Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Missouri is the 18th most populous state. It comprises 114 counties and one independent city. Missouri's capital is Jefferson City. The four largest urban areas are, in descending order, St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia.
Missouri was originally acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase and became defined as the Missouri Territory. Part of the Missouri Territory was admitted into the union as the 24th state in 1821.
Missouri mirrors the demographic, economic and political makeup of the nation with a mixture of urban and rural culture. It has long been considered a political bellwether state. It has both Midwestern and Southern cultural influences, reflecting its history as a border state.
It is also a transition between the eastern and western United States, as St. Louis is often called the "western-most eastern city" and Kansas City the "eastern-most western city." Missouri's geography is highly varied. The northern part of the state lies in dissected till plains while the southern part lies in the Ozark Mountains, with the Missouri River dividing the two. The confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers is located near St. Louis.