State of North Dakota - ND

North Dakota is a Midwestern state in the United States. It is the northernmost of the Great Plains states and is the northern half of The Dakotas. During the 19th century, North Dakota was considered part of the Wild West. Formerly part of Dakota Territory (named after the Dakota tribe of Native Americans), North Dakota became the 39th state in 1889.

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 is home to natural resources including lignite coal and crude oil. In the east, the Red River of the North forms the Red River Valley. This region has rich farmland. Agriculture has long dominated the economy and culture of North Dakota.

The state capital is Bismarck. The largest city in the state is Fargo. Large public universities are located at Grand Forks and Fargo. The United States Air Force operates bases at both Minot and Grand Forks.

Main article: Geography of North Dakota
See also: List of North Dakota counties
Map of North DakotaNorth Dakota is bounded on the north by the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, on the west by Montana, on the south by South Dakota, and on the east — across the Red River of the North and the Bois de Sioux River — by Minnesota.

Western North Dakota is home to the hilly Great Plains and the Badlands. This area contains White Butte, the highest point in the state, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This region is also home to several natural resources including crude oil and lignite coal. The Missouri River flows through western North Dakota and forms Lake Sakakawea, the third largest man-made lake in the United States, at the Garrison Dam.

Central North Dakota is home to the Drift Prairie and the Missouri Plateau. This area is covered in lakes, stream valleys, and rolling hills. The Turtle Mountains can be found in the Drift Prairie area near the Canadian border. The geographic center of the North American continent is located near the city of Rugby.

Eastern North Dakota is home to the flat Red River Valley which is formed by the meadering Red River of the North, a river which — unlike most rivers — flows towards the north. The Red River Valley was once the bottom of Lake Agassiz. Today, it is very fertile agricultural land. Farms and small towns dot the landscape of eastern North Dakota. Devil's Lake, the largest natural lake in the state, is also found in the east.

There are 53 counties within North Dakota. Every incorporated place in the state of North Dakota is classified as a city. There are no villages, towns, or hamlets.

Areas under management of the National Park Service include:

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site near Williston
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora and Watford City

North Dakota is a prime example of a continental climate — it is distant from major bodies of water that would otherwise serve to moderate the weather. Because of this, the climate of North Dakota can range from sweltering heat and humidity in the summers to bitter cold in the winters. Competing warm air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and cold air masses from the Arctic regions often produce strong winds as they move in and out of the region.

In the summer, the clash of arctic and tropic systems occasionally leads to thunderstorms with the state averaging around 20-40 days of thunderstorm activity per year. Thunderstorms, when they occur can be very strong often leading to hail and sometimes tornadoes. Tornadoes are not rare in North Dakota, although they are most likely to occur in the southeast quarter of the state. In the winter, the weather tends to be more stable — cold and dry, with occasional flurries — though the constant wind can create blowing snow at any time of the season. Severe snowstorms — some of which are classified as blizzards — tend to occur late in the fall or early in the spring.

Springtime flooding is a relatively common event in the extremely flat Red River Valley. The best known and most destructive flood in eastern North Dakota was the Flood of 1997. This flood devastated much of the Red River Valley and caused unprecedented damage in the city of Grand Forks.

History of North Dakota
Prior to European contact, Native Americans inhabited North Dakota for thousands of years. The first European to reach the area was the French-Canadian trader La Vérendrye, who led an exploration party to Mandan villages about 1738. The trading arrangement between tribes was such that North Dakota tribes rarely dealt directly with Europeans. However, the native tribes were in sufficient contact that by the time of Lewis and Clark, they were at least somewhat aware of the French and then Spanish claims to their territory.

Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 1800s, when the railroads pushed through the region and aggressively marketed the land. A bill for statehood for North Dakota and South Dakota (as well as Montana and Washington) titled the Enabling Act of 1889 was passed on February 22, 1889 during the Administration of Grover Cleveland. 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. So, Harrison directed his 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 and has traditionally been deemed admitted first. This makes North Dakota the 39th state.

The territorial and early state governments were largely corrupt. Early in the 20th century, a wave of populism led by the Non Partisan League brought social reforms. The Great Depression was particularly hard on the state and came several years early with the 1920s farm crisis. The original North Dakota Capitol burned to the ground in the 1930s and was replaced by a limestone faced art deco "skyscraper" that still stands today.

The 1950s brought a round of federal construction projects, including the Garrison Dam and the Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases. There was an oil boom in the Williston basin in the 1980s, as skyrocketing petroleum prices made development profitable, driving the state population to a peak of near 700,000. Today, the population stands at around 640,000 (roughly the same population as in the 1920s).

A few years ago, it was suggested by some North Dakota state legislators that the state should change its name to merely "Dakota" in an attempt to curb outmigration and encourage business investment. Their rationale was that, by including the "North" in North Dakota, it paints a picture of isolation and bitter cold. Nothing came of this proposal.

North Dakota Population Density MapAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2005, North Dakota has an estimated population of 636,677, which is an increase of 369, or 0.1%, from the prior year and a decrease of 5,527, or 0.9%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 10,283 people (that is 40,890 births minus 30,607 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 14,881 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 3,687 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 18,568 people.

North Dakota ranks 47th of the 50 states in population, with fewer people only in Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Historical populations
Census Pop. %±


1870 2,405
1880 36,909 1435%
1890 190,983 417%
1900 319,146 67%
1910 577,056 81%
1920 646,872 12%
1930 680,845 5%
1940 641,935 -6%
1950 619,636 -3%
1960 632,446 2%
1970 617,761 -2%
1980 652,717 6%
1990 638,800 -2%
2000 642,200 1%
2005 est 636,677
Demographics of North Dakota (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 93.79% 0.85% 5.49% 0.78% 0.07%
2000 (hispanic only) 1.06% 0.05% 0.12% 0.02% 0.00%
2005 (total population) 93.19% 1.04% 5.81% 0.89% 0.06%
2005 (hispanic only) 1.47% 0.06% 0.09% 0.02% 0.00%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) -1.50% 21.17% 4.85% 14.14% -13.45%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) -1.95% 21.51% 5.62% 15.01% -12.03%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 37.78% 15.84% -28.34% -14.09% -37.04%

Most North Dakotans are of Northern European descent. The five largest ancestry groups in North Dakota are: German (43.9%), Norwegian (30.1%), Irish (7.7%), Native American (5%), Swedish (5%).

People of German ancestry are present throughout the state, especially the southern and central counties, and Scandinavians are also present throughout. A few counties have large Native American populations (principally on reservations). Individual counties in western and eastern North Dakota have the largest white, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish and Hungarian percentages of any county.

6.1% of North Dakota's population were reported as under 5, 25% under 18, and 14.7% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.1% of the population.

While it has grown slightly in recent years, the state of North Dakota has experienced a decline in population over the last 20 years. Some college graduates leave the state after their education has been completed because of what they see as a lack of employment opportunities within the state.

To encourage college graduates to remain in the state, some North Dakotans have advocated a program in which the student loans of all college graduates who reside in the state for a certain period of time following graduation would be forgiven. A smaller version of this program for some health and education graduates has been introduced with some degree of success, but a larger program that would have applied to graduates from all fields failed to pass a referendum in a state election.

Some federal politicians, including North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, have proposed "The New Homestead Act of 2005" (compare to the original United States Homestead Act of 1862) to encourage living in areas losing population through incentives such as tax breaks, but these have also made little headway.

A very large majority of North Dakotans self-identify as Christian. North Dakota has the lowest percentage of non-religious people of any state, and it also has the most churches per capita of any state.

An estimate of the religious affiliations of the people of North Dakota (source: [1] CUNY, 2001):

Christian: 86%
Protestant: 52%
Lutheran: 35%
Methodist: 7%
Baptist: 6%
Assemblies of God: 3%
Jehovah's Witnesses: 1%
Other Protestant: 1%
Roman Catholic: 30%
LDS (Mormon): 1%
Other Christian: 2%
Muslim: 2%
Buddhist: 1%
Other: 1%
Non-religious: 3%
Did Not Answer: 6%

Music of North Dakota, Cuisine of North Dakota
As most residents of North Dakota are descendants of Scandinavian and German immigrants, North Dakotans are sometimes stereotyped similarly as Minnesotans. Stereotypical traits include Lutheranism (35 percent of the state's population is Lutheran) "Minnesota nice," "hot dish" (a Midwestern term for casserole),"lutefisk" (a pungent preparation of fish from Scandinavian recipes that include soaking in lye), very close family ties (and a strong sense of duty to their families, healthy and dysfunctional alike), a strong sense of community and shared culture with many other North Dakotans instead of just with one's town or city, North Dakota often shares Minnesota's form of Upper Midwest American English (including Scandinavian-sounding words like "uff-da"), and a distinctive type of upper Midwestern accent.

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 still practiced by the Native American population of North Dakota, especially on Indian reservation land. Pow-wows and traditional Native American dancing are still found across the state.

Outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing are hobbies for many North Dakotans. Ice fishing is also popular during the winter months. Residents of North Dakota may own or visit a cabin along a lake. Weekend trips to lake cabins are common during the summer months. Popular sport fish are walleye, perch, and northern pike. The mosquito is an annoyance in North Dakota as well as neighboring states during the summer months.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that North Dakota's total state product in 2005 was $24.178 billion. Per capita personal income in 2005 was $31 395, 32nd in the nation.

North Dakota leads the nation in production of several crops. Agricultural activity is largely dependent on rainfall. Wheat (particularly the durum variety used for pasta), barley, canola, soybeans, sunflowers, and flax are present throughout the state. The wetter Red River Valley is dominated by farms, with the chief crops being sugar beets, soybeans and corn. Cattle ranches are more common in the dry southwest, though dairy ranches are more common toward the east. Honey is produced in the central part of the state. Small quantities of juneberries and grapes support a modest domestic winery industry.

The state's relatively small industrial output includes electric power, food processing, machinery, lignite mining, petroleum extraction, and tourism.

North Dakota has the only state-owned bank in the United States, the Bank of North Dakota. The bank, by law, holds all funds of all state and local government agencies in North Dakota. Its deposits are not guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation but by the state itself. The state also operates the only state-owned mill in the country, the North Dakota Mill and Elevator.

North Dakota's reputation for severe weather has been cited by many as a motivating factor behind emigration and the failure of outside industry to locate in the state, though some have found this to be a secondary factor to the overall economic situation in the state.

State income taxes are collected through 5 different tax brackets, ranging from 2.1 percent to 5.54 percent. North Dakota allows a credit for the net amount of tax paid to another state on income that is subject to tax by both North Dakota and that other state. North Dakota's sales tax rate is 5 percent. Local subdivisions are also allowed to levy a sales and use tax. This tax rate generally ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent. For the most part, personal property is exempt from property tax.

North Dakota numbered highways, List of North Dakota railroads
The major east-west highways are US 2 and Interstate 94. North Dakota Highways 5 and 200 are also significant east-west routes.

The major north-south highways are Interstate 29, US 81, US 281, US 83, and US 85.

US 52 runs northwest-southeast from Portal to Jamestown, then to Fargo via I-94. US 12 cuts across the southwest corner of the state, intersecting US 85 in Bowman.

BNSF and the Canadian Pacific Railway operate the most extensive rail systems in the state. Minor lines include the Dakota, Missouri Valley and Western Railroad and the Red River Valley and Western Railroad, mostly operating on leased branch lines BNSF and CP were to abandon.

North Dakota has 90 public airports. Scheduled passenger airline service is offered in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot, and Williston.

Law and government
John Burke, 10th Governor of North DakotaSee also: List of North Dakota Governors, List of Lieutenant Governors of North Dakota, List of United States Senators from North Dakota, List of political parties in North Dakota, List of Secretaries of State of North Dakota, List of Attorneys General of North Dakota

The current governor of North Dakota is John Hoeven (Republican). Its two current U.S. senators are Kent Conrad (Dem-NPL) and Byron Dorgan (Dem-NPL). Its congressman is Earl Pomeroy (Dem-NPL).

North Dakota has a bicameral legislature. The state elects two House Representatives and one Senator from each of 47 districts apportioned by population. The legislature meets at the North Dakota State Capitol in an 80-day regular session in odd-numbered years, and in special session if summoned by the governor. See also: North Dakota Legislative Assembly, North Dakota Senate, North Dakota House of Representatives.

The structure of North Dakota's judiciary is not terribly complex. Each of the 53 counties has a court, from which appeals are sent directly to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Because of the expense of having each county hire a judge, and the fairly low workload, the state is divided into seven judicial districts which collectively elect judges to travel to the various courthouses and hear cases.

District Judges are elected to six-year terms. Supreme Court Judges are elected to ten-year terms. The Supreme Court Chief Justice is selected every 5 years by vote of the District and Supreme Court Judges.

North Dakota's codified law is called the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC).

The major political parties in North Dakota are the Republican Party and the North Dakota Democratic NPL Party. North Dakota does have some active third parties, but none of them have had ballot status on any state office race for some time.

The Republican Party holds large majorities in the state legislature and generally wins the state's 3-member electoral college delegation. Since 1964, no Democratic presidential candidate has carried North Dakota. In 2004, George W. Bush won with 62.9% of the vote.

On the other hand, Dem-NPL candidates for North Dakota's federal Senate and Congressional seats have won every election since 1986.

Important cities and towns
cities in North Dakota

By population, the ten largest urban centers in the state are:

Fargo/West Fargo
Grand Forks
Devils Lake
Valley City
The population trends in the state are noting a distinct shift from the rural areas to the larger cities. Most of North Dakota's largest communities grew between 1990 and 2000.

Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. as a whole grew by 13.1%, yet North Dakota grew a mere 0.5%. It is the only state (along with Washington DC) whose population declined (by 1.3%) between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2003; this decline has become a major political issue.

North Dakota's leaders frequently state that the educational scene in the state is excellent. However, because the economic situation is no match for it, many skilled graduates leave the state.

Higher education
The state has 11 public colleges and universities, five tribal community colleges, and four private schools. The largest and oldest among them is the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

The higher education system consists of the following institutions:

North Dakota University System (Public schools)
Bismarck State College in Bismarck
Dickinson State University in Dickinson
Lake Region State College in Devils Lake
Mayville State University in Mayville
Minot State University in Minot
Minot State University-Bottineau in Bottineau
North Dakota State University in Fargo
North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton
University of North Dakota in Grand Forks
Valley City State University in Valley City
Williston State College in Williston
Tribal colleges
Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten
Fort Berthold Community College in New Town
Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates
Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt
United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck
Private schools
Aakers College in Fargo and Bismarck
Jamestown College in Jamestown
University of Mary in Bismarck
Trinity Bible College in Ellendale

State symbols
State bird: Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
State fish: Northern pike, Esox lucius
State horse: Nokota horse 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 (Rydb.) A. Löve
State nicknames: Roughrider State, Flickertail State, Peace Garden 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
State song: North Dakota Hymn
State dance: Square Dance
State march: Flickertail March
State beverage: Milk
State license plate: see the different types over time [2]
"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 animal was voted down in the state legislature[citation needed].

Major events

Big Iron Farm Show - West Fargo [3]
Grand Cities Art Fest - Grand Forks [4]
Norsk Høstfest - Minot [5]
North Dakota State Fair - Minot [6]
North Dakota Winter Show - Valley City [7]

Bonanzaville, USA - West Fargo [8]
Dakota Dinosaur Museum - Dickinson [9]
North Dakota Heritage Center - Bismarck [10]
Fargo Air Museum - Fargo [11]
North Dakota Museum of Art - Grand Forks [12]
Plains Art Museum - Fargo [13]
Roger Maris Museum - Fargo [14]
North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center - Washburn [15]

Alerus Center - Grand Forks [16]
Fargodome - Fargo [17]
Fargo Civic Center - Fargo [18]
Ralph Engelstad Arena - Grand Forks [19]
Golf courses

Further information: North Dakota Golf Association
Bully Pulpit Golf Course - Medora [20]
King's Walk Golf Course - Grand Forks [21]
Links of North Dakota at Red Mike Resort - Williston [22]
Tom O'Leary Golf Course - Bismarck [23]
Riverwood Golf Course - Bismarck [24]
Pebble Creek Golf Course - Bismarck [25]
Hawktree - Bismarck [26]
Apple Creek Country Club - Bismarck

4 Bears Casino - near New Town [27]
Dakota Magic Casino - near Hankinson [28]
Prairie Knights Casino - near Fort Yates [29]
Sky Dancer Casino - near Belcourt [30]
Spirit Lake Casino - near Devils Lake [31]
Various attractions

Enchanted Highway - Regent [32]
International Peace Garden - near Dunseith [33]
Lawrence Welk Homestead - Strasburg [34]
Medora Musical - Medora [35]
North Dakota Horse Park - Fargo [36]
Theodore Roosevelt National Park - near Watford City [37]

Notable North Dakotans
For a more comprehensive list, see List of people from North Dakota
Warren Christopher
Angie Dickinson
Carl Ben Eielson
Phil Jackson
Louis L'Amour
Peggy Lee
Roger Maris
Eric Sevareid
Ann Sothern
Lawrence Welk


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