Minnesota

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Minnesota

Minnesota is a state in the upper Midwestern United States. It is the 12th largest U.S. state in area and the 22nd most populous, with over 5.75 million residents. Minnesota’s geography consists of western prairies, now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now partially cleared, farmed, and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation. Roughly a third of the state is covered in forests, and it is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for having over 14,000 bodies of fresh water of at least ten acres. A little over half of Minnesotans live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, known as the “Twin Cities”, the state’s main political, economic, and cultural hub. The Twin Cities is the 16th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Other minor metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas include Duluth, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester, and St. Cloud.

Etymology

The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River, which got its name from one of two words in Dakota: “mní sóta”, which means “clear blue water”, or “Mníssota”, which means “cloudy water”. Dakota people demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mní sóta. Many places in the state have similar Dakota names, such as Minnehaha Falls (“curling water” or waterfall), Minneiska (“white water”), Minneota (“much water”), Minnetonka (“big water”), Minnetrista (“crooked water”), and Minneapolis, a hybrid word combining Dakota mní (“water”) and -polis (Greek for “city”).

Geography

Minnesota is the second northernmost U.S. state (after Alaska) and northernmost contiguous state, as the isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods County is the only part of the 48 contiguous states north of the 49th parallel. The state is part of the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest and part of North America’s Great Lakes Region. It shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and a land and water border with Wisconsin to the east. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota are to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba are to the north. With 86,943 square miles (225,180 km2), or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the 12th-largest state.

Geology

Minnesota has some of the earth's oldest rocks, gneisses that are about 3.6 billion years old (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. Since 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 state's landscape and sculpted its 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 has fifty feet (15 m) or more of glacial till left behind as the last glaciers retreated. Gigantic Lake Agassiz formed in the northwest 13,000 years ago. Its flat bed now is the fertile Red River valley, and its outflow, glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River and the Upper Mississippi downstream from Fort Snelling. Minnesota is geologically quiet today; it experiences earthquakes infrequently, most of them minor.

Climate

In more recent times, massive ice sheets at least one kilometer thick ravaged the state’s landscape and sculpted its 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 has fifty feet (15 m) or more of glacial till left behind as the last glaciers retreated. Gigantic Lake Agassiz formed in the northwest 13,000 years ago. Its flat bed now is the fertile Red River valley, and its outflow, glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River and the Upper Mississippi downstream from Fort Snelling. Minnesota is geologically quiet today; it experiences earthquakes infrequently, most of them minor.

Cities and Towns

Saint Paul, 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 the state capital since 1858. Saint Paul is adjacent to Minnesota’s most populous city, Minneapolis; they and their suburbs are collectively known as the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the country’s 16th-largest metropolitan area and home to about 55% of the state’s population. The remainder of the state is known as “Greater Minnesota” or “Outstate Minnesota”.

The state has 17 cities with populations above 50,000 as of the 2010 census. In descending order of population, they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth, Saint Cloud, Woodbury, Eagan, Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Burnsville, Apple Valley, Blaine, and Lakeville. Of these, only Rochester, Duluth, and Saint Cloud are outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Demographics

From fewer than 6,120 white settlers in 1850, Minnesota’s official 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.

The 2020 United States census showed Minnesota’s population at 5,709,752 on April 1, 2020, a 7.65% increase since the 2010 United States census. The rate of population change, and age and gender distributions, approximate the national average. Minnesota’s center of population is in Hennepin County. The table below shows the racial composition of Minnesota’s population as of the 2020 census.

Religion

The majority of Minnesotans are Protestants, including a large Lutheran contingent, owing to the state’s largely Northern European ethnic makeup. Roman Catholics (of largely German, Irish, French and Slavic descent) make up the largest single Christian denomination. A 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 32% of Minnesotans were affiliated with Mainline Protestant traditions, 21% were Evangelical Protestants, 28% Roman Catholic, 1% each Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Black Protestant, and smaller amounts of other faiths, with 13% unaffiliated. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, the denominations with the most adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 1,150,367; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 737,537; and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 182,439. 

This is broadly consistent with the results of the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, which also gives detailed percentages for many individual denominations. The international Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference is headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. Although Christianity is dominant, Minnesota has a long history with non-Christian faiths. Ashkenazi Jewish pioneers set up Saint Paul’s first synagogue in 1856. Minnesota is home to more than 30 mosques, mostly in the Twin Cities metro area. The Temple of ECK, the spiritual home of Eckankar, is based in Minnesota.

Economy

The majority of Minnesotans are Protestants, including a large Lutheran contingent, owing to the state’s largely Northern European ethnic makeup. Roman Catholics (of largely German, Irish, French and Slavic descent) make up the largest single Christian denomination. A 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 32% of Minnesotans were affiliated with Mainline Protestant traditions, 21% were Evangelical Protestants, 28% Roman Catholic, 1% each Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Black Protestant, and smaller amounts of other faiths, with 13% unaffiliated. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, the denominations with the most adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 1,150,367; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 737,537; and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 182,439. This is broadly consistent with the results of the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, which also gives detailed percentages for many individual denominations. 

The international Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference is headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. Although Christianity is dominant, Minnesota has a long history with non-Christian faiths. Ashkenazi Jewish pioneers set up Saint Paul’s first synagogue in 1856. Minnesota is home to more than 30 mosques, mostly in the Twin Cities metro area. The Temple of ECK, the spiritual home of Eckankar, is based in Minnesota.

Industry and Commerce

Minnesota’s earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture. Minneapolis grew around the flour mills powered by St. Anthony Falls. Although less than 1% of the population is now employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state’s economy, ranking sixth in the nation in the value of products sold. The state is the nation’s largest producer of sugar beets, sweet corn, and peas for processing, and farm-raised turkeys. Minnesota is also a large producer of corn and soybeans, and has the most food cooperatives per capita in the United States. 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 more than a century. Although the high-grade ore is now depleted, taconite mining continues, using processes developed locally to save the industry. In 2016 the state produced 60% of the country’s usable iron ore. The mining boom created the port of Duluth, 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’s Southdale Center, and its largest is Bloomington’s Mall of America.

Energy Use and Production

Minnesota produces ethanol fuel and is the first to mandate its use, a 10% mix (E10). In 2019 there were more than 411 service stations supplying E85 fuel, comprising 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. A 2% biodiesel blend has been required in diesel fuel since 2005. Minnesota is ranked in the top ten for wind energy production. The state gets nearly one fifth of all its electrical energy from wind. Xcel Energy is the state's largest utility and is headquartered in the state; it is one of five investor-owned utilities. There are also a number of municipal utilities.

Culture

Fine and Performing Arts

Minnesota's leading fine art museums include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, and The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA). All are in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are prominent full-time professional musical ensembles who perform concerts and offer educational programs to the Twin Cities' community.

The world-renowned Guthrie Theater moved into a new Minneapolis facility in 2006, boasting three stages and overlooking the Mississippi River. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is strong. In the United States, Minneapolis's number of theater companies ranks behind only New York City's, and about 2.3 million theater tickets were sold in the Twin Cities annually as of 2006. The Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis is an annual celebration of theatre, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids' shows, visual art, and musicals with more than 800 performances over 11 days. It is the country's largest non-juried performing arts festival.

Literature

The rigors and rewards of pioneer life on the prairie are the subject of Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag and the Little House series of children's books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Small-town life is portrayed grimly by Sinclair Lewis in the novel Main Street, and more gently and affectionately by Garrison Keillor in his tales of Lake Wobegon. St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald writes 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. Minnesota native Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Science fiction writer Marissa Lingen lives here.

Entertainment

Minnesota musicians include Prince, Bob Dylan, Eddie Cochran, The Andrews Sisters, The Castaways, The Trashmen, Soul Asylum, David Ellefson, Chad Smith, John Wozniak, Hüsker Dü, Semisonic, The Replacements, Owl City, Holly Henry, Motion City Soundtrack, Atmosphere, and Dessa. Minnesotans helped shape the history of music through popular American culture: the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was an iconic tune of World War II, while the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" and Bob Dylan epitomize two sides of the 1960s. In the 1980s, influential hit radio groups and musicians included Prince, The Original 7ven, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, The Jets, Lipps Inc., and Information Society.

Minnesotans have also made significant contributions to comedy, theater, media, and film. The comic strip Peanuts was created by St. Paul native Charles M. Schulz. A Prairie Home Companion which first aired in 1974, became a long-running comedy radio show on National Public Radio. A cult scifi cable TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, was created by Joel Hodgson in Hopkins, and Minneapolis, MN. Another popular comedy staple developed in the 1990s, The Daily Show, was originated through Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg.

Popular Culture

Stereotypical traits of Minnesotans include "Minnesota nice", Lutheranism, a strong sense of community and shared culture, and a distinctive brand of North Central American English sprinkled with Scandinavian expressions. Potlucks, usually with a variety of hotdishes, are popular small-town church activities. A small segment of the Scandinavian population attend a traditional lutefisk dinner to celebrate Christmas. Life in Minnesota has also been depicted or used as a backdrop, in movies such as Fargo, Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men, Juno, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Young Adult, A Serious Man, New in Town, Rio, The Mighty Ducks films, and in famous television series like Little House on the Prairie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, Coach, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, How I Met Your Mother and Fargo. Major movies shot on location in Minnesota include That Was Then... This Is Now, Purple Rain, Airport, Beautiful Girls, North Country, Untamed Heart, Feeling Minnesota, Jingle All The Way, A Simple Plan, and The Mighty Ducks films.

The Minnesota State Fair, advertised as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an icon of state culture. In a state of 5.5 million people, there were more than 1.8 million visitors to the fair in 2014, setting a new attendance record. The fair covers the variety of Minnesota life, including fine art, science, agriculture, food preparation, 4-H 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.

Education

One of the first acts of the Minnesota Legislature when it opened in 1858 was the creation of a normal school in Winona. Minnesota’s commitment to education has contributed to a literate and well-educated populace. In 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota had the second-highest proportion of high school graduates, with 91.5% of people 25 and older holding a high school diploma, and the tenth-highest proportion of people with bachelor’s degrees. In 2015, Minneapolis was named the nation’s “Most Literate City”, while St. Paul placed fourth, according to a major annual survey. In a 2013 study conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics comparing the performance of eighth-grade students internationally in math and science, 

Minnesota ranked eighth in the world and third in the United States, behind Massachusetts and Vermont. In 2014, Minnesota students earned the tenth-highest average composite score in the nation on the ACT exam. In 2013, nationwide in per-student public education spending, Minnesota ranked 21st. While Minnesota has chosen not to implement school vouchers, it is home to the first charter school.

Transportation

Transportation in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) at the state level and by regional and local governments at the local level. Principal transportation corridors radiate from the Twin Cities metropolitan area and along interstate corridors in Greater Minnesota. 

The major Interstate highways are Interstate 35 (I-35), I-90, and I-94, with I-35 and I-94 connecting the Minneapolis–St. Paul area, and I-90 traveling 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 Superior.

Minnesota’s principal airport is Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport (MSP), a major passenger and freight hub for Delta Air Lines 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 four smaller cities via Delta Connection carriers SkyWest Airlines, Compass Airlines, and Endeavor Air. 

Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Minnesota has an active program of organized amateur and professional sports. Tourism has become an important industry, especially in the Lake region. In the North Country, what had been an industrial area focused on mining and timber has largely been transformed into a vacation destination. Popular interest in the environment and environmentalism, added to traditional interests in hunting and fishing, has attracted a large urban audience within driving range.

Organized Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have played in the National Football League since their admission as an expansion franchise in 1961. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 through 1981 and in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome from 1982 until its demolition after the 2013 season for the construction of the team's new home, U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings' current stadium hosted Super Bowl LII in February 2018. Super Bowl XXVI was played in the Metrodome in 1992. The Vikings have advanced to the Super Bowl Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VIII, Super Bowl IX, and Super Bowl XI, losing all four games to their AFC/AFL opponent

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 cabins 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, luge, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Minnesota is the only U.S. state where bandy is played.

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