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Quarter of Missouri

The state of Missouri (Listeni /mɪˈzʊəri/ or /mɪˈzʊərə/) is located in the Midwestern United States bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Missouri is the 18th most populous state with a 2009 estimated population of 5,987,580. It comprises 114 counties and one independent city. Missouri's capital is Jefferson City. The three largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield. Missouri was originally acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase and became defined as the Missouri Territory. Part of the Missouri Territory was admitted into the union as the 24th state in August 10, 1821.

Missouri mirrors the demographic, economic and political makeup of the nation with a mix of urban and rural culture. It has long been considered a political bellwether state. With the exceptions of 1956 and 2008, Missouri's results in U.S. presidential elections have accurately predicted the next President of the United States in every election since 1904. It has both Midwestern and Southern cultural influences, reflecting its history as a border state. It is also a transition between the Eastern and Western United States, as St. Louis is often called the "western-most Eastern city" and Kansas City the "eastern-most Western city." Missouri's geography is highly varied. The northern part of the state lies in dissected till plains while the southern part lies in the Ozark Mountains a (dissected plateau), with the Missouri River dividing the two. The confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers is located near St. Louis.

The state is named for the Missouri River, which was named after the Siouan-language tribe, whose name in Illinois was ouemessourita (wimihsoorita), meaning "those who have dugout canoes". The etymology lies behind Bob Dyer's tribute song, "River of the Big Canoes".

The pronunciation of the final syllable of "Missouri" is variable and a matter of considerable controversy, with some insisting on a relatively tense vowel (as in "meet"), while others prefer a lax vowel ("mitt" or "mutt"). Speakers express strong feelings that their own rendering is the "original" or "correct" pronunciation. Individuals may vary, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch documented in the case of Governor Jay Nixon. The most thorough study of the question was done by dialectologist Donald Max Lance. Historically, a vowel halfway between the two ("missourih") was subjected to hypercorrection (the process which yields "tobacky" from a schwa-rendering of the final syllable of "tobacco"). The hypercorrect form becomes the normative way to write the word, and a spelling pronunciation develops. From a linguistic point of view, no single pronunciation is considered correct; rather, there are simply patterns of variation, diachronic as well as synchronic, according to divisions such as geography, age, education, and/or rural vs. urban location. The distribution of pronunciations has shifted over time. In general and at present, the schwa vowel correlates with proximity to Kansas City, older speakers (born before 1945), lower levels of formal education, and rural location. Lance notes less controversial but also systematic variations in pronunciation: the second consonant is most often voiced ("misery") but unvoiced by some speakers ("missive"), and the medial vowel is variously raised and unrounded ("lurk") or rounded ("lure"). Even the first syllable is variably rendered with a tense vowel or a schwa

Missouri borders eight different states, as does its neighbor, Tennessee. No state in the U.S. touches more than eight states. 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 last across the Missouri River). The two largest Missouri rivers are the Mississippi, which defines the eastern boundary of the state, and the Missouri, which flows from west to east through the state, essentially connecting the two largest metros, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Although today the state is usually considered part of the Midwest, historically Missouri was considered by many to be a Southern state, chiefly because of the settlement of migrants from the South and its status as a slave state before the Civil War. The counties that made up "Little Dixie" were those along the Missouri River in the center of the state, settled by Southern migrants who held the greatest concentration of slaves.

Residents of cities and rural areas farther north and of the state's large metropolitan areas, where most of the state's population resides (Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia), typically consider themselves Midwestern. In rural areas and cities farther south, such as (Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Springfield, and Sikeston), residents typically self-identify as more Southern.[citation needed]

In 2005, Missouri received 16,695,000 visitors to its national parks and other recreational areas totaling 202,000 acres (820 km2), giving it $7.41 mil. in annual revenues, 26.6% of its operating expenditures.

North of the Missouri River lie the Northern Plains that stretch into Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. Here, gentle rolling hills remain behind from the glaciation that once extended from the Canadian shield to the Missouri River. Missouri has many large river bluffs along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Meramec Rivers. Southern Missouri rises to the Ozark Mountains, a dissected plateau surrounding the Precambrian igneous St. Francois Mountains. This region also hosts karst topography characterized by high limestone content and the formation of sinkholes and caves.

The southeastern part of the state is the Bootheel region, part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain or Mississippi embayment. This region is the lowest, flattest, and wettest part of the state, and among the poorest, as the economy is mostly agricultural. It is also the most fertile, with cotton and rice crops predominant. The Bootheel was the epicenter of the four New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812.

Missouri generally has a humid continental climate and (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with cold winters and hot and humid summers. In the southern part of the state, particularly in the Bootheel, the climate borders on a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa). Located in the interior United States, Missouri often experiences extremes in temperatures. Without high mountains or oceans nearby to moderate temperature, its climate is alternately influenced by air from the cold Arctic and the hot and humid Gulf of Mexico.

Indigenous peoples inhabited Missouri for thousands of years before European exploration and settlement. Archaeological excavations along the rivers have shown continuous habitation for more than 7,000 years. Beginning before 1000 CE, there arose the complex Mississippian culture, whose people created regional political centers at present-day St. Louis and across the Mississippi River at Cahokia, near present-day Collinsville, Illinois. Their large cities included thousands of individual residences, but they are known for their surviving massive earthwork mounds, built for religious, political and social reasons, in platform, ridgetop and conical shapes. Cahokia was the center of a regional trading network that reached from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The civilization declined by 1400 CE, and most descendants left the area before the arrival of Europeans. St. Louis was at one time known as Mound City, because of the numerous surviving mounds, since lost to urban development. The Mississippian culture left mounds throughout the middle Mississippi and Ohio river valleys, extending into the southeast as well as the upper river.

The first European settlers were mostly French Canadians, who migrated about 1750 from east of the river to the area of present-day Ste. Genevieve. It was the first European settlement in Missouri. They came from colonial villages on the east side of the Mississippi of the Illinois Country, where soils were becoming exhausted and there was insufficient river bottom land for the growing population. St. Louis was also founded by French-Canadian settlers. St. Louis became the center of a regional fur trade, which dominated its economy for decades. Ste. Genevieve was a thriving agricultural center, producing enough surplus wheat, corn and tobacco to ship tons of grain downriver to Lower Louisiana for trade. Grain production in the Illinois Country was critical to the survival of Lower Louisiana.

Part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase by the United States, Missouri earned the nickname "Gateway to the West" because it served as a major departure point for expeditions and settlers heading to the West in the 19th century. The St. Louis area was the starting point and the return destination of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which explored the western territories to the Pacific Ocean. The territory was admitted as a slave state in 1821 as part of the Missouri Compromise. River traffic and trade along the Mississippi were integral to the state's economy. To try to control regular flooding of farmland and low-lying villages, by 1860 the state had completed construction of 140 miles (230 km) of levees on the Mississippi.

The state was site of the 1812 New Madrid earthquake. Casualties were light due to the sparse population.

Originally the state's western border was a straight line, defined as the meridian passing through the Kawsmouth, the point where the Kansas River enters the Missouri River. The river has moved since this designation. This line is known as the Osage Boundary. In 1835 the Platte Purchase was added to the northwest corner of the state after purchase of the land from the native tribes, making the Missouri River the border north of the Kansas River. This addition increased the land area of what was already the largest state in the Union at the time (about 66,500 square miles (172,000 km2) to Virginia's 65,000 square miles (which then included West Virginia.)

As many of the early American settlers in western Missouri migrated from the Upper South, they brought enslaved African Americans for labor, and a desire to continue their culture and the institution of slavery. They settled predominantly in 17 counties along the Missouri River, in an area of flatlands that enabled plantation agriculture and became known as "Little Dixie." In the early 1830s, Mormon migrants from northern states and Canada began settling near Independence and areas just north of there. Conflicts over slavery and religion arose between the 'old settlers' (mainly from the South) and the Mormons (mainly from the North and Canada). The 'Mormon War' erupted. By 1839 settlers expelled the Mormons from Missouri.

Conflicts over slavery exacerbated border tensions among the states and territories. In 1838–1839 a border dispute with Iowa over the so-called Honey Lands resulted in both states' calling up militias along the border. After many incidents with Kansans crossing the western border for attacks (including setting a fire in the historic Westport area of Kansas City),[citation needed] a border war erupted between Missouri and Kansas.

From the 1830s to the 1860s, Missouri's population almost doubled with every decade. Most of the newcomers were Americans, but many Irish and German immigrants arrived in the late 1840s and 1850s. Having fled famine, oppression and revolutionary upheaval, they were not sympathetic to slavery.

Most Missouri farmers practiced subsistence farming. The majority of those who held slaves had fewer than 5 each. Planters, defined by historians as those holding 20 or more slaves, were concentrated in the counties known as "Little Dixie", in the central part of the state along the Missouri River. The tensions over slavery had chiefly to do with the future of the state and nation. In 1860 enslaved African Americans made up less than 10% of the state's population of 1,182,012.

After the secession of Southern states began in 1861, the Missouri legislature called for the election of a special convention on secession. The convention voted decisively to remain within the Union. Pro-Southern Governor Claiborne F. Jackson ordered the mobilization of several hundred members of the state militia who had gathered in a camp in St. Louis for training. Alarmed at this action, Union General Nathaniel Lyon struck first, encircling the camp and forcing the state troops to surrender. Lyon then directed his soldiers, largely non-English-speaking German immigrants, to march the prisoners through the streets, and they opened fire on the largely hostile crowds of civilians who gathered around them. Soldiers killed unarmed prisoners as well as men, women and children of St. Louis in the incident that became known as the "St. Louis Massacre."

These events heightened Confederate support within the state. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price, president of the convention on secession, as head of the new Missouri State Guard. In the face of General Lyon's rapid advance in the state, Jackson and Price were forced to flee the capital of Jefferson City on June 14, 1861. In the town of Neosho, Missouri, Jackson called the state legislature into session. They enacted a secession ordinance. However, since the pro-Union state convention had been given the sole power to do such a thing, and the state was more pro-Union than pro-Confederate, this ordinance is generally given little credence. Nevertheless, the ordinance was recognized by the Confederacy on October 30, 1861.

With the elected governor absent from his capital and the legislators largely dispersed, Union forces installed an unelected pro-Union provisional government with Hamilton Gamble as provisional governor. President Lincoln's Administration immediately recognized Gamble's government as the legal government. This decision provided both pro-Union militia forces for service within the state and volunteer regiments for the Union Army.

Fighting ensued between Union forces and a combined army of General Price's Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas under General Ben McCulloch. After winning victories at the battle of Wilson's Creek and the siege of Lexington, Missouri and suffering losses elsewhere, the Confederate forces had little choice but to retreat to Arkansas and later Marshall, Texas, in the face of a largely reinforced Union Army.

Though regular Confederate troops staged some large-scale raids into Missouri, the fighting in the state for the next three years consisted chiefly of guerrilla warfare. "Citizen soldiers" such as Colonel William Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, the Younger brothers, and William T. Anderson made use of quick, small-unit tactics. Pioneered by the Missouri Partisan Rangers, such insurgencies also arose in other portions of the Confederacy occupied during the Civil War. Recently historians have assessed the James brothers' outlaw years as continuing guerrilla warfare after the official war was over. The activities of the 'Bald Knobbers' of south-central Missouri in the 1880s has also been seen as an unofficial continuation of hostilities long after the official end of the war.

In 1930, there was a diphtheria epidemic in the area around Springfield which killed approximately 100 people. Serum was rushed to the area and stopped the epidemic.

During the mid-1950s and 1960s, St. Louis suffered deindustrialization and loss of jobs in railroads and manufacturing as did other major industrial cities. At the same time highway construction made it easy for middle-class residents to leave the city for newer housing in the suburbs. St. Louis has gone through decades of readjustment to developing a different economy. Suburban areas have developed separate job markets, both in knowledge industries and services, such as major retail malls. In 1956 St. Charles was the site of the first interstate highway project.

In 2009, Missouri had an estimated population of 5,987,580; an increase of 392,369 (7.0 percent) since the year 2000. From 2000 to 2007, this includes a natural increase of 137,564 people since the last census (480,763 births less 343,199 deaths), and an increase of 88,088 people due to net migration into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 50,450 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 37,638 people. Over half of Missourians (3,294,936 people, or 55.0%) live within the state's two largest metropolitan areas–-St. Louis and Kansas City. The state's population density 86.9 in 2009, is also closer to the national average (86.8 in 2009) than any other state.

The U.S. Census of 2000 found that the population center of the United States is in Phelps County, Missouri. The center of population of Missouri itself is located in Osage County, in the city of Westphalia.

As of 2004, the population included 194,000 foreign-born (3.4 percent of the state population).

The five largest ancestry groups in Missouri are: German (23.5 percent), Irish (12.7 percent), American (10.5 percent), English (9.5 percent) and French (3.5 percent). "American" includes some of those reported as Native American or African American, but also European Americans whose ancestors have lived in the United States for a considerable time.

German Americans are an ancestry group present throughout Missouri. African Americans are a substantial part of the population in St. Louis, Kansas City, and in the southeastern Bootheel and some parts of the Missouri River Valley, where plantation agriculture was once important. Missouri Creoles of French ancestry are concentrated in the Mississippi River Valley south of St. Louis. Approximately 40,000-50,000 recent Bosniak immigrants live mostly in the St. Louis area.[citation needed]

In 2004, 6.6 percent of the state's population was reported as younger than 5 years old, 25.5 percent younger than 18, and 13.5 percent was 65 or older. Females were approximately 51.4 percent of the population. 81.3 percent of Missouri residents were high school graduates (more than the national average), and 21.6 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. 3.4 percent of Missourians were foreign-born, and 5.1 percent reported speaking a language other than English at home.

In 2000, there were 2,194,594 households in Missouri, with 2.48 people per household. The homeownership rate was 70.3 percent, and the mean value of an owner-occupied dwelling was $89,900. The median household income for 1999 was $37,934, or $19,936 per capita. There were 11.7 percent (637,891) Missourians living below the poverty line in 1999.

The mean commute time to work was 23.8 minutes.

Of those Missourians who identify with a religion, three out of five are Protestants. There is also a moderate-sized Roman Catholic community in some parts of the state; approximately one out of five Missourians are Roman Catholic. Areas with large Catholic communities include St. Louis, Jefferson City, Westplex, and the Missouri Rhineland (particularly that south of the Missouri River). The St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas also have important Jewish communities who have contributed much to the culture and charities of the cities; more recent, those same areas have Indian and Pakistani immigrants have created Hindu and Muslim congregations as well.

The religious affiliations of the people of Missouri according to the American Religious Identification Survey:

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 856,964; the Southern Baptist Convention with 797,732; and the United Methodist Church with 226,578.

Several religious organizations have headquarters in Missouri, including the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, which has its headquarters in Kirkwood, as well as the United Pentecostal Church International in Hazelwood, both outside St. Louis. Kansas City is the headquarters of the Church of the Nazarene. Independence, near Kansas City, is the headquarters for the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), and the group Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This area and other parts of Missouri are also of significant religious and historical importance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), which maintains several sites/visitors centers, and whose members make up about 1 percent, or 62,217 members, of Missouri's population. Springfield is the headquarters of the Assemblies of God and the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. The General Association of General Baptists has its headquarters in Poplar Bluff. The Pentecostal Church of God is headquartered in Joplin. The Unity Church is headquartered in Unity Village.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Missouri's total state product in 2006 was $225.9 billion. Per capita personal income in 2006 was $32,705, ranking 26th in the nation. Major industries include aerospace, transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, printing/publishing, electrical equipment, light manufacturing, and beer.

The agriculture products of the state are beef, soybeans, pork, dairy products, hay, corn, poultry, sorghum, cotton, rice, and eggs. Missouri is ranked 6th in the nation for the production of hogs and 7th for cattle. Missouri is ranked in the top five states in the nation for production of soy beans. As of 2001, there were 108,000 farms, the second largest number in any state after Texas. Missouri actively promotes its rapidly growing wine industry.

Missouri has vast quantities of limestone. Other resources mined are lead, coal, and crushed stone. Missouri produces the most lead of all of the states. Most of the lead mines are in the central eastern portion of the state. Missouri also ranks first or near first in the production of lime, a key ingedient in Portland cement.

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

Personal income is taxed in 10 different earning brackets, ranging from 1.5 percent to 6.0 percent. Missouri's sales tax rate for most items is 4.225 percent. Additional local levies may apply. More than 2,500 Missouri local governments rely on property taxes levied on real property (real estate) and personal property. Most personal property is exempt, except for motorized vehicles. Exempt real estate includes property owned by governments and property used as nonprofit cemeteries, exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges and for purely charitable purposes. There is no inheritance tax and limited Missouri estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

Missouri is the only state in the Union to have two Federal Reserve Banks: one in Kansas City (serving western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, northern New Mexico, and Wyoming) and one in St. Louis (serving eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and all of Arkansas).

As of January 2010, the state’s unemployment rate is 9.5%.

The state of Missouri has two major airport hubs: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and Kansas City International Airport.

Two of the nation's three busiest rail centers are located in Missouri. Kansas City is a major railroad hub for BNSF Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad. Kansas City is the second largest freight rail center in the US. Like Kansas City, St. Louis is a major destination for train freight. Amtrak passenger trains serve Kansas City, La Plata, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Lee's Summit, Independence, Warrensburg, Hermann, Washington, Kirkwood, Sedalia, and Poplar Bluff.

The only urban light rail/subway system in Missouri is the St. Louis MetroLink which connects the city of St. Louis with suburbs in Illinois and St. Louis County. It is one of the largest (track mileage) systems in the USA. In 2007 preliminary planning was being performed for a light rail system in the Kansas City area, but was defeated by voters in November 2008.

The Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center in St. Louis is the largest active multi-use transportation center in the state. It is located in Downtown St. Louis next to the historic St. Louis Union Station complex. It serves as a hub center/station for the city's rail system St. Louis MetroLink and regional bus system MetroBus, Greyhound, Amtrak and city taxi services.

Springfield remains an operational hub for BNSF Railway.

The Mississippi River and Missouri River are commercially navigable over their entire lengths in Missouri. The Missouri was channelized through dredging and jettys and the Mississippi was given a series of locks and dams to avoid rocks and deepen the river. St. Louis is a major destination for barge traffic on the Mississippi River.

Several highways, detailed below, traverse the state.

Following the passage of Amendment 3 in late 2004, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began its Smoother, Safer, Sooner road-building program with a goal of bringing 2,200 miles (3,500 km) of highways up to good condition by December 2007. From 2006–2008 traffic deaths have decreased annually from 1,257 in 2005, to 1,096 in 2006, to 974 for 2007, to 941 for 2008.

The current Constitution of Missouri, the fourth constitution for the state, was adopted in 1945. It 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 Missouri General Assembly.

The House of Representatives has 163 members who are apportioned based on the last decennial census. The Senate consists of 34 members from districts of approximately equal populations. The judicial department comprises the Supreme Court of Missouri, which has seven judges, the Missouri Court of Appeals (an intermediate appellate court divided into three districts, sitting in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield), and 45 Circuit Courts which function as local trial courts. The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Missouri and includes five other statewide elected offices. Following the election of 2008, all but one of Missouri's statewide elected offices are held by Democrats.

Missouri is widely regarded as a state bellwether in American politics. The state has a longer stretch of supporting the winning presidential candidate than any other state, having voted with the nation in every election since 1904 with two exceptions: in 1956 when it voted for Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois over the winner, incumbent President Dwight Eisenhower of Kansas, and in 2008 when it voted for Senator John McCain of Arizona over national winner Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, both by extremely narrow margins.

Missouri has been known for its population's generally "stalwart, conservative, noncredulous" attitude toward regulatory regimes, which is one of the origins of the state's unofficial nickname, the "Show-Me State." As a result, and combined with the fact that Missouri is one of America's leading alcohol and tobacco-producing states, regulation of alcohol and tobacco in Missouri is among the most laissez-faire in America.

With a large German immigrant population and the development of a brewing industry, Missouri always has had among the most permissive alcohol laws in the United States. It never enacted statewide prohibition. Missouri voters rejected prohibition in three separate referenda in 1910, 1912, and 1918. Alcohol regulation did not begin in Missouri until 1934. Today, alcohol laws are controlled by the state government, and local jurisdictions are prohibited from going beyond those state laws. Missouri has no statewide open container law or prohibition on drinking in public, no alcohol-related blue laws, no local option, no precise locations for selling liquor by the package (thus allowing even drug stores and gas stations to sell any kind of liquor), and no differentiation of laws based on alcohol percentage. Missouri had no laws prohibiting "consumption" of alcohol by minors (as opposed to possession), and state law protects persons from arrest or criminal penalty for public intoxication. Missouri law expressly prohibits any jurisdiction from going dry. Missouri law also expressly allows parents and guardians to serve alcohol to their children. The Power & Light District in Kansas City is one of the few places in the United States where a state law explicitly allows persons over the age of 21 to possess and consume open containers of alcohol in the street (as long as the beverage is in a plastic cup).

As for tobacco, as of June 2009 Missouri has the second-lowest cigarette excise taxes in the United States (behind only South Carolina) at 17 cents per pack, and the electorate voted in 2002 and 2006 to keep it that way. In 2007, Forbes named Missouri's largest metropolitan area, St. Louis, America's "best city for smokers." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008 Missouri had the fourth highest percentage of adult smokers among U.S states, at 24.5%. Although Missouri's minimum age for purchase and distribution of tobacco products is 18, tobacco products can be distributed to persons under 18 by family members on private property. No statewide smoking ban ever has been seriously entertained before the Missouri General Assembly, and in October 2008, a statewide survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that only 27.5% of Missourians support a statewide ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants. Missouri state law permits bars, restaurants which seat less than 50 people, bowling alleys, and billiard parlors to decide their own smoking policies, without limitation.

Additionally, in Missouri, it is "an improper employment practice" for an employer to refuse to hire, to fire, or otherwise to disadvantage any person because that person lawfully uses alcohol and/or tobacco products when he or she is not at work.

Missouri has 114 counties and one independent city (St. Louis).

The largest county by size is Texas County (1,179 sq. miles) and Shannon County is second (1,004 sq. miles). Worth County is the smallest (266 sq. miles). The independent city of St. Louis has only 62 square miles (160 km2) of area. St. Louis City is the most densely populated area (5,724.7 per sq. mi.) in Missouri.

The largest county by population (2008 estimate) is St. Louis County (991,830 residents), with Jackson County second (668,417 residents), St. Louis third (354,361), and St. Charles fourth (349,407). Worth County is the least populous with 2,039 residents.

Kansas City

St. Louis

Jefferson City is the state capital of Missouri.

The five largest cities in Missouri are Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, and Columbia.

St. Louis is the principal city of the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, comprising seventeen counties and the independent city of St. Louis; eight of those counties lie in the state of Illinois. As of 2008, Greater St. Louis was the 18th largest metropolitan area in the nation with 2.81 million people. However, if ranked using Combined Statistical Area, it is 16th largest with 2.88 million people. Some of the major cities making up the St. Louis Metro area in Missouri include St. Charles, St. Peters, Florissant, Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, O'Fallon, Clayton, Ballwin, and University City.

Kansas City is Missouri's largest city and the principal city of the fifteen-county Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area, including six counties in the state of Kansas. As of 2008, it was the 29th largest metropolitan area in the nation, with 2.002 million people. Some of the other major cities comprising the Kansas City metro area in Missouri include Independence, Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, Raytown, Liberty, and Gladstone.

Branson is a major tourist attraction in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri.

The Missouri State Board of Education has general authority over all public education in the state of Missouri. It is made up of eight citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Missouri Senate.

Education is compulsory from ages seven to seventeen per Statute 167.031, RSMo, states that any parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of a child between the ages of seven (7) and the compulsory attendance age for the district, must ensure that the child is enrolled in and regularly attends public, private, parochial school, home school or a combination of schools for the full term of the school year.

The term "compulsory attendance age for the district" shall mean seventeen (17) years of age or having successfully completed sixteen (16) credits towards high school graduation in all other cases. Children between the ages of five (5) and seven (7) are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if they are enrolled in a public school their parent, guardian or custodian must ensure that they regularly attend. Missouri schools are commonly but not exclusively divided into three tiers of primary and secondary education: elementary school, middle school or junior high school and high school. The public schools system includes kindergarten to 12th grade. District territories are often complex in structure. In some cases, elementary, middle and junior high schools of a single district feed into high schools in another district. High school athletics and competitions are governed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association or MSHSAA.

Homeschooling is legal in Missouri and is an option to meet the compulsory education requirement. It is neither monitored nor regulated by the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

A supplemental education program, the Missouri Scholars Academy, provides an extracurricular learning experience for gifted high school students in the state of Missouri. The official MSA website describes the goals of the Academy to be as such: "The academy reflects Missouri's desire to strive for excellence in education at all levels. The program is based on the premise that Missouri's gifted youth must be provided with special opportunities for learning and personal development in order for them to realize their full potential."

The University of Missouri System is Missouri's statewide public university system, the flagship institution and largest university in the state is the University of Missouri in Columbia. The others in the system are University of Missouri–Kansas City, University of Missouri–St. Louis, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Truman State University, Missouri's "premiere liberal arts and sciences university," is the only public institution in the state with highly selective admissions standards. A. T. Still University was the first osteopathic medical school in the world. Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, originally the University of Health Sciences, was the first medical school in Kansas City.

Notable highly rated private institutions include Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University.

Lincoln University in Jefferson City is one of a number of historically black colleges and universities. Founded in 1866, it was created by members of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Troops as "Lincoln Institute", to provide education to freedmen. It was created on a model of combining academics and labor. In 1921, the state officially recognized the growth of Lincoln's undergraduate and graduate programs by classifying it as a university. The institution changed its name to "Lincoln University of Missouri." In 1954, the university began to accept applicants of all races.

To develop new teachers for needed public schools, in 1905 the state established a series of normal schools at colleges in each region of the state. This was based on the widely admired German model of public education. Normal schools were for the training of teachers of students in primary/elementary schools. The initial network consisted of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State University) in Springfield, Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State University) in Kirksville, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, and University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg. Within several years, the normal school curriculum expanded to a full four years of academic subjects.

There are numerous junior colleges, trade schools, church universities and private universities in the state.

The state also funds a $2000, renewable merit-based scholarship, Bright Flight, given to the top three percent of Missouri high school graduates who attend a university in-state.

The 19th century border wars between Missouri and Kansas have continued as a sports rivalry between the University of Missouri and University of Kansas. The rivalry is chiefly expressed through football and basketball games between the two universities. It is the oldest college rivalry west of the Mississippi River and the second oldest in the nation. Each year when the universities meet to play, the game is coined "Border War." An exchange occurs following the game where the winner gets to take a historic marching band drum, which has been passed back and forth for decades.

Several US Navy vessels have been named after the state.

The use of the unofficial nickname the Show-Me State has several possible origins. The phrase "I'm from Missouri" means I'm skeptical of the matter and not easily convinced. This is related to the state's unofficial motto of "Show Me," whose origin is popularly ascribed to an 1899 speech by Congressman Willard Vandiver, who declared that "I come from a country that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, and you have got to show me." However, according to researchers, the phrase was in circulation earlier in the 1890s. According to another legend, the phrase was a reference to Missouri miners brought to Leadville, Colorado to take the place of striking miners and being unfamiliar with the mining methods there required frequent instruction.

It has also been known as the Puke State, perhaps on account of an 1827 gathering at the Galena Lead Mines. George Earlie Shankle " many Missourians had assembled, that those already there declared the State of Missouri had taken a 'puke.'" Within the state, “pukes” referred before the Civil War to impoverished citizens who nonetheless supported slavery, the equivalent of “poor white trash.” Walt Whitman has listed “pukes” as a nickname for Missourians.

Missouri is also known as "The Cave State" with over 6000 recorded caves (second to Tennessee). Perry County has both the largest number of caves and the single longest cave in the state.

Other nicknames include "The Lead State", "The Bullion State", "The Ozark State", "Mother of the West", "The Iron Mountain State", and "Pennsylvania of the West".

There is no official state nickname, however the official state motto is "Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto", Latin for "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law."

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