Wichita (/wtt/ WITCH--taw) is the largest city in the state of Kansas and the 50th-largest city in the United States. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 382,368; as of 2014, it was estimated to have increased to 389,965. In 2015, the estimated population of the Wichita metropolitan area was 644,610, and that of the larger Wichita-Winfield combined statistical area was 680,398.
The city began as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s, then was incorporated in 1870. It subsequently became a key destination for cattle drives traveling north from Texas to access railroads, earning it the nickname "Cowtown". In the 1920s and 1930s, businessmen and aeronautical engineers established a number of successful aircraft manufacturing companies in Wichita including Beechcraft, Cessna, and Stearman Aircraft. The city transformed into a hub of U.S. aircraft production and became known as "The Air Capital of the World". Beechcraft, Cessna, (both now part of Textron Aviation) and other firms including Learjet, Airbus and Spirit AeroSystems continue to operate design and manufacturing facilities in Wichita today, and the city remains a major center of the U.S. aircraft industry. Wichita is also home to McConnell Air Force Base. In 1937, the city of Wichita established their official flag.
As an industrial hub and the largest city in the state, Wichita is an area center of culture, media, and trade. It hosts several large museums, theatres, parks, and entertainment venues, notably Intrust Bank Arena. Several universities are located in the city including Wichita State University, the third largest in the state. The city's daily newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, has the highest circulation of any newspaper in Kansas, and the Wichita broadcast television market includes the western two-thirds of the state. Wichita is also home to the Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center and Kansas's largest airport, Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.
Archaeological evidence indicates human habitation near the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, the site of present-day Wichita, as early as 3000 B.C. In 1541, a Spanish expedition led by explorer Francisco Vzquez de Coronado found the area populated by the Quivira, or Wichita, people. Conflict with the Osage in the 1750s drove the Wichita further south. Prior to American settlement of the region, the site was located in the territory of the Kiowa. Claimed first by France as part of Louisiana and later acquired by the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, it became part of Kansas Territory in 1854 and then the state of Kansas in 1861.
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