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Kansas City is a town with a colorful past and a promising future; it is big and sprawling, diverse and dynamic, sophisticated and down-home. KC is big in miles, straddling a state line and encompassing 13 counties, and with a population that numbers more than 1.776 million people in more than 100 communities.
Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas, with an in-city population of over 350,000 residents and more than 580,000 residents in the overall metropolitan area. Located in the south central portion of the state on the Arkansas River, the city is a major center for manufacturing, trade and culture.
The capital of Kansas is Topeka, located 60 miles west of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Once a key outpost along the Oregon Trail, the city has transformed into a political and industrial hub.
Springfield is Missouri’s third largest city, and the metropolitan center for the southwest portion of the state. The population in 2003 was estamated as Urban to be 94,317, Suburban population to be 144,592, and the rural population to be 100,851 with a total of 339,760 for Springfied. Just north of Springfield with a population of only around 40,000 residents, Jefferson City (located roughly in the center of Missouri) is a relatively quiet state capital.
The physical landscape of Kansas and Missouri epitomizes the austere natural beauty of the American Midwest. Northern Missouri and northwestern Kansas are typified by river valleys and rolling hills. Much of southern Missouri is comprised of the Ozark Plateau, an area of relatively low hills and peaks that is in sharp contrast to the surrounding plains. Large areas of the Ozarks are covered in second-growth forest, and over millennia, underground water has carved thousands of caves, springs and sinkholes out of the underlying limestone.
Central and western Kansas are covered by the Great Plains. Further west the terrain becomes dry, sandy flatland dotted with mesas and buttes of red shale. Major rivers in the region include the Missouri, the Kansas, the Arkansas and the Cimarron.
When most think of Kansas and Missouri, they picture rolling wheat fields, herds of grazing cattle and the often-strenuous life of the farmer. While agriculture remains an important part of our culture, it is no longer the focal point of our economy. Manufacturing has become a key facet of the economy in both states, especially in the major metropolitan areas. Among the chief industries in the region are the manufacture of transportation equipment, chemical production, pharmaceuticals and industrial machinery manufacture. Kansas City is a national center for meat-packing and grain milling, and is one of the country’s leading hubs for agribusiness in general.
The growth of the urban centers in our region is partially responsible for increased employment in the diverse service sector. In addition, a large portion of our residents are employed in wholesale or retail trade. The transportation industry is also a major employer, a sign of our continuing reputation as a crossroads for the nation.
Our region has always had a strong affinity for music. Kansas City played an instrumental role in the development of jazz, and one can hear great live jazz today in any of a dozen KC clubs. Annual jazz festivals are held in Overland Park and Manhattan in Kansas and Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Bluegrass is another distinctly American musical style that took hold in our region. Bluegrass festivals are held each year in Lawrence and Winfield in Kansas and at several Universities in Missouri. We also enjoy classical music: the Kansas City Symphony has been a mainstay of the community since 1933, and symphony orchestras can be found in Wichita, Topeka and Springfield.
Local community theatres in almost every major town perform the best in live drama, and the larger towns and cities receive regular visits from touring theatre companies. We also strongly support the visual arts in both states, with art galleries and museums found in every region.
In addition to being arts enthusiasts, many of us are avid sports fans. We root hard for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals and our beloved Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. College loyalties divide us, as alumni and students take pride in the strong athletic traditions at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas State University in Manhattan and the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia.