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.
The physical landscape of Kansas epitomizes the austere natural beauty of the American Midwest. Northwestern Kansas is typified by river valleys and rolling hills.
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 Kansas, the Arkansas and the Cimarron.
When most think of Kansas, 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.
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 Wichita, Overland Park and Manhattan in Kansas. 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. 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 others.
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 Wichita State University.