North Dakota facts

State of North Dakota
Flag of North Dakota State seal of North Dakota
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): Peace Garden State,
Roughrider State, Flickertail State
Motto(s): Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable
Map of the United States with North Dakota highlighted
Demonym North Dakotan
Capital Bismarck
Largest city Fargo
Largest metro Fargo metropolitan area
Area Ranked 19th
 - Total 70,698 sq mi
(183,108 km2)
 - Width 335 miles (539 km)
 - Length 211 miles (340 km)
 - % water 2.4
 - Latitude 45° 56′ N to 49° 00′ N
 - Longitude 96° 33′ W to 104° 03′ W
Number of people Ranked 47th
 - Total 757,952 (2016 est)
 - Density 11.70/sq mi  (3.83/km2)
Ranked 47th
 - Average income $57,415 (25th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point White Butte
3,508 ft (1069 m)
 - Average 1,900 ft  (580 m)
 - Lowest point Red River of the North at Manitoba border
751 ft (229 m)
Became part of the U.S. November 2, 1889 (39th)
Governor Doug Burgum (R)
U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R)
Heidi Heitkamp (D)
U.S. House delegation Kevin Cramer (R) (list)
Time zones  
 - most of state Central: UTC -6/-5
 - southwest Mountain: UTC -7/-6
Abbreviations ND, N.D., N.Dak., Nodak US-ND
Website www.nd.gov
North Dakota State symbols
Flag of North Dakota.svg
The Flag of North Dakota.

Seal of North Dakota.svg
The Seal of North Dakota.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Western meadowlark
Fish Northern pike
Flower(s) Wild prairie rose
Grass Western wheatgrass
Insect Western honeybee
Mammal(s) Nokota horse
Tree American Elm

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Fossil Teredo petrified wood
Song(s) "North Dakota Hymn"
Other Chokecherry (state fruit)

Route marker(s)
North Dakota Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of North Dakota
Released in 2006

Lists of United States state insignia

North Dakota is the 39th state of the United States, having been admitted to the union on November 2, 1889.

It is located in the Upper Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south, and Montana to the west. The state capital is Bismarck, and the largest city is Fargo.

North Dakota weathered the Great Recession of the early 21st century with a boom in natural resources, particularly a boom in oil extraction from the Bakken formation, which lies beneath the northwestern part of the state. The development has driven strong job and population growth, and low unemployment.

Geography

Western North Dakota
View of western North Dakota
MooseND
Moose in North Dakota.
Thro canyon
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

North Dakota is located in the U.S. region known as 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 to the north. North Dakota is situated near the middle of North America with a stone marker in Rugby, North Dakota marking the "Geographic Center of the North American Continent". With an area of 70,762 square miles (183,273 km2), North Dakota is the 19th largest state.

The western half of the state consists of the hilly Great Plains as well as the northern part of the Badlands, which are to the west of the Missouri River. The state's high point, White Butte at 3,506 feet (1,069 m), and Theodore Roosevelt National Park are located in the Badlands. The region is abundant in fossil fuels including natural gas, 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. 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.

Eastern North Dakota is overall flat; however, there are significant hills and buttes in western North Dakota. Most of the state is covered in grassland; crops cover most of eastern North Dakota but become increasingly sparse in the center and farther west. Natural trees in North Dakota are found usually where there is good drainage, such as the ravines and valley near the Pembina Gorge and Killdeer Mountains, the Turtle Mountains, the hills around Devil's Lake, in the dunes area of McHenry County in central North Dakota, and along the Sheyenne Valley slopes and the Sheyenne delta. This diverse terrain supports nearly 2,000 species of plants. The state of North Dakota is home to the geographical center of North America located near Rugby, North Dakota

Climate

North Dakota has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The temperature differences are rather extreme because of its far inland position and being in the center of the Northern Hemisphere, with roughly equal distances to the North Pole and the Equator. As such, summers are almost subtropical in nature, but winters are cold enough to ensure plant hardiness is very low.

History

Native American peoples lived in what is now North Dakota for thousands of years before the coming of Europeans. Their tribes included the Mandan people, the Dakota people and the Yanktonai: the latter two from the Lakota peoples. The first European to reach the area was the French-Canadian trader Pierre Gaultier, sieur de La Vérendrye, who led an exploration party to Mandan villages in 1738.

In 1762 the region became part of Spanish Louisiana until 1802.

Dakota Territory was settled sparsely by European Americans until the late 19th century, when the railroads were constructed into the region. An omnibus 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. His successor, Benjamin Harrison, signed the proclamations formally admitting North Dakota 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, thus no one knows which of the Dakotas was admitted first. 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.

Unrest among wheat farmers, especially among Norwegian immigrants, led to a populist political movement centered in the Non Partisan League ("NPL") around the time of World War I, during which it ran candidates on the Republican ticket (yet merging into the Democratic Party after World War II). It tried to insulate North Dakota from the power of out-of-state banks and corporations. In addition to founding the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and North Dakota Mill and Elevator (both still in existence), the NPL established a state-owned railroad line (later sold to the Soo Line Railroad). Anti-corporate laws were passed that virtually prohibited a corporation or bank from owning title to land zoned as farmland. These laws, still in force today, after having been upheld by both state and federal courts, make it almost impossible to foreclose on farmland, as even after foreclosure, the property title cannot be held by a bank or mortgage company. Furthermore, the Bank of North Dakota, having powers similar to a Federal Reserve branch bank, exercised its power to limit the issuance of subprime mortgages and their collateralization in the form of derivative instruments, and so prevented a collapse of housing prices within the state in the wake of 2008's financial crisis.

The original North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck burned to the ground on December 28, 1930. It was replaced by a limestone-faced art deco skyscraper that still stands today. A round of federal investment and 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 late 1970s and early 1980s, as rising petroleum prices made development profitable. This boom came to an end after petroleum prices declined.

In recent years the state has had a strong economy, with unemployment lower than the national average and strong job and population growth. Much of the growth has been based on development of the Bakken oil fields in the western part of the state. Estimates as to the remaining amount of oil vary, with some estimating over 100 years worth of oil remaining in the area.

Demographics

Population

North Dakota population map
North Dakota population density

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of North Dakota was 757,952 on July 1, 2016.

Immigration

North Dakota is one of the top resettlement locations for refugees proportionally.

Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 3,323 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 21,110 people. Of the residents of North Dakota, 69.8% were born in North Dakota, 27.2% were born in a different state, 0.6% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 2.4% were born in another country.

Except for Native Americans, the North Dakota population has a lesser percentage of minorities than in the nation as a whole. The center of population of North Dakota is located in Wells County, near Sykeston.

Migration

Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, North Dakota, along with most of the midwest, experienced a mass influx of newcomers, from both the eastern United States and immigrants from Europe. North Dakota was a known popular destination for immigrant farmers and general laborers and their families, mostly from Norway, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom. Much of this settlement gravitated throughout the western side of the Red River Valley, as was similarly seen in South Dakota and in a parallel manner in Minnesota. This area is well known for its fertile lands. By the outbreak of the First World War, this was among the richest farming regions in North America. But a period with higher rainfall than usual ended, and many migrants found themselves unable to make a success in the arid conditions. Many family plots were too small to farm successfully.

From the 1930s until the end of the 20th century, North Dakota's population had a gradual decline, interrupted by a couple of brief increases. Young adults with university degrees were particularly likely to leave the state. With the advancing process of mechanization of agricultural practices, and environmental conditions requiring larger landholdings for successful agriculture, subsistence farming proved to be too risky for families. Many people moved to urban areas for jobs.

Since the late 20th century, one of the major causes of migration from North Dakota is the lack of skilled jobs for college graduates. Expansion of economic development programs has been urged to create skilled and high-tech jobs, but the effectiveness of such programs has been open to debate. During the first decade of the 21st century, the population increased in large part because of jobs in the oil industry related to development of shale-oil fields.

Elsewhere, the Native American population has increased as some reservations have attracted people back from urban areas.

Languages

In 2010, 94.86% (584,496) of North Dakotans over 5 years old spoke English as their primary language. 5.14% (31,684) of North Dakotans spoke a language other than English. 1.39% (8,593) spoke German, 1.37% (8,432) spoke Spanish, and 0.30% (1,847) spoke Norwegian. Other languages spoken included Serbo-Croatian (0.19%), Chinese and Japanese (both 0.15%), and Native American languages and French (both 0.13%).

In 2000, 2.5% of the population spoke German in addition to English, reflecting early 20th century immigration.

Racial and ancestry groups

According to the 2010 Census, the racial and ethnic composition of North Dakota was as follows:

Throughout the mid-19th century, Dakota Territory was still dominated by Native Americans. Warfare and disease reduced their population at the same time that Europeans and Americans were settling in the state.

In the 21st century, most North Dakotans are of Northern European descent. As of 2009, the seven largest European ancestry groups in North Dakota are:

  • German: 47.2% (305,322)
  • Norwegian: 30.8% (199,154)
  • Irish: 7.7% (49,892)
  • Swedish: 4.7% (30,194)
  • Russian: 4.1% (26,642)
  • French: 4.1% (26,320)
  • English: 3.9% (25,331)
  • Hispanic or Latino (of any racial groups): 2.0%

Economy

Agriculture is North Dakota's largest industry, although petroleum, food processing, and technology are also major industries.

North Dakota is 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. These were established by the NPL before World War II.

Fargo is home to the second-largest campus of Microsoft with 1,700 employees, and Amazon.com employs several hundred in Grand Forks.

Agriculture

State Mill, Grand Forks, ND 1915
North Dakota Mill and Elevator postcard, ca. 1922

The state is the largest producer in the U.S. of many cereal grains, including barley (36% of U.S. crop), durum wheat (58%), hard red spring wheat (48%), oats (17%), and combined wheat of all types (15%). It is the second leading producer of buckwheat (20%). As of 2007, corn became the state's largest crop produced, although it is only 2% of total U.S. production.

The state is the leading producer of many oilseeds, including 92% of the U.S. canola crop, 94% of flax seed, 53% of sunflower seeds, 18% of safflower seeds, and 62% of mustard seed. Canola is suited to the cold winters and it matures fast. Processing of canola for oil production produces canola meal as a by-product. The by-product is a high-protein animal feed.

Soybeans are also an increasingly important crop, with 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) additional planted between 2002 and 2007. Soybeans are a major crop in the eastern part of the state, and cultivation is common in the southeast part of the state. Soybeans were not grown at all in North Dakota in the 1940s, but the crop has become especially common since 1998. In North Dakota soybeans have to mature fast, because of the comparatively short growing season. Soybeans are grown for livestock feed.

North Dakota is the second leading producer of sugarbeets, which are grown mostly in the Red River Valley. The state is also the largest producer of honey, dry edible peas and beans, lentils, and the third-largest producer of potatoes.

Energy

Oil Pump North Dakota
Oil well in western North Dakota

The energy industry is a major contributor to the economy. North Dakota has both coal and oil reserves. Shale gas is also produced. Lignite coal reserves in Western North Dakota are used to generate about 90% of the electricity consumed, and electricity is also exported to nearby states. North Dakota has the second largest lignite coal production in the U.S. However, lignite coal is the lowest grade coal. There are larger and higher grade coal reserves (anthracite, bituminous coal and subbituminous coal) in other U.S. states.

The Great Plains region, which includes the state of North Dakota, has been referred to as "the Saudi Arabia of wind energy." Development of wind energy in North Dakota has been cost effective because the state has large rural expanses and wind speeds seldom go below 10 mph.

Tourism

North Dakota is considered the least visited state, owing, in part, to its not having a major tourist attraction. Nonetheless, tourism is North Dakota's third largest industry, contributing more than $3 billion into the state's economy annually. Outdoor attractions like the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail and activities like fishing and hunting attract visitors. The state is known for the Lewis & Clark Trail and being the winter camp of the Corps of Discovery. Areas popular with visitors include Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the western part of the state. The park often exceeds 475,000 visitors each year.

Regular events in the state that attract tourists include Norsk Høstfest in Minot, billed as North America's largest Scandinavian festival; the Medora Musical; and the North Dakota State Fair. The state also receives a significant number of visitors from the neighboring Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, particularly when the exchange rate is favorable.

Culture

American Indian Nations

Kane Métis Buffalo Hunt
Paul Kane witnessed and participated in the annual bison hunt of the Métis in June 1846 on the prairies in Dakota.

In the 21st century, North Dakota has an increasing population of Native Americans, who in 2010 made up 5.44% of the population. By the early 19th century the territory was dominated by Siouan-speaking peoples, whose territory stretched west from the Great Lakes area. The word "Dakota" is a Sioux (Lakota/Dakota) word meaning "allies" or "friends".

The primary historic tribal nations in or around North Dakota, consist of the Lakota and the Dakota ("The Great Sioux Nation" or "Oceti Sakowin," meaning the seven council fires), the Blackfoot, the Cheyenne, the Chippewa (known as Ojibwe in Canada), and the Mandan. The federally recognized tribes have Indian reservations in the state, where as sovereign nations and enjoy a political status higher than the state of North Dakota.

Pow wows

Social gatherings known as "powwows" (or wacipis in Lakota/Dakota) continue to be an important aspect of Native American culture, and are held regularly throughout the state. Throughout Native American history, powwows were held, usually in the spring, to rejoice at the beginning of new life and the end of the winter cold. These events brought Native American tribes together for singing and dancing and allowed them to meet up with old friends and acquaintances, as well as to make new ones. Many powwows also held religious significance for some tribes. Today, powwows are still a part of the Native American culture, and are attended by Native and non-Natives alike. In North Dakota, the United Tribes International Powwow, held each September in the capital of Bismarck, is one of the largest powwows in the United States.

A pow wow is an occasion for parades and Native American dancers in regalia, with many dancing styles presented. It is traditional for male dancers to wear regalia decorated with beads, quills and eagle feathers; male grass dancers wear colorful fringe regalia; and male fancy dancers wear brightly colored feathers. Female dancers dance much more subtly than the male dancers. Fancy female dancers wear cloth, beaded moccasins and jewelry, while the jingle dress dancer wears a dress made of metal cones. Inter-tribal dances during the pow wow, allow everyone (even spectators) can take part in the dancing.

Norwegian and Icelandic influences

Hultstrand61
Norwegian settlers in front of their sod house in North Dakota in 1898

Around 1870 many European immigrants from Norway settled in North Dakota's northeastern corner, especially near the Red River. Icelanders also arrived from Canada. Pembina was a town of many Norwegians when it was founded; they worked on family farms. They started Lutheran churches and schools, greatly outnumbering other denominations in the area. This group has unique foods such as lefse and lutefisk. The continent's largest Scandinavian event, Norsk Høstfest, is celebrated each September in Minot. The Icelandic State Park in Pembina County and an annual Icelandic festival reflect immigrants from that country, who are also descended from Scandinavians.

Old World folk customs have persisted for decades in North Dakota, with revival of techniques in weaving, silver crafting, and wood carving. Traditional turf-roof houses are displayed in parks; this style originated in Iceland. A stave church is a landmark in Minot. Ethnic Norwegians constitute nearly one-third or 32.3% of Minot's total population and 30.8% of North Dakota's total population.

Germans from Russia

Ethnic Germans who had settled in Russia for several generations grew dissatisfied in the nineteenth century because of economic problems and because of the revocation of religious freedoms for Mennonites and Hutterites. About 100,000 immigrated to the U.S. by 1900, settling primarily in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska. The south-central part of North Dakota became known as "the German-Russian triangle". By 1910, about 60,000 ethnic Germans from Russia lived in Central North Dakota. They were Lutherans and Roman Catholics who had kept many German customs of the time when their ancestors immigrated to Russia. They were committed to agriculture. Traditional iron cemetery grave markers are a famous art form practiced by ethnic Germans.

Fine and performing arts

North Dakota's major fine art museums and venues include the Chester Fritz Auditorium, Empire Arts Center, the Fargo Theatre, North Dakota Museum of Art, and the Plains Art Museum. The Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Minot Symphony Orchestra and Great Plains Harmony Chorus are full-time professional and semi-professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the community.

Cuisine

A larger summer sausage.
A large summer sausage.

The Cuisine of North Dakota differs from average Midwestern cuisine in a number of ways.[how?] Though much of the Midwest has strong German influences, North Dakota also has strong influence from Norway as well as the many ethnic Germans from Russia who settled there. There is also a strong Native American influence on the cuisine of North Dakota.

As in the Midwest as a whole, meals are typically served in a smorgasbord format rather than as courses.

Churches throughout the state commonly host annual fellowship dinners open to the community. Perhaps one of the largest authentic Norwegian dinners is the annual Lutefisk Dinner hosted by the First Lutheran Church, Williston, North Dakota, every February.

The largest Scandinavian Festival in North America is the annual Norsk Høstfest held every October, in Minot, North Dakota. This five-day cultural event features Scandinavian dishes (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland), but does accommodate those who are not fond of lutefisk by providing hundreds of choices of ethnic foods.

Notable dishes

German influenced:

  • Kuchen
  • Summer sausage
  • Fleischkuekle
  • Knoephla

Norwegian influenced:

  • Lefse
  • Krumkake
  • Lutefisk
  • Raspeball/Komle/Klubb/Potato Dumplings

Entertainment

North Dakotan musicians of many genres include blues guitarist Jonny Lang, country music singer Lynn Anderson, jazz and traditional pop singer and songwriter Peggy Lee, big band leader Lawrence Welk, and pop singer Bobby Vee.

Popular culture

Outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing are hobbies for many North Dakotans. Ice fishing, skiing, 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.

The western terminus of the North Country National Scenic Trail is located on Lake Sakakawea, where it abuts the Lewis and Clark Trail.

Transportation

NDI94
Interstate 94 in North Dakota, near Gladstone.

The major Interstate highways are Interstate 29 and Interstate 94, with I-29 and I-94 meeting at Fargo, with I-29 oriented north to south along the eastern edge of the state, and I-94 bisecting the state from east to west between Minnesota and Montana.

A unique feature of the North Dakota Interstate Highway system, is that virtually all of it is paved in concrete, rather than blacktop, because of the extreme weather conditions it must endure.

The largest rail systems in the state are operated by BNSF and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Many branch lines formerly used by BNSF and Canadian Pacific Railway are now operated by the Dakota, Missouri Valley and Western Railroad and the Red River Valley and Western Railroad.

North Dakota's principal airports are the Hector International Airport (FAR) in Fargo, Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), Bismarck Municipal Airport (BIS), Minot International Airport (MOT) and Sloulin Field International Airport (ISN) in Williston.

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 includes daily fixed-route bus systems in Fargo, Bismarck-Mandan, Grand Forks, and Minot, paratransit service in 57 communities, along with multi-county rural transit systems.

Major cities

See also: List of cities in North Dakota
Fargo North Dakota
Downtown Fargo in 2007
2009-0521-ND-StateCapitol
North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and is the economic hub for the region. 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. Minot is a city in northern North Dakota and is home of the North Dakota State Fair and Norsk Høstfest. Located a few miles west of Bismarck on the west side of the Missouri River, the city of Mandan was named for the Mandan Indians who inhabited the area at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. New Salem is the site of the world's largest statue of a holstein cow; the world's largest statue of a bison is in Jamestown.

Grand Forks and Devils Lake are located in scenic areas of North Dakota. West Fargo, the fifth largest city in North Dakota, is one of the fastest growing cities. and was recognized as a Playful City USA by the KaBOOM! Foundation in 2011. Williston is located near the confluence of the Missouri River and the Yellowstone River near Montana. Medora in the North Dakota Badlands hosts the Medora Musical every summer and is the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Fort Yates, located along the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation claims to host the final resting place of Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull (Mobridge, South Dakota also claims his gravesite).

State symbols

Rosa arkansana
The wild prairie rose
State bird: western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
State fish: northern pike, Esox lucius
State horse: Nokota horse
State flower: wild prairie rose, Rosa arkansana
State tree: American elm, Ulmus americana
State fossil: teredo petrified wood
State grass: western wheatgrass, Pascopyrum smithii
State nicknames: Roughrider State, Flickertail State, Peace Garden State, Sioux state.
State mottos:
(Great Seal of North Dakota) Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable
(Coat of arms of North Dakota) Strength from the Soil
(Latin Motto of North Dakota, effective August 1, 2011) Serit ut alteri saeclo prosit (One sows for the benefit of another age.)
State slogan: Legendary
State song: "North Dakota Hymn"
State dance: square dance
State fruit: chokecherry
State march: "Flickertail March"
State beverage: milk
State art museum: North Dakota Museum of Art
State license plate: see the different types over time

"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.

Images


North Dakota Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.