The Nebraska state abbreviation is NE, it is located partially in the Great Plains and partially in the Midwestern United States. The state was first explored by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Currently it citizens are primarily of German ancestry.
Today we'll look at the history, geography, and climate of this state, but first we'll examine some key information to familiarize you:
Prior to European settlement, and ultimate admission as one of the 50 U.S. States, Nebraska was occupied by indigenous peoples from the following tribes:
For much of the 18th century, the area was controlled by the Spanish and French. The differing tribes of people in the area took sides with one or the other.
In 1720, after war began between the two European ranks, Spain sent a regiment that was attack by an army of Pawnees and Otoes who were both working for the French.
The entire armed expedition was killed, resulting in the end of Spain's control in the area for some time. During the Seven Year's War in 1762, France gave the Louisiana territory to Spain. Without France in the area, Britain and Spain went at each other trying to control the area west of the Missouri river.
While a trading post, and for a time, Fort Atkinson, occupied the NE area, it wasn't until 1848 during the California Gold Rush that the area saw an influx of settlers. On May 30, 1854, Congress created the Kansas and Nebraska territories.
The 1860's brought more people as the government started to force native peoples into reservations. The Homestead Act brought thousands of new settlers to take advantage of the free land provided to them as part of the act.
This first wave was enough to bring the population to a level where the territory could apply for statehood. It was made into a state on March 1, 1867, the 37th state to be exact. The capital was moved to Lancaster which was shortly after renamed Lincoln when the U.S. President of the same name was assassinated.
During the 1870's and 1880's, there was an influx of new settlers. This was a result of the prairie land being perfect for cattle to graze on, in conjunction with new farming technology like barbed wire, wind mills, and steel plows. By 1880 the population grew to 450,000 people.
In the 19th century, during the Great Migration, African Americans began migrating toward Nebraska, more specifically to Omaha. Here they could find meatpacking, railroad, and other industry jobs for working class citizens.
Competition for jobs was stiff, resulting in discrimination from other citizens. Despite this, the Omaha chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) opened in 1912 to combat this issue.
Native American activism has also been prominent since the 1960's. Community schools have been opened to preserve the native culture, in addition to tribal colleges and universities for the same purpose.
Geography and Climate
NE is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east; Missouri to the southeast across the Missouri River; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west.
There are a total of 93 counties and it is situated in the Frontier Strip which are six states in the U.S. that form a north-south line from North Dakota to Texas. This strip is also known as the Last American Frontier.
The eastern portion of the state is in Central Time and the western portion, also known as the panhandle, is in the Mountain Time Zone. There are three major rivers running through the area:
The Platte River
The Niobrara River
The Republican River
There are two major regions in Nebraska where the geography is drastically different. The first is the Dissected Till Plains. This area is a result of what happened when the Ice Age glaciers retreated. It is composed of rolling hills and it's also where Omaha and Lincoln are located.
The majority of the west is composed of the second region known as the Great Plains. This area has a few different regions of its own:
Sandhills (a mixed-grass prairie covering one-quarter of the state)
Pine Ridge (an escarpment in northwestern NE composed of forested buttes, ridges, and canyons)
Rainwater Basin (shallow lakes, marshes, and wetlands)
High Plains (elevated plains known for steady and intense winds)
Wildcat Hills (another escarpment in the western Panhandle)
Panorama Point (the highest elevation in the state at 5,424 feet)
In the past, the state had a tourism slogan that said "Where the West Begins." There have been a variety of locations deemed as such including the Missouri River, the intersection of 13th and O Streets in Lincoln (commemorated by a red brick star), the 100th meridian, and Chimney Rock.
Interestingly, over eighty-nine percent of the cities in Nebraska have less than 3,000 people. Five other Midwestern states have this distinction: Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, and Iowa. There are hundreds of town with less than 1,000 people living there.
As with the land, Nebraska is divided into two separate climate zones. One is in the eastern portion of the state and has a humid continental climate. The western half has a semi-arid climate. The average temperatures though are usually similar across the areas. Summers tend to be hot, and winters tend to be cold.
The average humidity decreases from the east to the west of the state. The state is located in the region known as Tornado Alley where thunderstorms are common in the springs and summer. More intense and violent storms with tornado also happen during the summer.
Before you go, check our list of Nebraska state facts to continue your pursuit of knowledge about this place.