Kansas (abbr.: Kans.), state of the United States of America, in the Midwest, 213,063 km2, with 2.5 million inhabitants; capital: Topeka.
The Great Plains in the west of the state gradually merge into the prairies in the east. Almost the entire area of Kansas shows a drop from west to east (from 1240 m to 210 m). The extreme southeast belongs to the high ground on which the Ozark Plateau lies. The drainage takes place mainly through the rivers Kansas (272 km) and the Arkansas, which respectively. flow into the Missouri and Mississippi. The state has a continental climate and is frequently ravaged by tornadoes and hail storms.
The average population density is 12 inhabitants. per km2. About 69% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Wichita, Kansas City and Topeka. See top cities in Kansas.
Kansas has historically been important as an agricultural state, although today trade and industry are almost equally important to the economy. The main arable crops are wheat, sorghum, maize and soybeans. Extensive livestock farming concerns dairy cattle, sheep and pigs. Of the mineral resources, oil is economically the most important. Natural gas is mainly exploited in the southwest. Other mining products include helium (the United States’ largest producer), coal, limestone, and salt. The industry traditionally processes agricultural products (slaughterhouses; dairy products and foodstuffs) and also includes aircraft construction (Wichita), machinery and transport equipment and petroleum refining and the graphic, electronics and chemical industry.
Along the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail, the routes along which 19th-century pioneers traveled from east to west, are several forts: Fort Dodge, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Larned, and Fort Scott. Dodge City is a restored Wild West town. The area around Tuttle Creek Reservoir and a number of state parks offer scenic beauty.
The first whites to penetrate the prairies of the area were Spaniards (1541) led by Francisco de Coronado. The area was initially considered unsuitable for agriculture and for a long time was only visited by fur traders, who came into contact with the Indians. The main tribes were the Pawnees, the Kansas and the Osages. After 1830, Indian tribes expelled from the east also settled in Kansas, including Shawnees, Delawares and Ottawas. Kansas suddenly became of national significance through the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which divided the entire prairie area north of 37° N. Br. into two territories. A fierce battle broke out over this, as this law stipulated that the inhabitants themselves had to decide whether they wanted to allow slavery in their area or not. All opponents of slavery opposed this squatter sovereignty. This created the new party of Republicans. Countless numbers from both the north and the south flocked to Kansas to make the final decision there. A sort of prelude to the American Civil War began, giving the area the nickname Bleeding Kansas. After bitter struggle, the Northerners prevailed and in 1861 Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state, the 34th. After the Civil War, many Confederate Army veterans moved to Kansas as settlers, making it and remaining a strong Republican state. The construction of railroads and the supply of cattle from Texas brought prosperity.
In the late 1800s, Kansas became a center of reform movements; the ‘prohibition’ was already accepted in 1880 (and only revoked in 1948). The economic crisis of the 1930s hit Kansas so badly that it lent its support to Roosevelt, even when Republicans nominated Alfred M. Landon, governor of Kansas, for president in 1936. Democrats have won governor elections several times over the past few decades.