| Nebraska gets its name from a Chiwere word meaning "flat water", after the Platte River which flows through the state. Once considered part of the Great American Desert, Nebraska is now a leading farming state. Nebraskans have practiced scientific farming to turn the Nebraska prairie into a land of ranches and farms. Much of the state's history surrounds the impact of the Nebraska farmer. Nebraskans are sometimes colloquially referred to as "Cornhuskers" (which is derived from the state nickname). |
With its large agriculture sector, Nebraska is a national leader in the production of beef, pork, corn (maize), and soybeans. Other important economic sectors include freight transport (by rail and truck), manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology, and insurance.
The state is bordered by South Dakota to the north, Iowa to the east, Missouri to the southeast, across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south, Colorado to the southwest, and Wyoming to the west.
Nebraska 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.
The Great Plains occupy the majority of western Nebraska. The Great Plains itself is comprised of several smaller, diverse land regions, including Sandhills, Pine Ridge, Rainwater Basin, High Plains and Wildcat Hills. Panorama Point, at 5,424 feet (1,653 m), is the highest point in Nebraska. Despite its name and elevation, the Point is merely a low rise near the Colorado and Wyoming borders.
Nebraska's major national highway corridor is Interstate 80, which runs east-west across the state. Other major highways entering Nebraska include: Interstate 76 (from Colorado), US 81 (major north-south route), US 20 (northern east-west route), US 26 (from Wyoming), and US 385/Nebraska 71 (western north-south route).
Omaha and Lincoln are Nebraska's two major airports. Omaha is served by all major airlines, Lincoln is served by Northwest and United. However, there are no direct international flights to any Nebraska airport. Other airports with commercial service are found in Alliance, Chadron, Grand Island, Kearney, McCook, North Platte and Scottsbluff. The Sioux City, Iowa airport serves the northeast corner of the state.
Amtrak makes stops several times per week in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings and McCook. Amtrak's stops are generally in the middle of the night.
Greyhound only serves Omaha. Two other companies, Arrow Stage Lines and Burlington Trailways, service a number of other Nebraskan cities.
• Kool-Aid Museum. Oh yeah! The popular drink was invented in Hastings and is the official drink of Nebraska.
• Scotts Bluff National Monument. Features large rock formations in the midst of flat land.
• Chimney Rock National Historic Site. A landmark for travelers in the 1800s, this 500 foot-tall stone pillar marked the end of the prairies and the beginning of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
• Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, near Royal. An active paleontology dig displaying the remains of rhinos, camels, and three-toed horses that lived in the area 12 million years ago.
• Toadstool State Park. A large expanse of a rock formation known as "toadstools" often seen in The Roadrunner cartoons. They are basically very large boulders sitting on top of small spires of rock.
• Harold Warp's Pioneer Village, Minden. The museum commemorates the late inventor with more than 50,000 artifacts, from monkey wrenches to the world's largest collection of restored farm tractors.
• Straw Bale Church, Arthur. The full-size church was built in 1928 using bales of hay covered with plaster and stucco.
• Fall of Saigon Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, Lexington. The helicopter replica draws many motorists off the interstate.
• Archway Monument, located just outside of Kearney, NE.
• Lied Jungle, Omaha. World's largest indoor rain forest.
• Halsey National Forest, near Thedford. Home to the world's largest hand-planted forest.
A past Nebraska slogan was The Beef State, and much of Nebraska's cuisine is still best described as "meat and potatoes". Stop in any Nebraska city or town and you'll be likely to find low-cost, high-quality, home-cooked dining options. Nebraska's cuisine is influenced by the numerous immigrant settlers. For example, you'll find German and Scandinavian dishes in the northeast, Czech meals in some areas, and numerous Italian restaurants in Omaha.
• There are more miles of river in Nebraska than any other state
• The emergency system 911 was developed and first used in Nebraska
• Omaha, Nebraska is home to the world's largest ball of stamps
• Lincoln County houses the world's largest Wooly Mammoth elephant fossil
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• Nebraska Panhandle
• North Central Nebraska
• South Central Nebraska
• Eastern Nebraska
The major east-west highways are US 2 and Interstate 94. North Dakota Highways 5 and 200 are also significant east-west routes.
BNSF and the Canadian Pacific Railway operate the most extensive rail systems in the state. Minor lines include the Dakota, Missouri Valley, Western Railroad and the Red River Valley.
Two major climates are represented in Nebraska. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a hot summer continental climate, while the western third has a semiarid steppe climate. The entire state experiences wide seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation. Average temperatures are fairly uniform across Nebraska, although average annual precipitation decreases between the southeast corner of the state to about the Nebraska Panhandle. Snowfall across the state is fairly even. Most of Nebraska receives between 25 and 35 inches (650 to 900 mm) of snow annually.
Severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornados are not uncommon during the spring and summer months; Nebraska is in "Tornado Alley". Stay informed of current conditions if severe weather threatens, as conditions can change very rapidly. Nebraska TV and radio stations provide excellent severe weather coverage. You might want to check the Tornado safety page if you are visiting Nebraska.
Omaha and Lincoln have crime rates that are roughly on par with similarly-sized cities. Crime rates do vary considerably among neighborhoods in Omaha.