State: Kansas – KS

Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


The state abbreviation for Kansas is KS, it is named after the Kansa Native American tribe that lived in the area prior to colonization. As one of the 50 U.S. States, there is a rich history and culture to discover in this place. Today we’ll take a look at what makes this place unique, what history, geography, climate, and culture that it has.

By the time we’re finished, you’ll experts on this place. Before we dive in though, let’s take a look at some crucial information:

  • Capital: Topeka
  • Largest city: Wichita
  • Nickname(s): The Sunflower State, The Wheat State
  • Motto: Ad astra per aspera (Latin for: To the stars through difficulties)
  • Admitted to the Union: January 29, 1861 (34th state)
  • Time Zone(s): Central UTC -6/-5, Mountain UTC -7/-6
  • State bird: Western Meadowlark
  • Flower: Wild Sunflower
  • Insect: Western Honey Bee
  • State Song: “Home on the Range”
  • Official website: kansas.gov
  • State Flag

map of Kansas in the United States

State Overview: KS

Located in the Midwestern United States, Kansas takes it name from the Native American tribe that once lived in the area for thousands of years prior to colonization. Known as the Kansa tribe, their name is translated as “people of the wind” or “people of the south wind.” People who live here are known as “Kansans.”

The ancient tribes that used to live in this place were semi-nomadic and hunted the herds of bison that were indigenous to the area. It was first settled by European Americans in the 1830’s, but in the next twenty years settlement increased. There was a lot of tension during this time over the argument of slavery in the state.

The U.S. government opened the area to settlers in 1854, at which point abolitionist Free-Staters from New England and pro-slavery settlers from Missouri rushed into the area at the same time. This spurred on plenty of conflicts over whether it would be a free or slave state. When the state was admitted to the Union, it was done so as a free one.

Today this is one of the most agriculturally productive places in the U.S. Large amounts of corn, wheat, sorghum, and sunflowers are produced here.

map of Kansas

A Brief History of Kansas

As we’ve discussed, this place was inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years. The first European to set foot in this place was Francisco Vasquez Coronado who first explored the area in 1541. Fast forward to 1803 and most of the modern area was under control of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

The southwest portion of the area was still under control by the Spanish however. This was the case until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. The first permanent settlement was Fort Leavenworth, which was built in 1827. The Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 made both of these locations territories.

The influx of settlers brought about conflicts surrounding the argument for and against slavery in the territory. These conflicts created a nickname for the territory: Bleeding Kansas. When it was admitted to the Union, the state was free and became a haven for black colonists after the Civil War.

Geographical and Climate Features

To the north is Nebraska, to the east Missouri, Oklahoma is to the south, and Colorado is to the west. The state has 105 counties, 628 cities, and is equally distant from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In fact, the exact geographic center of the U.S. mainland is located in Smith County near Lebanon.

The ground features of the area are marked by a sequence of horizontal dipping sedimentary rocks. Various rocks from prehistoric periods such as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic can be found in the east. The western half is marked by exposures of Cretaceous sediments.

The two-thirds of the area to the west are part of the great central plain of the United States. The eastern portion of the state is marked by hills and forests, a direct contrast to relatively flat geography in the west. While some believe that it is the most flat state, scientists don’t agree on the sentiment that Kansas is “flatter than a pancake.”

Almost seventy-five miles of the northeastern boundary is defined by the Missouri River. Other rivers in the state include the one named after the state, also known as the “Kaw” which is formed by the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers meeting in a place aptly titled “Junction City.”

The Arkansas River flows through the state as well, acting as the southern drainage system. Other rivers of note are the following:

  • Saline
  • Solomon
  • Smoky Hill
  • Big Blue
  • Delaware
  • Wakarusa
  • Marais des Cygnes

Most of the rivers flow into the Kaw. The Koppen climate classification used to provide a basis for the climate in areas of the world. For this state, there are three types: humid continental, semi-arid steppe, and humid subtropical. Summers are extremely hot for the most part, and winters can either be warm or very cold.

The combination of these multiple climate types results in a lot of severe weather for the state in the spring and early summer months each year. Severe thunderstorms are common which can spawn supercells and tornadoes of strengths EF3 or higher. There are also storms that drop large pieces of hail and bring both flash flooding and damaging winds.

A Rich and Diverse Culture

There are a number of things that make the culture here stand out. For example, the famous rock band Kansas formed in the capital of this state, Topeka. Several famous singers are native to the area:

  • Melissa Etheridge – Leavenworth
  • Martina McBride – Sharon
  • Jennifer Knapp – Chanute
  • Janelle Monae – Kansas City
  • Jerrod Nieman – Liberal

The state makes an appearance in the famous novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is also featured in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie.” Many different films have used this place as a setting, the most notable of which being “Man of Steel” the most recent Superman movie. In the movies and comics, he is from a fictional town in the state called Smallville.

Other recent films that take place here include “Looper,” and “Capote” for which the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was given the Academy Award for Best Actor. Finally, several television shows have used Kansas as the location. Both of the brothers from the ongoing “Supernatural” series are from Lawrence.

The television series “Jericho” is set in a fictional town named Jericho as well. Next up, we have some amazing Kansas state facts for you to read so you can increase your knowledge of this place. Before you go though, tell us your stories about this state in the comments below!

Printable map of Kansas



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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