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The area now known as Kansas was first explored by a European in 1541. His name was Francisco de Coronado and he was exploring for Spain. Sieur de la Salle also made several land claims in the area on behalf of France, but not until 1682. In 1763, Spain received the territory from France, but France got it back again in 1800. Shortly thereafter, in 1803, the land was transferred to the United States from the French via the Louisiana Purchase.
Between 1803 and 1819, several famous explorers came to explore the region that is now the state of Kansas. Some of those explorers were Stephen H. Long, the famous exploring duo of Lewis and Clark, and Zebulon Pike. However, it wasn't until 1827 that the first permanent settlement was established at Fort Leavenworth. In 1842, a settlement at Fort Scott was established, followed by one at Fort Riley in 1853. The point of some of those settlements was to protect those traveling along either the Oregon Trail or the Santa Fe Trail.
The area earned the ominous nickname of "Bleeding Kansas" right before the Civil War broke out, thanks to numerous slavery-related conflicts. See also Kansas History Page for more Details
The State of Kansas organized as territory on May 30, 1854 and entered the union as the 34th state on Jan. 29, 1861. It has 105 Counties. The capital is Topeka and the official state website is kansas.gov/.
The 2010 population was 2,853,118 and the largest cities (2010) are Wichita, 382,368; Overland Park, 173,372; Kansas City, 145,786; Topeka (Capital), 127,473; Olathe, 125,872; Lawrence, 87,643; Shawnee, 62,209; Manhattan, 52,281; Lenexa, 48,190; Salina, 47,707.
The State of Kansas was named for Konza (also called Kansa or Kaw) Indians who lived in the area. Its nickname is the Sunflower State .The State Motto is "Ad astra per aspera" which means To the stars through difficulties .