Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Ranking 21st in land area, it is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee): Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to the west. In the south are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center into the Mississippi River, which makes up the eastern border. With more than six million residents, it is the 19th-most populous state of the country. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City.
Missouri played a central role in the westward expansion of the United States, as memorialized by the Gateway Arch. The Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail and California Trail all began in Missouri. As a border state, Missouri's role in the American Civil War was complex, and it was subject to rival governments, raids, and guerilla warfare. After the war, both Greater St. Louis and the Kansas City metropolitan area became centers of industrialization and business. Today the state is divided into 114 counties and the independent city of St. Louis.
- Missouri is called "The Show-Me State," because that was the winner of the Dumbest State Nickname Contest, narrowly edging out "The Nanny Nanny Boo Boo State." The largest city is St. Louis, which features a 630-foot-tall stainless-steel arch, a monument to the early pioneers who came west with nothing but their wagons, their guns, their dreams, and their 630-foot-tall stainless-steel arches. Visitors may ride to the top of the arch, high above the Missouri River, where they will experience the thrill of wanting really badly to get back down on the ground. At least that was how we felt. You'll also want to go to visit Hannibal, the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, who grew up, adopted a pen name, and became one of Missouri's, and America's, most beloved characters: Harry Truman. Missouri is also dynamic.
- Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991), New York: Fawcett Columbine, p. 85