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Geography of Oklahoma

Learn Ten Facts about the United States State of Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City

The skyline of downtown Oklahoma City, the capital of Oklahoma, is seen at sunset.

Jerry Driendl/Getty Images
Updated June 09, 2011

Population: 3,751,351 (2010 estimate)
Capital: Oklahoma City
Bordering States: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri
Land Area: 69,898 square miles (181,195 sq km)
Highest Point: Black Mesa at 4,973 feet (1,515 m)
Lowest Point: Little River at 289 feet (88 m)

Oklahoma is a state located in the southern of the United States to the north of Texas and the south of Kansas. Its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City and it has a total population of 3,751,351 (2010 estimate). Oklahoma is known for its prairie landscape, severe weather and for its fast growing economy.

The following is a list of ten geographic facts about Oklahoma:

1) The first permanent inhabitants of Oklahoma are believed to have first settled the region between 850 and 1450 C.E. In the early to mid-1500's Spanish explorers travelled throughout the area but it was claimed by French explorers in the 1700s. French control of Oklahoma lasted until 1803 when the United States purchased all of France's territory west of the Mississippi River with the Louisiana Purchase.

2) Once Oklahoma was purchased by the United States, more settlers began to enter the region and during the 19th century the Native Americans who had been living in the region were forcibly moved away from their ancestral lands in the region to the lands surrounding Oklahoma. This land became known as Indian Territory and for several decades after its creation it was fought over by both the Native Americans who had been forced to move there and new settlers to the region.

3) By the end of the 19th century there were attempts to make Oklahoma Territory a state. In 1905 the Sequoyah Statehood Convention took place to create an all Native American state. These conventions failed but they began the movement for the Oklahoma Statehood Convention which eventually led to the territory becoming the 46th state to enter the Union on November 16, 1907.

4) After becoming a state, Oklahoma quickly began to grow as oil was discovered throughout several regions of the state. Tulsa was known as the "Oil Capital of the World" at this time and most of the state's early economic success was based on oil but agriculture was also prevalent. In the 20th century Oklahoma continued to grow but it also became a center of racial violence with the Tulsa Race Riot in 1921. By the 1930s Oklahoma's economy began to decline and it suffered further due to the Dust Bowl.

5) Oklahoma's began to recover from the Dust Bowl by the 1950s and by the 1960s, massive water conservation and flood control plan was put into place to prevent another such disaster. Today the state has a diversified economy that is based on aviation, energy, the manufacture of transportation equipment, food processing, electronics and telecommunications. Agriculture also still plays a role in Oklahoma's economy and it is fifth in U.S. cattle and wheat production.

6) Oklahoma is in the southern United States and with an area of 69,898 square miles (181,195 sq km) it is the 20th largest state in the country. It is near the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states and it shares borders with six different states.

7) Oklahoma has a varied topography because it is between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau. As such its western borders have gently sloping hills, while southeast has low wetlands. The highest point in the state, Black Mesa at 4,973 feet (1,515 m), is in its western panhandle, while the lowest point, Little River at 289 feet (88 m), is in the southeast.

8) The state of Oklahoma has a temperate continental throughout much of its area and a humid subtropical climate in the east. In addition, the high plains of the panhandle area have a semi-arid climate. Oklahoma City has an average January low temperature of 26˚ (-3˚C) and an average July high temperature of 92.5˚ (34˚C). Oklahoma is also prone severe weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes because it is geographically located in an area where air masses collide. Because of this, much of Oklahoma is within Tornado Alley and on average 54 tornadoes hit the state each year.

9) Oklahoma is an ecologically diverse state as it is home to over ten different ecological regions that range from arid grasslands to marshlands. 24% of the state is covered in forests and there is a variety of different animal species. In addition Oklahoma is home to 50 state parks, six national parks and two national protected forests and grasslands.

10) Oklahoma is known for its large system of education. The state is home to several large universities which include the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma.

To learn more about Oklahoma, visit the state's official website.

References

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Oklahoma: History, Geography, Population and State Facts- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108260.html

Wikipedia.org. (29 May 2011). Oklahoma - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma

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