Choctaw with 10,000 Cherokee speakers living within the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area of eastern Oklahoma, and another 10,000 Choctaw speakers living in the Choctaw Nation directly south of the Cherokees. Cherokee is an official language in the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area and in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

Twenty-five Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma, second only to California. However, only Cherokee, if any, exhibits some language vitality at present. Ethnologue sees Cherokee as moribund because the only remaining active users of the language are members of the grandparent generation and older.

Religion

Oklahoma is part of a geographical region characterized by conservative and Evangelical Christianity known as the “Bible Belt”. Spanning the southern and eastern parts of the United States, the area is known for politically and socially conservative views, with the Republican Party having the greater number of voters registered between the two parties. Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city, home to Oral Roberts University, is sometimes called the “buckle of the Bible Belt”.

According to the Pew Research Center in 2008, the majority of Oklahoma’s religious adherents were Christian, accounting for about 80 percent of the population. The percentage of Catholics was half the national average, while the percentage of Evangelical Protestants was more than twice the national average (tied with Arkansas for the largest percentage of any state).

In 2010, the state’s largest church memberships were in the Southern Baptist Convention (886,394 members), the United Methodist Church (282,347), the Roman Catholic Church (178,430), and the Assemblies of God (85,926) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) (47,349). Other religions represented in the state include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

 

According to the Pew Research Center in 2014, the majority of Oklahoma’s religious adherents were Christian accounting for 79 percent of the population, 9 percent higher than the national average. The percentage of Evangelical Protestants declined since the last study, but they remain the largest religious group in the state at 47 percent, over 20 percent higher than the national average. The largest growth over the six years between Pew’s 2008 and 2014 survey was in the number of people who identify as Unaffiliated in the state with an increase of 6 percent.

Economy

In 2010, the state’s largest church memberships were in the Southern Baptist Convention (886,394 members), the United Methodist Church (282,347), the Roman Catholic Church (178,430), and the Assemblies of God (85,926) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) (47,349). Other religions represented in the state include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

According to the Pew Research Center in 2014, the majority of Oklahoma’s religious adherents were Christian accounting for 79 percent of the population, 9 percent higher than the national average. The percentage of Evangelical Protestants declined since the last study, but they remain the largest religious group in the state at 47 percent, over 20 percent higher than the national average. The largest growth over the six years between Pew’s 2008 and 2014 survey was in the number of people who identify as Unaffiliated in the state with an increase of 6 percent.

Industry

In mid-2011, Oklahoma had a civilian labor force of 1.7 million and non-farm employment fluctuated around 1.5 million. The government sector provides the most jobs, with 339,300 in 2011, followed by the transportation and utilities sector, providing 279,500 jobs, and the sectors of education, business, and manufacturing, providing 207,800, 177,400, and 132,700 jobs, respectively. Among the state's largest industries, the aerospace sector generates $11 billion annually.

Tulsa is home to the largest airline maintenance base in the world, which serves as the global maintenance and engineering headquarters for American Airlines. In total, aerospace accounts for more than 10 percent of Oklahoma's industrial output, and it is one of the top 10 states in aerospace engine manufacturing. Because of its position in the center of the United States, Oklahoma is also among the top states for logistic centers, and a major contributor to weather-related research.

Energy

A major oil-producing state, Oklahoma is the fifth-largest producer of crude oil in the United States. Oklahoma is the nation's third-largest producer of natural gas, and its fifth-largest producer of crude oil. The state also has the second-greatest number of active drilling rigs, and it is even ranked fifth in crude oil reserves. While the state was ranked eighth for installed wind energy capacity in 2011, it still was at the bottom of states in usage of renewable energy in 2009, with 94% of its electricity being generated by non-renewable sources in 2009, including 25% from coal and 46% from natural gas.

Ten years later in 2019, 53.5% of electricity was produced from natural gas and 34.6% from wind power. Oklahoma has no nuclear power plants. Ranking 13th for total energy consumption per capita in 2009, the state's energy costs were eighth-lowest in the nation. As a whole, the oil energy industry contributes $35 billion to Oklahoma's gross domestic product (GDP), and employees of the state's oil-related companies earn an average of twice the state's typical yearly income. In 2009, the state had 83,700 commercial oil wells churning 65.374 million barrels (10,393,600 m3) of crude oil. 8.5% of the nation's natural gas supply is held in Oklahoma, with 1.673 trillion cubic feet (47.4 km3) being produced in 2009.

Agriculture

The 27th-most agriculturally productive state, Oklahoma is fifth in cattle production and fifth in production of wheat. Approximately 5.5 percent of American beef comes from Oklahoma, while the state produces 6.1 percent of American wheat, 4.2 percent of American pig products, and 2.2 percent of dairy products. The state had 85,500 farms in 2012, collectively producing $4.3 billion in animal products and fewer than one billion dollars in crop output with more than $6.1 billion added to the state's gross domestic product. Poultry and swine are its second- and third-largest agricultural industries.

Education

With an educational system made up of public school districts and independent private institutions, Oklahoma had 638,817 students enrolled in 1,845 public primary, secondary, and vocational schools in 533 school districts as of 2008. Oklahoma has the highest enrollment of Native American students in the nation with 126,078 students in the 2009–10 school year. Oklahoma spent $7,755 for each student in 2008, and was 47th in the nation in expenditures per student, though its growth of total education expenditures between 1992 and 2002 ranked 22nd.

The state is among the best in pre-kindergarten education, and the National Institute for Early Education Research rated it first in the United States with regard to standards, quality, and access to pre-kindergarten education in 2004, calling it “a model for early childhood schooling”. High school dropout rate decreased from 3.1 to 2.5 percent between 2007 and 2008 with Oklahoma ranked among 18 other states with 3 percent or less dropout rate. In 2004, the state ranked 36th in the nation for the relative number of adults with high school diplomas, though at 85.2 percent, it had the highest rate among Southern states. According to a study conducted by the Pell Institute, Oklahoma ranks 48th in college-participation for low-income students.

Non-English Education

The Cherokee Nation instigated a ten-year plan in 2005 that involved growing new speakers of the Cherokee language from childhood as well as speaking it exclusively at home. The plan was part of an ambitious goal that in fifty years would have at least 80% of their people fluent. The Cherokee Preservation Foundation has invested $3 million into opening schools, training teachers, and developing curricula for language education, as well as initiating community gatherings where the language can be actively used. A Cherokee language immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma educates students from pre-school through eighth grade.

Culture

Oklahoma is placed in the South by the United States Census Bureau, but other definitions place the state at least partly in the Southwest, Midwest, Upland South, and Great Plains. Oklahomans have a high rate of English, Scotch-Irish, German, and Native American ancestry, with 25 different native languages spoken.

Because many Native Americans were forced to move to Oklahoma when White settlement in North America increased, Oklahoma has much linguistic diversity. Mary Linn, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma and the associate curator of Native American languages at the Sam Noble Museum, notes Oklahoma also has high levels of language endangerment.

Arts

In the state's largest urban areas, pockets of jazz culture flourish, and Native American, Mexican American, and Asian American communities produce music and art of their respective cultures. The Oklahoma Mozart Festival in Bartlesville is one of the largest classical music festivals on the southern plains, and Oklahoma City's Festival of the Arts has been named one of the top fine arts festivals in the nation.

The state has a rich history in ballet with five Native American ballerinas attaining worldwide fame. These were Yvonne Chouteau, sisters Marjorie and Maria Tallchief, Rosella Hightower and Moscelyne Larkin, known collectively as the Five Moons. The New York Times rates the Tulsa Ballet as one of the top ballet companies in the United States. The Oklahoma City Ballet and University of Oklahoma's dance program were formed by ballerina Yvonne Chouteau and husband Miguel Terekhov. The university program was founded in 1962 and was the first fully accredited program of its kind in the United States.

Festivals and Events

Oklahoma's centennial celebration was named the top event in the United States for 2007 by the American Bus Association, and consisted of multiple celebrations saving with the 100th anniversary of statehood on November 16, 2007. Annual ethnic festivals and events take place throughout the state such as Native American powwows and ceremonial events, and include festivals (as examples) in Scottish, Irish, German, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Czech, Jewish, Arab, Mexican and African-American communities depicting cultural heritage or traditions.

Oklahoma City is home to a few reoccurring events and festivals. During a ten-day run in Oklahoma City, the State Fair of Oklahoma attracts roughly one million people along with the annual Festival of the Arts. Large national pow wows, various Latin and Asian heritage festivals, and cultural festivals such as the Juneteenth celebrations are held in Oklahoma City each year. The Oklahoma City Pride Parade has been held annually in late June since 1987 in the gay district of Oklahoma City on 39th and Penn. The First Friday Art Walk in the Paseo Arts District is an art appreciation festival held the first Friday of every month. Additionally, an annual art festival is held in the Paseo on Memorial Day Weekend.

Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the state’s only major league sports franchise. The state had a team in the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Tulsa Shock, from 2010 through 2015, but the team relocated to Dallas–Fort Worth after that season and became the Dallas Wings.

Oklahoma has teams in several minor leagues, including Minor League Baseball at the Triple-A and Double-A levels (the Oklahoma City Dodgers and Tulsa Drillers, respectively), hockey’s ECHL with the Tulsa Oilers, and a number of indoor football leagues. In the last-named sport, the state’s most notable team was the Tulsa Talons, which played in the Arena Football League until 2012, when the team was moved to San Antonio, Texas. The Oklahoma Defenders replaced the Talons as Tulsa’s only professional arena football team, playing the CPIFL. The Oklahoma City Blue, of the NBA G League, relocated to Oklahoma City from Tulsa in 2014, where they were formerly known as the Tulsa 66ers. Tulsa is the base for the Tulsa Revolution, which plays in the American Indoor Soccer League. Enid and Lawton host professional basketball teams in the USBL and the CBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder moved there in 2008, becoming its first permanent major-league team in any sport

Transportation

Road network and waterways of Oklahoma from the 1970 edition of the National Atlas Transportation in Oklahoma is generated by an anchor system of Interstate Highways, inter-city rail lines, airports, inland ports, and mass transit networks. Situated along an integral point in the United States Interstate network, Oklahoma contains three primary Interstate highways and four auxiliary Interstate Highways. In Oklahoma City, Interstate 35 intersects with Interstate 44 and Interstate 40, forming one of the most important intersections along the United States highway system.

More than 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of roads make up the state’s major highway skeleton, including state-operated highways, ten turnpikes or major toll roads, and the longest drivable stretch of Route 66 in the nation. In 2008, Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City was Oklahoma’s busiest highway, with a daily traffic volume of 123,300 cars. In 2010, the state had the nation’s third-highest number of bridges classified as structurally deficient, with nearly 5,212 bridges in disrepair, including 235 National Highway System Bridges.

Cities and Towns

Oklahoma had 598 incorporated places in 2010, including four cities over 100,000 in population and 43 over 10,000. Two of the fifty largest cities in the United States are in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and sixty-five percent of Oklahomans live within their metropolitan areas, or spheres of economic and social influence defined by the United States Census Bureau as a metropolitan statistical area. Oklahoma City, the state’s capital and largest city, had the largest metropolitan area in the state in 2020, with 1,425,695 people, and the metropolitan area of Tulsa had 1,015,331 residents. Between 2000 and 2010, the leading cities in population growth were Blanchard (172.4%), Elgin (78.2%), Jenks (77.0%), Piedmont (56.7%), Bixby (56.6%), and Owasso (56.3%).

 

In descending order of population, Oklahoma’s largest cities in 2010 were: Oklahoma City (579,999, +14.6%), Tulsa (391,906, −0.3%), Norman (110,925, +15.9%), Broken Arrow (98,850, +32.0%), Lawton (96,867, +4.4%), Edmond (81,405, +19.2%), Moore (55,081, +33.9%), Midwest City (54,371, +0.5%), Enid (49,379, +5.0%), and Stillwater (45,688, +17.0%). Of the state’s ten largest cities, three are outside the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and only Lawton has a metropolitan statistical area of its own as designated by the United States Census Bureau, though the metropolitan statistical area of Fort Smith, Arkansas extends into the state.

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