Residents in this Midwestern state numbered 2,913,314 as of 2019 U.S. census estimates. Kansas is known for its wheat and corn production, rural character and as the home of Bob Dole and Amelia Earhart. Its capital is at Topeka, and, with 125,310 residents reported in 2019 census estimates, the largest city is Wichita.
During the 19th century, Kansas was central to conflicts over slavery, as Southerners and abolitionists scrambled to sway the territory to enter the Union as a slave or free state. Kansas finally gained admission, as a free state, in January of 1861, a major contributing factor to the secession of many southern states and the creation of the Confederacy.
Today, Kansas is a changing region notable for its rapid rate of urbanization and relative social conservatism. As in other prairie states such as the Dakotas and Nebraska, many rural counties in Kansas are losing population as people leave to search for opportunities in larger towns such as Wichita or Kansas City, or depart the state altogether.
However, the urban areas of Wichita, Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City continue to gain residents. Overland Park has even been cited as the best city for families in 2015 by Livability.com. The state's climate is variable, with its far western counties experiencing very cold winters and hot, dry summers, while some of the eastern counties are considered to have humid subtropical climates.
Higher Education in Kansas
Kansas is home to 100 universities and colleges. The University of Kansas is the largest school in the state with about 27,000 students. It is based in the city of Lawrence and was ranked the 59th top public school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2020. Kansas State University is a close second in size with about 22,000 students enrolled at its Manhattan campus. It was also listed in the top 100 public schools in the nation in 2020, at 76th.
Other large universities include Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University and Washburn University. The largest 2-year schools in Kansas are Johnson County Community College, Butler Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College and Hutchinson Community College. A number of private liberal arts colleges also make their home in Kansas, including Ottawa University, Bethany College and Sterling College.
Kansas has historically been an agricultural state. Although today the manufacturing and service industries employ more of the state's workforce than agriculture, Kansas is still the nation's top wheat grower and a leading producer of corn, sorghum, soybeans, hay and sunflowers. The dairy and meatpacking industries are also major economic activities, and the Kansas City area's stockyards are among the nation's largest.
The city of Wichita is known for being an aircraft manufacturing hub and hosts the headquarters of the Cessna Aircraft Company, while several major firms, including the Sprint Corporation and YRC Worldwide, have their headquarters in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. The state's largest employers include Spirit AeroSystems, Cessna, Beechcraft Corp and Fort Riley.