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Updated November 30, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
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Minnesota State Facts

Capital: St. Paul

Official Name: Minnesota

Entered Union (rank): May 11th, 1858 (32nd)

Present constitution adopted: 1858.

State abbreviation/Postal code: Minn/MN

State Area Codes: 218, 320, 507, 612, 651, 763, 952

Fun Facts About Minnesota

Nicknames: North Star State; Gopher State; Land of 10,000 Lakes 

Origin of name:: From a Dakota tribe word meaning “sky-tinted water”

Motto: “L'Étoile du Nord” (The North Star)

State symbols:

Flower: Lady Slipper (1902)

Tree: Red Pine (1953)

Bird: Common Loon (1961)

Animal: White-Tail Deer, Grizzly Bear (proposed)

Fish:   Walleye (1965)

Gem: Lake Superior Agate (1969) 

Song: "Hail Minnesota” (1945)


Governor: Tim Walz, D (to Jan. 2027)

Lieut. Governor: Peggy Flanagan, D (to Jan. 2027)

Secretary of State: Steve Simon, D (to Jan. 2027)

Attorney General: Keith Ellison, D (to Jan. 2027)

State Auditor: Julie Blaha, D (to Jan. 2027)

U.S. Representatives: 8

Senators: Amy Klobachar, D (to Jan. 2025); Tina Smith, D (to Jan. 2025)

State website: https://mn.gov/portal/ 


Residents: Minnesotan

Resident population: 5,717,184

10 largest cities (2022):   Minneapolis, (418,075); St. Paul (299,830); Rochester (121,603); Bloomington (88,196); Duluth (85,916); Brooklyn Park (80,878); Woodbury (80,103); Lakeville (78,387); Plymouth (77,361); Blaine (71,803)

Race/Ethnicity: White: 83.0% Black: 7.4% Hispanic/Latino: 12.7% American Indian: 1.4% Asian: 5.4% Two or more races: 2.8%

Religion: Christian: 74%; Non-Christian Faiths: 5%; Unaffiliated: 20%; Don’t Know: < 2%

Sex: Male: 2,864,309 (50.1%); Female: 2,852,875 (49.9%)

Age: Under-18: 23.1%; 65 and over: 16.7%. Median Age: 38.1


GDP: $349.50 Billion (26th in U.S., 2022)

Unemployment: 2.9% (2022)


Land area: 79,610 sq mi. (206,190 sq km)

Geographic center: In Crow Wing Co., 10 mi. SW of Brainerd

Number of counties: 87

Largest county by population and area: Hennepin, 1,320,307 (2010); St. Louis, 6,226 sq mi.

State forests: 58

State parks: 72

See additional census data

Tourism office

The state of Minnesota is a vibrant, diverse state with a large population and varied landscapes. Minnesota has a diverse economy with many industries, including finance and insurance, manufacturing, professional services, healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, and information technology. The state also offers a low cost of living, which makes it attractive to businesses that wish to relocate there or expand their operations in the region. With its large, educated workforce and high quality of life for both residents and visitors alike, Minnesota is an ideal destination for businesses looking to tap into a market of potential customers.

Minnesota Geography

Minnesota is the most northerly of the 48 conterminous U.S. states It is bounded by the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario to the north, by Lake Superior and the state of Wisconsin to the east, and by the states of Iowa to the south and South Dakota and North Dakota to the west.

Minnesota’s rivers flow northward via the Red and Rainy Rivers to Hudson Bay, eastward through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and southward through the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. It also consists of woodlands, prairies, and many lakes—the basis for one of the state’s nicknames, “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” though Minnesota has more than 10,000 lakes.

Minnesota People and Population

The demographics of Minnesota are diverse. Canadians and New Englanders of English, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish descent first settled in Minnesota in the early 19th century, but the first major immigrant groups in the latter half of the 19th century were Germans, Swedes, and Norwegians who logged, built railroads, farmed, and traded. It is estimated that about one in four Minnesotans come from Scandinavian origins.  Norwegian settlers moved westward, forming the major ethnic group in west-central Minnesota and the Red River valley. Swedish settlements were in places immediately north of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul). Finns settled in northeastern Minnesota, and Icelanders settled in the northwestern portion of the state. Since the 1970s, Hispanic, Asian, and African immigrants moved into the urban centers of the state. With regards to the indigenous population, they are mostly Ojibwa (or Chippewa/Anishinaabe) with half of them living in the Twin Cities area while the rest are on reservations throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota Government

The Minnesota state constitution was first adopted in 1857 and ratified by Congress at the time of statehood in 1858. In 1974 it was revised, and it has been amended several times. The constitution provides for an executive branch which has the governor, a lieutenant governor, a secretary of state, an auditor, and an attorney general. Each of these officials are elected every four years by the residents of the state.

The Minnesota legislature consists of a 67-member Senate and a 134-member House of Representatives. Senators are elected to four-year terms, and representatives serve two-year terms.

Three levels of courts constitute the Minnesota judicial system: district (county) courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. Trial court divisions include conciliation, juvenile, probate, criminal, civil, and family courts. District court judges and the seven Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor and can be reelected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan ballot.

Minnesota Economy

The economic growth of early Minnesota was closely related to the exploitation of its primary natural resources of soils, iron ore, and timber, which in turn stimulated the growth of activities as railroad building, natural resource processing, and agricultural implement manufacturing. During the late 1960s and early ’70s these began to decline, and service-related industries started to flourish. Agriculture, however, remains one of Minnesota’s major industries.

Minnesota’s earliest industries included the manufacture of agricultural implements, machinery, tools, and hardware. For example, the Twin Cities metropolitan area is home to General Mills, Inc., one of the largest food-service manufacturers in the world. Another one of the larger companies in the state is the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (3M Company), which was established in 1902.

It is estimated that three-fourths of Minnesotans are employed in the service industry. Since the late 1990s the financial, insurance, health care, high-technology, and tourism sectors have experienced growth in the Twin Cities and other areas within the states. Retail merchandise stores such as Target originate in Minnesota and provide jobs for the state. Additionally, one of the largest tourist attractions, the Mall of America (which is the largest shopping mall in the country) provides significant economic growth to the state as well.  Furthermore, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988 to generate revenue and create jobs in Minnesota’s tribal communities. Since that time, gambling has been a major source of income for the state.

Minnesota Interesting Facts

Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Health ranks high among the states in the quality of health and welfare services. The state is praised for its high standard of general medical services and providers, and extensive children’s health and welfare programs, which also makes it one of the best states to live in for people with disabilities.   The Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, has served patients from around the world since the late 1800s.

Minnesota’s ethnic diversity is also reflected in the state’s cultural life. Fairs and festivals celebrating the different ethnicities are held throughout the year.

Folk Heroes

Mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan, a figure who originated in oral folklore, was introduced to a general audience through advertising pamphlets for the Minneapolis-based Red River Lumber Company in the early 20th century by author William B. Laughead. This led to future works by Esther Shepherd, a Minnesota native, who helped popularize the folk hero across the United States. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Prince grew up in Minnesota as well.


The state of Minnesota has a deep sports history as well, especially when it comes to ice hockey. From 1967-1993 Minnesota was represented in the National Hockey League by the Minnesota North Stars, and since 2000 it has been represented by the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota also calls itself the “State of Hockey” due to its arrival from Canada in the 1880s. The Minnesota Vikings are the National Football League team of the state, with its name coming from the Scandinavian origins of many of the area’s citizens. The first intercollegiate basketball game was also played on February 9, 1895, between Hamline University and the University of Minnesota, a consequence of the presence of James Naismith, who had moved to the Twin Cities shortly after inventing the game. Professional basketball came in the form of the Minneapolis Lakers (who left for Los Angeles in 1960) and had the first star of the league in George Mikan.

Outside of professional sports, Minnesota has a tradition for college and high school sports as well.  

Minnesota History

By the time of European arrival in the 17th century, the Dakota people were living in what became Minnesota. Similar to neighboring Michigan, French fur traders were among the first Europeans to explore Minnesota.  The Ojibwe (also known as Anishinaabe or Chippewa) were migrating into Minnesota, causing tensions with the Dakota people. They are displaced other group, the Mdewakanton, from their homelands along Mille Lacs Lake. During this time period, numerous European explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet mapped the state for European knowledge.

From 1762 to 1801, the region was part of Spanish Louisiana. At the end of the American Revolutionary War, the part of the state that is east of the Mississippi River became part of the newly formed United States. Land west of the Mississippi River was acquired after Spain relinquished the area that became the Louisiana Purchase to Napoleon Bonaparte and France.  Minnesota was part of several territorial organizations between acquisition and statehood. From 1812 to 1821 it was part of the Territory of Missouri that corresponded with much of the Louisiana Purchase. It was briefly an unorganized territory (1821–1834) and was later combined with Wisconsin, Iowa and half the Dakotas to form the short-lived Territory of Michigan (1834–1836). From 1836 to 1848 Minnesota and Iowa were part of the Territory of Wisconsin. From 1838 to 1846 Minnesota west of the Mississippi River was part of the Territory of Iowa. Minnesota east of the Mississippi was part of Wisconsin until 1848. When Iowa gained statehood western Minnesota was in an Unorganized Territory again. Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849. 


It took another nine years for Minnesota to officially became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858. At the time of its founding, the population was overwhelmingly from New England that the state was called “The New England of the West.”

As a new state, this meant that treaties between the U.S. government and the native tribes formed. These treaties mostly forced the Dakota and Ojibwe off their lands and onto reservations.  These deteriorating conditions led to the Dakota War of 1862. The six-week war ended with the defeat of the eastern Dakota and 2,000 in custody, who were eventually exiled to the Crow Creek Reservation by the Great Sioux Reservation in Dakota Territory. The remaining 4,500 to 5,000 Dakota mostly fled the state into Rupert's Land in Canada. Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey subsequently declared that "the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state" and placed a bounty of $25/scalp on the heads of the eastern Dakota men. Following the war, around 400 Dakota men were tried, with 303 sentenced to death. President Abraham Lincoln reviewed each of the convictions and approved the death sentence for 39 of them. In December 1862, 38 of them were hanged.

20th Century

Heading into the 20th century, railroads, mining, farming, and logging were mainstays of Minnesota’s economy. By 1900 Minnesota mills, led by Pillsbury, Northwestern, and the Washburn-Crosby Company (which eventually became General Mills), were grinding 14.1% of the nation's grain. Industrial development and the rise of manufacturing caused the population to shift gradually from rural areas to cities during the early 20th century as people moved to places such as the Twin Cities or the Iron Range (for mining). With The Great Depression of the 1930s, Minnesota’s economy was devastated, which resulted in lower prices, job layoffs, and general unrest. This led to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs which brought economic growth to the state. The Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs around the state established some jobs for indigenous people on their reservations, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided the tribes with a mechanism of self-government.

Modern History

After World War II, industrial development quickened, especially with regards to new farming technologies. Automation made processes faster and plating became more specialized. In what became known as the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, an instructor of higher education at the University of Minnesota, contributed significantly to these new developments. Minnesota also became a center of technology following World War II. Engineering Research Associates was formed in 1946 to develop computers for the United States Navy and the federal government.

Additionally, the nonprofit Mayo Clinic, which was founded in 1864 in Rochester, grew to become one of the country's leading medical systems, and, by the 21st century, Minnesota's largest private employer. Two postwar Minnesota governors, former dentist Rudy Perpich and former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, attracted national attention for their unconventional treks into politics, but both remained popular within the state. Over the past few years Minnesota has taken center stage with regards to American racial inequality due to the 2020 protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American who was killed by Minneapolis police.

People Also Ask...

That’s everything you need to know about Minnesota, but how well do you know the other U.S. states and their geography? For the ultimate test, try out this challenge in which you identify states by their shapes: Infoplease's State Outlines Quiz.

What is the state of Minnesota known for?

The state is often called the Land of 10,000 lakes, referencing the large amount of lakes in the region. Minnesota is also famous for being the home of Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States. It is also known for its outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and winter activities.

Why does Minnesota have no tax?

Many states first implemented sales taxes during the Great Depression, which was taking a toll on public budgets. Minnesota held out largely because the Farmer-Labor governor at the time, Floyd B. Olson, objected to the tax as an unfair burden on the poor. However, in the 1960s a state tax was proposed and passed, but leaving out clothing in the taxation. The lack of taxation on clothing items continues to this day.

What is Minnesota’s crime rate?

Minnesota's violent crime rate rose from 2.8 per 1,000 people to 3.2, while property crime decreased from 21.2 per 1,000 to 20.6. Even with the increase in Minnesota's violent crime rate in 2022, the state remained below the national average.

See more on Minnesota:
Encyclopedia: Minnesota
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
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