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Welcome to Minnesota

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Minnesota State Flag
Minnesota State Flag
Minnesota State Seal
Minnesota State Seal
Minnesota Location
Minnesota Location


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 Minn. or MN.

Minnesota, along with neighboring states North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, form a region called the "Upper Midwest," a subsection of the Midwestern United States.

The USS Minnesota was named in honor of this state, as was the SS Gopher State.

State nicknames Gopher State; North Star State; Land of 10,000 Lakes
Capital Saint Paul
Largest City Minneapolis
Governor (2004) Tim Pawlenty
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water
Ranked 12th
225,365 km˛
206,375 km˛
18,990 km˛
- Total (2000)
- Density
Ranked 21st
Admittance into Union
- Order
- Date

May 11, 1858
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
43°34'N to 49°23'N
89°34'W to 97°12'W
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
400 km
645 km

701 meters
365 meters
183 meters
ISO 3166-2 US-MN
State Motto L'Étoile du Nord ( Star of the North )
State Song "Hail! Minnesota"
State Bird Loon
State Butterfly Monarch
State Drink Milk
State Fish Walleye
State Grain Wild rice
State Flower Pink and White Showy Lady Slipper
State Muffin Blueberry (adopted as part of a school project on how a bill becomes law)
State Tree Red Pine
State Mushroom Morel (sponge mushroom; honeycomb morel)
State Gemstone Lake Superior Agate
State Picture Grace
Territory Motto (intended) Quae sursum volo videre ( I wish to see what is beyond )
Territory Motto (actual) Quo sursum velo videre ( I cover to see what is above  is the closest translation)


History Prior to Joining the United States

  • Originally inhabited by Native Americans, in particular the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabe) and Dakota, although the Ho-Chunk also had a presence in the southeastern part of the state.
  • Economy originally consisted of hunter-gather lifemode, which changed over time as Europeans settled in the area and further exploited the state's natural resources.
  • First European visitors were, according to local tradition, Swedish and Norwegian Vikings, in the 14th century, as testified by the controversial Kensington Runestone.
  • First European settlement was the area now known as the city of Stillwater, on the St. Croix River.
  • 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.

Early explorers

  • Michel Aco
  • Father Louis Hennepin
  • Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut
  • Zebulon Pike
  • Henry Schoolcraft
  • Joseph Nicollet
  • Father Jacques Marquette

Joins the United States

  • Minnesota was designated a territory on March 3, 1849, but that territory was not coextensive with the present state, since the territory included what later became the territory of Dakota, and later still became the states of North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • The eastern half of the territory of Minnesota became the present state of Minnesota—the 32nd state—on May 11, 1858.

Law and Government

  • Executive. The current governor—Tim Pawlenty, a Republican—started his term on January 6, 2003.
  • Legislature. Minnesota has a bicameral legislature (Senate and House). 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). Senators serve for four years, and representatives serve for two years. As of July 2004, the state House of Representatives is controlled by the Republican Party, with the state Senate being controlled by the DFL. As of July 5, 2004, there is one Independence Party legislator, former Republican State Senator Sheila Kiscaden (IP-Rochester).
  • Judiciary. The state 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 disuputes 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 located in St. Paul. 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. 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.


  • 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). The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest body of water in the state.
  • Minnesota is home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), as well as a number of state and county parks, most notably Itasca State Park, the 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.
  • It 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. It is the northernmost of the 48 contiguous states (Alaska reaches significantly farther north), reaching to 49° 23' 4" north latitude, due to a small piece of the state known as the Northwest Angle.
  • The capital is St. Paul, which sits on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River to the largest city, Minneapolis, (together known as the Twin Cities). Other prominent cities include Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester (home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic), and Bloomington.
  • The state's average elevation is 1,200 feet, with a high point at Eagle Mountain (2,301 feet) and a low at the surface of Lake Superior (602 feet)
  • The state is famously cold in the winters, with a record low of -60°F 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. As part of the Great Plains region, however, it also experiences warm summers, with a record high of 114°F reached in 1917 and 1936. The average temperature in January (the coldest month) is 11.2°F, and the average in the warmest month of July is 73.1°F. The average annual precipitation is 28.32 inches, with a snowfall figure of 49.6 inches.


  • State income
    • The average state income in Minnesota in 1999 was $30,742 (according to the State Demographic Center the Northeast Midwest Institute gives the figure as $30,793). This compares to a national average of $28,546. 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 (including Target Stores and Mervyn's), U.S. Bancorp, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (formerly Lutheran Brotherhood), Medtronic, Cray Computers, Imation, and a regional headquarters of Wells Fargo & Co. 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.
    • A large proportion of the state's economy is still agricultural. Additionally, northern Minnesota is a source for iron ore and wood products, though these are both declining industries. 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). If production capacity meets the need, 2% biodiesel will be required in diesel fuel in 2005. Many farmers also now operate windmills to produce electricity, particularly in the windy southwest region.
  • 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 state population, as of 2002, is 5,019,720 (1.74% of the nation), with a growth rate of 12.4% in the last 10 years (compared to 13.1% for the nation).
  • 88.2% of the state is white (excluding Hispanic/Latino), 3.5% Black/African American, 2.9% Hispanic/Latino, 2.9% Asian. Minnesotans traditionally count themselves as of Nordic descent (approximately 1.5 million people claim Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish ancestry), though more families originated in Germany (approximately 2 million). More modern immigrant communities include the third-largest Hmong population in the United States (from the Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam region), and a large presence from Somalia.
  • 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%)
  • Religious makeup of state
    • Minnesotans are largely Catholic and mainline Protestant. The largest Protestant body in the state is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In recent years, new immigrants have added to the religious mix in Minnesota. There are now mosques throughout the state, as well as Buddhist temples and Hindu mandirs.

Colleges and Universities

  • Alfred Adler Institute
  • American Lutheran Theological Seminary
  • Association Free Lutheran Bible School and Seminary
  • Augsburg College
  • Bethany Lutheran College
  • Bethel College and Seminary
  • Capella University
  • Carleton College
  • College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University
  • College of St. Catherine
  • College of St. Scholastica
  • College of Visual Arts
  • Concordia College, Moorhead
  • Concordia University, Saint Paul
  • Crown College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University
  • Luther Seminary
  • Macalester College
  • Martin Luther College
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC)
  • Minnesota Bible College
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU)
    • Bemidji State University
    • Minnesota State University Mankato
    • Minnesota State University Moorhead
    • Metropolitan State University
    • Southwest Minnesota State University
    • St. Cloud State University
    • Winona State University
  • North Central University
  • Northwestern College
  • Oak Hills Christian College
  • Pillsbury Baptist Bible College
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
    St. Olaf College
  • University Center Rochester
  • University of Minnesota System
    • University of Minnesota Crookston
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
    • University of Minnesota Morris
    • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • University of Saint Thomas
  • Walden University
  • William Mitchell College of Law

Professional Sports Teams

  • Minnesota Vikings, National Football League
  • Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball
  • Minnesota Timberwolves, National Basketball Association
  • Minnesota Lynx, Women's National Basketball Association
  • Minnesota Wild, National Hockey League
  • Minnesota Thunder, A-League Soccer
  • St. Paul Saints, minor league baseball


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