|State of Minnesota|
|Largest metro area||Minneapolis-Saint Paul|
|- Total||86,939 sq mi
|- Width||c. 200–350 miles (c. 320–560 km)|
|- Length||c. 400 miles (c. 640 km)|
|- % water||8.4|
|- Latitude||43° 30′ N to 49° 23′ N|
|- Longitude||89° 29′ W to 97° 14′ W|
|Population||Ranked 21st in the U.S.|
|- Total||5,344,861 (2011 est)|
|- Density||67.1/sq mi (25.9/km2)
Ranked 31st in the U.S.
|- Median income||$55,802 (10th)|
|- Highest point||Eagle Mountain
2,302 ft (701 m)
|- Mean||1,200 ft (370 m)|
|- Lowest point||Lake Superior
601 ft (183 m)
|Admission to Union||May 11, 1858 (32nd)|
|Governor||Mark Dayton (DFL)|
|U.S. Senators||Amy Klobuchar (DFL)
Al Franken (DFL)
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
|Abbreviations||MN Minn. US-MN|
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America. The twelfth-largest state by area in the U.S., it is the 21st most-populous with just over five million residents as of 2006. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The state is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," and those lakes and the other waters for which the state is named, together with state and national forests and parks, offer residents and tourists a vigorous outdoor lifestyle.
Nearly 60 percent of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state, often referred to as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota," consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less-populated northern boreal forest. While the state's residents are primarily white and of Northern European ancestry, substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants.
The extremes of the climate contrast with the moderation of Minnesota’s people. The state is known for its moderate-to-progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. It ranks among the healthiest states by a number of measures, and has one of the most highly educated and literate populations.
The name Minnesota comes from the word for the Minnesota River in the Dakota language, Mnisota. The Dakota word Mni (sometimes spelled mini or minne) can be translated as "water." Mnisota is then translated as sky-tinted water or somewhat clouded water. Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. The names of many locations in the state contain the Dakota word for water, such as Minnehaha Falls ("waterfall," not "laughing waters" as is commonly thought), Minneiska ("white water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, which is a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city."
Minnesota is the northernmost state outside of Alaska; its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th Parallel. Minnesota is in the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest. The state shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and Wisconsin on the northeast; the remainder of the eastern border is with Wisconsin, marked in part by the upper Mississippi River. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota are west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba are north. With 87,014 square miles (225,365 km²), or approximately 2.25 percent of the United States, Minnesota is the 12th-largest state by area.
Minnesota contains some of the oldest rocks found on earth, gneisses some 3.6 billion years old, or 80 percent as old as the planet. About 2.7 billion years ago, basaltic lava poured out of cracks in the floor of the primordial ocean; the remains of this volcanic rock formed the Canadian Shield in northeast Minnesota. The roots of these volcanic mountains and the action of Precambrian seas formed the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. Following a period of vulcanism 1.1 billion years ago, Minnesota's geological activity has been more subdued, with no vulcanism or mountain formation, but with repeated incursions of the sea, leaving behind multiple strata of sedimentary rock.
In more recent times, massive ice sheets more than 3,000 feet (one kilometer) thick scoured the landscape of the state and sculpted its current terrain. The Wisconsin glaciation receded 12,000 years ago. These glaciers covered all of Minnesota except the far southeast, an area characterized by steep hills and streams that cut into the bedrock. This region, shared with a neighboring section of Wisconsin, is known as the Driftless Zone for its absence of glacial drift. Much of the remainder of the state outside of the northeast has 50 feet (15 m) or more of glacial till deposited as the last glaciers retreated. Thirteen thousand years ago, gigantic Lake Agassiz formed in the northwest; the lake's outflow, the glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River, and its bottom created the fertile lands of the Red River valley. Minnesota is geologically quiet today; it experiences very minor earthquakes very infrequently.
The state's high point is Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet (701 m), which is only 13 miles (20.9 km) away from the low of 602 feet (183 m) at the shore of Lake Superior. Notwithstanding dramatic local differences in elevation, much of the state is a gently rolling peneplain.
Two continental divides meet in the northeastern part of Minnesota in rural Hibbing, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico, the St. Lawrence Seaway east to the Atlantic Ocean, or the Hudson Bay watershed to the Arctic Ocean.
Minnesota's nickname is The Land of 10,000 Lakes; there are 11,842 lakes over 10 acres (.04 km²) in size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 1,504 square miles (3,896 km²) and deepest (1,290 ft/393 m) body of water in the state. The state has 6,564 natural rivers and streams that cumulatively flow for 69,000 miles (111,000 km). The headwaters of the Mississippi River flow from Lake Itasca and cross the Iowa border downstream. It is joined by the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, by the St. Croix River near Hastings, by the Chippewa River at Wabasha, and by many smaller streams. The Red River, in the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz, drains the northwest part of the state northward toward Canada's Hudson Bay. Approximately 10.6 million acres (42,900 km²) of wetlands are contained within Minnesota's borders; only Alaska has more.
Three of North America's biomes converge in Minnesota: prairie grasslands in the southwestern and western parts of the state, the Big Woods deciduous forest of the southeast, and the northern boreal forest. The northern coniferous forests are a vast wilderness of pine and spruce trees mixed with patchy stands of birch and poplar. Much of Minnesota's northern forest has been logged, leaving only a few patches of old growth forest today in areas such as in the Chippewa National Forest and the Superior National Forest where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has some 400,000 acres (1,600 km²) of unlogged land.
Although logging continues, regrowth keeps about one-third of the state forested. While loss of habitat has affected native animals such as the pine marten, elk, and bison, whitetail deer, and bobcat thrive. The state has the nation's largest population of timber wolves outside Alaska, and supports healthy populations of black bear and moose. Located along the Mississippi Flyway, Minnesota hosts migratory waterfowl such as geese and ducks, and game birds such as grouse, pheasants, and turkeys. It is home to birds of prey including the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, and snowy owl. The lakes teem with the sport fish such as walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike, and streams in the southeast are populated by brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
Minnesota endures temperature extremes characteristic of its continental climate; with cold winters and hot summers, the record high and low span 174 degrees Fahrenheit (96.6°C). Meteorological events include rain, snow, hail, blizzards, polar fronts, tornadoes, thunderstormss, and high-velocity straight-line winds. The growing season varies from 90 days per year in the Iron Range to 160 days in southeastern Minnesota near the Mississippi River, and mean average temperatures range from 36°F (2°C) to 49°F (9°C). Average summer dewpoints range from about 58°F (14.4°C) in the south to about 48°F (8.9°C) in the north. Depending on location, average annual precipitation ranges from 19 inches (48.3 cm) to 35 inches (88.9 cm), and droughts occur every 10 to 50 years.
Minnesota is home to a variety of wilderness, park, and other open spaces. Minnesota's first state park, Itasca State Park, was established in 1891, and is the source of the Mississippi River. Today Minnesota has 72 state parks and recreation areas, 58 state forests covering about four million acres (16,000 km²), and numerous state wildlife preserves, all managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There are 5.5 million acres (22,000 km²) in the Chippewa and Superior national forests. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Park, the state's only national park.
Before European settlement, Minnesota was populated by the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native Americans. The first Europeans were French fur traders who arrived in the 1600s. Late that century, the Ojibwe Indians migrated westward to Minnesota, causing tensions with the Sioux. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet, among others, mapped out the state.
The area east of the Mississippi River became part of the United States in 1783 at the end of the American Revolutionary War, when the Second Treaty of Paris was signed. Land west of the Mississippi River was acquired with the Louisiana Purchase, although part of the Red River Valley was disputed until the Treaty of 1818. In 1805, Zebulon Pike bargained with Native Americans to acquire land at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The construction of Fort Snelling followed between 1819 and 1825. Its soldiers built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls, the first of the water-powered industries around which the city of Minneapolis later grew. Meanwhile, squatters, government officials, and tourists had settled in the vicinity of the fort. In 1839, the U.S. Army forced them to move downriver, and they settled in the area that became St. Paul. Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849. Thousands of people had come to build farms and cut timber, and Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858.
Treaties between Europeans and the Sioux and Ojibwe gradually forced the Native Americans off their lands and onto small reservations. As conditions deteriorated for the Sioux, tensions rose, leading to the Dakota War of 1862. The result of the six-week war was the execution of 38 Indians—the largest mass execution in United States history—and the exile of most of the rest of the Sioux to the Crow Creek Reservation in Nebraska.
Logging and farming were mainstays of Minnesota's early economy. The sawmills at Saint Anthony Falls, and logging centers like Marine on St. Croix, Stillwater, and Winona, processed high volumes of lumber. These cities were situated on rivers that were ideal for transportation. Later, Saint Anthony Falls was tapped to provide power for flour mills. Innovations by Minneapolis millers led to the production of Minnesota "patent" flour, which commanded almost double the price of "bakers" or "clear" flour that it replaced. By 1900, Minnesota mills, led by Pillsbury and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills), were grinding 14.1 percent of the nation's grain.
The state's iron-mining industry was established with the discovery of iron ore in the Vermilion Range and the Mesabi Range in the 1880s, and in the Cuyuna Range in the early 1900s. The ore was shipped by rail to Two Harbors and Duluth, then loaded onto ships and transported eastward over the Great Lakes.
Industrial development and the rise of manufacturing caused the population to shift gradually from rural areas to cities during the early 1900s. Nevertheless, farming remained important. Minnesota's economy was hard-hit by the Great Depression, resulting in lower prices for farmers, layoffs among iron miners, and labor unrest. Compounding the adversity, western Minnesota and the Dakotas were plagued by drought from 1931 to 1935. Federal New Deal programs provided some economic relief. The Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs around the state established some jobs for Native Americans on the reservations, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided tribes with mechanisms for self-government. This provided Native Americans a greater voice within the state, and promoted more respect for tribal customs because religious ceremonies and native languages were no longer suppressed.
After World War II, industrial development expanded. New technology increased farm productivity through automation of feedlots for hogs and cattle, machine milking at dairy farms, and raising chickens in large buildings. Planting became more specialized with hybridization of corn and wheat, and the use of farm machinery such as tractors and combines spread. University of Minnesota professor Norman Borlaug contributed to these developments as part of the Green Revolution. Suburban development accelerated due to increased postwar housing demand and convenient transportation. Increased mobility, in turn, enabled more specialized jobs.
Minnesota became a center of technology after the war. Engineering Research Associates was formed in 1946 to develop computers for the United States Navy. It later merged with Remington Rand, and then became Sperry Rand. William Norris left Sperry in 1957 to form Control Data Corporation (CDC). Cray Research was formed when Seymour Cray left CDC to form his own company. Medical device maker Medtronic also started business in the Twin Cities in 1949.
Saint Paul is the state capital and the second most populous city in the state. It is the county seat of Ramsey County. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 287,151. In 1820, it was an extreme outpost in the American Old West, where Native Americans, European explorers, and American soldiers (from neighboring Fort Snelling, just upstream on the Mississippi River) lived in close proximity. Saint Paul and the adjacent city of Minneapolis form the core of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Minnesota's major political parties include the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), the Republican Party of Minnesota, and the Independence Party of Minnesota (IP). The DFL was created in 1944 when the Minnesota Democratic Party and Farmer-Labor Party merged.
The top executives of the state are the governor and lieutenant governor, both of whom serve four-year terms. The executive branch is headed by the governor, who has a cabinet consisting of the leaders of various state government agencies, called commissioners. The other elected constitutional offices are secretary of state, attorney general, and state auditor.
The Minnesota Legislature is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The state has 67 districts, each covering about 60,000 people. Each district has one state senator and two state representatives. Senators serve for four years and representatives for two years.
In addition to the city and county levels of government, Minnesota has other entities that provide governmental oversight and planning. Projects in the Twin Cities metropolitan area can be coordinated by the Metropolitan Council, and many lakes and rivers are overseen by watershed districts and soil and water conservation districts.
There are seven Anishinaabe reservations and four Dakota communities in Minnesota. These communities are self-governing.
Minnesota politics have always been characterized by recurring waves of protest and reform that have spawned such national groups as the Grange, the Greenbackers, the Antimonopolists, the Farmers Alliance, the Populists, the Prohibitionists, and the Nonpartisan League. Each of these movements brought about social reforms and influenced the major political parties. Minnesota has been a leader in such national movements as those to guarantee the rights of women, homosexuals, and American Indians.
Minnesota is known for a politically active citizenry, with populism being a longstanding force among the state's political parties. It has consistently high voter turnout; in the 2004 U.S. presidential election 77.2 percent of eligible Minnesotans voted, the highest of any U.S. state (the national average was 60.93 percent), due in part to its liberal voter registration laws.
Hubert Humphrey brought national attention to the state with his address at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. Eugene McCarthy's anti-war stance and popularity prior to the 1968 Democratic National Convention likely convinced Lyndon B. Johnson to drop out of the presidential election. Minnesotans have consistently cast their Electoral College votes for Democratic presidential candidates since 1976, longer than any other state. Minnesota is the only state in the nation whose electoral votes were not won by Ronald Reagan in either 1980 or 1984.
Once primarily a producer of raw materials, Minnesota's economy has transformed in the last 150 years to emphasize finished products and services. The diversified economy of Minnesota had a gross domestic product of US$234 billion in 2005. Thirty-six of the United States' top 1,000 publicly traded companies (by revenue in 2006) are headquartered in Minnesota, including Target, UnitedHealth Group, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp, and Best Buy. The second-largest privately owned U.S. company, Cargill, is headquartered in Wayzata.
The per capita income for Minnesota in 2005 was $37,290—the tenth-highest in the nation. The three-year median household income from 2002–2004 was $55,914, ranking fifth in the U.S. and first among the 36 states not on the Atlantic coast.
Minnesota's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture; the city of Minneapolis grew around the flour mills powered by St. Anthony Falls. Although less than 1 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking sixth in the nation in the value of products sold in 2002. The state is the U.S.'s largest producer of sugar beets, sweet corn, and green peas for processing, and farm-raised turkeys.
Forestry remains strong, including logging, pulpwood processing and paper production, and forest products manufacturing. Minnesota was famous for its soft-ore mines, which produced a significant portion of the world's iron ore for over a century. Although the high-grade ore is now depleted, taconite mining continues, using processes developed locally to save the industry. In 2004, the state produced 75 percent of the country's usable iron ore. The mining boom created the port of Duluth, which continues to be important for shipping ore, coal, and agricultural products. The manufacturing sector now includes technology and biomedical firms in addition to the older food processors and heavy industry. The nation's first indoor shopping mall was Edina's Southdale Center and the nation’s largest shopping mall, the Mall of America, is located in Bloomington.
The state produces ethanol fuel and was the first to mandate its use, a 10 percent mix (E10) since 1997, and a 20 percent mix (E20) by 2013. There are more than 310 service stations in Minnesota supplying E85 fuel. A 2 percent biodiesel blend has been required in diesel fuel since 2005. As of December 2006, the state was the country's fourth-largest producer of wind power, with 895 megawatts installed and another 200 megawatts planned, much of it on the windy Buffalo Ridge in the southwest part of the state.
Transportation in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Principal transportation corridors radiate from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and Duluth. The major Interstate highways are I-35, I-90, and I-94, with I-35 and I-94 passing through the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and I-90 going east-west along the southern edge of the state. In 2006, a constitutional amendment was passed that required sales and use taxes on motor vehicles to fund transportation, with at least 40 percent dedicated to public transit.
There are nearly two dozen rail corridors in Minnesota, most of which go through Minneapolis-St. Paul or Duluth. There is water transportation along the Mississippi River system and from the ports of Lake Superior.
Minnesota's principal airport is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the headquarters and major passenger and freight hub for Northwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. The airport is served by most other domestic carriers. Amtrak's Empire Builder runs through Minnesota, making stops at Midway Station in St. Paul and five other stations. It is the descendant of the famous line of the same name run by the Great Northern Railway, which was built by the tycoon James J. Hill and ran from St. Paul to Seattle. Public transit in Minnesota is currently limited to bus systems in the larger cities and the Hiawatha Line light rail corridor in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Saint Paul, located in east-central Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River, has been Minnesota's capital city since 1849, first as capital of the Minnesota Territory, and then as state capital since 1858.
Saint Paul is adjacent to Minnesota's most populous city, Minneapolis; they and their suburbs are known collectively as the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States and home to about 60 percent of the state's population (as of April 2005). The remainder of the state is known as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota."
Minnesota has 17 cities with populations above fifty thousand (based on 2005 estimates). The largest of these are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, Duluth, and Bloomington. Rochester, Duluth, and St. Cloud are outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Minnesota's population continues to grow, primarily in the urban centers. The populations of metropolitan Sherburne and Scott counties doubled between 1980 and 2000, while 40 of the state's 87 counties lost residents over the same decades.
From fewer than 6,100 people in 1850, Minnesota's population grew to over 1.75 million by 1900. Each of the next six decades saw a 15 percent rise in population, reaching 3.41 million in 1960. Growth then slowed, rising 11 percent to 3.8 million in 1970, and an average of 9 percent over the next three decades to 4.91 million in the 2000 census. As of July 1, 2006, the state's population was estimated at 5,167,101 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rate of population change, and age and gender distributions, approximate the national average. Minnesota's growing minority groups, however, still form a significantly smaller proportion of the population than in the nation as a whole.  The center of population of Minnesota is located in Hennepin County, in the city of Rogers.
Over 75 percent of Minnesota's residents are of Western European descent, with the largest reported ancestries being German (39 percent), Norwegian (17.2 percent), Irish (11.9 percent), and Swedish (9.6 percent). As of 2005, 6.3 percent of residents were foreign-born, compared to 12.4 percent for the nation. The state is slowly becoming less homogeneous as immigration from other parts of the world increases. Recent arrivals include Spanish-speaking people from diverse origins, Hmong, Somalis, Vietnamese, South Asians, and Eastern Europeans.
The state's racial composition, as estimated in 2006, was:
A 2001 survey indicated that 25 percent of Minnesota's population was Roman Catholic, and 24 percent was Lutheran. Other Protestant affiliations totaled about 28 percent. Religious groups represented were Baptists (5 percent), Methodists (4 percent), Presbyterians (2 percent), the Assembly of God (2 percent), and the Church of God (2 percent). Christians with unstated or other denominational affiliations, including other Protestants, totaled 13 percent, bringing the total Christian population to 77 percent.
The people of Minnesota have a high rate of participation in outdoor activities; the state is ranked first in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise. Minnesotans have the nation's lowest premature death rate, third-lowest infant mortality rate, and the second-longest life expectancies in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91 percent of Minnesotans have health insurance, more than in any other state.
Medical care is provided by a comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, headed by two institutions with international reputations, the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Mayo Clinic. The University of Minnesota Medical School has a highly rated teaching hospital; the Medical School's research activities contribute significantly to the state's growing biotechnology industry. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is based in Rochester. Mayo and the University are partners in the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, a state-funded program that conducts research into cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart health, obesity, and other areas.
One of the first acts of the Minnesota Legislature when it opened in 1858 was the creation of a normal school at Winona. With an 84 percent graduation rate, Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation in high school graduation. While Minnesota has chosen not to implement school vouchers, it is home to the first charter school.
The state supports a network of public universities and colleges, currently comprised of 32 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and major campuses of the University of Minnesota system. The University of Minnesota is a large university with several campuses spread throughout the state. There are four primary campuses: Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, and Morris. In addition, university services are available in Rochester, and a campus was open in Waseca for a time. The university also operates several research facilities around the state, including some large tracts of land.
Minnesota is also home to more than 20 private colleges and universities; four are ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Minnesota's state symbols represent its history, diverse landscapes, and its peoples' love of the outdoors. The common loon, as state bird, is Minnesota's best-known symbol. Its distinctive cry is heard during the summer months in the northern part of the state, and on occasion the loon can be found as far south as the lakes of Minneapolis.
The rigors and rewards of pioneer life on the prairie were the subject of Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag and of the Little House series of children's books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Small-town life was savaged by Sinclair Lewis in the novel Main Street, and more gently and affectionately satirized by Garrison Keillor in his tales of Lake Wobegon. St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the social insecurities and aspirations of the young city in stories such as Winter Dreams and The Ice Palace (published in Flappers and Philosophers). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was inspired by Minnesota and many places and bodies of water in the state are named in the poem.
National Farmers Bank in Owatonna by Louis Sullivan.
The common loon
Fishing in Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.
All links retrieved December 6, 2007.
Culture & history
Maps and Demographics
|Political divisions of the United States|
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