The geographical centre of the United States, Kansas is a major agricultural area, with vast areas of farmland given to grain crops, beef cattle and buffalo. As highway signs remind travellers, 'Every Kansas farmer feeds 75 people - and you'.
It was through Kansas that families on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails drove their wagons westwards in search of new homesteads, while cowboys on the Chisholm Trail drove vast herds of longhorns north in search of the railroads. To cater for the new population, cowtowns like Abilene and Dodge City were born, and as whites forced Native Americans to move westwards, fierce battles over land erupted. Later, feuds over Kansas's maintenance of slavery gave rise to the term 'Bleeding Kansas'.
Today, the state boasts many monuments to its Old West past, as well as numerous recreation centres, reservoirs and rivers offering all kinds of outdoor pursuits. Kansas has played a major role in the history of general aviation, with over 267,000 aircraft being built by dozens of aircraft companies since 1899.