North Dakota Facts

Introduction

The Great Plains dominate the landscape of North Dakota, a state in the midwestern US. The Plains Art Museum is located in Fargo, North Dakota’s eastern city. At the Scandinavian Heritage Association in Minot, the area’s immigrant history is celebrated. Across the Little Missouri River from Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies the rugged Badlands near Montana’s border.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT NORTH DAKOTA

  • Capital City: Bismarck
  • Largest City: Fargo
  • Nickname: The Peace Garden State
  • Statehood: November 2, 1889; 39th state
  • Population (as of 2020): 779,094
  • Abbreviation: ND
  • State bird: western meadowlark
  • State flower: wild prairie rose
  • Total Size Of The State: 70,704 sq mi (183,123 km2)

Historical Background

Experts have yet to learn when people first settled in what is now North Dakota, but archaeologists have discovered 10,000-year-old artifacts from hunters in the area.

About 30,000 Native Americans from several different tribes live in North Dakota, including the Mandan, Hidatsa, Cheyenne, and Dakota Sioux.

French explorer Pierre Gaultier La Vérendrye was the first European to have reached the area in 1738 when he became the first European to arrive. 

Spanish and English took control of the region later. As part of the Louisiana Purchase, the United States acquired the land in 1803. North Dakota and South Dakota were formerly part of the Dakota territory. In the late 1800s, railroads brought American settlers to North Dakota, declared a state in 1889.

Why Does It Have That Name?

Native American Sioux word Dakota translates roughly into “friend” or “ally.”

In 1932, the United States and Canada pledged not to go to war with each other in the International Peace Garden, which stands on the border between North Dakota and Canada.

Geographic Features and Landforms

Canada borders North Dakota in the north, Minnesota in the east, South Dakota in the south, and Montana in the west. There are Rocky Mountains in the west. In the east, the Red River Valley once formed the floor of an ancient lake. The Red River forms a wiggly border with Minnesota. The mineral-rich soil here makes it one of the most fertile areas, full of farms.

As you travel west, you will come across hills, valleys, lakes and wetlands.

On the west of the Drift Prairie is the Missouri Plateau, the state’s highest region. The Badlands are a harsh stone valley that winds and water sculpted into pyramids, domes, and buttes (steep, flat-topped hills). White Butte, 3,606 feet high, is the highest point in the Badlands. 

However, North Dakota was once underwater and bore the fossil remains of ancient sea creatures, including mosasaurs, clams, and other fish.

The Natural World

A wide variety of mammals live in North Dakota’s wide open spaces, including bison, bighorn sheep, moose, pronghorns, bobcats, eastern spotted skunks, and arctic shrews. The red-headed woodpecker slams its beak into trees while bald eagles, prairie falcons, and American kestrels hunt overhead. 

The tiger salamander is standard, while bizarre reptiles like the smooth green snake and softshell turtle scurry about. The green snake’s mouth appears smiling, while the softshell turtle has a skin-covered shell.

Throughout the landscape are ash, elm, pine trees, and willows, as well as colorful flowers such as black-eyed Susans, oxeye daisies, and Queen Anne’s lace.

Natural Resources

Libnite, a soft, brown coal type, is the world’s most significant deposit in North Dakota. There’s enough to last about another 800 years since it’s been mined since 1873. Petroleum, oil, and gas are also abundant in the state.

Some Fun Facts About North Dakota

  • You can stand beside the world’s largest (fake) buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. Standing 26 feet tall, the Dakota Thunder statue is taller than a two-story house.
  • Walking from Canada to the United States inside the International Peace Garden Peace Chapel is possible.
  • A former cattle rancher in North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt served as President. Located in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, his log cabin home is open to the public for tours.

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