Although commonly thought to be named for ragtime composer (and Sedalia resident) Scott Joplin, the city is actually named after the Joplin Creek Valley, which in turn is named after an early settler, Reverend Harris Joplin.
Joplin is the "hub" of the southwest corner of Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma. The population of Joplin proper is 45,504, but, with several "suburbs" around Joplin, the population of the Joplin metro area is near 100,000.
The "Joplin Metropolitan Area" (the 4th largest in Missouri) is composed of Jasper and Newton Counties in Missouri. However, given its location at the confluence of three states, it is quite common for many people from Kansas and Oklahoma (and from other parts of southwest Missouri) to frequent Joplin, for work and pleasure.
Other cities and towns that comprise the Joplin area include:
- Webb City
- Carl Junction
- Loma Linda
- Pittsburg, Kansas
- Galena, Kansas
- Baxter Springs, Kansas
- Miami, Oklahoma
Joplin is approximately 40 miles north of the Arkansas state line. Thus, the Joplin area is commonly referred to as the "Four-State Area".
Joplin is also close to three other airports with more flight selections.
- Springfield/Branson Regional Airport (SGF IATA)  72 miles east
- Tulsa International Airport (TUL IATA)  113 miles west
- Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA IATA)  72 miles south
- Interstate 44. The city is at its junction with US Highway 71. It is within a half-day's drive of several major cities, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Tulsa, Wichita, and Oklahoma City.
- Greyhound Bus Lines. The depot is on 2nd Street downtown.
Automobile is the main method of transportation, other than walking, in the city. A small bus and trolley system called Sunshine Lamp Trolley serves the busiest commercial areas of the city.
The "main business drag" of Joplin is Range Line Road (aka, "Business 71"). The heaviest concentration of commerce and business is along Range Line Road (along with the heaviest concentration of traffic). Other "business drags" include 7th Street, Main Street, and 32nd Street. Main Street is undergoing a revitalization effort, with several of the historic buildings being renovated, a new Farmer's Market, and the "Third Thursday" Art Walk.
- Spiva Center for the Arts.
- Historic Homes, Sergeant Avenue and Moffet Avenue. Many beautiful 19th- and 20th-century homes line the streets.
- Missouri Southern State University.
- Messenger College.
- Ozark Christian College
- Leggett & Platt
- General Mills
- Contract Freighters Inc.
- Northpark Mall.
- Antique malls. There are several antique malls (sometimes called flea markets, but with no swap meet) that cater specifically to people on their way to Branson or the craft fairs in Northwest Arkansas. The largest is Connie's Flea Market on Rangeline between Joplin and Webb City, with several others on the eastern side of Highway FF (32nd Street). Prices go often go up during craft fair season (April and October.)
- Missouri does not have statewide legislation banning cigarette smoking in restaurants. All restaurants in Joplin allow smoking in designated smoking sections unless noted in their specific entries.
- The Kitchen Pass.
- Club 609.
- 1 Red Onion Cafe, 203 E 4th St, ☎ .
- Johnny Carino's.
- J-Town, 2505 S. Main St. Sports Bar, poolhall, and restaurant.
- 2 Wilder's Steakhouse, 1216 S Main St, ☎ . A very old restaurant and piano bar specializing in steaks and pasta. Still has "Recommended by Duncan Hines" on their sign.
- Ichiban. Japanese food and sushi. 2914 E 32nd St, just west of Rangeline.
- Kinnaree, 1227 E 32nd St. Next to Dollar General. Thai food.
- Mucho Mexico (in Webb City).
- Cafe Del Rio.
- Bradbury Bishop Deli, 201 N. Main St. In Webb City. A diner with decor dating from the 1930s through the 1960s, serving classic American food and drinks. Very reasonable. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, and dinner Thursday through Saturday.
- Babe's. Fast food. Several locations in Joplin.
- Granny Schaffer's. Southern food. Noted for fried chicken. Locations on Rangeline between Joplin and Webb City, 7th St, and in Airport Drive, northwest of Joplin.
- Big R's, 1220 E. 15th St. Barbeque. Huge portions.
- Baxter Springs Smokehouse 2320 Military in Baxter Springs
Several national hotel chains have locations in Joplin. There are also several private "mom and pop" hotels in Joplin. Practically every hotel is around the junction of I-44 and Range Line Road (Exit 8).
Most crime that occurs in the Joplin area are petty. The biggest crime problems in the area have been gas station drive-offs and convenience store robberies. Violent crime is quite rare, but it does occur on occasion. The rough side of town for Joplin is generally considered west of Main Street. Like most other places, most of the more serious crime happens in the middle of the night. Typical common sense will enable most anyone to avoid problems.
Red light running is a growing problem. Range Line Road is notorious for motorists running red lights, especially well after it has turned red for their direction. Motorists should exercise caution and not dart into intersections immediately when their light turns green.
- 1 George Washington Carver National Monument, 5646 Carver Rd, Diamond 64840, ☎ , fax: . 9AM-5PM daily, year-round. Boyhood home of George Washington Carver, 1881 Moses Carver house and Carver cemetery in 210-acre park with rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies. Nature trail, museum and interactive exhibit area for students. free.