Oklahoma: The Sooner State

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by six other states: Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Kansas. It is the 28th most populous and the 20th most extensive state in the country, with a population of about 4 million and an area of 69,899 square miles. Oklahoma became the 46th state to join the union on November 16, 1907, after being part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Indian Territory of the 19th century. The state’s name comes from the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma”, meaning “red people”, referring to the Native American tribes that inhabited the land. Oklahoma is also known as the Sooner State, a nickname derived from the settlers who entered the state before it was officially opened for settlement in 1889.

History and Culture

Oklahoma has a rich and diverse history, influenced by various cultures and events. The state was home to many Native American tribes, such as the Osage, Caddo, Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita, who lived in the region for thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers. In the 1830s, the federal government forced many tribes from the eastern states to relocate to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears, a tragic journey that resulted in the death of thousands of Native Americans. Today, Oklahoma has the second-largest Native American population in the country, with 39 tribes headquartered in the state.

Oklahoma also played a significant role in the American Civil War, the Wild West, the oil boom, the Dust Bowl, and the civil rights movement. The state witnessed the first Tornado Warning in the United States in 1948, the deadliest domestic terrorist attack in the country’s history in 1995, and the largest earthquake in the state’s history in 2016. Oklahoma has produced many notable figures in various fields, such as Elizabeth Marie Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina; Will Rogers, a famous actor and humorist; Garth Brooks, a country music legend; and Jim Thorpe, an Olympic athlete and the first Native American to win a gold medal.

Oklahoma has a vibrant and diverse culture, influenced by its Native American, Western, Southern, and African American heritage. The state has a strong musical tradition, with genres such as country, rock, blues, folk, and gospel. Oklahoma is also known for its cuisine, which includes dishes such as chicken-fried steak, barbecue, cornbread, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie. The state has an official state meal, which consists of these and other foods. Oklahoma also has many festivals and events that celebrate its culture, such as the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, the Oklahoma State Fair, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Official World Championship Cow Chip Throwing Contest.

Geography and Climate

Oklahoma has a diverse geography, with features such as plains, hills, mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers. The state is divided into six regions: the High Plains, the Gypsum Hills, the Red Beds Plains, the Cross Timbers, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Arkansas River Valley. The highest point in the state is Black Mesa, which rises to 4,973 feet above sea level, while the lowest point is the Little River, which flows at 289 feet above sea level. The state also has more than 200 man-made lakes, the most of any state in the nation, and the Red River, which forms part of the state’s southern border and gives the water a reddish color due to the clay and minerals in it.

Oklahoma has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers, mild winters, and variable precipitation. The state is prone to severe weather, such as thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, and droughts. Oklahoma is located in the heart of Tornado Alley, a region of the United States that experiences the most tornadoes in the world. The state averages about 60 tornadoes per year, some of which can be very destructive and deadly. The state also experiences occasional earthquakes, which have increased in frequency and intensity in recent years due to the injection of wastewater from oil and gas production.

Economy and Industry

Oklahoma has a diverse and dynamic economy, with sectors such as agriculture, energy, aerospace, biotechnology, and tourism. The state is a major producer of natural gas, oil, coal, wind power, and ethanol, and ranks third in the nation for natural gas production and fifth for oil production. The state also has a large agricultural sector, producing crops such as wheat, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, and watermelon, and livestock such as cattle, hogs, poultry, and dairy. Oklahoma is also a leader in aerospace and aviation, with over 400 companies and 120,000 workers in the industry. The state is home to the largest air force base in the world, Tinker Air Force Base, and the largest maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility in the world, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.

Oklahoma also has a growing biotechnology sector, with research and development in fields such as immunology, cancer, diabetes, and aging. The state has several institutions that support the industry, such as the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and the Oklahoma Bioscience Association. Oklahoma also has a thriving tourism industry, with attractions such as the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Tulsa Zoo, the Oklahoma Aquarium, and the Route 66 Museum. The state also has many natural and historical sites, such as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, the Oklahoma History Center, and the Cherokee Heritage Center.


Oklahoma is a state with a rich and diverse history, culture, geography, climate, economy, and industry. The state has faced many challenges and opportunities throughout its history, and has contributed to the nation and the world in various ways. Oklahoma is a state that celebrates its heritage and embraces its future, with a spirit of resilience, innovation, and diversity. Oklahoma is a state that is worth exploring and learning more about.

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