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Missouri can be found in the Midwestern region. It ranks 21st in terms of land area and is bordered with eight states (tied for most with Tennessee). These include Iowa to the north and Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee to east, Arkansas to south, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to west. In the south are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center into the Mississippi River, which makes up the eastern border. With more than six million residents, it is the 19th-most populous state of the country. St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield are the largest urban areas; Columbia is the capital.
Humans have inhabited what is now Missouri for at least 12,000 years. The Mississippian culture, which emerged at least in the ninth century, built cities and mounds before declining in the 14th century. European explorers arrived in the 17th Century to find the Osage- and Missouria nations. The French incorporated the territory into Louisiana, founding Ste. Genevieve was established in 1735, and St. Louis in 1764. After a brief spanish period, the United States took Missouri as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, rushed into the new Missouri Territory. Missouri was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Many from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee settled in the Boonslick area of Mid-Missouri. Soon after, heavy German immigration formed the Missouri Rhineland.