The United States is often split into different regions. However, the lines between these regions can sometimes be blurry. Some states exhibit traits of two different regions.
Determining the Southern state most similar to the Western region of the United States requires considering a variety of different factors. One way to answer this complex question is by analyzing the data from the State Similarity Index. The index attempts to quantify how similar American states are to each other relative to other states, using a variety of statistics from five broad categories: demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography.
(Western states defined as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington)
No state in the Midwest is much more similar to the West than the other states in the region. Still, Kansas has slightly more in common than other Midwestern states. Both Kansas and western states share a history of westward expansion and frontier settlement. They also have some similar demographic and infrastructure traits.
Kansas distinguishes itself within the Midwest by showcasing demographic characteristics that align more closely with certain western states. With approximately 33.4% of its population residing in rural areas, Kansas stands out among Midwest states, resembling the demographic makeup of western states. The state’s rural landscape is defined by large average farm sizes, an aging population in rural areas, and lower population density in rural counties, traits more reminiscent of certain western states. Moreover, the centrality of agriculture, evident in its economic contribution and the prevalence of farms, reinforces Kansas’s shared rural and agricultural heritage with the West, differentiating it from many traditional Midwestern states.
Kansas serves as a regional transportation hub, and its infrastructure aligns more with western states than other Midwest counterparts. Boasting an extensive network of interstate highways and ranking high in truck traffic and freight movement, Kansas resembles the transportation-centric nature of certain western states. The state’s role in supporting trade and economic activities is underscored by the value of goods transported and the presence of logistics and distribution centers. Connectivity through railroads, airports, and international trade further solidifies Kansas’s position as a transportation hub, mirroring the strategic infrastructure seen in western states. In this way, Kansas shares more similarities in its infrastructure with the West than with many traditional Midwestern states.