Aerial view of the population center of Wichita, Kansas.

10 Largest Cities In Kansas

Kansas can be found in the American Midwest and is nicknamed the "Sunflower State." The highest point in Kansas is Mount Sunflower, which rises to an elevation of 1,231m. The state encompasses a landmass of more than 211,754 sq. km, making Kansas the 13th largest state by total area. Yet, with a population of 2.8 million inhabitants, it is the country's 34th most populous state. Kansas has 105 counties with 628 incorporated cities. Furthermore, Kansas is unique in that all established areas are referred to as "Cities," and it is only one of 11 states to do so. Believe it or not, there are many "fictional cities" made famous by a film that is confused for being real. These include Smallville, where superman grew up, and Jericho, popularized by the show with the same name. However, many are drawn to Kansas with some universities and sports teams for more than the Great Plains it resides on. The following article lists the largest cities in Kansas according to population:

  1. Wichita, Kansas
  2. Overland Park 
  3. Kansas City
  4. Olathe
  5. Topeka
  6. Lawrence
  7. Shawnee
  8. Lenexa
  9. Manhattan
  10. Salina

1. Wichita, Kansas - 400,564 people

Wichita, Kansas, downtown skyline at dusk.
Wichita, Kansas, downtown skyline at dusk. 

Found in south-central Kansas, Wichita is the state's largest and most populous city. The state's largest airport, Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, is located here, which adds to Wichita's claim of fame as the "Airplane capital of the World." It also serves as a further nod to Wichita's thriving airplane industry during World War II. The early investments from Lloyd Stearman, Clyde Cessna, and Walter Beech and their companies aided the US military with bomber plane production at the height of the war. Wichita is home to many academic facilities, among which the Wichita State University is the largest. There are a variety of professional and minor league sports teams in Wichita. These include the Wichita Thunder belonging to (minor league hockey), Wichita Force (Minor League Indoor Football), and Wichita Wind Surge (Minor League Baseball). A little-known fact is that White Castle and Pizza Hut were both founded in Wichita in terms of franchises. Additionally, the camping brand Coleman also got its start here. The Arkansas River can be found in Wichita and is 2,364 kilometers in length, being the sixth-longest river in the United States.

2. Overland Park  - 202,012 people

Aerial view of Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City
Aerial view of Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. 

Overland Park is Kansas's second-most populous city and borders Kansas City, Kansas to the north, and is approximately 1 km south-southwest of Kansas City, Missouri. It is found within the Osage Plains, and the Kansas River edges the northern part of the city. The city was developed to be self-sustainable with good education and transportation, appealing to being a "park-like" city. Overland Park has 72 parks that expand over an area of 7.3 square kilometers. The streetcars that extend into Kansas City (State of Missouri) from Overland Park were among the first to interconnect the cities. These yellow streetcars serve as a popular tourist attraction among visitors.

3. Kansas City - 158,771 people

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams take to the track for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams take to the track for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group /

Kansas City, Kansas, nicknamed “KCK” to not confuse it with Kansas City (State of Missouri). The city shares a border with Missouri state to the north and east. It is situated to the north of Overland Park along the banks of the Missouri River. Kansas City hosts NASCAR twice a year at the Kansas Speedway, which is among the area’s largest sporting attractions. It is also the home of the Major League Soccer team called Sporting Kansas City (State of Kansas). The General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant is located in Kansas City (State of Kansas) and has manufactured everything from planes during World War II to Cadillacs. A small-scale version of France’s De Triomphe called the “Rosedale Arc” can be found in the community of Rosedale and serves as a tribute to World War I soldiers. 

4. Olathe - 144,374 people

Mahaffie Stagecoach and Farm Historic Site in Olathe, Kansas
This home at the Mahaffie Stagecoach and Farm Historic Site in Olathe, Kansas, is an original stop along California, Santa Fe, and Oregon Trails. Editorial credit: PhotoTrippingAmerica /

Olathe is the depiction of a Midwestern town and was nicknamed “cow town” for the cowboy veered cattle drives that passed through. Once upon a time ago, Olathe served as a popular wagon stop on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails during the Great Migration on the Great Plains. The city's appearance is a mingling of the upscale architecture of the modern-day with historic buildings from its wild west past. There are many green spaces, with the Black Bob Park, named after the important figure Shawnee Chief Black Bob, being the most popular. Moreover, Olathe is the Shawnee word for “beautiful,” which is how the wildflower encrusted prairies appeared to the first settlers. The proximity to Overland Park and Kansas City (State of Kansas) makes Olathe a desirable place to live with good healthcare, education, and transportation systems in place.

5. Topeka - 126,409 people

The Kansas State Capitol Building with the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the foreground in Topeka, Kansas
The Kansas State Capitol Building with the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the foreground in Topeka, Kansas. Editorial credit: APN Photography /

The fifth most populous city in Kansas, Topeka also serves as the state's capital. This city can be found in the central-northwest region of Kansas. It is distinctly surrounded by the tall grasses of the Great Plains. Among the many historic buildings in its downtown is the State Capitol Building, which is one of the tallest domed buildings in the US. The building also serves as a favorite site for photos for its stunning French architecture, which was featured on the Kansas state license plate until 2007. Topeka is a college town, with six universities taking up residence, including Kansas State University and Friends University. Popular sports entertainment comes in the form of minor sports leagues. These include the Kaw Valley Soccer Team (USL League Two), Topeka Golden Giants Baseball (Mid-Plains League), and Topeka Tropics (Champion Indoor Football). It would not be a trip to Topeka without a visit to the famous Evel Knievel Museum. Here, one can explore the well-known daredevil's stunt battered apparel and memorabilia. 

6. Lawrence - 96,392 people

Aerial view of Lawrence, Kansas and its State University
Aerial view of Lawrence, Kansas, and its State University. 

Due to its heavy influence on the Massachusetts commonwealth, the commonly traveled thoroughfares of Lawrence that head north and south are named after the original Thirteen colonies. One may notice that the architecture is in the mirrored fashion of that seen in the early Colony of Massachusetts Bay. With historical buildings carrying notes of the Victorian, gothic, Tudor, and Romanesque architecture throughout Lawrence. More so, Lawrence has its influences as an art and music city, donning a plethora of music labels and bands from here. Some names include Mate of State, New Amsterdam, and fourth of July. When it comes to literature, Lawrence houses the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, the first of its kind. The University of Kansas calls Lawrence home. The sports teams sport the image of their mascot, known as the Jayhawk. That is also a symbol of the city for its reference to an anti-slave Jayhawk fighter that was significant in Lawrence's history. As of recent, the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team proudly wore the Jayhawk upon their jerseys when winning the 2022 NCAA Championship.

7. Shawnee - 68,331 people

Shawnee, Kansas
Shawnee, Kansas. Editorial credit: Jon Kraft /

Shawnee carries the name of the Shawnee Native Americans, who found refuge in Shawnee after being displaced by the Indian Removal Act. As a whole, Shawnee can be found in the Northeast of Kansas and borders Lenexa to the south, Overland Park to the southeast, and Kansas City (State of Kansas) to the north. The Kansas River that starts near Junction City in the Smoky Hills travels through Shawnee, making the city's natural border on the western and northern edges. Although part of the larger Kansas City (State of Kansas) area, Shawnee has a small-town feel with many dedicated green spaces for those to enjoy. Those who come here enjoy solitude and learn about the historical events that took place during Bleeding Kansas and the American Civil War.

8. Lenexa - 59,282 people

Craig Crossing Park, Lenexa, Kansas
Craig Crossing Park, Lenexa, Kansas. 

Lenexa is known as the "Spinach Capital of the World" for the agricultural significance of the leafy vegetable. Every September, visitors flock to Lenexa to attend the Spinach Festival, which is known for the world's largest spinach salad. It is also a city that loves barbecue, with the "Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle" held every June. Due to its proximity to Overland Park, Olathe, and Shawnee, these festivals draw in a large crowd. The GPS navigation system Garmin was founded in Lenexa. Interestingly, the National Archives and Records Administration is housed in Lenexa. This storage facility mainly keeps documents; however, it does hold trauma items from hospitals. As an example, there are artifacts from the assassination of John F. Kennedy

9. Manhattan - 54,464 people

Aerial view of a university in Manhattan, Kansas
Aerial view of a university in Manhattan, Kansas. 

Manhattan is located at the confluence of the Kansas and Big Blue Rivers. Nicknamed the “Little Apple” for the world-class city with the same name, Manhattan's pace is much slower compared to the megacity. Manhattan is known for its breathtaking scenery of the Flint Hills and the Great Plains that once saw the Great Migration. To the north is the Tuttle Creek Lake which attracts summer leisure activities that include swimming, fishing, boating, and hunting. At large, Manhattan has a presence as a college city with Kansas State University. The university is also responsible for running numerous museums, including the Insect Zoo and Nature Conservancy, that are open to public visit. While visiting, one can enjoy many tap houses, wineries, and golf courses.

10. Salina - 46,725 people

Aerial view of Salina, Kansas in late summer.
Aerial view of Salina, Kansas, in late summer.

Salina is a small town with a bit of everything in it. One can describe it as a community-driven college town that enjoys sports and pop culture. There are six colleges and universities that are scattered throughout the cityscape. Until 1952, Salina had a Major League Baseball Team called the Salina Blue Jays and is the birthplace of the goalie of the US Woman’s National Soccer Team, Adrianna Franch. In films, Salina was depicted several times. Although, the most notable scene comes from Hitchcock’s Vertigo when the character Judy Barton is shown on Maple Ave. Visitors can enjoy a live performance at the Salina Community Theatre or many of the events that are offered in the summer months, such as the Smoky Hills River Festival or Blues Master at the Crossroad.

30 Biggest Cities In Kansas

Rank Name Population 
1 Wichita 400,564
2 Overland Park 202,012
3 Kansas City 158,771
4 Olathe 144,374
5 Topeka 126,409
6 Lawrence 96,392
7 Shawnee 68,331
8 Lenexa 59,282
9 Manhattan 54,464
10 Salina 46,725
11 Hutchinson 39,592
12 Leavenworth 37,771
13 Leawood 34,310
14 Garden City 28,449
15 Dodge City 27,878
16 Derby 26,319
17 Gardner 24,119
18 Emporia 23,983
19 Prairie Village 23,259
20 Junction City 22,848
21 Hays 21,238
22 Pittsburg 20,728
23 Liberal 19,685
24 Newton 18,496
25 Andover 15,512
26 Great Bend 14,481
27 McPherson 14,268
28 El Dorado 12,840
29 Ottawa 12,621
30 Arkansas City 11,886
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