Minnesota is the 12th largest in area and the 21st most populous of the U.S. states; nearly 60 percent of its residents live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area (known as the "Twin Cities"), the center of transportation, business, industry, education, and government 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 partially cleared, farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation.
Minnesota is known for its progressive political orientation and its high rate of civic participation and voter turnout. Until European settlement, Minnesota was inhabited by the Dakota and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of European settlers entered the state who had mainly emigrated from Scandinavia and Germany. The state remains today a center of Scandinavian American and German American culture. In recent decades, immigration from Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America has broadened its historic demographic and cultural composition. Minnesota's standard of living index is among the highest in the United States, and the state is also among the best-educated and wealthiest in the nation.
The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: The river got its name from one of two words in the Dakota language, 'Mní sóta' which means "clear blue water", or 'Mnißota', which means cloudy water. Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. Many places in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Falls ("curling water" or waterfall), Minneiska ("white water"), Minneota ("much water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city".
Minnesota is the second northernmost U.S. state (after Alaska). Its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods county 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 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 percent of the United States, Minnesota is the 12th-largest state.
Minnesota has some of the Earth's oldest rocks, gneisses that are about 3.6 billion years old (80 percent 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 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 the northeast has 50 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 bed created 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, and most of them are minor.
The state's high point is Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet (701 m), which is only 13 miles (21 km) away from the low of 601 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 major drainage divides meet in Minnesota's northeast in rural Hibbing, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico, 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 apt, as there are 11,842 Minnesota lakes over 10 acres (4 ha) in size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 962,700 acres (389,600 ha; 3,896 km2) and deepest (at 1,290 ft (390 m)) 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 Itasca and crosses the Iowa border 680 miles (1,090 km) downstream. It is joined by the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, by the St. Croix River near Hastings, by the Chippewa River at Wabasha, and by many smaller streams. The Red River, 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 (4,300,000 ha; 43,000 km2) of wetlands are contained within Minnesota's borders, the most of any state except Alaska.
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 state's northwestern part, where it transitions into Tallgrass Aspen Parkland; and the northern Laurentian Mixed Forest, a transitional forest between the northern boreal forest and the 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.
Much 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 Forest and the Superior National Forest, where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has some 400,000 acres (162,000 ha) of unlogged land. Although logging continues, regrowth and replanting keep about one third of the state forested. Nearly all of Minnesota's prairies and oak savannas have been fragmented by 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 bears, moose, and gophers. 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 largest number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states as of 2007, red-tailed hawks, and snowy owls. The lakes teem with sport fish such as walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike, and streams in the southeast and northeast are populated by brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
Minnesota experiences temperature extremes characteristic of its continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The lowest temperature recorded was −60 °F (−51 °C) at Tower on February 2, 1996, whereas the highest was 114 °F (46 °C) at Moorhead on July 6, 1936. 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 average temperatures range from 37 to 49 °F (3 to 9 °C). Average summer dew points range from about 58 °F (14 °C) in the south to about 48 °F (9 °C) in the north. Average annual precipitation ranges from 19 to 35 inches (48 to 89 cm), and droughts occur every 10 to 50 years.
Minnesota's first state park, Itasca State Park, 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 Chippewa and Superior national forests. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Park. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), is a 72-mile-long (116 km) corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis–St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.
Before European settlement of North America, Minnesota was populated by a subculture of Sioux called the Dakota people. As Europeans settled the east coast, Native Americans moved away from them causing migration of the Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwe) and other Native Americans into the Minnesota area. The first Europeans in the area were French fur traders who arrived in the 17th century. Late that century, Anishinaabe migrated westward to Minnesota, causing tensions with the Dakota people. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet mapped out the state.
In 1762 the region became part of Spanish Louisiana until 1802. The portion of the state east of the Mississippi River became 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 Snelling followed between 1819 and 1825. Its soldiers built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls, 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. The first territorial legislature (held September 2, 1849) was dominated by men from New England or of New England ancestry. Thousands of people had come to build farms and cut timber, and Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858. The founding population was so overwhelmingly of New England origins that the state was dubbed "the New England of the West".
Treaties between European settlers and the Dakota and Ojibwe gradually forced the natives off their lands and on to smaller reservations. In 1861, residents of Mankato formed the Knights of the Forest, with a goal of eliminating all Indians from Minnesota. 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 and the exile of most of the rest of the Dakota to the Crow Creek Reservation in Dakota Territory. 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. Croix, Stillwater, and Winona, 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 percent 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 20th century. The ore was shipped by rail to Duluth and Two Harbors, then loaded onto ships and transported eastward over the Great Lakes.
Industrial development and the rise of manufacturing caused the population to shift gradually from rural areas to cities during the early 20th century. 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 hybridization of corn and wheat, and the use of farm machinery such as tractors and combines became the norm. University of Minnesota 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 World War II. 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.
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 state capital since 1858.
Saint Paul is adjacent to Minnesota's most populous city, Minneapolis; they and their suburbs are known collectively as the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the 13th-largest metropolitan area in the United States and home to about 60 percent 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.
Minnesota's population continues to grow, primarily in the urban centers. The populations of metropolitan Sherburne and Scott counties doubled between 1980 and 2000, while 40 of the state's 87 counties lost residents over the same period.
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 percent increase in population, reaching 3.4 million in 1960. Growth then slowed, rising 11 percent to 3.8 million in 1970, and an average of 9 percent over the next three decades to 4.9 million in the 2000 Census.
The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of Minnesota was 5,489,594 on July 1, 2015, a 3.5 percent 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.
As of the 2010 Census, the population of Minnesota was 5,303,925. The gender makeup of the state was 49.6% male and 50.4% female. 24.2% of the population were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.3% were from 25 to 44; 27.1% were from 45 to 64; and 12.9% were 65 years of age or older.
The racial makeup of Minnesota as of the 2010 Census was:White: 85.3% (83.1% non-Hispanic)
Black or African American: 5.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native: 1.1%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: approx. 0.0%
Other race: 1.9%
Two or more races: 2.4%
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.7% of the population: 3.3% were of Mexican, 0.2% Puerto Rican, 0.1% Cuban, and 1.1% other Hispanic or Latino origin. According to the 2010–2015 American Community Survey, the largest ancestry groups were German (34.3%), Norwegian (15.4%), Irish (10.6%), and Swedish (8.3%).
In 2011, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 72.3 percent of all the births. Minnesota's growing minority groups, however, still form a smaller percentage of the population than in the nation as a whole.
Minnesota has America's largest Somali population, with an estimated 57,000 people, the largest concentration outside of East Africa.
The majority of Minnesotans are Protestants, including a significant Lutheran contingent, owing to the state's largely Northern European ethnic makeup. Roman Catholics (of largely German, Irish, 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 percent of Minnesotans were affiliated with Mainline Protestant traditions, 21 percent were Evangelical Protestants, 28 percent were Roman Catholic, 1 percent each were Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Black Protestant, and smaller amounts were of other faiths, with 13 percent 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. 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 over 30 mosques, mostly in the Twin Cities metro area. The Temple of ECK, the spiritual home of Eckankar, is based in Minnesota.
Once primarily a producer of raw materials, Minnesota's economy has transformed 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. In 2008, thirty-three of the United States' top 1,000 publicly traded companies (by revenue) were headquartered in Minnesota, including Target, UnitedHealth Group, 3M, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp, Ameriprise, Hormel, Land O' Lakes, SuperValu, Best Buy and Valspar. Private companies based in Minnesota include Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the United States, and Carlson Companies, the parent company of Radisson Hotels.
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.
As of January 2015, the state's unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.
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 one percent 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 U.S.'s largest producer of sugar beets, sweet corn, and green peas for processing, and farm-raised turkeys. Minnesota is also a large producer of corn and soybeans. Minnesota 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 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 percent 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.
Minnesota is one of 42 U.S. states with its own lottery; its games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto (all three multi-state), Northstar Cash and Gopher 5.
Minnesota produces ethanol fuel and is the first to mandate its use, a ten percent mix (E10). In 2005 there were more than 310 service stations supplying E85 fuel, comprising 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. A two percent 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.
Minnesota has a progressive income tax structure; the four brackets of state income tax rates are 5.35, 7.05, 7.85 and 9.85 percent. As of 2008, Minnesota was ranked 12th in the nation in per capita total state and local taxes. In 2008, Minnesotans paid 10.2 percent of their income in state and local taxes; the U.S. average was 9.7 percent. The state sales tax in Minnesota is 6.875 percent, but there is no sales tax on clothing, prescription drug medications, some services, 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 percent 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.
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 that 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, the Twin Cities' number of theater seats per capita ranks behind only New York City; 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.
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.
Minnesota musicians include Bob Dylan, Eddie Cochran, The Andrews Sisters, The Castaways, The Trashmen, Prince, Soul Asylum, David Ellefson, Hüsker Dü, Owl City, and The Replacements. 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. Garrison Keillor resurrected old-style radio comedy with A Prairie Home Companion, which has aired since 1974. A cult scifi cable t.v. triumph, 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.
Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Gilliam, Bill Pohlad, and Mike Todd contributed to the art of filmmaking as writers, directors, and producers. Actors from Minnesota include Loni Anderson, Richard Dean Anderson, James Arness, Jessica Biel, Rachael Leigh Cook, Julia Duffy, Mike Farrell, Judy Garland, Peter Graves, Josh Hartnett, Garrett Hedlund, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Lange, Kelly Lynch, E.G. Marshall, Melissa Peterman, Chris Pratt, Jane Russell, Winona Ryder, Seann William Scott, Kevin Sorbo, Lea Thompson, Vince Vaughn, Jesse Ventura, and Steve Zahn.
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. Many of these Scandinavian cultural characteristics and personality traits are satirized on the nationally syndicated public radio program A Prairie Home Companion. Life in Minnesota is 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, 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 that were 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 over 1.8 million visitors to the fair in 2014, setting a new attendance record. The fair covers the variety of Minnesotan 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.
Other large annual festivals include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Minneapolis' Aquatennial and Mill City Music Festival, Moondance Jam in Walker, Sonshine Christian music festival in Willmar, the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, the Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake, and the WE Fest in Detroit Lakes.
Minnesotans have low rates of premature death, infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, and occupational fatalities. They have long life expectancies, and high rates of health insurance and regular exercise. These and other measures have led two groups to rank Minnesota as the healthiest state in the nation; however, in one of these rankings, Minnesota descended from first to sixth in the nation between 2005 and 2009 because of low levels of public health funding and the prevalence of binge drinking.
On October 1, 2007, Minnesota became the 17th state to enact the Freedom to Breathe Act, a statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars.
Medical care in the state 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 high-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 Clinic, a world-renowned hospital based in Rochester, was founded by William Worrall Mayo, an immigrant from England.
U.S. News and World Report's 2014–2015 survey ranked 4,743 hospitals in the United States in 16 specialized fields of care, and placed the Mayo Clinic in the top four in all fields except psychiatry, where it ranked seventh. The hospital ranked #1 in eight fields and #2 in three others. The Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota 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.
One of the Minnesota Legislature's first acts 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 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.
The state supports a network of public universities and colleges, including 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 nation's top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report.
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. Paul metropolitan area and Duluth. The major Interstate highways are Interstate 35 (I-35), I-90, and I-94, with I-35 and I-94 passing through the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan 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 percent 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.
Amtrak's daily Empire Builder (Chicago–Seattle/Portland) train runs through Minnesota, calling at the Saint Paul Union Depot and five other stations. Intercity bus providers include Jefferson Lines, Greyhound, and Megabus. Local public transit is provided by bus networks in the larger cities and by two rail services. The Northstar Line commuter rail service runs from Big Lake to the Target Field station in downtown Minneapolis. From there, light rail runs to Saint Paul Union Depot on the Green Line, and to the MSP airport and the Mall of America via the Blue Line.
As with the federal government of the United States, power in Minnesota is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
The executive branch is headed by the governor. Governor Mark Dayton, DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor), took office on January 3, 2011, to become the first DFL governor to hold the seat in two decades. 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.
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 senatorial district being divided into A and B sections for members of the house. Senators serve for four years and representatives for two years. In the November 2010 election, the Minnesota Republican Party gained twenty-five house seats, giving them control of the House of Representatives by a 72–62 margin. The 2010 election also saw Minnesota voters elect a Republican majority in the Senate for the first time since 1972. In 2012, the Democrats regained the House of Representatives by a margin of 73–61, picking up 11 seats; the Democrats also regained the Minnesota Senate. Control of the houses shifted to Republicans in the 2016 election.
Minnesota's court system has three levels. Most cases start in the district courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction. There are 279 district court judgeships 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 nineteen judges who typically sit in three-judge panels. The seven-justice Minnesota Supreme Court hears all appeals from the tax court, the workers' compensation court of appeals, 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.
In addition to 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.
Minnesota's United States senators are Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Democrat Al Franken. The outcome of the 2008 U.S. Senate election in Minnesota 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 by Franken. The state has eight congressional districts; they are represented by Tim Walz (1st district; DFL), Jason Lewis (2nd; R), Erik Paulsen (3rd; R), Betty McCollum (4th; DFL), Keith Ellison (5th; DFL), Tom Emmer (6th; R), Collin Peterson (7th; DFL), and Rick Nolan (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 Falls. Appeals are heard by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri and routinely also hears cases in St. Paul.
The State of Minnesota was created by the U.S. out of the homelands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe native peoples. Today the remaining native governments are divided into 11 semi-autonomous reservations that negotiate with the US and the state on a peer nation-to-nation basis:
Four Dakota Mdewakanton communities:Prairie Island Indian Community
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
Lower Sioux Indian Reservation
Upper Sioux Community – Pejuhutazizi Oyate
Seven Anishinaabe reservations:Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Grand Portage Band of Chippewa
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
White Earth Band of Ojibwe
Red Lake Band of Chippewa
The first six of the Anishinaabe bands compose the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, the collective federally recognized tribal government of the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and White Earth reservations.
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 unlawful voting. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, 78.2 percent of eligible Minnesotans voted—the highest percentage of any U.S. state—versus the national average of 61.2 percent. 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. 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. Minnesota has gone to the Democratic Party in every presidential election since 1960, with the exception of 1972, when it was carried by Richard Nixon and the Republican Party.
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). It was formed out of a 1944 alliance of the Minnesota Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties.
The state has had active third party movements. The Reform Party, now the Independence Party, was able to elect former mayor of Brooklyn Park 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 Minneapolis and Duluth, 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 whose candidates receive five percent or more of the vote in any statewide election (e.g., Governor, Secretary of State, U.S. President).
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 reelection. The DFL 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 (DFL) was elected as the first African American U.S. Representative from Minnesota, as well as the first Muslim elected to Congress nationwide. In 2008, DFLer and former comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken beat incumbent Republican Norm Coleman in the United States Senate race by 312 votes out of 3 million cast.
In the election of 2010, Republicans took control of both chambers of the Minnesota legislature for the first time in 38 years and, with Mark Dayton's election, the DFL party took the governor's office for the first time in 20 years. Two years later, the DFL regained control of both houses, and with Governor Dayton in office, the party had same-party control of both the legislative and executive branches for the first time since 1990. Two years later, the Republicans regained control of the Minnesota House in the 2014 election, and in 2016, the GOP also regained control of the State Senate.
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 Mankato (200th).
Broadcast television in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest started on April 27, 1948, when KSTP-TV began broadcasting. Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns KSTP, is now the only locally owned television company in Minnesota. There are 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 Post-Bulletin in Rochester. The Minnesota Daily is the largest student-run newspaper in the U.S. Sites offering daily news on the Web include The UpTake, 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 stations in the United States. The University of Minnesota-owned station is still on the air, and since 1993 broadcasts a college rock format.
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.
Minnesota has professional men's teams in all major sports. The Minnesota Vikings have played in the National Football League since 1961. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome hosted the team from 1982 until its demolition after the 2013 season for the construction of the team's new home, U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Minnesota Twins have played in the Major League Baseball since 1961, having won the 1987 and 1991 World Series. The team has played at Target Field since 2010. The Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association played in the Minneapolis Auditorium from 1947 to 1960, after which they relocated to Los Angeles. The Minnesota Timberwolves joined the NBA in 1989, and play in the Target Center since 1990.
The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild play in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center and reached 300 consecutive sold-out games on January 16, 2008. Previously, the Minnesota North Stars competed in NHL from 1967 to 1993, which played the 1981 and 1991 Stanley Cup Finals.
Minnesota United FC joined Major League Soccer as an expansion team in 2017, having played in the lower-division North American Soccer League from 2010 to 2016. The team plays at TCF Bank Stadium, but will open Allianz Field in St. Paul in 2019.
Minnesota also has minor-league professional sports teams. The Minnesota Swarm of the National Lacrosse League played at the Xcel Energy Center until the team moved to Georgia in 2015. Minor league baseball is represented by major league-sponsored teams and independent teams such as the St. Paul Saints, who play at CHS Field in St. Paul.
Professional women's sports include the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association, winners of the 2011, 2013, and 2015 WNBA Championships, the Minnesota Lightning of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, the Minnesota Vixen of the Independent Women's Football League, the Minnesota Valkyrie of the Legends Football League, and the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women's Hockey League.
The Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school competing in the Big Ten Conference. Four additional schools in the state compete in NCAA Division I ice hockey: the University of Minnesota Duluth; Minnesota State University, Mankato; St. Cloud State University and Bemidji State University. There are nine NCAA Division II colleges in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and nineteen NCAA Division III colleges in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
The Hazeltine National Golf Club has hosted the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and PGA Championship. The course also hosted the Ryder Cup in the fall of 2016, when it became one of two courses in the U.S. to host all major golf competitions.
Interlachen Country Club has hosted the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, and Solheim Cup.
Winter Olympic Games medallists from the state include twelve 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. Farther north, Eveleth is the location of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
As the state's tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state's tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations. Explore Minnesota’s mission is to inspire and facilitate travel to and within the state of Minnesota.
Tourism is a $14.4 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry – a major provider of tourism services – employs more than 260,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of the state’s sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes more than 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.
In 2014, Explore Minnesota launched an all-new travel marketing campaign, themed “Only in Minnesota,” to increase awareness about Minnesota as a one-of-a-kind Midwest travel destination. The strategic effort, which includes a new and improved website and market reach to audiences in 14 states and provinces, is the largest travel marketing campaign in the state’s history. A new series of advertisements and a strong, user-driven #OnlyinMN social media movement has been well-received and has engaged travelers, residents, businesses and visitors bureaus across the state. In the latest evolution of the popular #OnlyinMN campaign, Explore Minnesota generated 3.5 million trips to Minnesota and more than $388 million in traveler spending. Explore Minnesota engaged with hundreds of thousands of people through social media, surpassing half a million uses of the campaign hashtag as of May 2017. The newly branded slogan represents the diversity of Minnesota, from its bustling downtowns to untouched wilderness, pine forests to bluff country and historic landmarks to modern-day attractions. #OnlyinMN celebrates the inspiring and sometimes unexpected experiences that await travelers on a Minnesota vacation.
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 percent 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. Minnesota is the only U.S. state where bandy is played.
State and national forests and the seventy-two state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. There are almost 20,000 miles (32,000 km) of snowmobile trails statewide. Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails, including the 235-mile (378 km) Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.