Minnesota makes up one of the richer, as well one of the more educated US states. Ironically, it also has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the USA, but some of the safest workplaces. Learn more with these 70 Minnesota facts.
- The state covers an estimated area of 225,000 km².
- Water makes up an estimated 19,000 km² or 8% of the state’s area.
- An estimated 5.71 million people live in the state today.
- This gives the state an estimated population density of 27 people for every km².
- At its lowest point on Lake Superior, the state has an elevation of around 183 meters above sea level.
- Humans first settled in what would become Minnesota around 7000 BC.
- Native Americans farmed corn and rice in Minnesota starting around 800 AD.
- Dakota Native Americans lived in the region at the time of the Europeans’ arrival.
- Fur traders made up the first Europeans to arrive in the region.
- Most of Minnesota formed part of Spanish Louisiana between the years 1762 and 1802.
- The USA gained a small part of Minnesota after the American Revolution
- The USA later gained the rest of the region under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
- Minnesota stayed loyal to the Union during the American Civil War.
- Industry boomed in the state from the 1880s onward.
- Minnesota became an early success story for the Green Revolution after WWII.
- Minnesota has the city of Saint Paul as its capital.
- Minneapolis makes up the state’s biggest city.
- Just over half of the state’s population lives in the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
- The state has the 10th-highest income rating in the entire USA.
- Minnesota falls in the USA’s Central Time Zone, or GMT-6.
Minnesota’s name has a history behind it.
It comes from the Native American Dakota language, specifically from the name they used for the Minnesota River. The Dakotas called it “mni sota”, meaning “clear blue water”, as well as “Mnissota” or “cloudy water”. This would also be the origin for the names of various places in Minnesota, such as Minnehaha Falls, meaning “curling water”, or simply “waterfall”. Even Minneapolis’ name shares this origin, mixed with Greek. Specifically, the Dakota word “mni” or “water”, and the Greek word “polis” or “city”.
The state also has various icons.
The state has the common loon as its official bird, the monarch butterfly as its official butterfly, and the walleye as its official fish. Minnesota also has an official state flower, the pink-and-white lady’s slipper, as well as an official state mushroom, the common morel.
It also has the Norway pine as its official state tree and milk as the official state beverage. The state has two different official state foods, with the Honeycrisp apple as the official state fruit, blueberry muffin as the official state muffin. It also has an official state gemstone, the Lake Superior agate.
It also has its motto in French.
In fact, Minnesota stands as the only US state which uses French for its official state motto. Specifically, L’Etoile du Nord, which means “Star of the North”, referencing Minnesota’s status as the northernmost US state at the time of statehood. Minnesota even retains that status today in the USA proper, with both Hawaii and Alaska separated by ocean and Canada from the rest of the country. Minnesota’s first governor, Henry Sibley, proposed the motto, which the state adopted in 1861, three years after statehood. The state motto also gives Minnesota its nickname of the North Star State, and features on the state’s official seal.
Minnesota has distinctive geography.
Minnesota’s Northwest Angle makes up the only part of the USA proper to lie north of the 49th Parallel. The state as a whole forms part of the USA’s Upper Midwest, in the Great Lakes Region of North America. In fact, Minnesota’s border with Michigan lies across Lake Superior. Wisconsin borders Minnesota to the east, Iowa borders it to the south, while North Dakota and South Dakota both border it to the west. To the north, Minnesota’s borders with Ontario and Manitoba form part of the US border with Canada. Overall, Minnesota makes up an estimated 2% of the USA’s total area.
Some of the oldest rocks in the world lie in the state.
The Canadian Shield extends into Northeastern Minnesota, which was mostly formed from lava flows around 2.7 billion years ago. The oldest and deepest rocks in the mountains go back even further, to around 3.6 billion years ago. This actually gives them an age of about 80% of the Earth’s own age of around 4.5 billion years.
Volcanic activity in Minnesota stopped around 1.1 billion years ago, leaving gentler processes to shape its features. These include glaciers during the Ice Ages, the latest of which left most of Minnesota’s lowlands into flat plains and low hills as a result of the glaciers pressing down on the ground. Southeastern Minnesota makes up the exception, accounting for its steep hills and deep ravines.
Eagle Mountain makes up the state’s highest point.
Located in Minnesota’s Cook County, it’s also included in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as well as the Superior National Forest. This means that hikers must first get official permits before they can go up the mountain. Standing at a height of 701 meters, Eagle Mountain belongs to the Canadian Shield, making it one of the oldest mountains on the planet.
Interestingly, Eagle Mountain stands close to Minnesota’s lowest point, Lake Superior, with a distance of only 24 km between them. Whale Lake also stretches out along part of the mountain’s base, halfway along the hiking route to and up the mountain.
Over 11,000 lakes lie in the state.
This gives the state another one of its nicknames, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. These lakes are very large, with most of them not going below 40,000 square meters in area. The state also has the largest portion of Lake Superior within its borders compared to any other state, at an estimated 4000 km².
In addition to lakes, Minnesota also has over 6,000 rivers with a total estimated length between them of 111,000 km. These include the Mississippi River, which actually starts its long journey in Minnesota, before crossing into Iowa over 1,000 km to the south.
Minnesota also has a rich biodiversity.
Common trees in the state include birch, pine, poplar, and spruce. Native animals include bison, elk, pine marten, and woodland caribou, all of which currently suffer from population decline due to human development. Other animal species currently thrive, though, such as bobcats and whitetail deer.
Minnesota’s population of timberwolves also stands second only to Alaska’s in the whole USA. Black bears, gophers, and moose can also be spotted in Minnesota. Geese and duck also live in the state for part of the year, before migrating to warmer areas in autumn and winter. Other birds that live in the state include bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and snowy owls.
It also has a uniform climate.
Minnesota has a continental climate, which gives the state hot summers and cold winters. Temperatures in summer can reach as high as 46 degrees Celsius, and drop as low as 51 degrees below zero Celsius. In fact, on average, temperatures in the state range around only 9 degrees Celsius.
Annual rainfall never reaches one meter, usually only around 89 centimeters at most, but snow can reach up to 4 meters deep in Northern Minnesota. Tornadoes also strike the state, usually starting in June and ending in August, with the state experiencing an average of 27 tornadoes per year. However, they can also strike as early as March, and as late as November.
Minnesota’s first state park goes back to 1891.
Specifically, Itasca State Park, which includes the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It covers an estimated area of 132 km² and lies an estimated 34 km north of the city of Park Rapids. Ironically, the state government’s establishment of the park had less to do with the lake, and more with the pine forest surrounding it.
It resulted from tireless efforts from the anthropologist, historian, and land surveyor Jacob Brower. He confirmed Lake Itasca as Mississippi’s source and also wanted to preserve the surrounding pine forest from ongoing development.
The proposal caused controversy in the government, with the state legislature only passing the proposal by one vote. Today, Itasca State Park counts as both Minnesota’s first state park and the USA’s second-oldest state park after Niagara Falls State Park.
Minnesota also has various other protected areas.
The state has a total of 72 state parks, as well as 58 state forests for a total of 16,000 km² of protected land. The federal government also has its own protected areas, such as the Chippewa and Superior National Forests, which have a total estimated area of 22,000 km². The Voyageurs National Park makes up another federally-protected area in Minnesota, with its name referencing the Franco-Canadian explorers to first visit the region.
There’s also the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which lies along 116 km of the river within the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Area. The area includes not just protected natural landscape, but also various historical sites.
Pipestone makes up one of the oldest Native American sites today.
Located in the county of the same name in Minnesota, the Pipestone National Monument enjoys a sacred status among various Native American peoples. These include the Dakota, the Lakota, and the Yankton Sioux. The Native Americans use the catlinite, or pipestone, located within the site to produce ceremonial pipes for various traditional practices. Archaeologists have since discovered that Native Americans have mined pipestone from the site for at least 3,000 years.
In 1858, the Yankton Treaty gave the state government control over the land, while preserving access rights to the pipestone for the Native Americans. When the federal government took over in 1893, they upheld the treaty, and again when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the Pipestone National Monument in 1937. Today, only the Native Americans have the legal right to the natural resources of Pipestone.
Europeans first arrived in Minnesota in the mid-17th century.
The French arrived in 1671 and quickly negotiated trade treaties with the various tribes living in the region. The traders included Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, who not only explored the western shores of Lake Superior but even served as an arbitrator among the Native Americans. In particular, he successfully negotiated a peace treaty between the Dakota and the Ojibwa in 1679. His achievements would eventually lead to a city becoming named in his honor, Duluth, located on the western shores of Lake Superior.
A year later, the missionary Louis Hennepin found himself taken hostage by the Dakota. As a hostage, he traveled the region with his captors, and in the process discovered Saint Anthony Falls. With du Lhut’s help, Hennepin was released in 1783, returning to Europe. There, he sparked interest in the Dakota people and the Minnesota region with the stories of his experiences.
The USA’s acquisition of the region proved a complicated process.
The Treaty of Paris of 1783 gave the USA all lands east of the Mississippi River, which included only parts of Northern and Eastern Minnesota. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase gave the USA the rest of Minnesota. However, arguments soon erupted with Britain over the northern border. These, along with other border issues elsewhere in North America, contributed to the War of 1812.
Although most other border issues became resolved by the end of the war, Minnesota’s border issues with Canada continued. They became partially resolved in 1818, with that year’s Anglo-American Convention. The convention fixed the US-Canadian border west of the Lake of the Woods. The border to the east remained an issue until 1842 when the Ashburton Treaty resolved it as well.
The USA established Fort Snelling in Minnesota in 1825.
Construction began in 1819, with the site originally called Fort Saint Anthony, only to receive a new name on completion. The new name referenced Colonel Josiah Snelling, who oversaw the planning and construction of the fort. In fact, he first named the fort in Saint Anthony’s honor, only for General Winfield Scott to override him in 1824. Instead, the general decided to name the fort after its first commander.
Colonel Snelling would go on to command the fort until 1827 when he returned to Washington D.C. The US government built the fort as a base from which the US Army could quickly respond to any unrest from the Native Americans in the region. This motive resulted from the War of 1812 when many Native American tribes sided with the British against the USA.
The infamous Dred Scott Case took place in Minnesota during the 1850s.
It involved the slave Dred Scott and his wife, both of whom accompanied their master John Emerson to Minnesota. This, even though Minnesota had already banned slavery. When Emerson died, Scott took advantage of that fact to declare himself a free man, but the local government refused to accept it. Scott took them to court, only for the lower courts to also refuse to acknowledge his freedom. The case then went up to the US Supreme Court, which southerners dominated at the time. In a 7-2 ruling, the US Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ rulings.
The southern justices hoped this would set a final precedent that would preserve slavery in the USA. Instead, it caused anti-slavery sentiments in the northern states to spike. In the end, the Civil War, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and finally, the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution completely reversed the US Supreme Court’s precedent in the Dred Scott Case.
Minnesota’s road to statehood began in 1848.
The region first petitioned the US Congress in that year, after neighboring Wisconsin gained statehood. This led to the establishment of the Minnesota Territory in 1849, but controversy soon erupted. This resulted in the extent of the new territory’s lands, with the controversy resolving itself after the Minnesota Territory lost a portion of land which eventually became part of South Dakota.
A proposal for Minnesota to finally gain statehood arrived at the US Congress in 1856. The proposal quickly became an issue between the northern and southern states, thanks to Minnesota’s anti-slavery position. This led the southern states to oppose statehood to prevent strengthening the anti-slavery position in the US Congress. They argued Minnesota’s small population, and the cost of building up the regional infrastructure made it premature to grant statehood. In the end, however, the US Congress granted Minnesota statehood in 1857.
The drafting of Minnesota’s state constitution caused controversy at the time.
Once again, the controversy erupted over slavery’s status in the new state. This led the Republican and Democratic Parties to draft their version of the new state constitution. Although a joint committee eventually drafted a third state constitution, differences between the two parties kept it from even getting signed at all. Eventually, both constitutions found themselves presented to the people of Minnesota, who voted on which constitution the state would adopt.
Over 30,000 people voted for the Republican-drafted, anti-slavery constitution. In contrast, the Democrat-drafted, pro-slavery constitution only received 571 votes. The US Congress then received the winning constitution, and despite opposition from the southern states, accepted it as Minnesota’s state constitution.
Minnesota contributed heavily to the Union cause during the American Civil War.
Minnesota became the first state to offer men to the Union cause, and crush the southern rebellion. Ultimately, an estimated 22,000 men from Minnesota would serve in the Union Army during the war. In particular, the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment would become especially famous for its role in the Battle of Gettysburg.
During the battle’s second day, the 250 men of the regiment charged over 1,200 Confederate troops. Outnumbered five to one, the regiment suffered 80% casualties, but their actions bought time for Union reinforcements to arrive. This prevented the Confederates from breaking through a weak point in the Union lines. Some historians even describe this as ensuring a Union victory in the battle.
The Dakota War took place during the same time.
The factors behind it go back to 1837, with the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux, and again in 1851, with the Treaty of Mendota. In both treaties, the Dakota sold their lands to the USA in exchange for regular financial support. The Dakota did so as the shrinking population of wild animals to hunt left them dependent on buying food to feed their people. Crop failures in 1862, and a delay in financial support thanks to the Civil War pushed tensions to the breaking point. The war finally erupted when four Dakotas killed a family of settlers while looking for food.
This inspired the Dakota Chief Little Crow III to order more attacks, and drive out the Dakotas. This, in turn, sparked retaliation from the state militia, who defeated the Dakotas in just six weeks. Out of 425 Dakotas taken prisoner, 303 men found themselves sentenced to death. US President Abraham Lincoln intervened and managed to commute the death sentences to life imprisonment instead. Even so, the majority of the Native Americans in Minnesota afterward found themselves expelled to reservations in the south or in Canada.
The state enjoyed widespread development after the war.
Immigrants from other states and even from Europe flooded into Minnesota after the Civil War, drawn by both jobs and available farmland. In 1870, Minnesota had a population of around 439,000 which grew to over 1 million by 1890. In addition to immigrants, railway construction boomed in Minnesota after the war, but this also caused controversy. Said railways included the Great Northern Railway, the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad, and the Milwaukee Road, among others. The controversy erupted over extortionary fares imposed by the railroad companies.
This led to strong public demand for state control over the railways, to make the fares less outrageous. Despite the railway companies’ influence, the scale of the public demand proved too tempting for the Democrats and Republicans both to ignore. In the 1871 elections, both parties pledged to regulate the railroads. This led to the establishment of the office of railroad commissioner after the election. They also imposed a price ceiling for train fares.
Minnesota’s contribution to the US war effort in WWI became a source of controversy.
The controversy erupted over the Minnesota National Guard’s federalization on the USA’s entry into the war. With the National Guard busy fighting as part of the US Army in Europe, Minnesota formed the Home Guard to fill in for the National Guard at home. These include the 16th Battalion, the first completely African-American military unit from Minnesota.
The racism the troops experienced while in training led to them demanding and getting only African-American officers. When WWI ended, they petitioned for integration into the National Guard. Instead, the men got reassigned to segregated units not officially part of the National Guard.
The Great Depression hit the state hard.
The Foshay Tower in Minneapolis proved especially symbolic of the state’s experiences in the Great Depression. Completed just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, it became the tallest building in Minnesota, only for its owner, Wilbur Foshay, to lose all his money in the crash.
As the Great Depression continued, the mining industry had to lay off its workers due to a lack of sales. Similarly, farmers had to lower their prices as drought caused both the quantity and quality of their products to drop. It wasn’t until the federal government formed the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration that Minnesota finally began to recover. Both programs put men to work on federal programs across the USA, causing unemployment to drop.
The state later made various contributions to the US war effort in WWII.
In fact, Minnesota provided up to 75% of all the USA’s iron needs in WWII. Hormel’s facilities in the state also produced an estimated 680,000 kg of Spam for the war efforts. A scientist from the University of Minnesota, Ancel Keys, also developed the K-rations that provided the US and other Allied troops with nutritious meals during the war. The state also sent an estimated 320,000 men to actually fight in the war, of which an estimated 7,800 died in battle.
Men from Minnesota even fired the first shots of the war for America. Specifically, naval reservists on the USS Ward who sank a Japanese submarine just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US Army also processed Japanese-Americans in Minnesota. After certifying their loyalty and skills, these Japanese-Americans found themselves serving various roles such as in military intelligence. The US military also established several camps for prisoners of war in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s development boomed after WWII.
The state modernized its agricultural sector, adopting automatization for improved production. These included automated feedlots for cows and pigs, machine milkers for cows, and even automated chicken houses. Minnesota also became among the first places in the world to grow hybrid crops to maximize harvests. This also led to a boom in the food processing sector, taking advantage of Minnesota’s increased food production.
A housing boom also took place in the state, especially in the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The number of new buildings eventually grew so many that the state government had to officially step in. This allowed them to ensure all new buildings conformed to state and federal regulations. Manufacturing also boomed in the state, with companies like 3M expanding their operations in the state. Items produced included building materials, masking tape, sandpaper, glues, and more.
The state capital at Saint Paul goes back to the early 19th century.
The original settlement developed around Fort Snelling, with the settlers taking advantage of the US Army’s presence for protection. Unregulated trade in whiskey eventually forced the US Army to evict the settlers, who relocated next to an Indian reservation to the west. They called this new settlement Pig’s Eye Landing, after the local tavern’s owner, Pig’s Eye Parrant.
Pig’s Eye Landing soon became a crossroads for trade in the area, such as in furs and cattle. It gained its modern name after Catholic missionary Lucien Galtier founded a church named after Saint Paul in the area. He then convinced the settlers to change the settlement’s name to Saint Paul, a more dignified name compared to its previous one. When the US government formed the Minnesota Territory, Saint Paul became its new capital.
Saint Paul has a twisted connection to capital punishment’s history in Minnesota.
Minnesota passed their first death sentence in the city against a woman named Anne Bilansky for poisoning her husband. This took place in 1860, with the state legislature commuting the sentence before it could get carried out. However, the governor overruled the legislature, with Bilansky hanging to death, going down in history as the only woman to ever get hanged in the state.
The death penalty continued in Minnesota until 1906 when the state sentenced William Williams to hang for murder. The executioner botched the hanging, though, causing the man to die slowly and painfully over 14 minutes. Despite his crimes, his cruel death caused a public scandal and led the state government to abolish the death penalty in the state.
Prostitution in the city has a curious history.
Technically prostitution remains illegal in the city, but prostitutes have found a way to get around that since 1863. Basically, their manager must simply appear in court, plead guilty, and then pay a monthly fine. This, in turn, allowed brothels and individual prostitutes to operate normally despite official government condemnation.
By the late 19th century, Saint Paul had two unofficial red-light districts, compared to Minneapolis which only had one. One brothel madam, Nina Clifford, even became famous for her sharp business instincts, and her open bribery of the police. After she died, the authorities closed and even demolished her brothel. However, her fame led the Mayor’s Office to recover her brothel’s chandelier, which found itself mounted in City Hall.
Saint Paul annually hosts a winter festival.
Specifically, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, which goes back to 1896. It started after a reporter from New York described the city in 1895 as something out of Siberia, and unfit for human life. This caused public outrage in the city, which inspired its leaders to hold an event to show off Saint Paul’s attractions. They modeled the carnival after a similar carnival in Montreal, which included an ice castle. The resulting events include naming and crowning a royal family for the carnival, as well as a parade of floats.
Other events have since become added to the carnival over the decades, including family and children’s days, ice sculpting contests, art exhibitions, music shows, and even cooking contests, among others. The carnival usually takes place annually but has experienced cancellations in the past. These included during WWII, and again in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city also has the third-largest Catholic cathedral in the USA.
Specifically, the Cathedral of Saint Paul, standing on Cathedral Hill in Downtown Saint Paul. Completed in 1915, the cathedral makes up the fourth church to bear the name and to serve as the seat of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This also makes it a co-cathedral to Minneapolis’ Basilica of Saint Mary.
Construction began in 1904, with the architects basing their design on classical Renaissance themes. The cathedral also features a copper-plated dome, specifically-designed to resist corrosion. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops later designated it as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul in 2009, with the Vatican City confirming it in that same year.
Minneapolis also goes back to the late 19th century.
Specifically, the 1860s, with Native Americans living on where the city now stands until the Dakota War. After the war, the Native Americans found themselves expelled from the area, with Franklin Steele and John Stevens becoming the first settlers on the land. They then named their new settlement St. Anthony after the Falls of Saint Anthony.
Ironically, even before the war or Minnesota’s statehood, the Minnesota Territory had already founded a town to the west of the modern city with that name. After the Dakota War, the state legislature expanded the town into a city, which later absorbed Saint Anthony City in 1872.
The city depended on the Mississippi River for its early development.
In particular, the Falls of Saint Anthony, the highest falls on the Mississippi River, and which Minneapolis surrounds. Together with the rich forests of Northern Minnesota, the falls transformed Minneapolis into a center of the lumber industry. By 1871, the city had no less than 17 sawmills, and the city didn’t limit itself to cutting and shipping lumber either.
Factories popped up to process lumber into paper and other lumber products. Water power from the waterfall and the Mississippi both also encouraged the growth of other industries. These included mills for cotton, flour, and wool, as well as ironworks and machine shops. Industrial hazards grew with industrial expansion, so much so that by the 1890s, Minneapolis also had at least six different prosthetics companies.
Racism became a major issue for Minneapolis in the early 20th century.
It started in 1910 when urban developers introduced racial limitations on property ownership. This led to property limitations for both African-Americans and Asian-Americans in the city. The Ku Klux Klan also gained a presence in Minneapolis in the 1920s.
In 1925, the state government passed a eugenics law. This, in turn, led medical authorities in Minneapolis to sterilize thousands of people with various hereditary disorders. Anti-Semitism also became a major issue in the city, with American intellectuals even describing Minneapolis as the Anti-Semitic Capital of the USA. These issues would persist until the 1950s when the state government finally began repealing racial laws.
George Floyd later infamously became murdered in the city.
This took place on May 25, 2020, when Officer Derek Chauvin from the city police knelt on George Floyd, causing him to suffocate and die. The incident was captured on video, which also recorded Officer Chauvin ignoring protests from Floyd.
The video went viral on the internet, sparking nationwide protests against racism and starting the Black Lives Matter movement. Minneapolis suffered widespread unrest, to the point that demonstrators even stormed and set fire to at least one police station. This unrest also spread to Saint Paul, and while things have somewhat settled down, tension is still felt to this day.
Singer Prince came from Minneapolis.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958, he spent most of his life in Minneapolis, even studying at the Minnesota Dance Theater in the city. A pioneer of the Minneapolis Sound genre, he melded various earlier genres together, such as funk, rock, and soul. He began his career with Warner Bros. Records in 1973 and achieved nationwide celebrity status in the 1980s following in Jimmy Jam’s footsteps in the 1980s.
After winning the Grammy Awards in 2004, he scored six top albums in the USA over the next 10 years. By this point, however, his energetic and theatrical performances began to take their toll on his body. These included hip injuries and chronic pain. Sadly, he died from a fentanyl overdose in 2016, at the age of only 57.
Minnesota has a diverse population.
Whites make up a majority of the state’s population, at 78%, with German-Americans making up the plurality of whites, at 34%. African-Americans follow in second place, at 7%, followed by biracial or multiracial individuals at 6%. Asian-Americans make up another 5% of the population, while Native Americans make up only 1% of the population.
Other ethnicities cumulatively make up an estimated 3% of the state’s population. In particular, Minnesota has the world’s biggest population of Somalians outside of Somalia itself, at an estimated 57,000 people. It also has the second-largest Hmong population in the USA, at an estimated 66,000 people.
The same goes for the state’s religions.
The various Protestant denominations make up a plurality of the state’s religions, followed by an estimated 50% of the population. Roman Catholics, in turn, make up an estimated 22% of the population, while Mormons and other Christian denominations make up 1% of each of the population.
Among non-Christians, Jews and Muslims make up the largest religious groups, each followed by around 1% of the population. Followers of other religions cumulatively make up another 3% of the population. A surprisingly large number of people also identify themselves as neither atheists nor followers of a single religion, at 13%. Agnostics make up another 4% of the population, while atheists only make up 3% of the population.
Agriculture and forestry make up a large part of the state economy.
This proves particularly surprising when it comes to agriculture, which employs less than 1% of Minnesota’s total workforce. Despite that, Minnesota remains the USA’s biggest producer of green peas, sugar beets, and corn. Other major agricultural products from Minnesota include farm-raised turkeys, as well as processed turkey meat. Various processed food companies have their home bases in the state, such as Cargill, General Mills, Hormel, as well as the fast-food giant McDonald’s.
As for forestry, the state produces an estimated 780,000 cubic meters of lumber per year. Declining forest cover has also forced the state to limit the lumber industry, to ensure long-term sustainability. These measures have so far met success, with Minnesota’s forests enjoying annual growth rates of up to 1.3 million cubic meters of lumber.
The digital industry also has a history in Minnesota’s economy.
So much so that the state gained the nickname of the Digital State after WWII. This resulted from the formation of Engineering Research Associates (ERA) in Minnesota in 1946. An early pioneer of computer technology in the 1950s, ERA made its name in developing computers primarily for the US Navy, and later on for the private sector. ERA later became part of Remington Rand, which today forms part of the IT giant Unisys.
Another computer pioneer, Cray Research, also formed in Minnesota, and which today also forms part of another IT giant, Hewlett-Packard (HP). Another IT giant, IBM, while not originally from Minnesota, also maintains facilities of its own in the state.
The state also has one of the biggest refineries in the USA.
The Pine Bend Refinery is the biggest oil refinery out of any non-oil-producing state in the USA. Built in 1955, it originally processed an estimated 25,000 barrels of oil per day, but upgrades to the facility have increased its capacity. In fact, today it processes an estimated 320,000 barrels of oil per day. An estimated 70% of all gasoline used in Minnesota today comes from Pine Bend, with the refinery also having its own pipeline to nearby airports to supply them with jet fuel. However, statistics actually point to only 50% of the refinery’s output getting used in the state. The rest gets exported to the rest of the country, or abroad.
Wind power provides a large part of Minnesota’s energy.
In fact, wind power generates up to 3.5 GW of electricity or around 18% of Minnesota’s electrical needs. This actually makes the state the sixth-largest producer of wind power in the entire USA. Major wind farms in the state include the Buffalo Ridge Wind Farm, which goes back to 1994 and produces 225 MW of electricity.
There’s also the Fenton Wind Farm, which goes back to 2007, and produces 206 MW of electricity. The state also has an ongoing expansion program for wind power, the CapX2020, in cooperation with neighboring states. CapX2020 itself makes up only one part of an even bigger program for green energy to supply at least 25% of Minnesota’s electrical needs by 2025.
Solar power is also developed in Minnesota.
Solar power actually goes back to the 1980s in Minnesota, but only really started to grow in the 2010s. This resulted from a drop in solar panel prices, as well as new and supportive policies for green energy in the state. This included a 2013 mandate that required all state utilities to meet at least 1.5% of their energy needs from solar power.
Solar plants in the state include the North Star Solar Project at North Branch, which features over 440,000 solar panels producing over 100 MW of electricity. There’s also the Marshall Solar Energy Project, which produces an estimated 62 MW of electricity. Scientists today estimate that solar power could provide up to 39% of Minnesota’s energy needs.
Minnesota is the setting of many literature pieces from the early 20th century.
These include the novel Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag and the Little House series by Laura Wilder. Both authors wrote a realistic but also heartwarming depiction of frontier life, which popularized and idealized it to audiences across the USA. Sinclair Lewis, though, wrote for a darker genre, with his novel Main Street exposing the darker side of small-town lives.
Scott Fitzerald wrote similarly, focusing on the insecurity and difficulty of urban life, in particular, with stories like Winter Dreams and The Ice Palace. However, another Minnesota author, Garrison Keillor, wrote a brighter version of small-town life in his Lake Wobegon series.
Minnesota has a solid public health system.
In fact, Minnesota used to have the reputation of the healthiest state in the USA at the start of the 21st century. By 2010, though, it had dropped to sixth place, thanks to growing alcoholism in the state. Minority groups in the state also suffer from poorer health and limited access to health services.
That said, Minnesota citizens enjoy high life expectancies in general. These include low rates of early death, child death, and heart diseases, among others. In fact, as of 2007, smoking outside of the home has become illegal across Minnesota, thanks to the Freedom to Breathe Act.
The state’s Mayo Clinic has a famous reputation.
It takes its name from Doctor William Mayo, an immigrant who settled down in Rochester in 1864. Originally a small family clinic, it grew over the decades as other doctors partnered with the Mayo Family. Even though it’s long since become a full hospital, it continues to call itself a clinic in honor of its founder.
Today, the Mayo Clinic ranks among the top four hospitals in the USA for specialized services. It also counts as the best overall hospital in the USA. The Mayo Clinic has also opened up branches of its own, not just in neighboring states, but even overseas in London in the United Kingdom.
The state also enjoys a solid educational system.
Minnesota first launched a public education program in 1858, explicitly to develop a literate and educated population. Today, Minnesota ranks second in the USA when it comes to the number of high school graduates. It also ranks tenth in the USA when it comes to the number of college graduates.
Minneapolis itself holds the distinction of the USA’s most literate city, with Saint Paul trailing at fourth place. Middle school students from Minnesota tend to have third-highest scores in math and science, with only their fellow students from Vermont and Massachusetts beating their scores.
The same goes for the state’s infrastructural network.
The hub of the state’s public infrastructure forms between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Major interstates include I-35, I-90, and I-94, with the first two actually linking Minneapolis and Saint Paul together. Various railways also link the two cities together, as well as with the city of Duluth on Lake Superior.
Minnesota also has extensive water transport systems, up and down the Mississippi River, as well as for crossing Lake Superior. As for air travel, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) makes up the state’s most important airport, but various other airports also stand across the state.
Various Native American reservations stand in the state.
Although Minnesota expelled most of its Native American population after the Dakota War, today, the state allows their descendants to return, and have even returned some of their lands. These lands have become reorganized into self-governing areas under the US Indian Reservation System.
The Dakota has four communities among themselves, such as the Prairie Island Indian Community, the Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. In contrast, the Anishinaabe have seven communities among themselves, including the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Minnesota participates in various sports.
For starters, the Minnesota Vikings have represented the state in the NFL as far back as 1961. Similarly, the Minnesota Twins have represented both the state and the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in major league baseball as far back as 1961. They’ve also won the World Series twice, first in 1987, and again in 1991.
The Minneapolis Lakers originally represented the state in the NBA starting in 1947, only to end in 1960, when they relocated to Los Angeles and became the LA Lakers. In their place, the Minnesota Timberwolves represents the state in the NBA from 1989 to the present day.
The state also enjoys a reputation for outdoor activities.
Minnesota ranks second to Alaska in recreational fishing, with an estimated 36% of the state citizens participating in recreational fishing. Recreational fishing doesn’t stop in winter, with a large number of German-Americans and Scandinavian-Americans having popularized ice fishing as far back as the 19th century.
Other popular winter outdoor activities in Minnesota include broomball, hockey, and skating, among others. Camping and hiking also enjoy all-year-round popularity in Minnesota, with the state having an estimated 32,000 km of hiking trails. Many of these trails also double as bike trails for cross-country bikers. This also gives Minnesota more bike trails than any other US state.