Nebraska's area is just over 77,220 square miles (200,000 km2
) with a population of almost 1.9 million. Its capital
, and its largest city is Omaha
, which is on the Missouri River
. Nebraska was admitted into the United States in 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War
. The Nebraska Legislature
is unlike any other American legislature in that it is unicameral
, and its members are elected without any official reference to political party affiliation.
Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains
and the Great Plains
. The Dissected Till Plains region consists of gently rolling hills and contains the state's largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln. The Great Plains region, occupying most of western Nebraska, is characterized by treeless prairie
. Nebraska has two major climatic zones. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a humid continental climate
(Köppen climate classification Dfa
); a unique warmer subtype considered "warm-temperate" exists near the southern plains, which is analogous to that in Kansas and Oklahoma
, which have a predominantly humid subtropical
climate. The Panhandle
and adjacent areas bordering Colorado have a primarily semi-arid climate
). The state has wide variations between winter and summer temperatures, variations that decrease moving south within the state. Violent thunderstorms
occur primarily during spring and summer and sometimes in autumn. Chinook wind
tends to warm the state significantly in the winter and early spring.
Nebraska in 1718, Guillaume de L'Isle
map, with the approximate area of the future state highlighted
lived in the region of present-day Nebraska for thousands of years before European colonization. The historic tribes in the state included the Omaha
, and various branches of the Lakota
), some of which migrated from eastern areas into this region. When European exploration, trade, and settlement began, both Spain and France sought to control the region. In the 1690s, Spain established trade connections with the Apaches
, whose territory then included western Nebraska. By 1703, France had developed a regular trade with the native peoples along the Missouri River
in Nebraska, and by 1719 had signed treaties with several of these peoples. After war broke out between the two countries, Spain dispatched an armed expedition to Nebraska under Lieutenant General Pedro de Villasur
in 1720. The party was attacked and destroyed near present-day Columbus
by a large force of Pawnees and Otoes, both allied with the French. The massacre ended Spanish exploration of the area for the remainder of the 18th century.
In 1762, during the Seven Years' War
, France ceded the Louisiana territory to Spain. This left Britain and Spain competing for dominance along the Mississippi; by 1773, the British were trading with the native peoples of Nebraska. In response, Spain dispatched two trading expeditions up the Missouri in 1794 and 1795; the second, under James Mackay, established the first European settlement in Nebraska near the mouth of the Platte. Later that year, Mackay's party built a trading post, dubbed Fort Carlos IV (Fort Charles), near present-day Homer
In 1819, the United States established Fort Atkinson
as the first U.S. Army post west of the Missouri River, just east of present-day Fort Calhoun
. The army abandoned the fort in 1827 as migration moved further west. European-American settlement was scarce until 1848 and the California Gold Rush
. On May 30, 1854, the US Congress created the Kansas
and the Nebraska
territories, divided by the Parallel 40° North
, under the Kansas–Nebraska Act
The Nebraska Territory included parts of the current states of Colorado
, North Dakota
, South Dakota
, and Montana
The territorial capital of Nebraska was Omaha
In the 1860s, after the U.S. government forced many of the Native American tribes to cede their lands and settle on reservations
, it opened large tracts of land to agricultural development by Europeans and Americans. Under the Homestead Act
, thousands of settlers migrated into Nebraska to claim free land granted by the federal government. Because so few trees grew on the prairies
, many of the first farming settlers built their homes of sod
, as had Native Americans such as the Omaha. The first wave of settlement gave the territory a sufficient population to apply for statehood.
Nebraska became the 37th state on March 1, 1867, and the capital was moved from Omaha to the center at Lancaster, later renamed Lincoln
after the recently assassinated President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln
. The battle of Massacre Canyon
, on August 5, 1873, was the last major battle between the Pawnee
and the Sioux
During the 1870s to the 1880s, Nebraska experienced a large growth in population. Several factors contributed to attracting new residents. The first was that the vast prairie land was perfect for cattle grazing. This helped settlers to learn the unfamiliar geography of the area. The second factor was the invention of several farming technologies. Agricultural inventions such as barbed wire, windmills, and the steel plow, combined with good weather, enabled settlers to use Nebraska as prime farming land. By the 1880s, Nebraska's population had soared to more than 450,000 people.
The Arbor Day
holiday was founded in Nebraska City
by territorial governor J. Sterling Morton
. The National Arbor Day Foundation
is still headquartered in Nebraska City
, with some offices in Lincoln.
In the late 19th century, many African Americans migrated from the South to Nebraska as part of the Great Migration
, primarily to Omaha which offered working-class jobs in meat packing
, the railroads and other industries. Omaha has a long history of civil rights
activism. Blacks encountered discrimination from other Americans in Omaha and especially from recent European immigrants, ethnic whites who were competing for the same jobs. In 1912, African Americans founded the Omaha chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
to work for improved conditions in the city and state.
Since the 1960s, Native American
activism in the state has increased, both through open protest, activities to build alliances with state and local governments, and in the slower, more extensive work of building tribal institutions and infrastructure. Native Americans in federally recognized tribes have pressed for self-determination, sovereignty and recognition. They have created community schools to preserve their cultures, as well as tribal colleges and universities
. Tribal politicians have also collaborated with state and county officials on regional issues.
The first Constitution of Nebraska in 1866 described Nebraska's boundaries as follows (Note that the description of the Northern border is no longer accurate, since the Keya Paha River
and the Niobrara River
no longer form the boundary of the state of Nebraska. Instead, Nebraska's Northern border now extends east along the forty-third degree of north latitude until it meets the Missouri River
The State of Nebraska shall consist of all the territory included within the following boundaries, to-wit: Commencing at a point formed by the intersection of the western boundary of the State of Missouri, with the fortieth degree of north latitude; extending thence due west along said fortieth degree of north latitude, to a point formed by its intersection with the twenty-fifth degree of longitude west from Washington [the Southern border]; thence north along said twenty-fifth degree of longitude, to a point formed by its intersection with the forty-first degree of north latitude; thence west along said forty-first degree of north latitude to a point formed by its intersection with the twenty-seventh degree of longitude west from Washington; thence north along said twenty-seventh degree of west longitude, to a point formed by its intersection with the forty-third degree of north latitude [the Western border, which is the Panhandle]; thence east along said forty-third degree of north latitude to the Keya Paha river; thence down the middle of the channel of said river, with its meanderings, to its junction with the Niobrara River; thence down the middle of the channel of said Niobrara River, and following the meanderings thereof to its junction with the Missouri River [the Northern border]; thence down the middle of the channel of said Missouri River, and following the meanderings thereof to the place of beginning [the Eastern border, which is the Missouri River].
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
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
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
Federal land management
Köppen climate types in Nebraska
Two major climatic zones are represented in Nebraska. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a humid continental climate
), although the southwest of this region may be classed as a humid subtropical climate
) using the −3 °C or 26.6 °F boundary. The Panhandle
and adjacent areas bordering Colorado have a semi-arid climate
). 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.
Nebraska is located in Tornado Alley
are common during both the spring and the summer. Violent thunderstorms and tornadoes
happen primarily during those two seasons, although they also can occur occasionally during the autumn.
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Nebraska
The table below shows the racial composition of Nebraska's population as of 2016.
Nebraska racial composition of population
Nebraska historical racial composition
In recent years, Nebraska has become home to many refugee communities. In 2016, it welcomed more refugees per capita than any other state.
Nebraska, and in particular Lincoln, is the largest home of Yazidis
refugees and Yazidi Americans
in the United States.
As of 2011, 31.0% of Nebraska's population younger than age 1 were minorities.
Note: Births in table don't add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
Live Births by Single Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic
origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic
group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
The religious affiliations of the people of Nebraska are:
Population density in Nebraska
Eighty-nine percent of the cities in Nebraska have fewer than 3,000 people. Nebraska shares this characteristic with five other Midwestern states: Kansas
, North Dakota
and South Dakota
, and Iowa
. Hundreds of towns have a population of fewer than 1,000. Regional population declines have forced many rural schools to consolidate.
Fifty-three of Nebraska's 93 counties reported declining populations between 1990 and 2000, ranging from a 0.06% loss (Frontier County
) to a 17.04% loss (Hitchcock County
Omaha, Nebraska's largest city
More urbanized areas of the state have experienced substantial growth. In 2000, the city of Omaha
had a population of 390,007; in 2005, the city's estimated population was 414,521 (427,872 including the recently annexed city of Elkhorn
), a 6.3% increase over five years. The 2010 census showed that Omaha has a population of 408,958. The city of Lincoln
had a 2000 population of 225,581 and a 2010 population of 258,379, a 14.5% increase.
As of the 2010 Census, there were 530 cities and villages in the state of Nebraska. There are five classifications of cities and villages in Nebraska, which are based upon population. All population figures are 2017 Census Bureau
estimates unless flagged by a reference number.
Metropolitan Class City (300,000 or more)
Primary Class City (100,000–299,999)
First Class City (5,000–99,999)
- Bellevue 53,424
- Grand Island 51,390
- Kearney 33,835
- Fremont 26,457
- Hastings 24,989
- Norfolk 24,434
- North Platte 23,888
- Columbus 23,128
- Papillion 19,539
- La Vista 17,116
- Scottsbluff 14,874
- South Sioux City 12,911
- Beatrice 12,295
- Lexington 10,024
- Gering 8,319
- Alliance 8,164
- Blair 8,091
- York 7,862
- McCook 7,540
- Ralston 7,333
- Nebraska City 7,313
- Seward 7,181
- Crete 7,160
- Sidney 6,620
- Plattsmouth 6,451
- Schuyler 6,212
- Chadron 5,648
- Wayne 5,439
- Holdrege 5,494
- Gretna 5,062
Second Class Cities (800–4,999) and Villages (100–800) make up the rest of the communities in Nebraska. There are 116 second-class cities and 382 villages in the state.
- Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney comprise the "Tri-Cities" area, with a combined population of 168,748
- The northeast corner of Nebraska is part of the Siouxland region.
Nebraska has a progressive income tax
. The portion of income from $0 to $2,400 is taxed at 2.56%; from $2,400 to $17,500, at 3.57%; from $17,500 to $27,000, at 5.12%; and income over $27,000, at 6.84%. The standard deduction for a single taxpayer is $5,700; the personal exemption is $118.
Nebraska has a state sales and use tax of 5.5%. In addition to the state tax, some Nebraska cities assess a city sales and use tax, in 0.5% increments, up to a maximum of 1.5%. Dakota County
levies an additional 0.5% county sales tax.
Food and ingredients that are generally for home preparation and consumption are not taxable.
All real property
within the state of Nebraska is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. Since 1992, only depreciable personal property
is subject to tax and all other personal property is exempt from tax. Inheritance tax
is collected at the county level.
Nebraska grain bins and elevator
- Total employment (2016): 884,450
- Total employer establishments: 54,265
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
, corn (maize)
, and sorghum
Other important economic sectors include freight
transport (by rail and truck), manufacturing
, information technology
, and insurance
As of November 2018, the state's unemployment
rate was 2.8%,
the fifth lowest in the nation.
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.
, Sandhills Publishing Company
, Duncan Aviation, and Hudl
are based in Lincoln
. The Buckle
is based in Kearney
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
Lincoln's Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing is the only Kawasaki plant in the world to produce the Jet Ski
, all-terrain vehicle
(ATV), and Mule product lines. The facility employs more than 1,200 people.
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.
Roads and highways
Law and government
has original text related to this article:
Presidential elections results
of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election
Nebraska's government operates under the framework of the Nebraska Constitution
, adopted in 1875,
and is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
Nebraska is the only state in the United States with a unicameral
legislature. Although this house is officially known simply as the "Legislature
", and more commonly called the "Unicameral", its members call themselves "senators". Nebraska's Legislature is also the only state legislature
in the United States that is officially nonpartisan
. The senators are elected with no party affiliation next to their names on the ballot, and members of any party can be elected to the positions of speaker and committee chairs. The Nebraska Legislature can also override the governor's veto with a three-fifths majority, in contrast to the two-thirds majority required in some other states.
When Nebraska became a state in 1867, its legislature consisted of two houses: a House of Representatives and a Senate. For years, U.S. Senator George Norris
(Senator 1913–1943) and other Nebraskans encouraged the idea of a unicameral legislature and demanded the issue be decided in a referendum
. Norris argued:
The constitutions of our various states are built upon the idea that there is but one class. If this be true, there is no sense or reason in having the same thing done twice, especially if it is to be done by two bodies of men elected in the same way and having the same jurisdiction.
Unicameral supporters also argued that a bicameral
legislature had a significant undemocratic feature in the committees that reconciled House and Senate legislation. Votes in these committees were secretive, and would sometimes add provisions to bills that neither house had approved. Nebraska's unicameral legislature today has rules that bills can contain only one subject, and must be given at least five days of consideration. In 1934, due in part to the budgetary pressure of the Great Depression
, Nebraska citizens ran a state initiative to vote on a constitutional amendment creating a unicameral legislature, which was approved, which, in effect, abolished the House of Representatives (the lower house).
The Legislature meets in the third Nebraska State Capitol
building, built between 1922 and 1932. It was designed by Bertram G. Goodhue
. Built from Indiana limestone, the capitol's base is a cross within a square. A 400-foot domed tower rises from this base. The Sower, a 19-foot bronze statue representing agriculture, crowns the building.
Nebraska is one of two states (Maine
is the other) that allow for a split in the state's allocation of electoral votes
in presidential elections
. Under a 1991 law, two of Nebraska's five votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote, while the other three go to the highest vote-getter in each of the state's three congressional districts
Despite the current Republican domination of Nebraska politics, the state has a long tradition of electing centrist
members of both parties to state and federal office; examples include George W. Norris
(who served a few years in the Senate as an independent), J. James Exon
, Bob Kerrey
, and Chuck Hagel
. Voters have tilted to the right in recent years, a trend evidenced when Hagel retired from the Senate in 2008 and was succeeded by conservative Republican Mike Johanns
to the U.S. Senate, as well as with the 2006 re-election of Ben Nelson
, who was considered the most conservative Democrat in the Senate until his retirement in 2013. Johanns retired in 2015 and was succeeded by another conservative, Sasse. Nelson retired in 2013 and was replaced by conservative Republican Fischer.
Colleges and universities
Football game at the University of Nebraska on September 6, 2008
Nebraska is currently home to seven member schools of the NCAA
, eight of the NAIA
, seven of the NJCAA
, one of the NCCAA
, and one independent school.
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- Luebke Frederick C. Nebraska: An Illustrated History (1995)
- Naugle, Ronald C., John J. Montag, and James C. Olson. History of Nebraska (4th ed. U of Nebraska Press, 2015). 568 pp. online review
- Wishart, David J. ed. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, University of Nebraska Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8032-4787-7. complete text online; 900 pages of scholarly articles
Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State, WPA Guide, 1939; scanned online edition
Scholarly special studies
Last edited on 8 May 2021, at 22:01
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