Oklahoma, United States

About Oklahoma

Oklahoma is located in the South Central region of the United States of America. 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. 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. 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.

Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation

Oklahoma's 45 state parks and recreational areas draw some 16 million visitors annually. The national park service maintains one facility in Oklahoma—Chickasaw National Recreation Area, centering on artificial Lake Arbuckle.

The state also maintains and operates the American Indian Hall of Fame, in Anadarko; Black Kettle Museum, in Cheyenne; the T. B. Ferguson Home in Watonga; the Murrell Home, south of Tahlequah; the Pawnee Bill Museum, in Pawnee; the Pioneer Woman Statue and Museum, in Ponca City; the Chisholm Trail Museum, in Kingfisher; and the Western Trails Museum, in Clinton.National wildlife refuges include Optima, Salt Plains, Sequoyah, Tishomingo, Washita, and Wichita Mountains; they have a combined area of 140,696 acres.

Oklahoma Climate

The climate of Oklahoma is continental, as is all of the Great Plains. Warm, moist air moving northward from the Gulf of Mexico often exerts much influence, particularly over the southern and eastern portions of the state, where humidity, cloudiness and precipitation are resultantly greater than in western and northern sections. Summers are long and usually quite hot. Winters are shorter and less rigorous than those of the more northern Plains states. Periods of extreme cold are infrequent, and those lasting more than a few days are rare.

The mean annual temperature over the state ranges from 62 F along the Red River to about 58 F along the northern border. It then decreases westward to 56 F in Cimarron County. Temperatures of 90 F or greater occur, on average, about 60-65 days per year in the western panhandle and the northeast corner of the state. In the southwest, the average is about 115 days, and in the southeast about 85 days. Temperatures of 100 F or higher occur, frequently during some years, from May through September, and very rarely in April and October. The western half of the state, excluding most of the panhandle, averages 15 or more days with triple-digit temperatures, ranging from about 35 in the southwest corner and 25 in the northwest. The eastern half of the state and most of the panhandle average less than 15 such days. Years without 100 F temperatures are rare, ranging from about one of every seven years in the eastern half of the state to somewhat rarer in the west.

Oklahoma Transportaion

Transportation in Oklahoma is generated by an anchor system of Interstate Highways, intercity rail lines, airports, inland ports, and mass transit networks. Situated along an integral point in the United States Interstate network, Oklahoma contains three interstate highways and four auxiliary Interstate Highways. In Oklahoma City, Interstate 35 intersects with Interstate 44 and Interstate 40, forming one of the most important intersections along the United States highway system.

Oklahoma's largest commercial airport is Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, averaging a yearly passenger count of more than 3.5 million in 2005. Tulsa International Airport, the state's second largest commercial airport, serves more than three million travelers annually. Between the two, thirteen major airlines operate in Oklahoma. In total, Oklahoma has over 150 public-use airports.

Oklahoma is connected to the nation's rail network via Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, its only regional passenger rail line. It currently stretches from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, though lawmakers began seeking funding in early 2007 to connect the Heartland Flyer to Tulsa. Two inland ports on rivers serve Oklahoma: the Port of Muskogee and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.