Missouri is a state in the Midwestern area of the United States that borders the Mississippi River. It is surrounded by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee), with Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south, and Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the west. It is the 21st most populated state in the United States. The Ozarks are a wooded highland in the southern United States that provides timber, minerals, and recreational opportunities. The Missouri River, after which the state was called, runs through the heart of the state and into the Mississippi River, which forms the state's eastern boundary. Having a population of more than six million people, it is the 19th most populous state in the United States. The state's biggest metropolitan centres are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia, with Jefferson City serving as the state capital.
Humans have lived in what is now Missouri for at least 12,000 years, according to archaeological evidence. The Mississippian culture, which flourished as least as early as the ninth century and created towns and mounds until succumbing to the elements in the fourteenth century. European explorers came face to face with the Osage and Missouria people when they arrived in the region in the 17th century. The French established the cities of Ste. Genevieve in 1735 and St. Louis in 1764 after incorporating the land into Louisiana. The territory of Missouri was purchased by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, after a short period of Spanish sovereignty. Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, flocked to the newly created Missouri Territory in droves. As part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Missouri was admitted as a slave state for the first time. Many people from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee came to the Boonslick region in Mid-Missouri to start new lives. The Missouri Rhineland was developed shortly thereafter as a result of massive German immigration.
As commemorated by the Gateway Arch, Missouri played a pivotal part in the westward expansion of the United States throughout the nineteenth century. Missouri was the starting point for the Pony Express, the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the California Trail. Missouri's position in the American Civil War was complicated since it was a border state, and it was subjected to opposing administrations, incursions, and guerrilla warfare throughout the conflict. Following World War II, both the Greater St. Louis metropolitan region and the Kansas City metropolitan area developed as hubs of industry and commerce. Today, the state is split into 114 counties, with the city of St. Louis functioning as an autonomous entity.