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The Dakotas
North and South Dakota in light green
North and South Dakota in light green
Country  United States of America
States  North Dakota
 South Dakota
Admission to Union November 2, 1889 (both North and South Dakota)
 • Total 147,816 sq mi (382,840 km2)
 • Total 1,670,324
 • Density 11.30002/sq mi (4.362963/km2)
Demonym(s) Dakotan

The Dakotas is a collective term for the U.S. states of North Dakota and South Dakota. It has been used historically to describe the Dakota Territory, and is still used for the collective heritage, culture, geography, fauna, sociology, economy, and cuisine among the two states.


The two states combined have a population of 1,592,657, slightly less than Idaho, ranking at 40th place. The number of inhabitants increased by 133,430 from the year before. The Dakotas have a total area of 147,878 square miles (383,177 square kilometres), which rank 4th among U.S. states, right before Montana. The two states also have a population density of 9.8 per sq. mi (3.8 per km2).

A sub-region of the Frontier Strip, the Dakotas are also within the Midwestern United States, with the western portion in the High Plains. The PBS miniseries New Perspectives on the West noted historically important areas within the Dakotas, including the Black Hills, the town of Deadwood, Fort Buford, Standing Rock Reservation and Wounded Knee. The Upper Missouri River and the Upper Missouri River Valley are important geological features in the area, as well.

The area is mostly inhabited by people of Northern European origin. 44.9% of the population are of German ancestry, 21.8% of Norwegian, and 9.6% are of Irish heritage.

Both of the Dakotas have humid continental climate, with warm to hot summers and cold to even subarctic temperatures in winter. Due to the difference in parallel altitude summer and winter temperatures differ some degrees between southern and northern areas of respective states.

  • McMacken, R. (2006) Off the Beaten Path: The Dakotas. Globe Pequot.

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