Nebraska

Cities

Nebraska

Nebraska is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state.

Etymology

Nebraska’s name is the result of anglicization of the archaic Otoe words Ñí Brásge, pronounced [ɲĩbɾasꜜkɛ] (contemporary Otoe Ñíbrahge), or the Omaha Ní Btháska, pronounced [nĩbɫᶞasꜜka], meaning “flat water”, after the Platte River which flows through the state.

Geography

The state is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. The state has 93 counties and is split between two time zones, with the majority of the state observing Central Time and the Panhandle and surrounding counties observing Mountain Time. Three rivers cross the state from west to east. The Platte River, formed by the confluence of the North Platte and the South Platte, runs through the state’s central portion, the Niobrara River flows through the northern part, and the Republican River runs across the southern part.

Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains and the Great Plains. The easternmost portion of the state was scoured by Ice Age glaciers; the Dissected Till Plains were left after the glaciers retreated. The Dissected Till Plains is a region of gently rolling hills; Omaha and Lincoln are in this region. The Great Plains occupy most of western Nebraska, with the region consisting of several smaller, diverse land regions, including the Sandhills, the Pine Ridge, the Rainwater Basin, the High Plains and the Wildcat Hills. Panorama Point, at 5,424 feet (1,653 m), is Nebraska’s highest point; though despite its name and elevation, it is a relatively low rise near the Colorado and Wyoming borders. A past tourism slogan for the state of Nebraska was “Where the West Begins” (it has since been changed to “Honestly, it’s not for everyone”). Locations given for the beginning of the “West” in Nebraska include the Missouri River, the intersection of 13th and O Streets in Lincoln (where it is marked by a red brick star), the 100th meridian, and Chimney Rock.

Climate

Two major climatic zones are represented in Nebraska. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), although the southwest of this region may be classed as a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) using the −3 °C or 26.6 °F boundary. The Panhandle and adjacent areas bordering Colorado have a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). The entire state experiences wide seasonal variations in both temperature and precipitation. Average temperatures are fairly uniform across Nebraska, with hot summers and generally cold winters. However, chinook winds from the Rocky Mountains provide a temporary moderating effect on temperatures in the state’s western portion during the winter. Thus, average January maximum temperatures are highest at around 43 °F or 6.1 °C in southwestern Dundy County, and lowest at about 30 °F or −1.1 °C around South Sioux City in the northeast.

Average annual precipitation decreases east to west from about 31.5 inches (800 mm) in the southeast corner of the state to about 13.8 inches (350 mm) in the Panhandle. Humidity also decreases significantly from east to west. Snowfall across the state is fairly even, with most of Nebraska receiving between 25 to 35 inches (0.64 to 0.89 m) of snow each year. Nebraska’s highest-recorded temperature was 118 °F (48 °C) in Minden on July 24, 1936. The state’s lowest-recorded temperature was −47 °F (−44 °C) in Camp Clarke on February 12, 1899.

Demographics

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Nebraska was 1,934,408 on July 1, 2019, a 5.92% increase since the 2010 United States census. The center of population of Nebraska is in Polk County, in the city of Shelby. The table below shows the racial composition of Nebraska's population as of 2016. According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 10.2% of Nebraska's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (7.8%), Puerto Rican (0.2%), Cuban (0.2%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (2.0%).

The five largest ancestry groups were: German (36.1%), Irish (13.1%), English (7.8%), Czech (4.7%), and Swedish (4.3%). Nebraska has the largest Czech American and non-Mormon Danish American population (as a percentage of the total population) in the nation. German Americans are the largest ancestry group in most of the state, particularly in the eastern counties. Thurston County (made up entirely of the Omaha and Winnebago reservations) has an American Indian majority, and Butler County is one of only two counties in the nation with a Czech-American plurality.

Religion

The religious affiliations of the people of Nebraska are: The largest single denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church (372,838), the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (112,585), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (110,110) and the United Methodist Church (109,283).

Economy

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates of Nebraska’s gross state product in 2010 was $89.8 billion. Per capita personal income in 2004 was $31,339, 25th in the nation. Nebraska has a large agriculture sector, and is a major producer of beef, pork, wheat, corn (maize), soybeans, and sorghum. Other important economic sectors include freight transport (by rail and truck), manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology, and insurance. As of November 2018, the state’s unemployment rate was 2.8%, the fifth lowest in the nation.

Industry

Kool-Aid was created in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in the city of Hastings, which celebrates the event the second weekend of every August with Kool-Aid Days, and Kool-Aid is the official soft drink of Nebraska. CliffsNotes were developed by Clifton Hillegass of Rising City. He adapted his pamphlets from the Canadian publications, Coles Notes. Omaha is home to Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive officer (CEO), Warren Buffett, was ranked in March 2009 by Forbes magazine as the second-richest person in the world.

The city is also home to Mutual of Omaha, InfoUSA, TD Ameritrade, West Corporation, Valmont Industries, Woodmen of the World, Kiewit Corporation, Union Pacific Railroad, and Gallup. Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., Nelnet, Sandhills Publishing Company, Duncan Aviation, and Hudl are based in Lincoln. The Buckle is based in Kearney. Sidney is the national headquarters for Cabela's, a specialty retailer of outdoor goods now owned by Bass Pro Shops. Grand Island is the headquarters of Hornady, a manufacturer of ammunition.

Energy

Nebraska has been the nation's second-largest producer of ethanol biofuels. It has few fossil-fuel resources except for crude oil from the Niobrara Formation which underlays a portion of the state's western region. It hosts one uranium leach mining operation near its northwest border with Wyoming. It has an abundance of renewable generation resources, including untapped biomass generation potential from its productive agriculture industry. It has been a top-ten state for per-capita energy consumption due in large part to its energy-intensive agriculture, meat packing, and food processing industries.

Nebraska is the only state in the US where all electric utilities are publicly owned. Half of its electricity is generated from coal and the fastest-growing source in recent years has been wind. Nebraska has no renewable portfolio standard while supporting net metering.

Transportation

Railroads

The Union Pacific Railroad, headquartered in Omaha, was incorporated on July 1, 1862, in the wake of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. Bailey Yard, in North Platte, is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. The route of the original transcontinental railroad runs through the state. Other major railroads with operations in the state are: Amtrak; BNSF Railway; Canadian National Railway; and Iowa Interstate Railroad.

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