The Platte River has also played a significant role in Nebraska’s history.In fact, the state’s name is derived from the Oto Indian word Nebrathka (“Flat Water”), a reference to the Platte. Population (2010) 1,826,341; (2017 est.) 1,920,076. Nebraska comprises parts of two of the United States’ principal physiographic regions—the till plains of the Central Lowland (in the eastern third of the state) and the Great Plains (which makes up the centre of the state).South of the Platte and west of the prairie soil area, the soil is best suited to small-grain production.Winter wheat adapts to the soil and marginal precipitation of western Nebraska.Nebraska is bounded by the state of South Dakota to the north, with the Missouri River making up about one-fourth of that boundary and the whole of Nebraska’s boundaries with the states of Iowa and Missouri to the east.The boundary with Kansas to the south was established when the two territories were created by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854.Nebraska’s climate, like that of the larger Great Plains region, is subject to extremes in temperature, wind speeds, and precipitation.
Low-pressure systems moving out of the southwestern states sometimes bring great blizzards to Nebraska.
The average annual precipitation varies from more than 30 inches (750 mm) in the southeast to less than 16 inches (400 mm) in the extreme west.
Since a minimum of 20 inches (500 mm) is usually considered necessary for normal crop production, about one-half of Nebraska may be considered semiarid.
Although shallow and unnavigable, the Platte is vital to the state’s irrigation.
The river is formed by the confluence of the North and South Platte rivers, both of which rise in Colorado to the southwest, although the North Platte swings northward through Wyoming, to the west, before entering Nebraska.