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Minnesota (MN) Fast Facts
Location and Geography: Minnesota is located in a region called the Upper Midwest, along the United States border with Canada. It is actually the northernmost state other than Alaska. It is often known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” an accurate name, as Minnesota boasts at least that many decently-sized lakes in its area.
Counties and Regions: Minnesota has 87 counties, but all of these can be grouped into more recognizable geographic regions as follows:
- Arrowhead Region
- Boundary Waters
- Buffalo Ridge
- Central Minnesota
- Coulee Region
- Iron Range
- Minnesota River Valley
- North Shore
- Northwest Angle
- Pipestone Region
- Red River Valley
- Southeast Minnesota
- Twin Cities Metropolitan Area
Population: Minnesota’s population has been growing since the eighteenth century, and it is now home to well over 5 million people. The Twin Cities area is home to more than 60% of the state’s population, however, and many of the more rural areas are actually losing residents.
Major Cities: Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul, and Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis, are located directly next to one another. Together, they form a huge metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, which is the center of population in the state.
Story Behind the Name: The term “Minnesota” comes from a Native American word that means “clouded water” or “sky-tinted water.” It has been used by Europeans as a name for the area since the first explorers arrived there.
History and Colonization: Like the rest of the present-day United States, Minnesota was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before any contact with Europeans occurred. French fur trappers first began arriving in the 17th century, and were later followed by loggers and settlers as American society began to push westwards. Over time, much of the land of Minnesota was bartered away by the natives. Other groups, such as the Dakotas, fought the settlers, but these were driven away or moved to reservations. The current Native American population of Minnesota is comparatively low, despite their culture having had a major impact on many of the people and places in the state.
The crucial Mississippi River bisects modern Minnesota, with its headwaters located in the northern part of the state. The United States was granted all land east of the Mississippi River once the American Revolution was resolved, giving it control over half of what is now Minnesota. The rest of the land was acquired years later through the Louisiana Purchase, which gave the U.S. acres of new territory that practically doubled its size. Parts of Minnesota were included in various territories before it was formed to its present shape and granted statehood in 1858.
The state of Minnesota continued to grow and develop at a steady pace. Thousands of German and Scandinavian immigrants set up homesteads there, creating a permanent cultural stamp on Minnesota. Major communities at Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Fort Snelling grew as the landscape was converted to farmland at a rapid pace. Later, the industrial revolution and the rise of manufacturing had a major effect on Minnesota, sending people flocking to its cities to work in factories.
The early twentieth century was a difficult time in the region. The combination of droughts and the Great Depression took a heavy toll on Minnesota’s many farms. Manufacturing jobs during World War II boosted the economy again, as did mechanized developments in agriculture. Today, Minnesota has growing technology and service industries based in its largest cities.