Nebraska, state in the West North Central United States. Nebraska is bounded by South Dakota on the north, Kansas on the south, the Missouri River and the states of Iowa and Missouri on the east, and Wyoming and Colorado on the west. From the eastern boundary of Nebraska many explorers, fur traders, and adventurers started their trek across the plains and the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast. Later, settlers moved into the area, seeking inexpensive or free farmland or better opportunities in a growing region. The first land claim under the Homestead Act of 1862 was made in Nebraska (see Homestead Laws), and the eastern terminus of the first transcontinental railroad was Omaha. Nebraska entered the Union on March 1, 1867, as the 37th state. Lincoln is the state capital. Omaha is the largest city.
Midway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Nebraska is a land of transition. Climate, soils, vegetation, and landforms change considerably across the state. The large urban centers of the eastern part of the state give way to small rural communities farther west, where there are large wheat fields and vast expanses of grazing land. Gently rolling hills and forested valleys in the east contrast sharply with the treeless plains and intermittent streams farther west. The Platte River and its tributaries drain most of the state, and the Platte’s broad valley serves as a transportation corridor linking cities with farms and west with east.
The river has also indirectly given the state its name, because Nebrathka, meaning flat water, was the Oto name for the Platte River. Nebraska is called the Cornhusker State in reference to its primary agricultural crop. © "United States" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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