Missouri (abbr.: MO or Mo.), state of the United States of America, 180,450 km2, with 5.1 million inhabitants; Capital: Jefferson City.
The north of the state is formed by an up to 360 m high, slightly undulating, prairie-like plateau. Between the ore-rich Ozark Plateau, which spans most of the south, and the Missouri flowing north, is a plateau (spur of the Great Plains). To the southeast are both the highest (Taum Sauk Mountain, 535 m, in the most hilly part of the Ozark Plateau) and the lowest point (70 m, alluvial plain of the Mississippi) in the state. The Missouri River is about one-third of its western boundary; its principal tributaries within the state of Missouri are the Osage, the Gasconade, and the Chariton. The Mississippi and a small portion of the Des Moines River form the eastern boundary. Missouri has no significant natural lakes, but the number of artificial lakes is large. The Ozark Plateau in the south of the state has more than 10,000 wells. Big Spring in the Southeast is one of the largest in the United States. Missouri has a humid continental climate, which is extremely variable. Tornadoes occur in early spring and fall.
The average population density is 28 inhabitants. per km2. About 69% of the total population lives in the cities. The largest cities are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Independence. See top cities in Missouri.
The largest part of the national income comes from industry, followed by resp. trade, service professions, agriculture and tourism (nature areas). The main mining products are lead (more than 75% of the total production of the United States), limestone, coal and iron ore, the main industrial products are transportation equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, machinery, military aircraft, electrical appliances and leather goods; graphic industry.
Attractions in Missouri include the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, the Ozark region including the Lake of the Ozarks and the Mark Twain National Forest. Mark Twain remembers his birthplace in Mark Twain State Park and a museum in the town of Hannibal, where he spent his childhood.
The Spaniard Hernan(do) de Soto was the first European to penetrate this area, but it was only about 1700 that the French settled there permanently. After 1763, the area west of the Mississippi became Spanish and Missouri was part of the vast Louisiana territory that Jefferson bought from Napoleon in 1803 (who had won it from Spain in 1800). In 1821, Missouri was incorporated into the Union as the 24th state, sparking a national struggle over whether slavery should be allowed or not. The Missouri Compromise stipulated that slavery would be in Missouri, but slavery would be prohibited further west north of the line 36°30¢, ie. the continuation of Missouri’s southern border. In the American Civil War, Missouri remained on the side of the Northern States.