Constituent state of the United States of America. The state's 82,277 square miles (213,098 square kilometres) are bounded by Nebraska on the north, Missouri on the east, Oklahoma on the south, and Colorado on the west. Lying amid the westward-rising landscape of the Great Plains of the North American continent, it became the 34th state on Jan. 29, 1861. In that year the capital was located in Topeka by popular vote, outpolling nearby Lawrence by some 2,700 ballots. The state's name is derived from that of the Kansa, or Kaw, Indians.
The geographic centre of the 48 coterminous states of the nation is marked by a limestone shaft and a flag located in a pasture near Lebanon, Kan., close to the Nebraska border. Some 40 miles (65 kilometres) to the south is the magnetic, or geodetic, centre of the terrestrial mass of North America; this is the reference point for all land survey in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Kansas was once seen as the agricultural heartland of the nation. After 1952, however, industry began to contribute more to the economy than did wheat fields and cattle ranches. Wichita, the state's largest city, is known locally as the Air Capital of the Worldbecause it produces more general aviation aircraft than any other city.