State: Oklahoma – OKPublished on September 16th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography
The state abbreviation for Oklahoma is OK, but this place is far more than just “okay.” Like the other 50 U.S. States, it has a unique set of geographical features, and a rich culture that makes it stand out from the rest.
Today we’ll look at the geography, fauna, climate, and culture of this state. First we’ll go over some key information:
- State Abbreviation: OK
- Capital: Oklahoma City
- Highest Point: Black Mesa (4,975 ft)
- Admitted to the Union: November 16, 1907 (46th)
- Nickname(s): “Sooner State”, “Land of the Red Man”, “Native America”
- Motto: Labor Omnia Vincit (Latin)
- Time Zone: Central UTC -6/-5 (all of the state by law) Mountain UTC -7/-6 (Informally recognized by Kenton)
- Official website: ok.gov
- State Flag
- State bird: Scissor-tailed flycatcher
- Reptile: Collared lizard
- Mammal: Buffalo
- Fish: White bass
- Insect: European honey bee
- State Flower: Oklahoma Rose
- Tree: Redbud
- Wildflower: Indian Blanket
- Game Bird: Wild turkey
- Butterfly: Black Swallowtail
OK State Overview
The state’s name comes from the Choctaw phrase “okla humma” which means “red people.” Allen Wright, a Choctaw Chief, suggested the name in 1866 during peace treaty negotiations with the federal government over the use of Indian Territory.
The phrase was used as a way to describe all Native American people. The name was adopted in a sense and approved in 1890. The state is located in the South Central United States. It is the 20th largest and 28th most populated.
The nickname “The Sooner State” is in reference to the settlers who claimed pieces of land prior to the opening date in addition to the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889 which allowed for settlement in Indian territory.
It became the 46th state to enter the Union on November 16, 1907. The capital and largest city is Oklahoma City. Today it is a major producer of natural gas, oil, and agricultural products. The economy also relies on aviation, telecommunications, and biotechnology. As of 2007, it was one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S.
Both the capital and Tulsa are economic anchors that house most of the population and produce much of the product. Most of the state is located in the Great Plains. There is a strong mix of different demographics in addition to over 25 Native American languages that are spoken in the state.
Geography, Fauna, and Climate Features
As the 20th largest state, OK covers 69,898 square miles in total. It is one of six states located on the Frontier Strip and is partially within the Great Plains near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states.
To the east is Arkansas and Missouri, to the north is Kansas, to the Northwest is Colorado, and on the far west is New Mexico along with Texas on the near-west.
OK is one of the most geographically diverse states. It is one of four to have more than 10 different ecological regions with 11 in its borders. There are four primary mountain ranges here:
- The Ouachita Mountains
- Arbuckle Mountains
- Wichita Mountains
- Ozark Mountains
In the east is the world’s tallest hill known as Cavanal Hill. It is 1,999 feet which is one foot short of being considered a mountain. The northwestern corner of the state has semi-arid plains. The central portion of the state has transitional prairies and woodlands.
The waterways in the state consist of 500 named creeks and rivers, along with 200 lakes created by dams. Over 24 percent of Oklahoma is covered in forests and prairie grasslands that are composed of shortgrass, mixed-grass, and tallgrass.
There are various types of animals that occupy the state’s many ecosystems:
- White-tailed deer
- Mule deer
- Mountain Lions
- Bald Eagles
- Red-Tailed Hawks
In the prairie ecosystems, bison, chicken, badgers and armadillos are also common. The American Alligator resides in southeastern Oklahoma as well. There are 50 state parks in the state, six percent of the 10 million acres in the state are public land.
The climate here is a humid subtropical region. The state is within a transition zone between several types of climates. A good portion of the state is within a region called Tornado Alley which is known for having a large amount of cold and warm hair converging.
These air currents produce a large amount of severe weather that is rarely seen anywhere else on the Earth. The state is hit by an average of 62 tornadoes each year.
The is a high mixture of English, Scotch-Irish, German, and Native American ancestry here, with over 25 Native American languages spoken. This diversity in the languages is a result of many Native Americans being forced into the area when White settlement in North America increased.
The residents here are known for their “southern hospitality.” The 2006 Catalog for Philanthropy ranked it 7th in the nation for overall generosity. In the urban areas there is a lot of jazz culture.
Native American, Mexican American, and Asian American communities also produce music and art from their respective cultures. The Oklahoma Mozart Festival in Bartlesville is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the southern plains.
Oklahoma celebrated its centennial in 2007, which was named the top event in the United States by the American Bus Association. There were numerous festivals throughout the state. A 10-day State Festival brings over one million people each time.
In 2006, Tulsa’s Oktoberfest was labeled as one of the top 10 in the world by Today. The city of Norman hosts the Norman Music Festival which highlights native bands and musicians. The city also hosts the Medieval Fair of Norman which is held every year since 1976.
The fair was first held on the south oval of the University of Oklahoma campus, and was moved in the third year to the Duck Pond in Norman until it was too big for even that location. After that it was moved to Reaves Park in 2003. It is the largest weekend event and the third largest event in the state.
We’ve learned a lot about this place, but we’re not done yet. Next you should check out our list of Oklahoma state facts to continue seeking knowledge. Thanks for reading and share your experiences with this place in the comments below!