Ozark or Ozark Plateau, an upland region, is actually a dissected plateau of about 50,000 square miles (129,500 km˛). It is chiefly in central and southern Missouri and north Arkansas, but is also partly in Oklahoma and Kansas, between the Arkansas and Missouri rivers. The Ozark Highland area is the only major highland region in the US between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains.
The Ozarks, which rise from the surrounding plains, are locally referred to as mountains. Composed of a central core of igneous rock surrounded and mostly overlain by limestone and dolomite, the ancient land form has been worn down by erosion. Summits (knobs) are found wherever there is a resistant rock outcrop; the Boston Mountains are the highest and most rugged section, with several peaks more than 2,000 ft (610 m) high. The Ozark Plateaus consists of three sections—the Springfield Plateau, the Salem Plateau, and the Boston Mountains. Topography is mostly gently rolling, except in the Boston Mountains, along the escarpments separating the Springfield and Salem Plateaus, and the Saint Francois Range where it is rugged. Karst features such a springs, sinkholes, and caves are common in the limestones of the Springfield Plateau and abundant in the dolomite bedrock of the Salem Plateau and Boston Mountains.
The Saint Francois Mountain Range rises above the Ozark plateau and is the geological cause of the highland dome. The igneous and volcanic rocks of the Saint Francois Mountains are the remains of a Precambrian mountain range. The core of the range existed as a island in the Paleozoic seas. Reef complexes occur in the sedimentary layers surrounding this ancient island. These flanking reefs were points of concentration for later ore bearing fluids which formed the rich lead-zinc ores that have been mined in the area. Concentric circles of elevation emanating from the range outward can be observed from outer space. The Saint Francois Range is the core of the Ozarks even though sometimes not considered part of the Ozarks because it has exposed igneous rock and no Karst features, and was formed by volcanic activity rather than erosion. The igneous and volcanic rocks extend at depth under the relatively thin veneer of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and form the basal crust of the entire region.
The Ozarks contained rich ore deposits of lead, zinc, iron, and barite. Many of these deposits have been depleted by historic mining activities, but much remains and is currently being mined. Vinyards and fruit-growing areas are prevalent. Much of the area supports beef cattle ranching and dairy farming is common across the area. Subsistence farming and household crafts are found in the more isolated regions. The Ozarks have several large lakes that were created by dams across the White and Black rivers; the dams generate electricity. These lakes have provided a large tourist, boating and fishing economy along the Missouri-Arkansas border. The scenic Ozarks, with forests, streams, and mineral springs, are a popular tourist region, and the construction of summer homes there has grown.
Ozark also refer to a region of people with a distinct cultural, architectural, and dialect shared by the people that live on the plateau. The people in this area have more in common with one another than with their surrounding states. One of the attributes of this cultural and dialectic area is that the peoples have local names for the areas not well-known outside the region. People outside of the Ozarks typically do not refer to areas such as.