Missouri reveals itself as a land of striking contrasts and marvelous diversity. Though geographically considered a Midwestern state, most of the citizens proudly think of themselves as Southerners. A primarily rural region and one of the top agricultural producers in the U.S., Missouri also contains the thriving metro areas of St. Louis, Kansas City and Branson. While one of America’s inner landlocked states, Missouri includes the two vital waterways of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. This land changes from delta wetlands and mysterious cave systems, to the towering limestone bluffs and cliffs of the haunting Ozark Mountains.
Census 2000 recorded Missouri’s population at 5,595,211. Jefferson City is the capitol, a gracious and historic city, which was the starting point for the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. During America’s frontier days, Missouri was the ‘Gateway to the West’, and a plethora of historic sites commemorate its colorful past, such as the birthplace of the Pony Express, the Jesse James Farm, the National Frontier Trails Museum and the Gateway Arch, built in memory of our courageous pioneers.
Missouri’s premier city of St. Louis looms just south of the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. This dynamic city of more than 348,000 people is a vital hub for trade and transportation. Eight major Interstates cross through Missouri, along with four railroads. The interstates, railroads, plus the river traffic and Missouri’s central location in the heart of the nation, make it a primary distribution center. Missouri contains vast quantities of limestone, lead, coal, Portland cement and crushed stone. It ranked 6th in the nation for the production of hogs and 7th for cattle. Other agricultural products include soybeans, hay, poultry, eggs and dairy. A thriving wine industry has recently begun to play an important part in Missouri’s steadfast economy.
Kansas City is one of the primary centers for agribusiness in the nation. It also holds a fine reputation as being a jazz and blues capitol. The elegant nightclubs of Kansas City have launched many a legendary musician’s career. The small town of Branson is also a musical treasure. Known as the ‘Live Music Show Capital of the World’, Branson hosts over 40 theaters that attract more than 5 million visitors per year. This small town of 6,000 nestles deep in the Ozark Mountains.
Mark Twain is perhaps Missouri’s most famous native son. He captured the spirit of the region in his renowned literary works such as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. His childhood home in the sleepy town of Hannibal still stands today.
The natural beauty of Missouri and its widely diverse terrain invites outdoor enthusiasts. Over 1.5 million acres of the Mark Twain National Forest extend across Missouri’s southern half. More than 5,500 caves await the adventurous spelunker. Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park contains some of America’s oldest exposed rock, and eerie canyon-like gorges and breathtaking watercourses. With the mighty rivers that flow through Missouri, canoeing, kayaking and rafting provide top-notch entertainment.
Missouri contains something to delight every individual. Full of colorful history and the finest in modern culture, big cities and slow-paced small towns, Missouri has something for everyone.
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