The Missouri River flows through the western part of the state and forms Lake Sakakawea behind the Garrison Dam. The western half of the state is hilly and contains lignite coal and oil. In the east, the Red River forms the Red River Valley, holding fertile farmland. Agriculture has long dominated the economy and culture of North Dakota.
The state capital is Bismarck and the largest city is Fargo. The primary public universities are located in Grand Forks and Fargo. The United States Air Force operates bases at both Minot and Grand Forks.
North Dakota is considered to be in the U.S. regions known as the Upper Midwest and the Great Plains. The state shares the Red River of the North with Minnesota on the east; South Dakota is to the south, Montana is to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are north. With , North Dakota is the 19th largest state.
The western half of the state consists of the hilly Great Plains, and the northern part of the Badlands to the west of the Missouri River. The state's high point, White Butte at , and Theodore Roosevelt National Park are located in the Badlands. The region is abundant in fossil fuels including crude oil and lignite coal. The Missouri River forms Lake Sakakawea, the third largest man-made lake in the United States, behind the Garrison Dam.
The central region of the state is divided into the Drift Prairie and the Missouri Plateau. This area is covered in lakes, slough, and rolling hills. The Turtle Mountains are located along the Manitoba border. The geographic center of the North American continent is located near the city of Rugby.
The eastern part of the state consists of the flat Red River Valley, the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz. Its fertile soil, drained by the meandering Red River flowing northward into Lake Winnipeg, supports a large agriculture industry. Devils Lake, the largest natural lake in the state, is also found in the east.
Springtime flooding is a relatively common event in the Red River Valley, due to the river flowing north into Canada, creating ice jams. The spring melt and the eventual runoff typically begins earlier in the southern part of the valley than in the northern part. The most destructive flooding in eastern North Dakota occurred in 1997, which caused extensive damage to Fargo and Grand Forks.
Much of present-day North Dakota was included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Much of acquired land was organized into Minnesota and Nebraska Territories. Dakota Territory, making up present-day North and South Dakota, along with parts of present-day Wyoming and Montana, was organized on March 2, 1861. Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 1800s, when the railroads entered the region and aggressively marketed the land. A bill for statehood for North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington titled the Enabling Act of 1889 was passed on February 22, 1889 during the administration of Grover Cleveland. After Cleveland left office, it was left to his successor, Benjamin Harrison, to sign proclamations formally admitting North and South Dakota to the Union on November 2, 1889. The rivalry between the two new states presented a dilemma of which was to be admitted first. Harrison directed Secretary of State James G. Blaine to shuffle the papers and obscure from him which he was signing first and the actual order went unrecorded. However, since North Dakota alphabetically appears before South Dakota, its proclamation was published first in the Statutes At Large. Since that day, it has become common to list the Dakotas alphabetically and thus North Dakota is usually listed as the 39th state. However, no one will actually know which of the Dakotas was admitted first.
The corruption in the early territorial and state governments led to a wave of populism led by the Non Partisan League brought social reforms in the early 20th century. The original North Dakota State Capitol burned to the ground on December 28, 1930, and was replaced by a limestone faced art deco skyscraper that still stands today.
A round of federal construction projects began in the 1950s including the Garrison Dam, and the Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases. There was a boom in oil exploration in western North Dakota in the 1980s, as rising petroleum prices made development profitable.
From fewer than 3,000 people in 1870, North Dakota's population grew to near 680,000 by 1930. Growth then slowed, and the population has fluctuated slightly over the next seven decades, hitting a low of 617,761 in the 1970 census, with a total of 642,200 in the 2000 census. As of July 1, 2006, the state's population was estimated at 635,867 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The age and gender distributions approximate the national average. Besides Native Americans, North Dakota's minority groups still form a significantly smaller proportion of the population than in the nation as a whole. The center of population of North Dakota is located in Wells County, near Sykeston.
As the issue is common to several High Plains states, federal politicians including Senator Byron Dorgan, have proposed The New Homestead Act of 2007 to encourage living in areas losing population through incentives such as tax breaks.
The state's racial composition in 2005 was:
A 2001 survey indicated that 35% of North Dakota's population was Lutheran, and 30% was Roman Catholic. Other religious groups represented were Methodists (7%), Baptists (6%), the Assembly of God (3%), and Jehovah's Witness (1%). Christians with unstated or other denominational affiliations, including other Protestants, totaled 3%, bringing the total Christian population to 86%. Non-Christian religions, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, together represented 4% of the population. Three percent of respondents answered "no religion" on the survey, and 6% refused to answer.
The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 179,349; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 174,554; and the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod with 23,720.
Ed Schultz is known around the country as the host of progressive talk radio show The Ed Schultz Show, and Shadoe Stevens hosted American Top 40 from 1988 to 1995. Josh Duhamel is an Emmy Award-winning actor known for his roles in All My Children and Las Vegas. Nicole Linkletter and CariDee English were winning contestants of Cycles 5 and 7, respectively, of America's Next Top Model. Actor Kellan Lutz from Dickinson North Dakota has appeared in movies such as stick it, accepted,prom night, and the upcoming Twilight movie
Along with having the most churches per capita of any state, North Dakota has the highest percentage of church-going population of any state.
Native American traditions are practiced by the Native American population of North Dakota, especially on Indian reservations. Pow-wows and traditional Native American dancing are found across the state.
Outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing are hobbies for many North Dakotans. Ice fishing and snowmobiling are also popular during the winter months. Residents of North Dakota may own or visit a cabin along a lake. Popular sport fish include walleye, perch, and northern pike.
Agriculture is the largest industry in North Dakota, although petroleum and food processing are also major industries. The economy of North Dakota had a gross domestic product of $24 billion in 2005. The per capita income in 2006 was $33,034, ranked 29th in the nation. The three-year median household income from 2002-2004 was $39,594, ranking 37 in the U.S. North Dakota is also the only state with a state owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck, and a state owned flour mill, the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks.
North Dakota's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture. Although less than 10% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking 24th in the nation in the value of products sold. The state is the largest producer in the U.S. of barley, sunflower seeds, spring, and durum wheat for processing, and farm-raised turkeys.
Long called the "Saudi Arabia" of wind energy, North Dakota has the capability of producing 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of energy. That is enough to power 25% of the entire country's energy needs. Wind energy in North Dakota is also very cost effective because the state has large rural expanses and wind speeds seldom go below .
North Dakota's principal airports are the Hector International Airport (FAR) in Fargo, Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), Bismarck Municipal Airport (BIS), and the Minot International Airport (MOT).
Amtrak's Empire Builder runs through North Dakota, making stops at Fargo (2:13 am westbound, 3:35 am eastbound), Grand Forks (4:52 am westbound, 12:57 am eastbound), Minot (around 9 am westbound and around 9:30 pm eastbound), and four other stations. It is the descendant of the famous line of the same name run by the Great Northern Railway, which was built by the tycoon James J. Hill and ran from St. Paul to Seattle. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound and Jefferson Lines. Public transit in North Dakota is currently limited to bus systems in the larger cities.
The executive branch is headed by the governor. The current governor is John Hoeven, a Republican whose first term began December 15, 2000, and who was re-elected in 2004. The current Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota is Jack Dalrymple, who is also the President of the Senate. The offices of governor and lieutenant governor have four-year terms. 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.
Federal court cases are heard in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, which holds court in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Minot. Appeals are heard by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis, Missouri.
At the state level, the governorship has been held by the Republican Party since 1992, along with a majority of the state legislature and statewide officers. Dem-NPL showings were strong in the 2000 governor's race, and in the 2006 legislative elections, but the League has not had a major breakthrough since the administration of former state governor George Sinner.
The Republican Party presidential candidate usually carries the state; in 2004, George W. Bush won with 62.9% of the vote. Of all the Democratic presidential candidates since 1892, only Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson received Electoral College votes from North Dakota.However Polling has shown that United States Presidential Election 2008 North Dakota is competitive.
On the other hand, Dem-NPL candidates for North Dakota's federal Senate and Congressional seats have won every election since 1982, and the state's federal delegation has been entirely Democratic since 1986.
Bismarck, located in south-central North Dakota along the banks of the Missouri River, has been North Dakota's capital city since 1883, first as capital of the Dakota Territory, and then as state capital since 1889.
North Dakota's most populous city is Fargo. The state has four cities with populations above 30,000 (based on 2005 estimates). In descending order they are Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Minot. While North Dakota's population has seen a gradual rural decline, the migration has led to growth in its urban centers.
The higher education system consists of the following institutions:
North Dakota University System (Public schools):
"The Flickertail State" is one of North Dakota's nicknames and is derived from Richardson's Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii), a very common animal in the region. The ground squirrel constantly flicks its tail in a distinctive manner. In 1953, legislation to make the ground squirrel the state emblem was voted down in the state legislature.
Broadcast television in North Dakota started on April 3, 1953, when KCJB-TV (now KXMC-TV) in Minot began broadcasting. There are currently 28 analog broadcast stations and 18 digital channels broadcast over North Dakota.
The state's largest newspaper is The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Other weekly and monthly publications (most of which are fully supported by advertising) are also available. The most prominent of these is the alternative weekly High Plains Reader, which covers Fargo and Grand Forks.
Prairie Public is a statewide radio network affiliated with National Public Radio. The state's oldest radio station, WDAY-AM, was launched on May 23, 1922. The Forum Communications owned station is still on the air, and currently broadcasts a news/talk format.