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Kansas, US (Population: 2,764,075)
State Capitol: Topeka

Major Cities: Wichita, Overland Park, Kansas City, Olathe, Lawrence, Shawnee, Salina, Manhattan, Hutchinson

State Nickname/Motto: Sunflower State – Ad astra per aspera: To the Stars Through Difficulties

Statehood Granted: January 29, 1861

History: For millennia, the land that is presently Kansas was inhabited by American Indians. The first European to set foot in present-day Kansas was Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who explored the area in 1541. In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Southwest Kansas, however, was still a part of Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas until the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848. From 1812 to 1821, Kansas was part of the Missouri Territory. The Santa Fe Trail traversed Kansas from 1821 to 1880, transporting manufactured goods from Missouri and silver and furs from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wagon ruts from the trail are still visible in the prairie today.

Geography: Highest point: Mt. Sunflower; 4,039 feet. 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 oceans with the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states located in Smith County near Lebanon.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (97.8%), White (85.2%), Black or African American (5.5%), American Indian and Alaska Native (0.9%), Asian (2.0%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.0%), Some other race (4.1%), Two or more races (2.2%), Hispanic or Latino (8.4%)*

Famous State People:
  • Kirstie Alley (1955 - ) Actress starring in Cheers and Veronica’s Closet; born in Wichita.
  • Robert D. Ballard (1942 - ) He discovered the Titanic shipwreck; born in Wichita.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - ) The first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize; born in Topeka.
  • Walter Chrysler (1875 - 1940) Founder of Chrysler Corporation in 1925; born in Wamego.
  • Charles Curtis (1860 - 1936) The first Native American to serve as US vice president (1929-1933); born near Topeka.
  • Amelia Earhart (1897 - 1937) The first woman granted a pilot’s license by the National Aeronautics Associate, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (1932), and the first person to fly solo across the Pacific; born in Atchison.
  • Bob Dole (1923 - ) United States senator for many years; he ran for President in 1996; born in Russell.
  • John Brown (1800 - 1859) Infamous abolitionist during the Civil War.
  • Melissa Etheridge (1961 - ) Popular singer and guitarist; born in Leavenworth
  • .
  • Clyde Cessna (1879 - 1954) One of the outstanding pioneers of aviation; born in Hawthorne.
  • William Lear (1902 - 1978) One of the outstanding pioneers of aviation; lived in Wichita.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969) The 34th United States President that served from 1953-1961; grew up in Abilene.
  • Omar Knedlik Invented the first frozen carbonated drink machine in 1961; from Coffeyville.
  • Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) The first black woman to win an Academy Award; won for her role in “Gone with the Wind”; born in Wichita.
  • Charlie Parker (1920 - 1955) One of the most influential improvising soloists in jazz, and a central figure in the development of bop in the 1940s; grew up in Kansas City.
  • William Purvis & Charles Wilson, Invented the helicopter in 1909; from Goodland.
  • Clyde Tombaugh (1906 - 1997) The astronomer who discovered the planet Pluto; grew up in Burdette.
  • James "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837 - 1876) A scout and U.S. marshal in the Old West.
  • Susan Madora Salte, The first woman mayor in the United States, elected in Argonia in 1887.
  • George Washington Carver (1864 - 1943) A great scientist, educator and humanitarian; graduated from Minneapolis Kansas High School.
  • Walter Beech - (1891 - 1950) Outstanding pioneer of aviation; lived in Wichita.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: Barclay College, Benedictine College, Bethany College, Bethel College, Brown Mackie College-Kansas City, Brown Mackie College-Salina, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Donnelly College, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Friends University, Haskell Indian Nations University, Hesston College, Kansas State University, Kansas Wesleyan University, Manhattan Christian College, McPherson College, Newman University, Ottawa University, Ottawa University-Kansas City, Pittsburg State University, Southwestern College, Sterling College, Tabor College, University of Saint Mary, Washburn University, Wichita State University

    State Parks: Cedar Bluff, Cheney, Cross Timbers, El Dorado, Eisenhower, Milford, Lovewell, Perry, Prairie Dog, Tuttle Creek, Webster

    Misc: Education in Kansas is governed primarily by the Kansas State Board of Education. On August 9, 2005, the Board approved a draft of science curriculum standards that mandated equal time for the theories of "evolution" and "intelligent design" This echoes a previous decision in Kansas. In 1999, the Board ruled that instruction about evolution, the age of the earth, and the origin of the universe was permitted, but not mandatory, and that those topics would not appear on state standardized tests. However, the Board reversed this decision February 14, 2001, ruling that instruction of all those topics was mandatory and that they would appear on standardized tests.

    *U.S. Census - 2005