The state of Missouri is a land that is exciting for the variety of topography and for its history. The Missouri River comes from the Northeast corner, and cuts diagonally across the state; the Mississippi bounds the entire East side. Named after the Missouri Indian tribe, the name means town of the large canoes. This is very appropriate as waterways lace the state. The state's nickname is Show Me.
Although France first claimed the entire region in 1682, the U.S. purchased Missouri from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. It was admitted to statehood in 1820. The Gateway Arch, the highest sculpture in the world, is a symbol of the part that Missouri played in the westward movement of pioneers. The eastern starting point of the Pony Express was in St. Joseph and Independence was the starting point of wagon trains taking the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. While the state of Missouri remained in the Union during the Civil War, it was not an unqualified allegiance as many volunteers joined both the Union and the Confederate armies. The land north of the Missouri River is fertile prairie, but south of the river the land is rougher with hills and deep valleys, making it very scenic. Branson is located south of the river and is a favorite tourist attraction with many famous country music performers featured there. This region is known as the Ozark Mountains, with a popular resort area in the Lake of the Ozarks. The author Mark Twain and President Harry Truman had residences in Missouri.
Although Kansas City claims the largest population, St. Louis is the hub of the largest metropolitan area. Both metropolitan areas cover two states. The Kansas City metropolitan area on the western edge of Missouri covers six counties in the state of Kansas and the St. Louis metropolitan area on the eastern edge covers eight counties in the state of Illinois. A top agricultural producer, Missouri ranked sixth in the nation as a hog producer, seventh as a producer of cattle, and is in the top five states which produce soy beans. The economy does not solely depend on their agricultural products as they rank at the top or near the top in lime production that is necessary to produce Portland cement. Low tax rates in the state are an attraction for people considering where they wish to retire.