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Minnesota ( ) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United Statesmarker. The twelfth largest state by area in the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.2 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state on May 11, 1858. Known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", the state's name comes from a Dakota word for "sky-tinted water". Those waters, together with forests, parks, and wilderness areas, offer residents and tourists a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Nearly sixty percent of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paulmarker metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business and industry, education and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now cleared, farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation. The large majority of residents are of Nordic (especially Norwegian and Swedish) or German descent, but ethnic diversity has increased in recent decades with influxes of African, Asian, and Latin America immigrants who have joined the descendants of European immigrants and the original Native American inhabitants.

The state is known for its moderate to progressive politics and social policies, civic involvement, and high voter turnout. Minnesota ranks among the healthiest states, and has a highly literate population.

Etymology

The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: Mnisota. The root Mni (also spelled mini or minne) means, "water". Mnisota can be 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. Many locations in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Fallsmarker ("waterfall"), Minneiskamarker ("white water"), Minneotamarker ("much water"), Minnetonkamarker ("big water"), Minnetristamarker ("crooked water"), and Minneapolismarker, which is a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city".

Geography

Minnesota, showing roads and major bodies of water
Minnesota is the northernmost state apart from Alaskamarker; its isolated Northwest Anglemarker in Lake of the Woodsmarker is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th Parallel. The state is part of the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest. The state shares a Lake Superiormarker water border with Michiganmarker and Wisconsinmarker on the northeast; the remainder of the eastern border is with Wisconsinmarker. Iowamarker is to the south, North Dakotamarker and South Dakotamarker to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontariomarker and Manitobamarker to the north. With 86,943 square miles (225,181 km²), or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the twelfth-largest state.

Geology and terrain

Minnesota contains some of the oldest rocks found on earth, gneisses some 3.6 billion years old, or 80% 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 volcanism 1.1 billion years ago, Minnesota's geological activity has been more subdued, with no volcanism or mountain formation, but with repeated incursions of the sea, which left behind multiple strata of sedimentary rock.

In more recent times, massive ice sheets at least one kilometer thick ravaged the landscape of the state and sculpted its current terrain. The Wisconsin glaciation left 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 area 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 left behind as the last glaciers retreated. Gigantic Lake Agassizmarker formed in the northwest 13,000 years ago. Its bed created the fertile Red Rivermarker valley, and its outflow, glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River. Minnesota is geologically quiet today; it experiences earthquakes infrequently, and most of them are minor.

The state's high point is Eagle Mountainmarker 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 Hibbingmarker, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexicomarker, the Saint Lawrence Seaway east to the Atlantic Ocean, or the Hudson Bay watershed to the Arctic Ocean.

The state's nickname, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, is no exaggeration; there are 11,842 lakes over 10 acres (.04 km²) in size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 962,700 acres (3,896 km²) and deepest (at ) body of water in the state. Minnesota has 6,564 natural rivers and streams that cumulatively flow for 69,000 miles (111,000 km). The Mississippi River begins its journey from its headwaters at Lake Itascamarker and crosses the Iowa border downstream. It is joined by the Minnesota River at Fort Snellingmarker, by the St. Croix River near Hastingsmarker, by the Chippewa River at Wabashamarker, and by many smaller streams. The Red Rivermarker, 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, the most of any state except Alaska.

Flora and fauna

Minnesota has four ecological provinces: Prairie Parkland in the southwestern and western parts of the state, the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Big Woods) in the southeast, extending in a narrowing strip to the northwestern part of the state, where it transitions into Tallgrass Aspen Parkland, and the northern Laurentian Mixed Forest, a transitional forest between the northern boreal forest and broadleaf forests to the south. These northern forests are a vast wilderness of pine and spruce trees mixed with patchy stands of birch and poplar.
of Minnesota's northern forest underwent logging at some time, leaving only a few patches of old growth forest today in areas such as in the Chippewa National Forestmarker and the Superior National Forestmarker where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildernessmarker has some 400,000 acres (1,600 km²) of unlogged land. Although logging continues, regrowth keeps about one third of the state forested. Nearly all of Minnesota's prairies and oak savannas have been destroyed or fragmented because of farming, grazing, logging, and suburban development.

While loss of habitat has affected native animals such as the pine marten, elk, woodland caribou, and bison, others like 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 on 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 sport fish such as walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike, and streams in the southeast are populated by brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

Climate



Minnesota endures temperature extremes characteristic of its continental climate; with cold winters and hot summers. The record high and low span is 174 degrees (from -60 to 114 degrees) Fahrenheit (span of 96C°; from -51°C to 45°C). Meteorological events include rain, snow, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, derechos, tornadoes, and high-velocity straight-line winds. The growing season varies from 90 days per year in the Iron Range to 160 days in southeast Minnesota near the Mississippi River, and mean average temperatures range from 36 °F (2 °C) to 49 °F (9 °C). Average summer dew points 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 in (48.3 cm) to 35 in (88.9 cm), and droughts occur every 10 to 50 years.

Protected lands

Minnesota's first state park, Itasca State Parkmarker, 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 Chippewamarker and Superior National Forestsmarker. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildernessmarker, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Parkmarker. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), is a long corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.

History

Before European settlement, Minnesota was populated by the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native Americans. The first Europeans were French fur traders that arrived in the 1600s. Late that century, 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 portion of the state east of the Mississippi River became a part of the United States 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 a portion 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 Snellingmarker followed between 1819 and 1825. Its soldiers built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Fallsmarker, the first of the water-powered industries around which the city of Minneapolis later grew. Meanwhile, squatters, government officials, and tourists had settled near the fort. In 1839, the 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 European settlers and the Dakota and Ojibwe gradually forced the natives off their lands and on to smaller reservations. As conditions deteriorated for the Dakota, tensions rose, leading to the Dakota War of 1862. The result of the six-week war was the execution of 38 Dakota — the largest mass execution in United States history — and the exile of most of the rest of the Dakota to the Crow Creek Reservation in Nebraskamarker. As many as 800 white settlers died during the war.

Logging and farming were mainstays of Minnesota's early economy. The sawmills at Saint Anthony Falls, and logging centers like Marine on St. Croixmarker, Stillwatermarker, and Winonamarker, 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, which it replaced. By 1900, Minnesota mills, led by Pillsbury, Northwestern and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills), were grinding 14.1% of the nation's grain.

The state's iron-mining industry was established with the discovery of iron 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 Duluthmarker and Two Harborsmarker, then loaded onto ships and transported eastward over the Great Lakesmarker.

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 prevalent. 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 hit by drought from 1931 to 1935. New Deal programs provided some economic turnaround. The Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs around the state established some jobs for Indians on their reservations, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided the tribes with a mechanism of self-government. This provided natives 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 quickened. 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 hybrid of corn and wheat, and the use of farm machinery such as tractors and combines became the norm. University of Minnesotamarker 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.

Cities and towns

Saint Paulmarker, 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 Territory of Minnesota, and then as state capital since 1858.

Saint Paul is adjacent to Minnesota's most populous city, Minneapolismarker; they and their suburbs are known collectively as the Twin Citiesmarker metropolitan area, the thirteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States and home to about 60% of the state's population. The remainder of the state is known as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota".

The state has seventeen cities with populations above 50,000 (based on 2005 estimates). In descending order of size they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochestermarker, Duluthmarker, Bloomingtonmarker, Plymouthmarker, Brooklyn Parkmarker, Eaganmarker, Coon Rapidsmarker, Saint Cloudmarker, Burnsvillemarker, Eden Prairiemarker, Maple Grovemarker, Woodburymarker, Blainemarker, Lakevillemarker, and Minnetonkamarker. Of these only Rochester, Duluth, and Saint Cloud are outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Minnesota's population continues to grow, primarily in the urban centers. The populations of metropolitan Sherburnemarker and Scott Countiesmarker doubled between 1980 and 2000, while 40 of the state's 87 counties lost residents over the same decades.

Demographics

Map of Minnesota's population change.


Population

From fewer than 6,100 people in 1850, Minnesota's population grew to over 1.7 million by 1900. Each of the next six decades saw a 15% increase in population, reaching 3.4 million in 1960. Growth then slowed, rising 11% to 3.8 million in 1970, and an average of 9% over the next three decades to 4.9 million in the 2000 Census. As of July 1, 2008, the state's population was estimated at 5,220,393 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate of population change along with age and gender distributions approximate the national average. Minnesota's growing minority groups, however, still form a significantly smaller percentage of the population than in the nation as a whole. The center of population of Minnesota is located in Hennepin Countymarker, in the city of Rogersmarker.

Race and ancestry

The principal ancestries of Minnesota's residents in 2008 has been surveyed to be the following:

Ancestries claimed by less than 3% of the population include Americanmarker, Italian, Dutch , and Czech, each between 2 and 3%; Danish, Scottish, French Canadian, and Scotch-Irish, each between 1 and 1.9%; and less than 1% each for Russian, Welsh, Swiss, Arab, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Greek, Slovak, Lithuanian, Portuguese, and West Indianmarker.



The state's racial composition in the 2008 American Community Survey was:



Religion

Although Christianity is dominant, there is a long history of non-Christian faiths. Ashkenazi Jewish pioneers set up Saint Paul's first synagogue in 1856, and there are now appreciable numbers of adherents to Islam, Buddhism, and other traditions. The majority of Minnesotans are Protestants, though Roman Catholics make up the largest single Christian denomination. A 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 32.0% of Minnesotans were affiliated with Protestant traditions, 21.0% with Evangelical Protestants, 28.0% with Roman Catholic, 1.0% each with Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Black Protestant traditions, smaller amounts for other faiths, and 13.0% unaffiliated. This is broadly consistent with the results of the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, which also gives detail on percentages of many individual denominations.

Economy

Once primarily a producer of raw materials, Minnesota's economy has transformed in the last 200 years to emphasize finished products and services. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of the economy is its diversity; the relative outputs of its business sectors closely match the United States as a whole. The economy of Minnesota had a gross domestic product of $262 billion in 2008. Thirty-three of the United States' top 1,000 publicly traded companies (by revenue in 2008) are headquartered in Minnesota, including Target, UnitedHealth Group, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp, and Best Buy. The largest privately owned U.S. company, Cargill, is headquartered in Minnetonka.

The per capita personal income in 2008 was $42,772, the tenth-highest in the nation. The three-year median household income from 2002 to 2004 was $55,914, ranking fifth in the U.S. and first among the 36 states not on the Atlantic coast. White families earned more income than the national average but among the population under age 18, more than 20% of Asians and Hispanics, more than 40% of African Americans and more than 40% of Native American females in Minnesota lived in poverty.

Industry and commerce

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% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking 6th in the nation in the value of products sold. 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% of the country's usable iron ore. The mining boom created the port of Duluthmarker 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'smarker Southdale Centermarker and its largest is Bloomington'smarker Mall of Americamarker.

Minnesota is one of 42 U.S. states with its own lottery; its games include Powerball, Hot Lotto (both multi-state), and Gopher 5.

Energy use and production

The state produces ethanol fuel and is the first to mandate its use, a 10% mix (E10), and a 20% mix (E20) in 2013. There are more than 310 service stations supplying E85 fuel. A 2% 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.

State taxes

Minnesota has a slightly progressive income tax structure; the three brackets of state income tax rates are 5.35%, 7.05% and 7.85%. Minnesota is ranked as the 6th highest in the nation for per capita total state taxes. The sales tax in Minnesota is 6.875%, but there is no sales tax on clothing, prescription medications, some service, or food items for home consumption. The state legislature may allow municipalities to institute local sales taxes and special local taxes, such as the 0.5% supplemental sales tax in Minneapolis. Excise taxes are levied on alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. The state imposes a use tax on items purchased elsewhere but used within Minnesota. Owners of real property in Minnesota pay property tax to their county, municipality, school district, and special taxing districts.



Culture

Fine and performing arts

Minnesota's major fine art museums include the Minneapolis Institute of Artsmarker, the Walker Art Centermarker, and the Frederick R.marker Weisman Art Museummarker. The Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are prominent full-time professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the community. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is strong. The Guthrie Theatermarker moved into a new building in 2006, boasting three stages and overlooking the Mississippi River. In the United States, the Twin Cities' number of theater seats per capita ranks behind only New York Citymarker; with some 2.3 million theater tickets sold annually. The Minnesota Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of theatre, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids' shows, visual art, and musicals. The summer festival consists of over 800 performances over 11 days in Minneapolis, and is the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.

Minnesota has found its way into the classical music repertoire in the form of Ferde Grofe's Mississippi Suite, a movement of which depicts the birth of the Mississippi River by Lake Itascamarker, and the Chippewa Indians who reside there.

Literature

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 attacked 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 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was inspired by Minnesota and names many of the state's places and bodies of water.

Entertainment



Minnesotan musicians of many genres include rock star Prince, harmony singers The Andrews Sisters, rockabilly star Eddie Cochran, folk musician Bob Dylan, garage rock band The Castaways, pop songwriters Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, indie rock artists Jonny Lang and Soul Asylum, and cult favorites such as Hüsker Dü and The Replacements.

Minnesotans have made significant contributions to comedy, theater, and film. Ole and Lena jokes are best appreciated when delivered in the accent of Scandinavian Americans. Garrison Keillor is known around the country for resurrecting old-style radio comedy with A Prairie Home Companion, which has aired since the 1970s. Local television had the satirical show The Bedtime Nooz in the 1960s, while area natives Lizz Winstead and Craig Kilborn helped create the increasingly influential Daily Show decades later. Actors from the state include Eddie Albert, Judy Garland, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder. Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Gilliam and Mike Todd contributed to the art of film, and others brought the offbeat cult shows Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Let's Bowl to national cable from the Twin Cities.

Popular culture

Stereotypical Minnesotan traits include manners known as "Minnesota nice," Lutheranism, a strong sense of community and shared culture, and their distinctive brand of North Central American English sprinkled with Scandinavian-sounding words such as uff da. Potlucks, usually with a variety of hotdish casseroles, are popular at community functions, especially church activities. Minnesota's Scandinavian heritage makes lutefisk a traditional holiday dish. Movies like Fargo, Juno, A Serious Man, Drop Dead Gorgeous, New in Town, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men; the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Golden Girls, and Coach; the radio show A Prairie Home Companion; and the book How to Talk Minnesotan lampoon (and celebrate) Minnesotan culture, speech and mannerisms.

The Minnesota State Fairmarker, advertised as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an icon of state culture. In a state of 5.2 million people, there were almost 1.8 million visitors to the fair in 2009, breaking the previous record set in 2001. The fair covers the variety of life in Minnesota, including fine art, science, agriculture, food preparation, 4H displays, music, the midway, and corporate merchandising. It is known for its displays of seed art, butter sculptures of dairy princesses, the birthing barn, and the "fattest pig" competition. One can also find dozens of varieties of food on a stick, such as Pronto Pups, cheese curds, and deep fried candy bars. On a smaller scale, many of these attractions are offered at numerous county fairs.

Other large annual festivals include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Minneapolis' Aquatennial and Mill City Music Festival, Moondance Jam in Walker, the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, and Detroit Lakes'marker 10,000 Lakes Festival and WE Fest.

Health

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
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. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91% of Minnesotans have health insurance, more than in any other state. These and other measures have led two groups to rank Minnesota as the fourth-healthiest state in the nation.

On October 1, 2007 Minnesota became the seventeenth state to enact a statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars with the enactment of Freedom to Breathe Act.

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 is a highly rated teaching institution that has made a number of breakthroughs in treatment, and its research activities contribute significantly to the state's growing biotechnology industry. The Mayo Clinicmarker, a world-renowned medical practice, is based in Rochestermarker. 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.

In March 2008, The American State Litter Scorecard, presented at the American Society for Public Administration national conference, rated Minnesota along with Vermontmarker as topmost Best states for litter/debris removals from public properties (roadways, streams, trails), resulting in an overall healthy environmental quality status.

Education

One of the first acts of the Minnesota Legislature when it opened in 1858 was the creation of a normal school at Winonamarker. This commitment to education has contributed to a literate and well-educated population; the state ranked 13th on the 2006–2007 Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, and is first in the percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma. But while more than 90% of high school seniors graduated in 2006, about 6% of white, 28% of African American, 30% of Asian American and more than 34% of Hispanic and Native American students dropped out of school. Minnesota students earn the highest average score in the nation on the ACT exam. 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 32 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and five major campuses of the University of Minnesota. It is also home to more than 20 private colleges and universities, six of which rank among the top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Transportation

Transportation in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT for short and used in the local news media). Principal transportation corridors radiate from the Minneapolis-St. Paulmarker 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% 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 Superiormarker.

Minnesota's principal airport is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airportmarker (MSP), the headquarters and major passenger and freight hub for Northwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. Most other domestic carriers serve the airport. Large commercial jet service is provided at Duluth and Rochester, with scheduled commuter service to six smaller cities via Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines.

Amtrak's daily Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle) train runs through Minnesota, calling at Midway Stationmarker in St. Paul and five other stations. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound, Jefferson Lines, and Coach USA. Local public transit is provided by bus networks in the larger cities and by the Hiawatha Line electrified light rail service linking downtown Minneapolis with the Airport and Bloomington.

Law and government

As with the federal government of the United States, power in Minnesota is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

Executive

The executive branch is headed by the governor. The current governor is Tim Pawlenty, a Republican whose first term began on January 6, 2003 and who was narrowly re-elected in 2006. The current Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota is Carol Molnau, who was also the head of the Minnesota Department of Transportation until the Senate refused to confirm her appointment in February 2008. The offices of governor and lieutenant governor have four-year terms. The governor 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.

Legislature

The Minnesota Legislature is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The state has sixty-seven districts, each covering about sixty thousand people. Each district has one senator and two representatives (each district being divided into A and B sections). Senators serve for four years and representatives for two years. In the November 2008 election, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) gained two more house seats, giving them control of the House of Representatives by 87-47. The Senate is also controlled by the DFL with a veto-proof majority of 47-21.

Judiciary

Minnesota's court system has three levels. Most cases start in the district courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction. There are 272 district court judges in ten judicial districts. Appeals from the trial courts and challenges to certain governmental decisions are heard by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, consisting of sixteen judges who typically sit in three-judge panels. The seven-justice Minnesota Supreme Courtmarker hears all appeals from the Tax Court, the Worker's Compensation Court, first-degree murder convictions, and discretionary appeals from the Court of Appeals; it also has original jurisdiction over election disputes.

Two specialized courts within administrative agencies have been established: the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals, and the Tax Court, which deals with non-criminal tax cases.

Regional

Below the city and county levels of government found in the United States, Minnesota 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.

There are seven Anishinaabe reservations and four Dakota communities in Minnesota. These communities are self-governing.

Federal

Minnesota's United States senators are Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Democrat Al Franken. The outcome of the United States Senate election in Minnesota, 2008 was contested until June 30 the next year; when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Franken, Republican Norm Coleman conceded defeat, and the vacant seat was filled.
 The state has eight congressional districts; they are represented by Tim Walz (1st district; DFL), John Kline (2nd; R), Erik Paulsen (3rd; R), Betty McCollum (4th; DFL), Keith Ellison (5th; DFL), Michele Bachmann (6th; R), Collin Peterson (7th; DFL), and James Oberstar (8th; DFL).


Federal court cases are heard in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, which holds court in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Fergus Fallsmarker. Appeals are heard by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis, Missourimarker and St. Paul.

Politics

Election results from statewide races
Year Office GOP DFL Others
2008 President 43.8% 54.1% 2.1%
Senator 42.0% 42.0% 16.0%
2006 Governor 46.7% 45.7% 7.6%
Senator 37.9% 58.1% 4.0%
2004 President 47.6% 51.1% 1.3%
2002 Governor 44.4% 33.5% 22.1%
Senator 49.5% 47.3% 1.0%
2000 President 45.5% 47.9% 6.6%
Senator 43.3% 48.8% 7.9%
1998 Governor 34.3% 28.1% 37.6%
1996 President 35.0% 51.1% 13.9%
Senator 41.3% 50.3% 8.4%
1994 Governor 63.3% 34.1% 2.6%
Senator 49.1% 44.1% 6.8%
1992 President 31.9% 43.5% 24.6%


Minnesota is known for a politically active citizenry, and populism has been a longstanding force among the state's political parties. Minnesota has a consistently high voter turnout, due in part to its liberal voter registration laws, with virtually no evidence of voter fraud. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, 77.9% of eligible Minnesotans voted—the highest percentage of any U.S. state—versus the national average of 61.2%. Previously unregistered voters can register on election day at their polls with evidence of residency.

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 in the 1968 New Hampshire Primary 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 that did not vote for Ronald Reagan in either of his presidential runs.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have major party status in Minnesota, but its state-level "Democratic" party is actually a separate party, officially known as the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). Formed out of a 1944 alliance of the Minnesota Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties, the DFL now serves as a de-facto proxy to the federal Democratic Party, and its distinction from the Democratic Party, while still official, is now a functional technicality.

The state has had active third party movements. The Reform Party, now the Independence Party, was able to elect former mayor of Brooklyn Parkmarker and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura to the governorship in 1998. The Independence Party has received enough support to keep major party status. The Green Party, while no longer having major party status, has a large presence in municipal government, notably in Minneapolismarker and Duluthmarker, where it competes directly with the DFL party for local offices. Official "Major party" status in Minnesota (which grants state funding for elections) is reserved to parties, which receive 5% or more of the state's general vote in the U.S. Presidential election. Status is revised every four years.

The state's U.S. Senate seats have generally been split since the early 1990s, and in the 108th and 109th Congresses, Minnesota's congressional delegation was split, with four representatives and one senator from each party. In the 2006 midterm election, Democrats were elected to all state offices except for governor and lieutenant governor, where Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Carol Molnau narrowly won re-election. The DFL also posted double-digit gains in both houses of the legislature, elected Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate, and increased the party's U.S. House caucus by one. Keith Ellison was elected as the first African American U.S. Representative from Minnesota as well as the first Muslim elected to Congress nationwide.

Media

The Twin Cities area is the fifteenth largest media market in the United States as ranked by Nielsen Media Research. The state's other top markets are Fargo-Moorhead (118th nationally), Duluth-Superior (137th), Rochester-Mason City-Austin (152nd), and Mankatomarker(200th).

Broadcast television in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest started on April 27, 1948, when KSTP-TVmarker began broadcasting. Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation, which owns KSTP, is now the only locally owned television company in Minnesota. There are currently 39 analog broadcast stations and 23 digital channels broadcast over Minnesota.

The four largest daily newspapers are the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, the Pioneer Press in Saint Paul, the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth and The Minnesota Daily, the largest student-run newspaper in the U.S. Sites offering daily news on the Web include MinnPost, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, business news site Finance and Commerce and Washington D.C.-based Minnesota Independent. Weeklies including City Pages and monthly publications such as Minnesota Monthly are available.

Two of the largest public radio networks, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and Public Radio International (PRI), are based in the state. MPR has the largest audience of any regional public radio network in the nation, broadcasting on 37 radio stations. PRI weekly provides more than 400 hours of programming to almost 800 affiliates. The state's oldest radio station, KUOM-AM, was launched in 1922 and is among the 10 oldest radio station in the United States. The University of Minnesotamarker-owned station is still on the air, and since 1993 broadcasts a college rock format.

Sports and recreation

Organized sports



Minnesota has professional men's teams in all major sports. The Hubert H.marker Humphrey Metrodomemarker is home to the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. The Metrodome formerly hosted The Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball, winners of the 1987 and 1991 World Series. The Twins are moving to the newly constructed Target Fieldmarker for the 2010 season. The Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association play in the Target Centermarker. The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild team reached 300 consecutive sold-out games in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Centermarker on January 16, 2008. The Minnesota Thunder plays professional soccer in the USL First Division, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid; it plays at the National Sports Centermarker in Blainemarker.

Minor league baseball is represented both by major league-sponsored teams and independent teams such as the popular St. Paul Saints.

Professional women's sports include the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Minnesota Lightning of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, the Minnesota Vixen of the Independent Women's Football League, and the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women's Hockey League.

The Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesotamarker is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school, with sports teams competing in either the Big Ten Conference or the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Four additional schools in the state compete in NCAA Division I ice hockey: the University of Minnesota Duluthmarker, Minnesota State University, Mankatomarker, St. Cloud State Universitymarker, and Bemidji State Universitymarker. There are nine NCAA Division II colleges represented by the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in Minnesota, and nineteen NCAA Division III colleges represented by the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

Winter Olympic Games medallists from the state include eleven of the twenty members of the gold medal 1980 ice hockey team (coached by Minnesota native Herb Brooks) and the bronze medallist U.S. men's curling team in the 2006 Winter Olympics. Swimmer Tom Malchow won an Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Summer games and a silver medal in 1996.

Grandma's Marathon is run every summer along the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, and the Twin Cities Marathon winds around lakes and the Mississippi River during the peak of the fall color season.

Outdoor recreation

Minnesotans participate in high levels of physical activity, and many of these activities are outdoors. The strong interest of Minnesotans in environmentalism has been attributed to the popularity of these pursuits.

In the warmer months, these activities often involve water. Weekend and longer trips to family cabin on Minnesota's numerous lakes are a way of life for many residents. Activities include water sports such as water skiing, which originated in the state, boating, canoeing, and fishing. More than 36% of Minnesotans fish, second only to Alaska.

Fishing does not cease when the lakes freeze; ice fishing has been around since the arrival of early Scandinavian immigrants. Minnesotans have learned to embrace their long, harsh winters in ice sports such as skating, hockey, curling, and broomball, and snow sports such as cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

State and national forests and the seventy-two state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. There are almost of snowmobile trails statewide. Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.

State symbols

Minnesota's state symbols:

See also



References

  1. Minnesota. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Retrieved on 2008-04-26.
  2. Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
  3. Ecological Provinces, Ecological Classification System, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (1999). Retrieved on 2008-05-03.
  4. Bison disappeared in the mid 1800s; the last bison was reported in southwest Minnesota in 1879. As referenced in
  5. Gray Wolf Factsheet, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (January 2007). Retrieved on 2008-05-03.
  6. Steil, Mark and Tim Post. Hundreds of settlers killed in attacks. Minnesota Public Radio. September 26, 2002.
  7. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=04000US27&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_DP2&-context=adp&-ds_name=&-tree_id=308&-_lang=en&-redoLog=true&-format=
  8. Selected Social Characteristics in the United States: 2005-2007, Minnesota, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
  9. .
  10. Page 21
  11. S. Spacek, The American State Litter Scorecard, 2008.
  12. Minnesota's High Quality of Life, ExploreMinnesota.com (state tourism agency). Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
  13. Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives 2009-2010 Minnesota House of Representatives. Retrieved 2009-07-05
  14. Minnesota Senate Members, Minnesota Senate. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  15. http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/
  16. Huefner, Steven F., Daniel P Tokaji, and Edward B. Foley (2007), ‘'From Registration to Recounts: The Election Ecosystems of Five Midwestern States'’, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, p. 137. ISBN 978-0-9801400-0-2.


External links

General

Government

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Culture & history

Maps and Demographics


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