Shawnee is a part of Kansas that is sometimes talked about like it is a city, even though it technically is not. It’s more formally known as Shawnee Mission, and it’s a name that the United States Postal Service created to designate an area within Johnson County that has a number of towns. They all share postal or zip codes that fall into a 662xx sequence. This area includes parts of the northern section of Overland Park. Southern sections of Overland Park are not included since unincorporated Stanley annexed them into zip code 66084.
At the time of writing, a number of towns were entirely in the Shawnee Mission area. They included Fairway, Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Shawnee, Westwood, and Westwood Hills. Unincorporated Stanley is in this area. An area still called Countryside is in the area, although it was formally incorporated into the city of Mission back in the early parts of 2003. Southern parts of Lake Quivira are in the area as well, though the northern end is across county lines in Wyandotte County, though still in the state of Kansas. As mentioned already, Overland Park is mostly in this area as well.
The United States Postal Service did not just make up the name of Shawnee Mission. It was derived from the historical Shawnee Methodist Mission which was founded back in 1830 in what is now Wyandotte County as an attempt to mission to the local Shawnee tribe. The mission later got moved to present-day Johnson County in 1839. That county was named for the Reverend Thomas Johnson, who was a territorial legislator and the initial church missionary in the area. In modern times, the area is mostly encompassed by the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley School Districts.
Shawnee Mission is a smaller part of the larger metropolitan area of Kansas City. Were the many individual cities of Shawnee Mission to ever incorporate themselves into one larger municipality, it would likely become the largest city in Kansas. The 2015 estimate of the population put it at just over four hundred thousand residents, which was seventy-five thousand more than the official 2000 census count. That would be larger than the population of Wichita. However, both cities would be smaller than Kansas City itself, which is technically in Missouri.
Given the proximity to Kansas City itself, economic and employment opportunities abound.