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(In Detail[?]) (Full size)
State nickname: North Star State

(In Detail)
CapitalSaint Paul
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
 - % water
Ranked 12th
225,365 kmē
206,375 kmē
18,990 kmē
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 21st
Admittance into Union
 - Order
 - Date

May 11, 1858
Time zoneCentral: UTC-6/-5
43°34'N to 49°23'N
89°34'W to 97°12'W
400 km
645 km
701 meters
365 meters
183 meters
ISO 3166-2:US-MN

Minnesota is the 32nd state of the United States, having joined the Union on May 11, 1858. Its name is commonly abbreviated as 'MN' or 'Minn.', and is taken from the Dakota Sioux (Native American tribe) words for 'sky-tinted water'.

The USS Minnesota was named in honor of this state.

Table of contents


history prior to joining the United States

  • Originally inhabited by Native Americans, in particular the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabe) and Sioux.
  • Economy originally consisted of hunter-gather lifemode, which changed over time as Europeans settled in the area and further exploited the state's natural resources.
  • First European settlement was the area now known as the city of Stillwater, MN, on the St. Croix River.
  • Fort Snelling, located at the confluence of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River, was one of the earliest U.S. military presences in the state. It is now a historic site.

Joins the US

Minnesota was designated a territory on March 3, 1849, but that territory was not coextensive with the present state, since the territory included what later became the territory of Dakota, and later still became the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. The eastern half of the territory of Minnesota became the present state of Minnesota -- the 32nd state -- on May 11th, 1858.

Law and Government

  • Executive. The current governor is Tim Pawlenty, a Republican. The full list of governors, and the dates they took office, is available at List of Minnesota Governors.
  • Legislature. Minnesota has a bicameral legislature (senate and house). The state has 67 districts, each covering about 60,000 people. Each district has one senator and two representatives (each district being divided into 'A' and 'B'). Senators serve for four years, except when the election year ends in a zero (e.g. 2010) to allow for redistricting in line with the national census. Representatives serve for two years.
  • Judiciary. The state court system has three levels:
    • Trial courts. The state is split into 10 judicial districts, with 257 judges. Most state cases start in the trial courts.
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals. This body hears appeals on cases tried in the trial courts. There are 16 judges, who divide into three-judge panels to hear appeals in courts across the state.
    • Minnesota Supreme Court. The seven justices on the Supreme Court hear appeals from the Court of Appeals, the Tax Court, and the Worker's Compensation Court. The court automatically reviews first-degree murder convictions, and settles disuputes over legislative elections.
    • The state has two special courts created by state law as executive-branch agencies:
      • The Tax Court deals with non-criminal tax cases across the state. It has three judges appointed by the governor to six-year terms, following approval from the state Senate
      • The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals deals with cases involving worker injuries referred to it on appeal, or transferred from district court. It has five judges appointed by the governor to six-year terms, following approval from the state Senate
    • Federal cases are heard in the federal district courts in Minneapolis, St Paul or Duluth. Minnesota is part of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is located in St Paul. Appeals beyond this level go to the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
  • Constitution

Geography See: List of Minnesota counties

  • Minnesota covers 79,610 square miles (2.25% of the United States). It is famous for its lakes, having in excess of 15,000, depending on the source of the count. Much of the state is flat, having been eroded during repeated glacial periods (most recently the Wisconsin Glacier). The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest body of water in the state.
  • Minnesota is home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), as well as a number of state and county parks, most notably Itasca State Park, the source of the Mississippi River. Apart from its lakes and rivers, there are few other prominent physical features.
  • It is bordered on the north by Canada; on the east by Wisconsin and Lake Superior, on the south by Iowa, and on the west by North Dakota and South Dakota. It is the northernmost of the 48 contiguous states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), reaching to 49° 23' 4" north latitude, due to a small piece of the state known as the Northwest Angle.
  • The capital is St. Paul, which sits on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River to the largest city, Minneapolis, (together known as the Twin Cities). Other prominent cities include Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester (home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic), and Bloomington.
  • The state's average elevation is 1,200 feet, with a high point at Eagle Mountain (2,301 feet) and a low at the surface of Lake Superior (602 feet)
  • The state is famously cold, with a record low of -60°F measured at Tower, MN on February 2, 1996. As part of the Great Plains region, however, it also experiences warm summers, with a record high of 114°F reached in 1917 and 1936. The average temperature in January (the coldest month) is 11.2°F, and the average in the warmest month of July is 73.1°F. The average annual precipitation is 28.32 inches, with a snowfall figure of 49.6 inches.


  • State income
    • The average state income in Minnesota in 1999 was $30,742 (according to the State Demographic Center - the Northeast Midwest Institute gives the figure as $30,793). This compares to a national average of $28,546. The average household income in 1999 was approximately $48,000, ranking eighth in the nation (US Census Bureau). The county averages range from $17,369 (Todd county) to $42,313 (Hennepin county, which contains the Metro area). In general salaries are lowest in more rural areas, and in particular in the north-west part of the state.
  • Major industries/products
    • The twin cities are home to a diverse range of major businesses, including 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing), Northwest Airlines, Target Stores, Medtronic, Cray Computers[?], and Imation[?]. The Twin Cities have recently lost several 'Fortune 500' company headquarters, including Honeywell and Norwest[?] banks. The city of Rochester is the headquarters of the Mayo Clinic, and has a significant manufacturing presence in IBM. The largest shopping mall in the United States, the Mall of America, is located in Bloomington.
    • A large proportion of the state's economy is still agricultural. Additionally, northern Minnesota is a source for iron ore and wood products, though these are both declining industries.
  • State Taxes
    • Minnesota is commonly regarded as a high tax state. It has an income and sales tax, as well as levying taxes on a common range of goods such as tobacco, gasoline and alcohol. It does not charge sales tax on clothing, or non-prepared food items.
    • Minnesota businesses and individuals paid an average of 11.8% of their income in state and local taxes in 1998, down from 12.7% in 1996 (Minnesota Department of Revenue). The Gross State Product was just under $173 billion in 1999 (Northeast Midwest Institute), with approximately $17.5 billion in exports in 2000
    • Retail sales per capita were $10,260 in 1997, higher than the US average of $9,190 (US Census Bureau).


  • The state population, as of 2000, is 4,919,479 (1.75% of the nation), with a growth rate of 12.4% in the last 10 years (compared to 13.1% for the nation).
  • 88.2% of the state is white (excluding Hispanic/Latino), 3.5% Black/African American, 2.9% Hispanic/Latino, 2.9% Asian. Minnesotans traditionally count themselves as of Nordic descent (approximately 1.5 million people claim Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish ancestry), though more families originated in Germany (approximately 2 million). More modern immigrant communities include the third-largest Hmong population in the United States (from the Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam region), and a large presence from Somalia.
  • The population distribution by age is (Northeast Midwest Institute):
    • 0-18 - 1,361,616 (27.7%)
    • 19-34 - 1,068,850 (21.7%)
    • 35-64 - 1,894,747 (38.6%)
    • 65+ - 594,266 (12.1%)
  • Religious makeup of state
    • Minnesotans traditionally think of the state as being a Lutheran stronghold. Although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest church by number of congregations, the Catholic church has more followers in the state (information from www.adherents.com).


Colleges and Universities

Professional Sports Teams
Miscellaneous Information


  • State Bird - Loon
  • State Butterfly - Monarch
  • State Drink - Milk
  • State Fish - Walleye
  • State Flower - Pink-and-white lady slipper
  • State Gemstone - Lake Superior Agate
  • State Grain - Wild Rice
  • Territory Motto (intended) - Quae sursum volo videre ("I wish to see what is beyond")
  • Territory Motto (actual) - Quo sursum velo videre ("I cover to see what is above" is the closest translation)
  • State Motto - L'Étoile du Nord ("Star of the North")
  • State Muffin - Blueberry (adopted as part of a school project on how a bill becomes law)
  • State Mushroom - Morel (sponge mushroom; honeycomb morel)
  • State Picture - Grace
  • State Song - "Hail! Minnesota"
  • State Tree - Red or Norway Pine

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