Area, 84,068 sq mi (217,736 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,919,479, a 12.4% increase since the 1990 census. Capital, St. Paul. Largest city, Minneapolis. Statehood, May 11, 1858 (32d state). Highest pt., Eagle Mt., 2,310 ft (702 m); lowest pt., Lake Superior, 602 ft (184 m). Nickname, North Star State. Motto, L'Etoile du Nord [The Star of the North]. State bird, common loon. State flower, showy lady's slipper or pink and white lady's slipper. State tree, red pine. Abbr., Minn.; MN
Except for Alaska, Minnesota is the most northerly of all the states (reaching lat. 49°23'55″N). The climate is humid continental. Winter locks the land in snow, spring is brief, and summers are hot. Prehistoric glaciers left marshes, boulder-strewn hills, and rich, gray drift soil stretching from the northern pine wilderness to the broad southern prairies. In the eastern part of the state are mountains, part of the Canadian Shield, from which iron ore is decreasingly extracted. The Vermilion and Cuyuna ranges (discovered in 1884 and 1911) are virtually depleted, and the once rich Mesabi range (1890) has also declined. South of the iron country, famous for its old-time boomtowns, lie rolling hills. In the south and the west are prairies, fertile farming country.
The state has more than 11,000 lakes and numerous streams and rivers. The rivers feed three great river systems: The Red River of the north and its tributaries in the west run north through Manitoba's lakes to Hudson Bay; streams in the east run into Lake Superior, and eventually into the St. Lawrence; and the Mississippi flows south from Minnesota headwaters above Lake Itasca, gathering volume from the waters of the St. Croix and Minnesota rivers before leaving the state.
The beauty of Minnesota's lakes and dense green forests, as seen in Voyageurs National Park, has long attracted vacationers, and there is excellent fishing in the state's many rivers, lakes, and streams. Also of interest to tourists are the Grand Portage and Pipestone national monuments (see National Parks and Monuments, table), Itasca State Park (at the headwaters of the Mississippi), and the world's largest open-pit iron mine at Hibbing.
Minnesota is one of the nation's largest producers of iron ore. Methods developed to use lower-grade ores such as taconite have kept production up in spite of the depletion of once rich high-grade deposits. Granite (from St. Cloud) and sand and gravel production are also among the largest in the country. Wheat, once paramount in agriculture, has been surpassed by corn, soybeans, and livestock. The state is also a leader in the production of creamery butter, dry milk, cheese, and sweet corn.
By the 1950s manufacturing rivaled agriculture as the major source of income in Minnesota. Major industries in the state produce processed foods, electronic equipment, machinery, paper products, chemicals, and stone, clay, and glass products. Minnesota pioneered the development of computers and other high-technology manufacturing. Printing and publishing are also important.
Reforestation and the use of relatively small trees for pulpwood have helped to keep timber one of Minnesota's assets, even though the "big woods" of the early 19th cent. have been to a large extent felled. The state is roughly 30% forestland and has two national forests. The high days of logging in Minnesota, immortalized in the legend of Paul Bunyan, were brief, but they helped build a number of large fortunes, such as that of Frederick Weyerhaeuser.
Also of great importance to Minnesota are its waterways, which have been extensively developed near industrial centers. Locks and other improvements enable Mississippi River barge traffic to pass around the Falls of St. Anthony at Minneapolis. Duluth, at the western tip of Lake Superior, has one of the busiest inland harbors in the United States; the completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway (1959) made the city an important port for overseas trade.
Minnesota is governed under its 1858 constitution. The legislature has 67 senators and 134 representatives. The governor is elected for a four-year term and may be reelected. Arne Carlson, an Independent Republican, was elected governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994; Jesse Ventura of the Reform party, a former professional wrestler, surprisingly won the 1998 gubernatorial race. In 2002, Republican Tim Pawlenty was elected to the office; he was reelected in 2006. Minnesota sends two senators and eight representatives to Congress; it has 10 electoral votes.
Among institutions of higher learning in the state are the Univ. of Minnesota and the State Colleges and Univ. system of Minnesota, both with campuses throughout the state; Carleton College and Saint Olaf College, both in Northfield; and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, affiliated with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Minnesota was inhabited long before the time of the Mound Builders. A skeleton ("Minnesota Man"), found in 1931 near Pelican Falls, is believed to date from the late Pleistocene epoch, c.20,000 years ago. Many important archaeological finds relating to the early inhabitants of North America have been made in Minnesota.
There are some experts who argue on the basis of the Kensington Rune Stone and other evidence that the first Europeans to reach Minnesota were the Vikings, but French fur traders came in the mid-17th cent. is undeniably so. Other traders, explorers, and missionaries of New France also penetrated the country. Among these were Radisson and Groseilliers, Verendrye, the sieur Duluth, and Father Hennepin and Michel Aco, who discovered the Falls of St. Anthony (the site of Minneapolis).
At the time the French arrived, the dominant groups of Native Americans were the Ojibwa in the east and the Sioux in the west. Both were friendly to the French and contributed to the fur-trading empire of New France. Minnesota remained excellent country for fur trade throughout the British regime that followed the French and Indian Wars and continued so after the War of 1812, when the American Fur Company became dominant and the company's men helped to develop the area.U.S. Absorption and Settlement
The eastern part of Minnesota had been included in the Northwest Territory and was governed under the Ordinance of 1787; the western part was joined to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase. Further exploration was pursued by Jonathan Carver (1766-67), Zebulon M. Pike (1805-6), Henry Schoolcraft (1820, 1829), and Stephen H. Long (1823).
Only after the War of 1812, however, did settlement begin in earnest. In 1820 Fort St. Anthony (later Fort Snelling) was founded as a guardian of the frontier. A gristmill established there in 1823 initiated the industrial development of Minneapolis. Treaties (1837, 1845, 1851, and 1855) with the Ojibwa and the Sioux, by which the U.S. government took over Native American lands, and the opening of a land office at St. Croix Falls in 1848 initiated a period of substantial expansion.Territorial Status and Statehood
In 1849 Minnesota became a territory. The Missouri and White Earth rivers were the western boundary. A land boom grew as towns were platted, railroads chartered, and roads built. Attention turned to education, and the Univ. of Minnesota was established in 1851. The school, with its many associated campuses, has subsequently exerted and continues to exert a great influence on the cultural life of the state. The building (1851-53) of the Soo Ship Canal at Sault Ste. Marie opened a water route for lake shipping eastward.
The Panic of 1857 hit Minnesota particularly hard because of land speculation, but difficult times did not prevent the achievement of statehood in 1858, with St. Paul as the capital and Henry Hastings Sibley as the state's first governor. The population had swelled from 6,000 in 1850 to more than 150,000 in 1857; by 1870 there were nearly 440,000 people. Chiefly a land of small farmers (mainly of British, German, and Irish extraction), Minnesota supported the Union in the Civil War and supplied large quantities of wheat to the Northern armies.Native American Resistance and New Settlement
During the Civil War and afterward the Sioux reacted to broken promises, fraudulent dealings, and the encroachment of settlers on their lands with violent resistance. A Sioux force under Little Crow was defeated by H. H. Sibley, virtually ending Native American resistance. Meanwhile, settlement boomed, aided by the Homestead Act of 1862. Later in the century came immigrants from Scandinavia—Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns. Lumbering, which had begun in 1839 at a sawmill on the St. Croix, became paramount, and logging camps were established. Fortunes were made quickly in the 1870s and 80s, as the railroads pushed west. A boom in wheat made the Minnesota flour mills famous across the world and brought wealth to flour producers such as John S. Pillsbury.Discontent and Reform Politics
In the late 19th cent. farmers suffered from such natural disasters as the blizzard of 1873 and insect plagues from 1874 to 1876. To these were added the miseries that accompanied the downward trend of the national economy, and Minnesota became a center of farmers' discontent, expressed in the Granger movement. The opening of the iron mines gave new impetus to Minnesota's economy but conditions in these mines also created discontent among the laborers. They joined forces with the farmers in the 1890s in the Populist party, one of several third-party movements that challenged the Republican party's traditional leadership in Minnesota. Ignatius Donnelly was one of the Populists' most powerful figures.
Renewed agrarian discontent led to the founding of the Nonpartisan League in 1915. Farmers and laborers joined forces again in 1920 in the Farmer-Labor party, which was dominant in the 1930s. The Republicans returned to power in 1939 with the election of Harold Stassen as governor. In 1944 the Farmer-Labor party and the Democrats merged. Probably the most successful leader of the new party, the Democratic Farmer Labor party (DFL), was Hubert H. Humphrey, who was elected to the U.S. Senate four times and was vice president from 1965 to 1969. Orville Freeman, DFL governor from 1955 to 1961, was secretary of agriculture from 1961 to 1969.
Walter F. Mondale, a Humphrey protégé, was a U.S. senator from 1964 to 1977. He was elected vice president as Jimmy Carter's running mate in 1976 and ran for president in 1984, losing to incumbent Ronald Reagan. Since the 1950s the DFL and the Republicans have vied sharply in contests for state offices. In the 1970s the Republican party changed its name to the Independent Republican party. With the exception of 1952, 1956, and 1972, Minnesota has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1932.Cooperatives and Population Shifts
The state has been notable for experimentation in novel features of local government and has also been a leader in the use of cooperatives. This phenomenon is perhaps explained by the cooperative heritage present among its many people of Scandinavian descent. In 1919 credit unions, cooperative creameries, grain elevators, and purchasing associations were supported by legislation that protected the institutions and instructed the state department of agriculture to encourage them. Today there are several thousand cooperative associations in Minnesota serving diversified needs.
Since the mid-19th cent. the state has become progressively more urban. In 1970 the urban population was two thirds of the total. Since 1970 dramatic suburban growth has taken place, especially in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has become an important hub for the region. Nearby is the massive Mall of America (1992), the nation's largest shopping center.
Many people come to Minnesota for treatment at the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and surgeons at the Univ. of Minnesota have won recognition for their development of new heart-surgery techniques. The Minnesota Symphony Orchestra is nationally known, and the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis houses an excellent regional repertory company. Minnesota has contributed important literary figures to the nation, including Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and O. E. Rølvaag. Economist Thorstein Veblen and aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh were also born in the state.
See J. Borchert and D. P. Yeager, ed., Atlas of Minnesota (1969); C. C. Chrislock, The Progressive Era in Minnesota, 1899-1918 (1971); T. C. Blegen, Minnesota: A History of the State (2d ed. 1975); D. J. Tweton, Depression: Minnesota in the Thirties (1981); J. D. Holmquist, They Chose Minnesota (1988).
See E. Jones, The Minnesota: Forgotten River (1962).
See histories by James Gray (1951, 1958).
State (pop., 2000: 4,919,479), midwestern U.S. Bordered by Canada and the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota, it covers 86,943 sq mi (225,182 sq km); its capital is St. Paul. The most northerly of the 48 contiguous U.S. states, it has extensive woodlands, fertile prairies, and numerous lakes. Before European settlement, the region was inhabited by the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and the Dakota (Sioux) tribes. French explorers arrived in search of the Northwest Passage in the mid 17th century. The northeastern portion passed to the British in 1763 and then to the U.S. in 1783, becoming part of the Northwest Territories in 1787. The southwestern portion was acquired by the U.S. in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and the northwestern portion was ceded to the U.S. by the British by treaty in 1818. The first permanent U.S. settlement was made in 1819, when Fort Snelling was founded. The Minnesota Territory, established in 1849, included present-day Minnesota and the eastern sections of North and South Dakota. Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state in 1858. The Sioux Uprising in southern Minnesota in 1862 resulted in the death of 500 civilians, soldiers, and Indians. Commercial iron-ore production began in 1884, and after the huge iron reserves of the Mesabi Range were discovered in 1890, the population at Duluth and Superior grew rapidly. Today agriculture, especially grains, meat, and dairy products, is the basis of the economy. Mineral resources include iron ore, granite, and limestone.
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Minnesota is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. The twelfth-largest state by area in the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with just over five million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The state is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Those lakes and rivers which gave the state its name, and its forests, parks, and wilderness areas, offer residents and tourists a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Nearly 60% of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods. The state's image of being populated by whites of Nordic and German descent has some truth, but diversity is increasing. Substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants.
The state is known for its moderate to progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. It ranks among the healthiest states, and has one of the most highly educated and literate populations.
Minnesota is the northernmost state apart from Alaska; its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th Parallel. It forms part of the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest. The state shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and Wisconsin on the northeast; the remainder of the eastern border is with Wisconsin. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba to the north. With 87,014 square miles (225,365 km²), or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the twelfth largest state.
Minnesota contains some of the oldest rocks found on earth, gneisses some 3.6 billion years old, or 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. 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 current 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 of the northeast has 50 feet (15 m) or more of glacial till left behind as the last glaciers retreated. 13,000 years ago gigantic Lake Agassiz formed in the northwest; the lake's outflow, the glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River, and its bottom created the fertile lands of the Red River valley. 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 (20.9 km) away from the low of 602 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 continental divides meet in the northeastern part of Minnesota in rural Hibbing, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico, the St. 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 no exaggeration; there are 11,842 lakes over 10 acres (.04 km²) in size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 962,700 acres (3,896 km²) and deepest (at ) 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 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 (42,900 km²) of wetlands are contained within Minnesota's borders, the most of any state except Alaska.
While loss of habitat has affected native animals such as the pine marten, elk, 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 bear and moose. 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 bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, and snowy owl. The lakes teem with the sport fish such as walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike, and streams in the southeast are populated by brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
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 long corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.
In 2008, Minnesota was ranked with Vermont as the best states in removing litter from public roadways and properties, according to The American State Litter Scorecard, presented to the American Society for Public Administration.
Before European settlement, Minnesota was populated by the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native Americans. The first Europeans were French fur traders that arrived in the 1600s. Late that century, the Ojibwe Indians migrated westward to Minnesota, causing tensions with the Sioux. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet, among others, mapped out the state.
The portion of the state east of the Mississippi River became a 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. Thousands of people had come to build farms and cut timber, and Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858.
Treaties between whites and the Dakota and Ojibwe gradually forced the natives off their lands and on to smaller reservations. 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 — the largest mass execution in United States history — and the exile of most of the rest of the Dakota to the Crow Creek Reservation in Nebraska.
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 and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills), were grinding 14.1% 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 1900s. 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 1900s. 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 the war. 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, located 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 thirteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States and home to about 60% of the state's population (April 2005). The remainder of the state is known as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota".
Minnesota has 17 cities with populations above fifty thousand (based on 2005 estimates). In descending order they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Bloomington, Plymouth, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Coon Rapids, St. Cloud, Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Woodbury, Blaine, Lakeville, and Minnetonka. Of these listed, only Rochester, Duluth, and St. Cloud are outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Minnesota has only three cities that have a population over 100,000. In descending order they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Rochester. Of these, only Rochester is located 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 decades.
The state's racial composition in 2006 was:
The per capita income in 2005 was $37,290, 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. White families earned more income than the national average but among the population under age 18, more than 20% of Asians and Hispanics, more than 40% of African Americans and more than 40% of Native American girls in Minnesota lived in poverty.
Minnesotan musicians of many genres include soul star Prince, harmony singers The Andrews Sisters, rockabilly star Eddie Cochran, folk musician Bob Dylan, garage rock band The Castaways, pop songwriters Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Jonny Lang, and Soul Asylum. Minnesota has also produced cult favorites such as Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. Minnesotans have made significant contributions to comedy, theater, and film. Ole and Lena jokes are best appreciated when delivered in the accent of Scandinavian Americans. Garrison Keillor is known around the country for resurrecting old-style radio comedy with A Prairie Home Companion, which has aired since the 1970s. Local television had the satirical show The Bedtime Nooz in the 1960s, while area natives Lizz Winstead and Craig Kilborn helped create the increasingly influential Daily Show decades later. Actors from the state include Eddie Albert, Seann William Scott, Judy Garland, Jessica Lange, Jessica Biel and Winona Ryder. Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Gilliam and Mike Todd contributed to the art of film, and others brought the offbeat cult shows Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Let's Bowl to national cable from the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota State Fair, advertised as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an icon of state culture. In a state of 5.1 million people, there were nearly 1.7 million visitors to the fair in 2006. The fair covers the variety of life in Minnesota, including fine art, science, agriculture, food preparation, 4H 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 also offered at the state's many county fairs.
Other large annual festivals include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Minneapolis' Aquatennial and Mill City Music Festival, Moondance Jam in Walker, and Detroit Lakes' 10,000 Lakes Festival and WE Fest.
The people of Minnesota have a high rate of participation in outdoor activities; the state is ranked first in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise. Minnesotans have the nation's lowest premature death rate, third-lowest infant mortality rate, and the second-longest life expectancies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91% of Minnesotans have health insurance, more than in any other state. These and other measures have led one group to rank Minnesota as the second-healthiest state in the nation, and another to rank it fourth.
On October 1, 2007 Minnesota became the seventeenth state to enact a statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars with the enactment of Freedom to Breathe Act.
Medical care 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 highly 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 medical practice, is based in Rochester. Mayo and the University 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 first acts of the Minnesota Legislature when it opened in 1858 was the creation of a normal school at Winona. More recently, the state ranked 13th on the 2006–2007 Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, and is first in the percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma. More than 90% of high school seniors graduated in 2006, but about 6% of white, 28% of African American, 30% of Asian American and more than 34% of Hispanic and Native American students dropped out of school. Minnesota students earn the highest average score in the nation on the ACT exam. 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, currently 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, four of which rank among the top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Transportation in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Principal transportation corridors radiate from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and Duluth. The major Interstate highways are I-35, I-90, and I-94, with I-35 and I-94 passing through the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and I-90 going 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), the headquarters and major passenger and freight hub for Northwest Airlines 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 six smaller cities via Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines.
Amtrak's daily Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle) train runs through Minnesota, calling at Midway Station in St. Paul and five other stations. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound, Jefferson Lines, and Coach USA. Local public transit is provided by bus networks in the larger cities and by the Hiawatha Line electrified light rail service linking downtown Minneapolis with the Airport and Bloomington.
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.
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 based in St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul.
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 voter fraud. In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, 77.2% of eligible Minnesotans voted—the most of any U.S. state—versus the national average of 60.93%. 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. Eugene McCarthy's anti-war stance and popularity in the 1968 New Hampshire Primary likely convinced Lyndon B. Johnson to drop out of the presidential election. 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.
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). Formed out of a 1944 alliance of the Minnesota Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties, the DFL now serves as a de-facto proxy to the federal Democratic Party, and its distinction from the Democratic Party, while still official, is now a functional technicality.
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, which receive 5% or more of the state's general vote in the U.S. Presidential election. Status is revised every four years.
Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, defeating former Vice President and former U.S. Senator Walter Mondale (D-MN), who entered the race as the Democratic candidate after Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Senator Coleman was the mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota from 1994 to 2002 and served 17 years with the Minnesota Attorney General Office, holding the positions of Chief Prosecutor and Solicitor General of the State of Minnesota. In 1996, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the Democratic Party, Coleman joined the Republican Party, which more closely matched his values. In his 1997 mayoral campaign for re-election as a Republican, Coleman received 59 percent of the vote.
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 re-election. The DFL also 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.
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 Corporation, which owns KSTP, is now the only locally-owned television company in Minnesota. There are currently 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 Minnesota Daily, the largest student-run newspaper in the U.S. Sites offering daily news on the Web include MinnPost, the Twin Cities Daily Planet and Washington D.C.-based Minnesota Independent. Weeklies including City Pages and monthly publications such as Minnesota Monthly are also 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 professional men's teams in all major sports. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is home to the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, and to the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball, winners of the 1987 and 1991 World Series. Target Field is currently being constructed on the west side of downtown Minneapolis, which will be the home of the Minnesota Twins once completed. The Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association play in the Target Center. The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild team reached 300 consecutive sold-out games in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on January 16, 2008.
The Minnesota Thunder is an American professional soccer team, founded in 1990. The team is a member of the USL First Division, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. The team is entering its 20th season in 2009. The Thunder currently play at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.
Professional women's sports include the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Minnesota Lightning of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, the Minnesota Vixen of the Women's Professional 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, with sports teams competing in either the Big Ten Conference or the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Four additional schools in the state compete in NCAA Division I ice hockey: the University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State University, Bemidji State University, and Minnesota State University Mankato. There are nine NCAA Division II colleges represented by the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in Minnesota, and sixteen NCAA Division III colleges represented by the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Winter Olympic Games medalists from the state include eleven of the twenty members of the gold medal 1980 ice hockey team (coached by Minnesota native Herb Brooks) and the bronze medalist 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.
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, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
State and national forests and the 72 state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. There are almost of snowmobile trails statewide. Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.
Minnesota's state symbols:
Tourism & recreation
Culture & history
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