Missouri’s fame has made the state the icon of the American West. In fact, if you mention Missouri, people will think of the American frontier from the 19th century. But there’s more to Missouri than just a state for nostalgia. Learn more about it with these 60 Missouri facts.
- 01Missouri covers an estimated area of 181,000 km².
- 02Water makes up an estimated 2,500 km² of an area or around 1%.
- 03On its lowest point at the Arkansas River, the state has an elevation of around 70 meters above sea level.
- 04An estimated 6.16 million people live in the state today.
- 05This gives the state a population density of 34 people for every km².
The name Missouri has a history of its own.
It takes its name from the Missouri River, which received its name from the Missouri Native Americans. They called themselves the wimihsoorita, referencing their use of dugout canoes to travel on the river. This also gave them control of the river, which took their name in recognition.
That said, various historians have questioned this origin, who note discrepancies with the folklore of other Native Americans in the region. In particular, among the Ojibwe, wimihsoorita actually comes off as an encouragement to go and visit someone down the river. Other historians also express confusion on the use of the name, given how French explorers first arrived in the region. This comes from the fact that the French usually used French equivalents to the local names instead of using the local names themselves.
Missouri actually has no official nickname.
It does have unofficial nicknames, though, most commonly that of the Show Me State. The nickname’s origins remain contested among historians, with most attributing it to Congressman Willard Vandiver in the 1890s. Specifically, a speech wherein Vandiver declared himself from Missouri, where actions showed more than words ever could.
Many historians disputed this, citing various evidence that showed the nickname already existed in use before the 1890s. They argued the origin comes from how Missouri had to import new mine workers during the late 19th century. The new workers tended to have little to no experience, and so needed to show multiple demonstrations before they could do their job right.
The state has various icons.
These include the American bullfrog, which makes up Missouri’s official state amphibian. There’s also the eastern bluebird, which makes up the official state bird, and the Channel catfish, which makes up the official state fish.
Missouri also has an official state flower, the white hawthorn, and even an official state grass, the big bluestem. The Missouri Fox Trotter makes up the official state horse, while the western honeybee makes up the official state insect.
Surprisingly, the state also has an official state mammal, distinct from the official state horse, the Missouri Mule. Missouri also has an official state tree, the Flowering Dogwood.