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South Dakota has a rich historical heritage. The region was inhabited by the Paleoindian hunter-gatherers that disappeared in 5000 BC. The next settlers were the Mound Builders that inhabited the land from 500-800 AD. In the 1500's, the Arikara natives settled in the Missouri River Valley, and eventually the Sioux Indians arrived in the 17th century, dominating the region when the first European explorers arrived.
It was in 1743 when the LaVerendrye brothers came to the region and buried a plate near present-day Pierre, to claim the land for France. In 1803, the US bought the Louisiana Territory from France, which included South Dakota, for $11,000,000.
The first permanent settlements in the region came after the American fur trading post was established in 1817 in today's Fort Pierre. Farmers and land speculators from Iowa and Minnesota began arriving in the 1850's, contributing to the significant population in the region. In 1874, the South Dakota gold rush occurred in the Black Hills region, causing a surge of miners and arrivals to the area.
Due to the region's increasing population, Dakota was divided in half, creating North Dakota and South Dakota in 1889, where both regions achieved statehood on the same date.
South Dakota is situated in the north central part of the United States. North Dakota borders to the north, Nebraska to the south, Wyoming and Montana to the west, and Iowa and Minnesota to the east.
The state's highest point is Harney Peak with an elevation of 7,242 feet. There are 5 major rivers in the state, which are Cheyenne, White Rivers, Big Sioux, James, and Missouri River - the largest and longest of all.
South Dakota has 3 regions: the south and west, separated by the Missouri River, and the Black Hills - located southwest of the state and treated as a separate region.
South Dakota is famously known for being The Mount Rushmore State. The famous Mount Rushmore, with mountainside giant sculptures of 4 US presidents are known worldwide. This national memorial was created in 1925 and located in the Black Hills.
The state is filled with outdoor monuments and natural attractions that attract millions of tourists each year. In fact, tourism is the state's 2nd largest industry. Harney Peak in the Black Elk Wilderness area in southern Pennington, also located in the Black Hills region, has the highest peak of the state - offering spectacular views and a historic old stone tower that functioned as a fire lookout tower when it was built.
Sylvan Lake is dubbed as the crown jewel of Cluster State Park, also in the Black Hills, offering picnic areas, rock climbing, boat rentals, swimming, and hiking trails to outdoor excursionists. The Mammoth Site is a working paleontological dig with one of the largest concentrations of mammoth remains in the world - an interesting attraction that is visited by prehistoric enthusiasts.
There are over 700 public schools in the state, which gives the region the highest number of schools per capita in the US. There are 6 public universities in the state, with South Dakota State University in Brookings the largest, and the University of South Dakota in Vermillion the oldest.
Last Updated : September 11, 2014
Joined the UnionMay 23, 1788
NicknameThe Mount Rushmore State
Largest CitySioux Falls
Area77116 sq. Mi
Highest pointHarney Peak
Lowest pointBig Stone Lake on Minnesota border
Time ZoneUTC-6/-5, UTC-7/-6