According to the 2000 census, Kansas ranked 32nd among the states, with a population of 2,688,418. This represented an increase of 8.5 percent over the 1990 census.
The pattern of increasing urban population and decreasing rural population, begun in the 19th century, continued into the 21st century. In 1950 the population of Kansas was still half rural. In 2000 some 71 percent of the state’s people lived in urban areas. In 2006 Kansas had an average population density of 13 persons per sq km (34 per sq mi). Eastern Kansas is much more densely populated than western Kansas. In 2000 whites made up 86.1 percent of the population, blacks 5.7 percent, Asians 1.7 percent, Native Americans 0.9 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 5.5 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 1,313. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 7 percent of the people. Although a few black people in Kansas live in rural areas, the majority live in the Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City metropolitan areas.
Germans, Swedes, and other groups from western Europe were important components of the early settlement of Kansas. Mexicans, Croatians, and Italians came shortly after 1900. In more recent decades, however, foreign-born residents have not been numerous. They numbered 2.5 percent of the state’s total population in 1990.
The largest cities are located in central or eastern Kansas. The largest of them, Wichita, had an estimated 2006 population of 357,698.
The Wichita metropolitan area had 592,126 residents. Wichita is one of the two leading manufacturing cities in Kansas and is a major trade center.
It is noted as one of the chief centers of the aircraft-manufacturing industry. Kansas City had 144,210 inhabitants. Together with Kansas City, Missouri, it forms the hub of the metropolitan area known as Greater Kansas City, which had a total 2006 population of 1,967,405 people.
Kansas City, Kansas, is the major center for health services in the state and maintains a long-standing reputation as a manufacturing city. The Fairfax district there, begun in 1938, is nationally famous as one of the oldest and most successful examples of what have come to be known as industrial parks. Soap, fiberglass insulation, chemicals, food products, automobiles, and metal goods are manufactured. It is also one of the state’s principal trade and transportation centers. Overland Park had a population of 166,722 in 2006. The city lies in northeastern Kansas and is a residential suburb of Kansas City.
Topeka had a population of 122,113 in 2006. The city serves as the state capital. In addition it is a center for flour milling, meatpacking, printing and publishing, and the repairing of railroad equipment. In Topeka is the famous Menninger Foundation, an organization engaged in psychiatric research and treatment. The Topeka metropolitan area had 228,894 inhabitants. Lawrence, with a population of 88,605, is a trade center and the site of the University of Kansas and the Haskell Indian Nations University (1884). Also in the Kansas City metropolitan area is Olathe, with 114,662 residents. Salina, with a 2006 population of 46,140, is a leading trade center for the central and western parts of Kansas and is one of the state’s chief grain-storage and flour-milling centers. Other cities in central and eastern Kansas include Hutchinson, noted for its grain-storing and grain-shipping facilities; Manhattan, the seat of Kansas State University; Leavenworth, a commercial center and the site of a large federal penitentiary and a major military post; Emporia, the site of a state university and the home of the famous journalist and author William Allen White; Pittsburg, the site of another state university and a manufacturing and coal-shipping city; Atchison, an early river port and outfitting center, now a manufacturing center; and Abilene, once a famous cow town of the cattle trail days and the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.The small cities in southwestern Kansas serve primarily as meatpacking centers and focal points for local retail trade. They include Garden City; Dodge City, which was one of the most famous towns of the old West; and Liberal. Hays, in west central Kansas, has a state university. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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