Oklahoma (pronounced: /ˌoʊkləˈhoʊmə/) is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With 3,579,212 residents in 2006, it is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state by land area. Its name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people," and is known informally by its nickname, The Sooner State. Formed from Indian Territory on November 16, 1907, it was the 46th state to enter the union. Its people are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
A major producer of oil and food, Oklahoma is also an important manufacturer of aircraft parts and a leader in biotechnology. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, leading in gross domestic product growth and ranking third among states in per capita income growth. Nearly 65 percent of Oklahomans live in the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and the cities serve as primary economic centers of the state. Six universities ranked high for academic achievement are located in the state, and two rate among the best college sports programs in American history.
Made up of small mountain ranges, prairie, and eastern forests, Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains and Ozark Highlands in a region prone to severe weather. With a prevalence of German, Irish, and Native American ancestry, more than 25 native languages are spoken in the state, the most in the nation. It is located at a confluence of three major cultural regions, historically serving as a route for cattle drives, a destination for southern settlers, and a government-sanctioned territory for Native Americans. Part of the Bible Belt, a mix of Western individualism and Southern religiosity make Oklahoma one of the most conservative states; however, Democratic Party registrations exceed Republican Party registrations in the state by 11.6%.