Nebraska ( ) is a state located on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States.
state's capital is Lincoln and its
largest city is Omaha.
Nebraska probably gets its name from the archaic Otoe
words Ñí Brásge,
(contemporary Otoe Ñí Bráhge
), or the Omaha Ní Btháska,
"flat water," after the Platte River
that flows through the state. American Indian
in Nebraska have included the Iowas, Omahas, Missourias, Poncas,
Pawnees, Otoes, and various branches of the Sioux
Once considered part of the Great
(actually highly biodiverse prairie
it is now a leading farming
state, with the nation's largest
population of domesticated llamas
On May 30,
1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act
created the Kansas Territory and
Territory, divided by the Parallel 40° North. The territorial
capital of Nebraska was Omaha.
In the 1860s, the first great wave of homesteader
poured into Nebraska to claim free
land granted by the federal government. Many of the first farm
settlers built their homes out of sod
they found so few trees on the grassy land.
Nebraska became the 37th state in 1867, shortly after the American Civil War
. At that time, the
capital was moved from Omaha to
Lancaster, later renamed Lincoln after the
recently assassinated President of the United
Arbor Day holiday began in Nebraska, and
the National Arbor Day
Foundation is still headquartered in Nebraska
City with some offices also located in
Nebraska has a long history of civil rights
, starting in 1912 with the founding of Omaha's
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
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
The state has 93 counties
; it occupies the
central portion of the Frontier
. Nebraska is split into two time zones. The Central Time
zone comprises the eastern half of the state, while the western
half observes Mountain Time. Three rivers cross the state from west
to east. The Platte River
runs through the heart, the Niobrara
River flows through the northern part of the state's region,
and the Republican
River traverses through the southern part of the
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 behind
after the glaciers retreated. The Dissected Till Plains is a region of
gently rolling hills; Omaha and Lincoln are located within this region.
Plains occupy the majority of western Nebraska. The Great Plains
itself consists of several smaller, diverse land regions, including
the Sandhills, the Pine Ridge,
Basin, the High
Plains and the Wildcat
Hills. Panorama Point, at 5,424 feet (1,653 m), is the highest point in
Nebraska; despite its name and elevation, it is merely a low rise
near the Colorado and Wyoming borders.
Nebraska tourism slogan was "Where the West
Begins"; locations given for the beginning of the "West" 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
Nebraska is in fact a triply landlocked state
, as it does not
border the ocean, nor do any of the states it borders, nor any that
they border on.
Federal land management
Areas under the management of the National Park Service
Areas under the management of the National Forest Service
Two major climates
are represented in
Nebraska: the eastern half of the state has a humid continental climate
), and the western half of the state
has a semi-arid
climate (Koppen BSk
). The entire
state experiences wide seasonal variations in temperature and
precipitation. Average temperatures are fairly uniform across
Nebraska with hot summers and generally cold winters, while 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 and
35 inches (650 to 900 mm) of snow annually.
Map of Nebraska
Nebraska is located in Tornado Alley
are common in the spring
and summer months, and violent
primarily during the spring and summer, though can also happen in
the autumn. The chinook winds
provide a temporary
moderating effect on temperatures in western Nebraska during the
As of 2008, Nebraska has an estimated population of 1,783,432,
which is an increase of 8,891, or 0.5%, from the prior year and an
increase of 72,169, or 4.2%, since the year 2000. This includes a
natural increase since the last census of 77,995 people (that is
187,564 births minus 109,569 deaths) and a decrease due to net
migration of 9,319 people out of the state. Immigration
the United States resulted in a net increase of 27,398 people, and
migration within the country produced a net loss of 36,717
center of population of
Nebraska is located in Polk County, in the city of Shelby.
As of 2004, the population of Nebraska included about 84,000
foreign-born residents (4.8% of the population).
The five largest ancestry groups in Nebraska are German
(4.9%), and Czech
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.
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
Population density of Nebraska
Eighty-nine percent of the cities in Nebraska have fewer than 3,000
people. Nebraska shares this characteristic with
five other Midwest and Southern states (Kansas, Oklahoma, North and
Dakota, and Iowa).
Hundreds of towns have a population of fewer than 1,000.
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
Other portions 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.
of Lincoln had a 2000 population of 225,581 and a 2005 estimated
population of 239,213, a 6.0% change.
Regional population declines have forced many rural schools to
The religious affiliations of the people of Nebraska are:
- Christian – 90%
- Non-religious – 9%
- Other religions – 1%
The largest single denominations by number of adherents in 2000
were the Catholic Church
Lutheran Church in America
(128,570), the Lutheran Church - Missouri
(117,419) and the United Methodist Church
The Bureau of
estimates of Nebraska's gross state product
in 2004 was $68 billion. Per capita personal income in 2004 was
$31,339, 25th in the nation. Nebraska has a large agriculture
sector, and is an important producer
, and soybeans
important economic sectors include freight
, information technology
, and insurance
Nebraska has four personal income tax
brackets, ranging from 2.6% to 6.8%. Nebraska has a state sales tax
of 5.5%. In addition to the state tax,
some Nebraska cities assess a city sales and use tax, up to a
maximum of 1.5%. One county in Nebraska, Dakota
County, levies a sales tax.
All real property
located 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
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.
Kool-Aid is the official soft
drink of Nebraska. CliffsNotes were
invented in Rising
City, Nebraska by Clifton
Hillegass. His pamphlets were based on the original
Canadian idea, "Coles
Omaha is home to Berkshire
, whose CEO Warren
was ranked in March 2009 by Forbes magazine as the
2nd richest person in the
. This city is also home to ConAgra
, TD Ameritrade
, West Corporation
, Valmont Industries
, Woodmen of the World
and Duncan Aviation reside in Lincoln while
is based out of Kearney.
Sidney is the national headquarters for Cabela's, a specialty retailer of outdoor
world's largest train yard, Union
Yard, is located in North Platte. The Vise-Grip was
invented by William Petersen in 1924, and was manufactured in
Witt until the plant closed in late 2008.
Stadium on the University
of Nebraska campus in Lincoln holds 85,157 people.
During football games,
it holds almost twice the population of Bellevue (47,954) the
third-most populous city in the state. The largest Powerball
payout was on February 18, 2006. It was
$365 million and was split 8 ways by workers from a Lincoln
plant operated by ConAgra
Lincoln's Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing is the only Kawasaki plant
in the world to produce the Jet-Ski, ATV, and Mule lines of
product. The facility employs more than 1200 people.
Nebraska has a rich railroad history. The Union Pacific Railroad
in Omaha, was incorporated on July 1, 1862, in the wake of the
Pacific Railway Act of 1862
Bailey Yard, located in North Platte, is the largest railroad
classification yard in the world. The route of the original transcontinental
runs through the state.Other major railroads with
operations in the state are: Amtrak
; Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway
; Canadian Pacific Railway
Roads and highways
Highways through the State of Nebraska
Law and government
Nebraska's government operates under the framework of the Nebraska
Constitution, adopted in 1875, and is divided into three branches:
executive, legislative, and judicial.
The head of the executive branch is the Governor Dave
. Other elected officials in the executive branch are
Governor Rick Sheehy
(elected on the
same ticket as the Governor), Attorney General Jon Bruning
, Secretary of State John A. Gale
State Treasurer Shane Osborn
, and State Auditor Mike
. All elected officials in the executive branch serve
is the only state in the United States with a unicameral
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
United States that is nonpartisan
. The senators are elected
with no party affiliation next to their names on the ballot, and
the speaker and committee chairs are chosen at large, so that
members of any party can be chosen for these positions. The
Nebraska Legislature can also override a governor's veto with a
three-fifths majority, in contrast to the two-thirds majority
required in some other states.
Nebraska Legislature meets in
the third Nebraska
State Capitol building, built between 1922 and 1932.
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 Golden Sower, a 19-foot bronze
statue representing agriculture, crowns the Capitol. The state
Capitol is considered an architectural achievement. It has been
recognized by the American Institute of Architects.
For years, United States
Senator George Norris
Nebraskans encouraged the idea of a unicameral legislature, and
demanded the issue be decided in a referendum
. Norris argued:
Unicameral supporters also argued that a bicameral
legislature had a significant
undemocratic feature in the committees that reconciled Assembly 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.
Finally, in 1934, due in part to the budgetary pressure of the
unicameral legislature was put in place by a state initiative. In
effect, the Assembly (the house) was abolished; as noted, today's
Nebraska state legislators are commonly referred to as
judicial system in Nebraska is unified, with the Nebraska
Supreme Court having administrative authority over all Nebraska
Nebraska uses the Missouri
for the selection of judges at all levels. The lowest
courts in Nebraska are the county courts, above that are twelve
district courts (containing one or more counties). The Court of Appeals
appeals from the district courts, juvenile courts, and workers'
compensation courts. The Nebraska Supreme Court is the final court
From 2008 to 2009, from when the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that
the state's only method of execution, electrocution, was in
conflict with the state's constitution, Nebraska had no active
death-penalty law. (Prior to that ruling, Nebraska was the only
place in the world that used electrocution as the sole method of
execution.) In May 2009, the legislature passed and the governor
signed a bill that changed the method of execution in Nebraska to
lethal injection, enabling further capital punishment. However,
executions in Nebraska had been infrequent; none had been carried
out in the 21st century, and in the last few decades the state had
strongly flirted with the idea of a moratorium on, or complete
Federal government representation
Nebraska's U.S. senators
(R), the junior senator
(D), the senior senator
Nebraska has three representatives in the House of
(R) of the 1st district
; Lee Terry
(R) of the 2nd district
Adrian M. Smith
(R) of the 3rd district
Nebraska is one of two states that allow for a split in the state's
allocation of electoral votes
. Since 1991, two of Nebraska's five are awarded based
on the winner of the statewide election while the other three go to
the highest vote-getter in each of the state's three congressional
. The only time Nebraska's electoral votes have been
split was in the 2008 presidential
, when four votes went to Republican John McCain
and one electoral vote went to
For most of its history, Nebraska has been a solidly Republican
have carried the state in all but one presidential election since
1940—the 1964 landslide election of Lyndon B. Johnson
. In the 2004 presidential election
George W. Bush won the state's five electoral votes by
a 33% margin (the fourth-most Republican vote among states) with
65.9% of the overall vote; only Thurston
County, which includes two American Indian reservations, voted for John Kerry.
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 Norris
(who served few years in the Senate as an independent), J. James Exon
and Bob Kerrey
. This tradition is
illustrated by Nebraska's current senators: former Senator Chuck Hagel
was considered a maverick within his
party, while Ben Nelson
is arguably one
of the most conservative
members of the
Democratic Party in the Senate.
Important cities and towns
All population figures are 2008 Census Bureau
- Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney comprise the “Tri-Cities” area, with a combined population of
northeast corner of Nebraska is part of the Siouxland region.
Colleges and universities
was founded by J. Sterling
. The National Arbor Day Foundation
has its headquarters near his home in Nebraska City. The swing in the Hebron, Nebraska city park at 5th and Jefferson streets is claimed
to be the world's largest porch swing, long enough to fit 18 adults
or 24 children.
Nebraska Huskers football influences many of Nebraska's residents.
out Saturday football game days, Memorial
Stadium, Lincoln with a capacity of 85,500 becomes Nebraska's 3rd
founded in Omaha in 1920 by Ethel T. Wead Mick. There are now
bethels in Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Philippines.
- NebraskaStudies.org. 2009. "1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act Signed."
. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
- Note that Nebraska's designation as a "triply landlocked" state
does not consider the fact that Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois
have ports with access to the sea on the shores of the
- "State Membership Report". The Association
of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved July 29, 2008.
- Jirovsky, Kristin. "Owner of Nail Jack Tools wants to share
former Vise-Grip plant." Lincoln Journal-Star Online. Jan
- Chokecherry Places, Essays from the High Plains,
Merrill Gilfillan, Johnson Press, Boulder, Colorado, trade
paperback, ISBN 1-55566-227-7.
- Olson James C. and Ronald C. Naugle History of Nebraska 2nd ed (1997)
- Andreas, Alfred T. History of the State of Nebraska (1882 highly
- Creigh, Dorothy Weyers. Nebraska: A Bicentennial
- Faulkner, Virginia, ed. Roundup: A Nebraska Reader
- Hickey, Donald R. Nebraska Moments: Glimpses of Nebraska's
- Miewald, Robert D. Nebraska Government & Politics
- Luebke Frederick C. Nebraska: An Illustrated History
- Morton, J. Sterling, ed. Illustrated History of Nebraska: A
History of Nebraska from the Earliest Explorations of the
Trans-Mississippi Region. 3 vols. (1905-13)
- Wishart, David J. ed. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains
(2004), 900 pages of scholarly articles
- Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State (WPA
Guide, 1939) Online full-text PDF edition (442 pp., 87 illus.)
Scholarly special studies
- Barnhart, John D. "Rainfall and the Populist Party in
Nebraska." American Political Science Review 19 (1925):
527-40. in JSTOR
- Beezley, William H. "Homesteading in Nebraska, 1862-1872,"
Nebraska History 53 (spring 1972): 59-75.
- Bentley, Arthur F. "The Condition of the Western Farmer as
Illustrated by the Economic History of a Nebraska Township."
Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political
Science 11 (1893): 285-370.
- Cherny, Robert W. Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of
Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915 (1981)
- Bogue Allen G. Money at Interest: The Farm Mortgage on the
Middle Border (1955)
- Brunner, Edmund de S. Immigrant Farmers and Their
- Chudacoff, Howard P. Mobile Americans: Residential and
Social Mobility in Omaha, 1880-1920 (1972)
- Chudacoff, Howard P. "A New Look at Ethnic Neighborhoods:
Residential Dispersion and the Concept of Visibility in a
Medium-sized City." Journal of American History 60 (1973):
76-93. about Omaha; in JSTOR
- Coletta, Paolo E. William Jennings Bryan. 3 vols. 1964-69.
- Dick, Everett. The Sod-House Frontier: 1854-1890
- Farragher, John Mack. Women and Men on the Overland
- Fuller, Wayne E. The Old Country School: The Story of Rural
Education in the Midwest (1982)
- Grant, Michael Johnston. "Down and Out on the Family Farm"
- Harper, Ivy. Walzing Matilda: Life and Times of Nebraska
Senator Robert Kerrey (1992).
- Holter, Don W. Flames on the Plains: A History of United
Methodism in Nebraska (1983).
- Jeffrey, Julie Roy. Frontier Women: The Trans-Mississippi
West, 1840-1880 (1979)
- Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Birth of a Railroad,
- Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Rebirth, 1894-1969
- Larsen, Lawrence H. The Gate City: A History of Omaha
- Lowitt, Richard. George W. Norris 3 vols.
- Luebke, Frederick C. Immigrants and Politics: The Germans
of Nebraska, 1880-1900 (1969)
- Luebke, Frederick C. "The German-American Alliance in Nebraska,
1910-1917." Nebraska History 49 (1969): 165-85.
- Olson, James C. J. Sterling Morton
- Overton, Richard C. Burlington West: A Colonization History
of the Burlington Railroad (1941)
- Parsons Stanley B. "Who Were the Nebraska Populists?"
Nebraska History 44 (1963): 83-99.
- Pierce, Neal. The Great Plains States (1973)
- Pederson, James F., and Kenneth D. Wald. Shall the People
Rule? A History of the Democratic Party in Nebraska
- Riley, Glenda. The Female Frontier. A Comparative
View of Women on the Prairie and the Plains (1978)
- Wenger, Robert W. "The Anti-Saloon League in Nebraska Politics,
1898-1910." Nebraska History 52 (1971): 267-92.