Missouri borders eight different states, as does its neighbor, Tennessee. No state in the U.S. touches more than eight states. Missouri is bounded on the north by Iowa; on the east, across the Mississippi River, by Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee; on the south by Arkansas; and on the west by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (the last across the Missouri River.) The two largest Missouri rivers are the Mississippi, which defines the eastern boundary of the state, and the Missouri, which flows from west to east through the state, practically connecting the two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis.
Although today the state is usually considered part of the Midwest, historically Missouri was sometimes considered a Southern state, chiefly because of the settlement of migrants from the South and its status as a slave state before the Civil War. The counties that made up “Little Dixie” were those along the Missouri River in the center of the state, settled by Southern migrants who held the greatest concentration of slaves.
Residents of cities farther north and of the state’s large metropolitan areas, including those where most of the state’s population resides (Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia), typically consider themselves Midwestern. In rural areas and cities farther south, such as (Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Springfield, and Sikeston), residents typically self-identify as more Southern.