Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,617,316 residents in 2007 and a land area of 68,667 square miles (177,847 km²), Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people", and is known informally by its nickname, The Sooner State. Formed from the Indian Territory on November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was the 46th state to enter the union. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
A major producer of natural gas, oil and agriculture, Oklahoma relies on an economic base of aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, ranking among the top states in per capita income growth and gross domestic product growth. Oklahoma City and Tulsa serve as Oklahoma's primary economic anchors, with nearly 60 percent of Oklahomans living in their metropolitan statistical areas. The state holds a mixed record in education and healthcare, and its largest universities participate in the NCAA and NAIA athletic associations, with two collegiate athletic departments rated among the most successful in American history.
With small mountain ranges, prairie, and eastern forests, most of Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains and the U.S. Interior Highlands—a region especially prone to severe weather. With a prevalence of German, Irish, English and Native American ancestry, more than 25 Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma, the most of any state. It is located on a confluence of three major American cultural regions and historically served as a route for cattle drives, a destination for southern settlers, and a government-sanctioned territory for Native Americans. Part of the Bible Belt, widespread belief in evangelical Christianity makes it one of the most politically conservative states, though Oklahoma has more voters registered in the Democratic Party than in any other party.
The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw phrase okla homma, literally meaning red people. Choctaw Chief Allen Wright suggested the name in 1866 during treaty negotiations with the federal government regarding the use of Indian Territory, in which he envisioned an all-Indian state controlled by the United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Equivalent to the English word Indian, okla humma was a phrase in the Choctaw language used to describe the Native American race as a whole. Oklahoma later became the name for Oklahoma Territory, and it was officially approved in 1890, two years after the area was opened to white settlers.
Read more at: Geography of Oklahoma
Oklahoma is the 20th-largest state in the United States, covering an area of 69,898 square miles (181,035 km²), with 68,667 square miles (177847 km²) of land and 1,231 square miles (3,188 km²) of water. It is one of six states on the Frontier Strip, and lies partly in the Great Plains near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. It is bounded on the east by Arkansas and Missouri, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south and near-west by Texas.
Read more at: Lakes in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is situated between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, generally sloping from the high plains of its western boundary to the low wetlands of its southeastern boundary. Its highest and lowest points follow this trend, with its highest peak, Black Mesa, at 4,973 feet (1,516 m) above sea level, situated near its far northwest corner in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The state's lowest point is on the Little River near its far southeastern boundary, which dips to 289 feet (88 m) above sea level.
Among the most geographically diverse states, Oklahoma is one of four to harbor more than 10 distinct ecological regions, with 11 in its borders — more per square mile than in any other state. Its western and eastern halves, however, are marked by extreme differences in geographical diversity: Eastern Oklahoma touches eight ecological regions and its western half contains three.
Oklahoma has four primary mountain ranges: the Ouachita Mountains, the Arbuckle Mountains, the Wichita Mountains, and the Ozark Mountains. Contained within the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains mark the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. A portion of the Flint Hills stretches into north-central Oklahoma, and in the state's southeastern corner, Cavanal Hill is regarded by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department as the world's tallest hill; at 1,999 feet (609 m), it fails their definition of a mountain by one foot.
In the state’s northwestern corner, semi-arid high plains harbor few natural forests and rolling to flat landscape with intermittent canyons and mesa ranges like the Glass Mountains. Partial plains interrupted by small mountain ranges like the Antelope Hills and the Wichita Mountains dot southwestern Oklahoma, and transitional prairie and woodlands cover the central portion of the state. The Ozark and Ouachita Mountains rise from west to east over the state's eastern third, gradually increasing in elevation in an eastward direction. More than 500 named creeks and rivers make up Oklahoma's waterways, and with 200 lakes created by dams, it holds the highest number of artificial reservoirs in the nation. Most of the state lies in two primary drainage basins belonging to the Red and Arkansas rivers, though the Lee and Little rivers also contain significant drainage basins.
Flora and fauna Edit
Forests cover 24 percent of Oklahoma and prairie grasslands composed of shortgrass, mixed-grass, and tallgrass prairie, harbor expansive ecosystems in the state's central and western portions, although cropland has largely replaced native grasses. Where rainfall is sparse in the western regions of the state, shortgrass prairie and shrublands are the most prominent ecosystems, though pinyon pines, junipers, and ponderosa pines grow near rivers and creek beds in the far western reaches of the panhandle. Marshlands, cypress forests and mixtures of shortleaf pine, loblolly pine and deciduous forests dominate the state's southeastern quarter, while mixtures of largely post oak, elm, cedar and pine forests cover northeastern Oklahoma.
The state holds populations of white-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, elk, and birds such as quail, doves, cardinals, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and pheasants. In prairie ecosystems, american bison, greater prairie-chickens, badgers, and armadillo are common, and some of the nation's largest prairie dog towns inhabit shortgrass prairie in the state's panhandle. The Cross Timbers, a region transitioning from prairie to woodlands in Central Oklahoma, harbors 351 vertebrate species. The Ouachita Mountains are home to black bear, red fox, grey fox, and river otter populations, which coexist with a total of 328 vertebrate species in southeastern Oklahoma.
Protected lands Edit
Oklahoma has 50 state parks, six national parks, two national protected forests, and a network of wildlife preserves and conservation areas. Six percent of the state's 10 million acres (40,000 km²) of forest is public land, including the western portions of the Ouachita National Forest, the largest and oldest national forest in the southern United States. With 39,000 acres (158 km²), the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in north-central Oklahoma is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie in the world and is part of an ecosystem that encompasses only 10 percent of its former land area, once covering 14 states. In addition, the Black Kettle National Grassland covers 31,300 acres (127 km²) of prairie in southwestern Oklahoma. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is the oldest and largest of nine national wildlife refuges in the state and was founded in 1901, encompassing 59,020 acres (238.8 km²). Of Oklahoma's federally protected park or recreational sites, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is the largest, with 4,500 acres (18 km²). Other federal protected sites include the Santa Fe and Trail of Tears national historic trails, the Fort Smith and Washita Battlefield national historic sites, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
Oklahoma is located in a temperate region and experiences occasional extremes of temperature and precipitation typical in a continental climate. Most of the state lies in an area known as Tornado Alley characterized by frequent interaction between cold and warm air masses producing severe weather. An average 54 tornadoes strike the state per year—one of the highest rates in the world. Because of its position between zones of differing prevailing temperature and winds, weather patterns within the state can vary widely between relatively short distances.
The humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa) of the eastern part of Oklahoma influenced heavily by southerly winds bringing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, but transitions progressively to a semi-arid zone (Koppen BSk) in the high plains of the Panhandle and other western areas from about Lawton westward less frequently touched by southern moisture. Precipitation and temperatures fall from east to west accordingly, with areas in the southeast averaging an annual temperature of 62 °F and an annual rainfall of 56 inches, while areas of the panhandle average 58 °F, with an annual rainfall under 17 inches. All of the state frequently experiences temperatures above 100 °F or below 0 °F, and snowfall ranges from an average of less than 4 inches in the south to just over 20 inches on the border of Colorado in the panhandle. The state is home to the National Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service located at Norman.
Please read the article: History of Oklahoma for full detail.
Based in the sectors of aviation, energy, transportation equipment, food processing, electronics, and telecommunications, Oklahoma is an important producer of natural gas, aircraft, and food. The state ranks second in the nation for production of natural gas, and is the 27th-most agriculturally productive state, ranking 5th in production of wheat. Six Fortune 500 companies and one additional Fortune 1000 company are headquartered in Oklahoma, and it has been rated one of the most business-friendly states in the nation, with the 7th-lowest tax burden in 2007. From 2000 to 2006, Oklahoma's gross domestic product grew 50 percent, the fifth-highest rate in the nation. It had the fastest-growing GDP between 2005 and 2006, increasing from $122.5 to $134.6 billion, a jump of 10.8 percent, and its gross domestic product per capita grew 5.9 percent from $36,364 in 2006 to $38,516 in 2007, the third-fastest rate in the nation. Its 2007 per capita GDP ranked 41st among the states. Though oil has historically dominated the state's economy, a collapse in the energy industry during the 1980s led to the loss of nearly 90,000 energy-related jobs between 1980 and 2000, severely damaging the local economy. Oil accounted for 17 percent of Oklahoma's economic impact in 2005, and employment in the state's oil industry was outpaced by five other industries in 2007.
Oklahoma is placed in the South by the United States Census Bureau, but lies fully or partially in the Midwest, Southwest, and southern cultural regions by varying definitions, and partially in the Upland South and Great Plains by definitions of abstract geographical-cultural regions. Oklahomans have a high rate of German, Scotch-Irish, and Native American ancestry, with 25 different native languages spoken, more than in any other state. Six governments have claimed the area at different times, and 67 Native American tribes are represented in Oklahoma, including the greatest number of tribal headquarters and 39 federally recognized nations. Western ranchers, native American tribes, southern settlers, and eastern oil barons have shaped the state's cultural predisposition, and its largest cities have been named among the most underrated cultural destinations in the United States. While residents of Oklahoma are associated with stereotypical traits of friendliness and generosity — the Catalogue for Philanthropy ranks Oklahomans 4th in the nation for overall generosity.
Oklahoma has professional sports teams in basketball, football, arena football, baseball, soccer, and hockey, located in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Enid, Norman, and Lawton. The Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association is the state's only major league sports franchise, but minor league sports, including minor league baseball at the AAA and AA levels, hockey in the Central Hockey League, and arena football in the af2 league are hosted by Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Oklahoma City also hosts the Oklahoma City Lightning playing in the National Women's Football Association, and Tulsa is the base for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League and the Tulsa Revolution, which plays in the American Indoor Soccer League. Enid and Lawton host professional basketball teams in the USBL and the CBA.
The NBA's New Orleans Hornets became the first major league sports franchise based in Oklahoma when the team was forced to relocate to Oklahoma City's Ford Center for two seasons following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In July 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics, owned by a group of Oklahoma City businessmen led by Clayton Bennett, relocated to Oklahoma City and announced that play would begin at Ford Center as the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008, becoming the state's first permanent major league franchise.
Collegiate athletics are a popular draw in the state. The University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys average well over 60,000 fans attending their football games, and the University of Oklahoma's American football program ranked 13th in attendance among American colleges in 2006, with an average of 84,561 people attending its home games. The two universities meet several times each year in rivalry matches known as the Bedlam Series, which are some of the greatest sporting draws to the state. Sports programs from 11 Oklahoma colleges and universities compete within the NCAA, with four participating at the association’s highest level, Division I: University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Tulsa, and Oral Roberts University. Sports Illustrated magazine rates the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University among the top colleges for athletics in the nation. In addition, 12 of the state's smaller colleges or universities participate in the NAIA, mostly within the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Regular LPGA tournaments are held at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa, and major championships for the PGA or LPGA have been played at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oak Tree Country Club in Oklahoma City, and Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa. Rated one of the top golf courses in the nation, Southern Hills has hosted four PGA Championships, including one in 2007, and three U.S. Opens, the most recent in 2001. Rodeos are popular throughout the state, and Guymon, in the state's panhandle, hosts one of the largest in the nation.
Law and government Edit
Read full article at: Oklahoma Government
The government of Oklahoma is a liberal democracy modeled after the Federal Government of the United States, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The state has 77 counties with jurisdiction over most local government functions within each respective domain, five congressional districts, and a voting base with a majority in the Democratic Party. State officials are elected by plurality voting.
State Symbols Edit
- State bird: Scissortail flycatcher
- State tree: Eastern Redbud
- State mammal: American Bison
- State beverage: Milk
- State fruit: Strawberry
- State game bird: Wild Turkey
- State fish: Sandbass
- State floral emblem: Mistletoe
- State flower: Oklahoma Rose
- State wildflower: Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchellum)
- State grass: Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
- State fossil: Saurophaganax maximus
- State rock: Rose rock
- State insect: Honeybee
- State soil: Port Silt Loam
- State reptile: Collared Lizard
- State amphibian: Bullfrog
- State meal: fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken, fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
- State folk dance: Square Dance
- State percussive instrument: drum
- State waltz: Oklahoma Wind
- State butterfly: Black Swallowtail
- State song: "Oklahoma!"