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State of Minnesota
State flag of Minnesota State seal of Minnesota
(Flag of Minnesota) (Seal of Minnesota)
State nickname: North Star State
Map of the U.S. with Minnesota highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Saint Paul
Largest city Minneapolis
Governor Tim Pawlenty (R)
Senators Mark Dayton (D)

Norm Coleman (R)

Official language(s) None
Area 225,365 km² (12th)
 - Land 206,375 km²
 - Water 18,990 km² (8.4%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 4,919,479 (21st)
 - Density 23.86 /km² (31st)
Admission into Union
 - Date May 11, 1858
 - Order 32nd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Latitude 43°34'N to 49°23'50.26"N
Longitude 89°34'W to 97°12'W
Width 400 km
Length 645 km
 - Highest point 701 m
 - Mean 365 m
 - Lowest point 183 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-MN
Web site www.state.mn.us

Minnesota is the 32nd state of the United States, having joined the Union on May 11, 1858. Its name is from the Dakota people's name for the Minnesota River, mini sota, variously translated "smoky-white water" or "sky-tinted water." The state's name is abbreviated MN or Minn.

Minnesota is the largest state by land area in the Midwestern United States and is in the sub-region known as the Upper Midwest. The most significant metropolitan area is known as the Twin Cities, which contains more than half the state's population. The Twin Cities refer to the state's most populous cities- Minneapolis and Saint Paul, along with multiple "rings" of suburbs.

The state is a major food producer for the country, and has a number of natural resources that have been greatly exploited in the last two centuries.

The USS Minnesota was named in honor of this state, as was the SS Gopher State. Other nicknames for the state include Land of 10,000 Lakes and the North Star State.



Main article: History of Minnesota

History prior to joining the United States

Before European colonization, the area now known as Minnesota was inhabited by Native Americans, in particular the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabe) and Dakota, although the Winnebago also had a presence in the southeastern part of the state. In this time, the economy originally consisted of hunter-gatherer activities, which changed over time as Europeans settled in the area and further exploited the state's natural resources. Before the arrival of Dakota and Ojibwe, Cheyenne and Gros Ventre also made their home in Minnesota.

According to local tradition, the first European visitors were Swedish and Norwegian Vikings in the 14th century. The evidence for this is largely based on the controversial Kensington Runestone, which many historians consider to be an elaborate hoax. Some say that the earliest European settlement was in the area of the current city of Stillwater, on the St. Croix River, though many histories focus on the military settlement that took place farther west. Fort Snelling, located at the confluence of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River, was one of the earliest U.S. military presences in the state. It is now a historic site.

Joining the United States

Much of the state was purchased from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase, although the exact definition of that land was not assessed for many years afterward. Parts were also considered to be in the Northwest Territory and Ruperts Land.

Minnesota Territory was carved out of Iowa Territory on March 3, 1849, but it was not coextensive with the present state, since the area included what later became the territory of Dakota (which later still became the states of North Dakota and South Dakota). The eastern half of the territory of Minnesota became the country's 32nd state—after California—on May 11, 1858.


Stereotypical Minnesotans are known for various attributes, including Lutheranism, "Minnesota nice," "hot dish (a Minnesotan term for casserole)," lutefisk (a pungent fish from a Norwegian recipe that includes soaking in lye as a fish preservative), very close family ties (and a strong sense of duty to their families), a strong sense of community and shared culture with many other Minnesotans instead of just with one's town or city, Minnesota's rather unique form of Upper Midwest American English, and a distinctive type of upper Midwestern accent, though most Minnesotans deny having any regional accent. However, due to the increase of migrants from throughout the United States (many originating from the West Coast and the Chicago metropolitan area ) and the rise of immigration of the Hmong, Somali, Liberians, Kenyans, and Latin Americans (mostly Mexicans), many cultures in the state are slowly blending together and slowing changing the culture of the state similar to what European immigrants to Minnesota had done in the mid 19th Century to early 20th Century . Native Americans have a moderate presence in Minnesota, and some tribes operate casinos which have been said to be among the most profitable in the country. The earliest European exploration and settlement was by the French, and settlement from Scandinavian countries along with Germany followed. The Métis people, a mixed French and Native American culture, were a presence in the early state and territorial days, but largely moved north into Canada. Minnesota is not strongly associated with any particular food, though in recent years dishes like wild rice sausage have come from the state and more will undoubtedly follow as Minnesotan chefs seek to define their home in the culinary world.

Modern immigrants have come from all over the world in recent decades, with Hmong, Somali, Vietnamese, Indians, Middle Easterners, and the former Soviet bloc all being well-represented. Some Chinese and Japanese have had long presences in the state as well. Mexicans are a growing force, as they are across the U.S. Many modern immigrants are attracted by the state's historically strong commitments toward education and social services.

Outdoor activities are major parts of the lives of many Minnesotans, including hunting and fishing. Unique activities include ice fishing, which was popular with the early Scandinavian immigrants. Families frequently own or share cabins on central and northern tracts of land in forests and adjoining lakes, and weekend trips out to these properties are common. A concern for environmentalism is shared by most state residents in one form or another, vegans and hunters alike. As with other northwoods states (such as Wisconsin and Michigan), residents like to joke that the mosquito is the state bird. The state bird is actually the common loon (Gavia immer, also called the Great northern diver), whose distinctive cry can often be heard by campers in the northern part of the state and can even on occasion be found as far south as Minneapolis.

Minnesota is known for active yet quirky politics, with populism being a long-standing force among all of the political parties that call the state home. Minnesota politics include such oddities as a professional wrestler turned governor and a protestor turned crowd-surfing mayor. 77.3% of eligible Minnesotans voted in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the highest of any U.S. state. Political conservatism is less strongly linked to church attendance in Minnesota than in other parts of the country, perhaps a reflection of the strong mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic following.

Law and government

As in the national government of the United States, power in Minnesota is divided into three main branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

The executive branch is headed by the governor, currently Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, whose term began 6 January 2003. The governor and lieutenant governor each have four-year terms. He has a cabinet consisting of the leaders of various government agencies in the state, called commissioners. The full list of governors, and the dates they took office, is available at List of Governors of Minnesota.

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 senator and two representatives (each district being divided into A and B subsections). Senators serve for four years, and representatives serve for two years. In the November 2004 election, the Republican Party retained control of the Minnesota House of Representatives by a single seat, having lost a total of 13 seats. The Minnesota Senate is controlled by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) by five seats and there is one Independence Party state senator, former Republican Sheila Kiscaden (IP-Rochester) who caucuses with the DFL.

As a result of its strong liberal and populist political culture, Minnesota has voted for Democrats for president longer than any other state (excluding the District of Columbia), since 1976. Minnesota and the District of Columbia were the only electoral votes not won by incumbent Republican president Ronald Reagan, voting instead for Democrat and Minnesota native Walter Mondale. In 2004, John Kerry narrowly won the state's 10 electoral votes by a margin of three percentage points with 51.1% of the vote. Republican strength is greatest in southern Minnesota and the suburbs of Minneapolis, especially in the area west of the city. Democrats hold tremendous strength in Minneapolis/St. Paul proper and in rural Minnesota.

Minnesota's court system has three levels:

  • Trial courts. The state is split into 10 judicial districts, with 257 judges. Most state cases start in the trial courts.
  • Minnesota Court of Appeals. This body hears appeals on cases tried in the trial courts. There are 16 judges, who divide into three-judge panels to hear appeals in courts across the state.
  • Minnesota Supreme Court. The seven justices on the Supreme Court hear appeals from the Court of Appeals, the Tax Court, and the Worker's Compensation Court. The court automatically reviews first-degree murder convictions, and settles disputes over legislative elections.

The state has two special courts created by state law as executive-branch agencies:

  • The Tax Court deals with non-criminal tax cases across the state. It has three judges appointed by the governor to six-year terms, following approval from the state Senate
  • The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals deals with cases involving worker injuries referred to it on appeal, or transferred from district court. It has five judges appointed by the governor to six-year terms, following approval from the state Senate

Federal cases are heard in the federal district courts in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or Duluth. Minnesota is part of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri. Appeals beyond this level go to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C..

In addition to the standard city and county levels of government found in the United States, Minnesota also has other entities that provide governmental oversight and planning. Some actions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are coordinated by the Metropolitan Council, and many lakes and rivers are overseen by watershed districts and soil and water conservation districts.

See also: List of political parties in Minnesota

External links: Hyperlinked state constitution, full text of state constitution


Minnesota, showing roads and major bodies of water
Minnesota, showing roads and major bodies of water

See: List of Minnesota counties

Minnesota covers 79,610 square miles (2.25% of the United States). It is famous for its lakes, having in excess of 15,000, depending on the source of the count. Much of the state is flat, having been eroded during repeated glacial periods (most recently the Wisconsin Glacier). However, the extreme southeastern portion of the state is part of the Driftless Zone, which was not glaciated, and it is here that Lake Pepin and the rugged high bluffs of the Mississippi River are found. In addition, the Iron Range and other low mountains are found in the northeastern part of the state. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest body of water in the state.

Minnesota is home to many areas of park land, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), as well as a number of state and county parks, most notably Itasca State Park, the official source of the Mississippi River.

After its rivers and lakes, Minnesota's most prominent physical feature is the Iron Range. This is a range of low mountains that run across the northern part of the state. It is called the Iron Range because when discovered, it had some of the largest deposits of iron ore in the country. Although the high-grade iron ore was mostly mined out during World War II, taconite is still mined across the Iron Range.

The state is bordered on the north by Canada (Manitoba and Ontario), on the east by Wisconsin and Lake Superior, on the south by Iowa, and on the west by North Dakota and South Dakota. In addition, Minnesota shares a water boundary with Michigan. Minnesota is the northernmost of the 48 contiguous states (Alaska reaches significantly farther north), reaching to 49° 23' 04" north latitude, due to a small piece of the state known as the Northwest Angle.

Minnesota sits at a convergence point between three of the great biomes of North America: the Great Plains of the west, the Eastern Deciduous Forest, and the Northern Boreal Forest of Canada. Traversing the state from southwest to northeast, one goes through the three different ecological regions.

The capital is St. Paul, which sits on the Mississippi River next to Minnesota's largest city, Minneapolis. Together (and with surrounding suburbs), they are known as the Twin Cities. Other prominent cities include Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester (home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic), and Bloomington (home to the Mall of America).

The state's average elevation is 1,200 feet (366 m), with a high point at Eagle Mountain (Minnesota) (2,301 ft or 701 m) and a low at the surface of Lake Superior (602 ft or 183 m). Aside from a few very minor earthquakes, Minnesota is one of the most geologically-stable regions in the country. The biggest earthquake in the last century occurred near Morris in 1975 and rated between 4.6 and 4.8 in magnitude.

Temperatures can reach extremes in Minnesota. The state is famously cold in the winters, with a record low of -60 °F (-51 °C) measured at Tower, MN on February 2, 1996. Surprisingly, due to the flows of the jet stream, parts of Alaska often see relatively warm temperatures when Minnesota is experiencing extreme cold. Additionally, as part of the Great Plains region, the state also experiences warm summers. A record high of 114 °F (45.5 °C) was reached in both 1917 and 1936. The average temperature in January (the coldest month) is 11.2 °F (-11.5 °C), and the average in the warmest month of July is 73.1 °F (22.8 °C); averages are cooler in the north and warmer in the south. The average annual precipitation is 28.32 inches (719 mm), with a snowfall figure of 49.6 inches (126 cm).


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Minnesota's total state product in 2003 was $211 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $34,031, 10th in the nation. The average household income in 1999 was approximately $48,000, ranking eighth in the nation (U.S. Census Bureau). The county averages range from $17,369 (Todd County) to $42,313 (Hennepin County, a portion of the Metro area). In general, salaries are lowest in more rural areas, particularly in the northwest portion of the state.

Major industries/products

The Twin Cities are home to a diverse range of major businesses, including 3M Co. (formerly Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.), Northwest Airlines, Target Corporation, U.S. Bancorp, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (the merged entity of the former Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood), Medtronic, Ecolab, Best Buy, Cray Computers, Imation, International Dairy Queen, Regis Corporation, General Mills and a regional headquarters of Wells Fargo & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Honeywell. The city of Rochester is the headquarters of the Mayo Clinic, and has a significant manufacturing presence in International Business Machines. The largest shopping mall in the United States, the Mall of America, is located in Bloomington. The Schwan Food Company, headquartered in Marshall, Minn., is one of the largest, branded frozen-food companies in the United States and the second-largest privately-held corporation in Minnesota.

The state has been a major influence in the area of transportation, moving products along the Mississippi River, in and out of the inland seaport of Duluth, along railroads that crisscross the state, via highways with trucking and busing companies, and through the air with a major airline hub. However, water- and rail-borne traffic has been declining steadily over the years.

A large proportion of the state's economy is still agricultural, even though only a small percentage of the population (around 2%) consider themselves to be farmers. Additionally, northern Minnesota is a source for iron ore and wood products, though these are both declining industries. The agricultural community is also strongly tied to the renewable energy market in the state.

Energy use and production

A fair amount of ethanol alcohol fuel is produced in the state, and a 10% mix of ethanol into consumer gasoline has been mandated since 1997 (as of 2004, Minnesota is the only U.S. state with such a mandate). A 2% biodiesel blend has also been required in diesel fuel since 2005. Many farmers also now operate wind turbines to produce electricity, particularly in the windy southwest region. As of January 2005, the state is the country's fourth-largest wind energy producer after California, Texas, and Iowa, with 615 megawatts installed and 213 MW planned [1].

Like many Midwestern states, Minnesota is heavily dependent on natural gas for home heating. Just over two-thirds of homes use the fuel. The state doesn't produce any petroleum of its own, but boasts the largest oil refinery of any non-oil-producing state, the Pine Bend Refinery. One of the longest pipelines in the world, the Lakehead Pipeline, also traverses northern Minnesota. Most of the petroleum used in the state comes from Canada and the northwestern United States.

State taxes

Minnesota is regarded as a high-tax state by some. It has an income and sales tax, as well as levying taxes on a common range of goods such as tobacco, gasoline, and alcohol. The state does not charge sales tax on clothing, services (massages, haircuts, auto work, etc), or non-prepared food items.

Minnesota businesses and individuals paid an average of 11.8% of their income in state and local taxes in 1998, down from 12.7% in 1996 (Minnesota Department of Revenue). The Gross State Product was just under $173 billion in 1999 (Northeast Midwest Institute), with approximately $17.5 billion in exports in 2000.

Retail sales per capita were $10,260 in 1997, higher than the U.S. average of $9,190 (U.S. Census Bureau). The "retail capital" of the state is probably the Twin Cities suburb of Roseville, which recorded $14,870 per capita (though it is easily outstripped in total revenue by Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, and Edina).


Historical populations

1850 6,077
1860 172,023
1870 439,706
1880 780,773
1890 1,310,283
1900 1,751,394
1910 2,075,708
1920 2,387,125
1930 2,563,953
1940 2,792,300
1950 2,982,483
1960 3,413,864
1970 3,804,971
1980 4,075,970
1990 4,375,099
2000 4,919,479
2004 est. 4,958,748

As of 2004, the state's population was estimated to be 5,100,958 (1.75% of the total national population), the population had increased 725,000 since 1990, or 16.6% (compared to 18.5% for the nation). 6.1% of Minnesota residents are foreign-born (compared to 11.1% for the nation)

Most of the state's population is centered in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

The racial makeup of the state:

Ethnic groups/Ancestry groups

Minnesotans traditionally consider themselves as Nordic descent (approximately 1.5 million people, 30% of the population, claim Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish ancestry), though more families originated in Germany (approximately 2 million people, 40% of the population). More than 8 out of 10 whites in Minnesota are at least partially of German or Scandinavian descent according to the 2000 Census. Numerous other ancestry groups are also present, including Scottish, British, Irish, and Polish/Slavic.

More recent immigrant communities include the third-largest Hmong population in the United States (from the Laos/Thailand/Vietnam region) and the second largest urban center of Hmong population in the world (concentrated in St. Paul), and a large community of Somali refugees.

Population distribution

The population distribution by age is (Northeast Midwest Institute):

  • 0-18 - 1,361,616 (27.7%)
  • 19-34 - 1,068,850 (21.7%)
  • 35-64 - 1,894,747 (38.6%)
  • 65+ - 594,266 (12.1%)


Most Minnesotans (Nearly 6 in 10) are Protestants (mostly mainline Protestant), although there is also a moderate-sized Roman Catholic community (about one-fourth of the state population). The largest Protestant denomination in the state is Lutheranism.

In recent years, new immigrants have added new religions to Minnesota, and there are now Islamic mosques, Buddhist temples, and Hindu mandirs in the state (mainly in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area), however the number of Minnesotans who adhere to non-Christian religions is still low.

Religious Affiliations in Minnesota:


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Miscellaneous information

Symbols and emblems

Naval ships named for Minnesota

Early explorers

Famous people from Minnesota

Eddie Albert, Loni Anderson, Louie Anderson, Richard Dean Anderson, James Arness, Tom Arnold, Soul Asylum, Ann Bancroft, Bill Berry, Jessica Biel, Herb Brooks, Warren Burger, Robert Cabana (NASA astronaut), Bob Casey (Stadium P.A. Annoucer), Joel and Ethan Coen, Rachael Leigh Cook, Morris Day, Mark Dayton, Bob Dylan, Tammy Faye, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Franken, Orville Freeman, Judy Garland, Terry Gilliam, Peter Graves (actor), Sid Hartman, Josh Hartnett, Mitch Hedberg, Hubert H. Humphrey, Hüsker Dü, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Garrison Keillor, Frank B. Kellogg, Tom Kelly, Craig Kilborn, Peter Krause, Don LaFontaine, Jessica Lange, Tom Lehman, Sinclair Lewis, Charles Lindbergh, John Madden, Roger Maris, Charles Mayo, William Mayo, William Worrall Mayo, Eugene J. McCarthy, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Paul Molitor, Walter F. Mondale, Lorenzo Music, George Nelson (astronaut), Gena Lee Nolin, David Oreck, Carl Pohlad, Prince, The Replacements, Marion Ross, Winona Ryder, Flip Saunders, Charles Schulz, Seann William Scott, The Spin Doctors, The Suburbs, Phil Solem, Kevin Sorbo, Harold Stassen, Will Steger, Glen A. Taylor, Lea Thompson, Cheryl Tiegs, Jesse Ventura, DeWitt Wallace, Roy Wilkins, Dave Winfield, Steve Zahn

Mythical figures from Minnesota

Jolly Green Giant, Minnehaha, Paul Bunyan, Poppin' Fresh, Betty Crocker

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Flag of Minnesota

State of Minnesota
Cities | Governors | Colleges and Universities

State Capital:

St. Paul


Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area | Northwest Angle | Iron Range | Arrowhead | Pipestone | Central

Major Cities:

Bloomington | Duluth | Minneapolis | Rochester | St. Cloud | Saint Paul

Smaller Cities:

Albert Lea | Apple Valley | Blaine | Brainerd | Bemidji | Brooklyn Park | Burnsville | Coon Rapids | Eagan | Eden Prairie | Edina | Faribault | International Falls | Lakeville | Montevideo | Moorhead | Maple Grove | Maplewood | Minnetonka | Pipestone | Plymouth | Richfield | Wabasha | Waseca |


Aitkin | Anoka | Becker | Beltrami | Benton | Big Stone | Blue Earth | Brown | Carlton | Carver | Cass | Chippewa | Chisago | Clay | Clearwater | Cook | Cottonwood | Crow Wing | Dakota | Dodge | Douglas | Faribault | Fillmore | Freeborn | Goodhue | Grant | Hennepin | Houston | Hubbard | Isanti | Itasca | Jackson | Kanabec | Kandiyohi | Kittson | Koochiching | Lac qui Parle | Lake | Lake of the Woods | Le Sueur | Lincoln | Lyon | McLeod | Mahnomen | Marshall | Martin | Meeker | Mille Lacs | Morrison | Mower | Murray | Nicollet | Nobles | Norman | Olmsted | Otter Tail | Pennington | Pine | Pipestone | Polk | Pope | Ramsey | Red Lake | Redwood | Renville | Rice | Rock | Roseau | St. Louis | Scott | Sherburne | Sibley | Stearns | Steele | Stevens | Swift | Todd | Traverse | Wabasha | Wadena | Waseca | Washington | Watonwan | Wilkin | Winona | Wright | Yellow Medicine

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