The state of Minnesota lies in the Midwest, bordering Canada and Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. In addition, there are more than 10,000 other lakes in the state, including Lake Itasca, the Mississippi River’s primary source. There are many cultural landmarks in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the “Twin Cities,” such as the Science Museum of Minnesota and Walker Art Center, a modern art museum.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT MINNESOTA
- Capital City: Saint Paul
- Largest City: Minneapolis
- Nickname: North Star State
- Statehood: May 11, 1858; 32nd state
- Population (as of 2021): 5,707,390
- Abbreviation: MN
- State bird: common loon
- State flower: pink and white lady slipper
- Total Size Of The State: 86,935.83 sq mi (225,163 km2)
Around 12,000 years ago, people probably arrived in what is now Minnesota. Then, many centuries later, Native American tribes, including the Dakota Sioux, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Iowa, Omaha, Winnebago, and Ojibwe, lived on the land.
The United States gained control of land previously owned by Britain that is now part of the Midwest following the American Revolution. France sold their territory to the United States in 1803. As a result, Minnesota Territory was formed from portions of these areas and land gained from Native American treaties.
Treaties with the Dakota Indians later led to Minnesota’s expansion, becoming the 32nd state in 1858. As a Union state, Minnesota was the first to volunteer troops for the Civil War in 1861.
Why Does It Have That Name?
Originally, Minnesota referred to the Minnesota River as mnisota, which meant “cloudy, muddy water” or “sky-tinted water.”
Minnesota’s official nickname comes from its French state motto adopted in 1861: l’étoile du Nord, which means “the star of the north.” Another unofficial nickname is the Land of 10,000 Lakes because there are more than 10,000 lakes in Minnesota – 11,842, to be exact!
Geographic Features and Landforms
Canada borders Minnesota to the north, Lake Superior and Wisconsin to the east, Iowa to the south, and North and South Dakota to the west. Thousands of years ago, glaciers formed most of the state’s topography (the shape of its terrain). These slow-moving masses of ice carved Minnesota’s plains and low hills. Many of the state’s lakes were also formed by them.
The north of Minnesota is home to deep lakes and streams, rocky ridges, thick forests, and the state’s highest point, Eagle Mountain. A large body of freshwater, Lake Superior, borders this area.
Red River Valley stretches west from the Canadian border to the edge of South Dakota, a mostly flat area with fertile soil. Glaciers thickly deposit clay and gravel in southwestern Minnesota. During the last ice age, glaciers did not affect the state’s southeastern part. Stream-cut valleys, caverns, and high cliffs characterize the area.
The Natural World
The mammals of Minnesota include the American marten, the bobcat, the muskrat, the raccoon, and the white-tailed deer. In addition, many birds fly through the state, including snipes, gyrfalcons, and great horned owls. Minnesota’s amphibians are the western chorus frog, eastern red-backed salamander, and northern map turtle.
Reptiles found in the state include prairie skinks, garter snakes, and the venomous timber rattlesnake.
Quaking aspen, American elm, mountain maple, white spruce, and red pine (the state tree) are among Minnesota’s 52 native tree species. Wildflowers in the state include doll’s eyes (known for their eyeball-shaped berries), black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, white meadowsweet, and sweet peas.
Iron ore is a significant producer in Minnesota’s Mesabi mountain range. Manganese is also mined in the state and is used to make aluminum, steel, and batteries.
Some Fun Facts About Minnesota
- Downtown Minneapolis has an above-ground walkway system that stretches for nine miles. As the world’s largest skyway, it connects 73 blocks.
- Minnesota has produced many famous residents, including Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, Wizard of Oz actress Judy Garland, and musicians Prince and Bob Dylan.
- In the United States, the biggest mall is the Mall of America in Minnesota. The mall has more than 500 stores, a seven-acre amusement park, and full-size roller coasters.
- In 1922, Minnesota was the birthplace of water skiing.
- Minnesota’s lakes are said to have been created by giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his blue ox. But, in reality, glaciers created the lakes.
- The state is home to the NBA’s only team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.