Nebraska (abbr.: NE or Nebr.), state of the United States of America, 200,018 km2, with 1.5 million inhabitants; capital Lincoln.
Nebraska consists largely of an undulating plain with a prairie-like character, which gradually rises in a westerly direction and merges into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There are more than 2300 lakes and lakes, including a number of man-made lakes. The state is drained by the Missouri and some of its tributaries, the main ones being the Niobrara, the Republican, and the Platte (formed by North and South Platte).
Nebraska has a continental climate; however, the winters are not very cold on average, thanks to the chinook, a warm fall wind that comes from the Rocky Mountains. Storms (blizzards and tornadoes) are frequent. The annual amount of precipitation is very irregularly distributed: the east receives twice as much as the west.
The average population density is 8 inhabitants. per km2. About 66% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest cities are Omaha and Lincoln. See top cities in Nebraska.
By far the largest part of the working population is employed in agriculture. Industry comes in second, followed by trade, construction and services. The main agricultural product is maize; furthermore sorghum, oats, rye, potatoes and sugar beet. Livestock farming (accounting for about 70% of agricultural income) is very important, which mainly includes cattle and furthermore pigs, sheep and poultry. More than 1.5 million ha of agricultural land is irrigated, mainly by means of groundwater reservoirs. Mineral production is minor and includes petroleum, sand and gravel.
The main industry is the food industry, whose main branch is the meat processing industry; Omaha is one of the largest meat processing centers in the world. Other important products are machinery and technical equipment, as well as hardware, construction materials, chemicals, pumps and electronics; in addition, there is an extensive graphics sector.
The most visited natural areas are the Wildcat Ridge to the west, the Missouri Hills (‘Bluffs’) to the east, the Niobrara Valley and the Sand Hills Lake District. Herds of bison live in the Niobrara Nature Reserve. At the time, important pioneer routes such as the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express and the Overland Trail ran through the Platte Valley. It is reminded of this in several places. Near North Platte, Buffalo Bill’s home is preserved. Numerous mammoth remains have been found in the Nebraska soil; a particularly beautiful and large specimen can be found in the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Nebraska was inhabited by French trappers. Only the travels of the Americans Lewis and Clark (1804–1806) and Stephen Long (1819) gave more insight into this area, long referred to as the ‘great American desert’ (Long). Wandering Native American tribes such as the Pawnee and Omaha increasingly had to give up their land to the invading settlers, who gradually discovered that Nebraska was a fertile and habitable land. From 1700 to 1803 it belonged to French Louisiana; in 1876 the final pacification of the Indians followed. In 1854, the area was declared territory by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. For a long time there has been a sharp contrast between the area to the north and that to the south of the Platte River. In 1867, Nebraska was recognized as the 37th state of the Union.