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Missouri, named after the Missouri Siouan Indian tribe meaning "canoe", is a Midwestern state in the United States with Jefferson City as its capital. It is a "Border State", with both Northern and Southern cultural influences. The state's nickname is the Show-Me State; the U.S. Post Office abbreviation for Missouri is MO and the state public university's main branch is located in Columbia. The Mississippi and Missouri rivers are the two large rivers which flow through this state.

USS Missouri was named in honor of this state.


Originally part of the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri was admitted as a state in 1821 as part of the Missouri Compromise. It earned the nickname "Gateway to the West" because it served as a departure point for settlers heading to the west. During the Civil War, Missouri, a slave state, was split with portions adhering to the Union, and others seceding with the southern states. Missouri was the starting point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Law and government

The capital of Missouri is Jefferson City.

The current constitution of Missouri, the fourth constitution for the state, was adopted in 1945 and provides for three branches of government, the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The legislative branch consists of two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate. These bodies comprise the General Assembly of the State of Missouri.

The House of Representatives has 163 members that are apportioned based on the last decennial census. The Senate consists of 34 members from districts divided such that the population of each district is approximately equal.

The Judicial department consists of a supreme court consisting of 7 judges. Superior and inferior courts are also provided.

The executive branch is headed by the Governor.

  • The Governor of Missouri is Matt Blunt (Republican).
  • The Lieutenant Governor of Missouri is Peter Kinder (Republican)
  • The Missouri Attorney General is Jay Nixon (Democrat)
  • The Missouri Secretary of State is Robin Carnahan (Democrat)
  • The Missouri State Treasurer is Sarah Steelman (Republican)
  • The Senior United States Senator is Christopher S. "Kit" Bond (Republican)
  • The Junior United States Senator is James M. Talent (Republican)

Although neither major party has traditionally been dominant in Missouri, the Republican party has been gaining strength there in recent years. Missouri has a longer stretch of supporting the winning presidential candidate than any other state, having chosen with the nation in every election since 1960. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state's 11 electoral votes by a margin of 7 percentage points with 53.3% of the vote. Democrat John Kerry only won four of the state's 115 counties - St. Louis City, St. Louis county, Ste. Genevieve, and the city of Kansas City.


Missouri is bounded on the north by Iowa; on the east, across the Mississippi River, by Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee; on the south by Arkansas; and on the west by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (the latter two across the Missouri River.)

North of the Missouri River lie the northern plains that stretch into Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Here, gentle rolling hills remain behind from a glacier that once had extended from the north to the Missouri River.

The Ozark plateau begins south of the river and extends into Arkansas, S. E. Kansas, and N. E. Oklahoma. Springfield, Missouri in southwestern Missouri lies on the Ozark plateau. Southern Missouri is the home of the Ozark mountains, a dissected plateau surrounding the Precambrian igneous St. Francois Mountains.

The southeastern part of the state is home to the Bootheel, part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain or Mississippi embayment. This region is the lowest, flattest and wettest part of the state. It is also the most fertile. It is here that one finds cotton and rice production. The Bootheel area was the focus of the great New Madrid Earthquake of 1811 - 1812.

Although now generally considered part of the Midwest, Missouri was once thought of as Southern. For example, Mark Twain, who grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, in Life on the Mississippi described his upbringing as in "the South".


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Missouri's total state product in 2003 was $195 billion. Per capital personal income in 2003 was $29,464, 27th in the nation. Major industries include aerospace, transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, printing/publishing, electrical equipment, light manufacturing.

The agriculture products of the state are beef, soybeans, pork, dairy products, hay, corn, poultry, and eggs. Missouri is ranked 6th in the nation for the production of hogs and 7th for cattle. As of 2001, there were 108,000 farms, the second largest number in any state after Texas.

Missouri has vast quantities of limestone. Other minerals mined are lead, coal, portland cement and crushed stone. Missouri produces the most lead of all of the states in the Union with most of these mines in the central eastern portion of the state. Missouri also ranks first or near first among the production of lime.

Tourism, services and wholesale/retail trade follow manufacturing in importance.


As of 2004, the population of Missouri was estimated to be 5,754,618. This includes 194,000 foreign-born (3.4% of the state population). The state's population has increased by 638,000 since 1990, a growth of 12.5%

Race and Ancestry
The racial makeup of the state:

* 83.8% White
* 11.2% Black
* 2.1% Hispanic
* 1.1% Asian
* 0.4% American Indian
* 1.5% Mixed race

The five largest ancestry groups in Missouri are: German (23.5%), Irish (12.7%), American (10.5%), English (9.5%), French (3.5%).

German-Americans are a large ancestry group present in most of Missouri. In southern Missouri, most residents are of British/American ancestry. The northern edge of the state also has a high proportion of residents of British and American ancestry. Blacks dominate St. Louis City and central Kansas City and are also an important minority in the southeastern bootheel and the Missouri River Valley, areas where plantation agriculture was once important. Missouri Creoles of French ancestry are concentrated in the Mississippi River valley south of St. Louis.

6.6% of its population were reported as under 5, 25.5% under 18, and 13.5% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.4% of the population.

3.4% of Missourians are foreign-born, and 5.1% speak a language other than English at home. The 1997 birth and death rates were:
Births: 74,037
Deaths: 54,322
Infant deaths: 564

81.3% were high school graduates (higher than the national average) while 21.6% had a bachelor's degree or higher.

The mean commute time to work was 23.8 minutes. The homeownership rate in 2000 was 70.3% with the mean value of the owner occupied dwelling being $89,900. There were 2,194,594 househoulds with 2.48 people per household. The median household money income for 1999 was $37,934 with the 1999 Per Capita Money Income of $19,936. There were 11.7% (637,891) Missourians living below the poverty line in 1999.


There is an idiom "being from Missouri" which relates to the state's unofficial slogan: "show me" (which even appears on their license plates). People from Missouri have a reputation for being skeptical.

Important cities and towns


Missouri's public school system includes kindergarten to 12th grade and requires all children between the ages of 7-16 inclusive to be enrolled in a school. The University of Missouri is Missouri's statewide public university system, having campuses in Saint Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Rolla. Additionally, Missouri has several regional public universities in different parts of the state, the largest being Missouri State University (after heated political debate in Jefferson City, the name was changed from Southwest Missouri State University in spring 2005) having the second largest student enrollment after University of Missouri-Columbia.

Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams