2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography
|State of Minnesota|
|Largest metro area||Minneapolis-Saint Paul|
|Area||Ranked 12th in the US|
|- Total||87,014 sq mi
|- Width||250 miles (400 km)|
|- Length||400 miles (645 km)|
|- % water||8.4|
|- Latitude||43° 30′ N to 49° 23′ N|
|- Longitude||89° 29′ W to 97° 14′ W|
|Population||Ranked 21st in the US|
|- Density||61.80/sq mi
23.86/km² (31st in the US)
|- Median income||$55,914 (5th)|
|- Highest point|| Eagle Mountain
2,301 ft (701 m)
|- Mean||1,198 ft (365 m)|
|- Lowest point||Lake Superior
602 ft (183 m)
|Admission to Union||May 11, 1858 (32nd)|
|Governor||Tim Pawlenty ( R)|
|Lieutenant Governor||Carol Molnau (R)|
|U.S. Senators|| Norm Coleman ( R)
Amy Klobuchar ( DFL)
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/ -5|
Minnesota ( /ˌmɪnɨˈsoʊtə/) is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. The 12th-largest state by area in the U.S., it is the 21st most populous, with just over five million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The state is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes"; those lakes and the other waters for which the state is named, together with state and national forests and parks, offer residents and tourists a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.:
Nearly 60% of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the centre of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state, often referred to as " Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota", consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less populated northern boreal forest. The state's image of being populated by whites of Nordic and German descent has some truth, but diversity is increasing; substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants.
The state is known for its moderate-to- progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. It ranks among the healthiest states by a number of measures, and has one of the most highly educated and literate populations.
The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota language name for the Minnesota River: Mnisota. The root Mni (also spelled mini or minne) means, "water". Mnisota can be translated as sky-tinted water or somewhat clouded water. Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. Many locations in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Falls ("waterfall"), Minneiska ("white water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, which is a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city."
Minnesota is the northernmost state outside of Alaska; its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th Parallel. Minnesota is in the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest. The state shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and Wisconsin on the northeast; the remainder of the eastern border is with Wisconsin. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota are west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba are north. With 87,014 square miles (225,365 km²), or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the 12th largest state.
Geology and terrain
Minnesota contains some of the oldest rocks found on earth, gneisses some 3.6 billion years old, or 80% as old as the planet. About 2.7 billion years ago, basaltic lava poured out of cracks in the floor of the primordial ocean; the remains of this volcanic rock formed the Canadian Shield in northeast Minnesota. The roots of these volcanic mountains and the action of Precambrian seas formed the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. Following a period of volcanism 1.1 billion years ago, Minnesota's geological activity has been more subdued, with no volcanism or mountain formation, but with repeated incursions of the sea which left behind multiple strata of sedimentary rock.
In more recent times, massive ice sheets at least one kilometer thick ravaged the landscape of the state and sculpted its current terrain. The Wisconsin glaciation left 12,000 years ago. These glaciers covered all of Minnesota except the far southeast, an area characterized by steep hills and streams that cut into the bedrock. This area is known as the Driftless Zone for its absence of glacial drift. Much of the remainder of the state outside of the northeast has 50 feet (15 m) or more of glacial till left behind as the last glaciers retreated. 13,000 years ago gigantic Lake Agassiz formed in the northwest; the lake's outflow, the glacial River Warren, carved the valley of the Minnesota River, and its bottom created the fertile lands of the Red River valley. Minnesota is geologically quiet today; it experiences earthquakes infrequently, and most of them are minor.
The state's high point is Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet (701 m), which is only 13 miles (20.9 km) away from the low of 602 feet (183 m) at the shore of Lake Superior. Notwithstanding dramatic local differences in elevation, much of the state is a gently rolling peneplain.
Two continental divides meet in the northeastern part of Minnesota in rural Hibbing, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico, the St. Lawrence Seaway east to the Atlantic Ocean, or the Hudson Bay watershed to the Arctic Ocean.
The state's nickname, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, is no exaggeration; there are 11,842 lakes over 10 acres (.04 km²) in size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 962,700 acres (3,896 km²) and deepest (at 1,290 ft (390 m)) body of water in the state. Minnesota has 6,564 natural rivers and streams that cumulatively flow for 69,000 miles (111,000 km). The Mississippi River begins its journey from its headwaters at Lake Itasca and crosses the Iowa border 680 miles (1,094 km) downstream. It is joined by the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, by the St. Croix River near Hastings, by the Chippewa River at Wabasha, and by many smaller streams. The Red River, in the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz, drains the northwest part of the state northward toward Canada's Hudson Bay. Approximately 10.6 million acres (42,900 km²) of wetlands are contained within Minnesota's borders, the most of any state except Alaska.
Flora and fauna
Minnesota has four ecological provinces: Prairie Parkland in the southwestern and western parts of the state, the Eastern Broadleaf Forest ( Big Woods) in the southeast, extending in a narrowing strip to the northwestern part of the state, where it transitions into Tallgrass Aspen Parklands, and the northern Laurentian Mixed Forest, a transitional forest between the northern boreal forest and broadleaf forests to the south. These northern forests are a vast wilderness of pine and spruce trees mixed with patchy stands of birch and poplar. Much of Minnesota's northern forest has been logged, leaving only a few patches of old growth forest today in areas such as in the Chippewa National Forest and the Superior National Forest where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has some 400,000 acres (1,600 km²) of unlogged land. Although logging continues, regrowth keeps about one third of the state forested. Nearly all of Minnesota's prairies and oak savannas have been destroyed or fragmented because of farming, grazing, logging, and suburban development.
While loss of habitat has affected native animals such as the pine marten, elk, and bison, others like whitetail deer and bobcat thrive. The state has the nation's largest population of timber wolves outside Alaska, and supports healthy populations of black bear and moose. Located on the Mississippi Flyway, Minnesota hosts migratory waterfowl such as geese and ducks, and game birds such as grouse, pheasants, and turkeys. It is home to birds of prey including the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, and snowy owl. The lakes teem with the sport fish such as walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike, and streams in the southeast are populated by brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
Minnesota endures temperature extremes characteristic of its continental climate; with cold winters and hot summers, the record high and low span 174 degrees Fahrenheit (96.6 °C). Meteorological events include rain, snow, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, derechos, tornadoes, and high-velocity straight-line winds. The growing season varies from 90 days per year in the Iron Range to 160 days in southeast Minnesota near the Mississippi River, and mean average temperatures range from 36 °F (2 °C) to 49 °F (9 °C). Average summer dew points range from about 58 °F (14.4 °C) in the south to about 48 °F (8.9 °C) in the north. Depending on location, average annual precipitation ranges from 19 in (48.3 cm) to 35 in (88.9 cm), and droughts occur every 10 to 50 years.
Minnesota's first state park, Itasca State Park, was established in 1891, and is the source of the Mississippi River. Today Minnesota has 72 state parks and recreation areas, 58 state forests covering about four million acres (16,000 km²), and numerous state wildlife preserves, all managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There are 5.5 million acres (22,000 km²) in the Chippewa and Superior National Forests. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Park. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), is a 72 miles (116 km) long corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.
Before European settlement, Minnesota was populated by the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native Americans. The first Europeans were French fur traders that arrived in the 1600s. Late that century, the Ojibwe Indians migrated westward to Minnesota, causing tensions with the Sioux. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet, among others, mapped out the state.
The portion of the state east of the Mississippi River became a part of the United States at the end of the American Revolutionary War, when the Second Treaty of Paris was signed. Land west of the Mississippi River was acquired with the Louisiana Purchase, although a portion of the Red River Valley was disputed until the Treaty of 1818. In 1805, Zebulon Pike bargained with Native Americans to acquire land at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The construction of Fort Snelling followed between 1819 and 1825. Its soldiers built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls, the first of the water-powered industries around which the city of Minneapolis later grew. Meanwhile, squatters, government officials, and tourists had settled near the fort. In 1839, the Army forced them to move downriver, and they settled in the area that became St. Paul. Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849. Thousands of people had come to build farms and cut timber, and Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858.
Treaties between whites and the Dakota and Ojibwe gradually forced the natives off their lands and onto smaller reservations. As conditions deteriorated for the Dakota, tensions rose, leading to the Dakota War of 1862. The result of the six-week war was the execution of 38 Dakota—the largest mass execution in United States history—and the exile of most of the rest of the Dakota to the Crow Creek Reservation in Nebraska.
Logging and farming were mainstays of Minnesota's early economy. The sawmills at Saint Anthony Falls, and logging centers like Marine on St. Croix, Stillwater, and Winona, processed high volumes of lumber. These cities were situated on rivers that were ideal for transportation. Later, Saint Anthony Falls was tapped to provide power for flour mills. Innovations by Minneapolis millers led to the production of Minnesota "patent" flour, which commanded almost double the price of "bakers" or "clear" flour, which it replaced. By 1900, Minnesota mills, led by Pillsbury and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills), were grinding 14.1% of the nation's grain.
The state's iron-mining industry was established with the discovery of iron in the Vermilion Range and the Mesabi Range in the 1880s, and in the Cuyuna Range in the early 1900s. The ore was shipped by rail to Duluth and Two Harbors, then loaded onto ships and transported eastward over the Great Lakes.
Industrial development and the rise of manufacturing caused the population to shift gradually from rural areas to cities during the early 1900s. Nevertheless, farming remained prevalent. Minnesota's economy was hard-hit by the Great Depression, resulting in lower prices for farmers, layoffs among iron miners, and labor unrest. Compounding the adversity, western Minnesota and the Dakotas were hit by drought from 1931 to 1935. New Deal programs provided some economic turnaround. The Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs around the state established some jobs for Indians on their reservations, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided the tribes with a mechanism of self-government. This provided natives a greater voice within the state, and promoted more respect for tribal customs because religious ceremonies and native languages were no longer suppressed.
After World War II, industrial development quickened. New technology increased farm productivity through automation of feedlots for hogs and cattle, machine milking at dairy farms, and raising chickens in large buildings. Planting became more specialized with hybridization of corn and wheat, and the use of farm machinery such as tractors and combines became the norm. University of Minnesota professor Norman Borlaug contributed to these developments as part of the Green Revolution. Suburban development accelerated due to increased postwar housing demand and convenient transportation. Increased mobility, in turn, enabled more specialized jobs.
Minnesota became a centre of technology after the war. Engineering Research Associates was formed in 1946 to develop computers for the United States Navy. It later merged with Remington Rand, and then became Sperry Rand. William Norris left Sperry in 1957 to form Control Data Corporation (CDC). Cray Research was formed when Seymour Cray left CDC to form his own company. Medical device maker Medtronic also started business in the Twin Cities in 1949.
On August 1, 2007, Minnesota had the international spotlight cast on it when the I-35W bridge spanning the Mississippi river collapsed, killing 13.
Cities and towns
Saint Paul, located in east-central Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River, has been Minnesota's capital city since 1849, first as capital of the Territory of Minnesota, and then as state capital since 1858.
Saint Paul is adjacent to Minnesota's most populous city, Minneapolis; they and their suburbs are known collectively as the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the 13th largest metropolitan area in the United States and home to about 60% of the state's population (as of April 2005). The remainder of the state is known as " Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota".
Minnesota has 17 cities with populations above fifty thousand (based on 2005 estimates). In descending order they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Bloomington, Plymouth, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Coon Rapids, St. Cloud, Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Woodbury, Blaine, Lakeville, and Minnetonka.. Of these listed, only Rochester, Duluth, and St. Cloud are outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Minnesota has only 3 cities that have a population over 100,000. In descending order they are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Rochester. Of those listed only Rochester is located outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Minnesota's population continues to grow, primarily in the urban centers. The populations of metropolitan Sherburne and Scott Counties doubled between 1980 and 2000, while 40 of the state's 87 counties lost residents over the same decades.
From fewer than 6,100 people in 1850, Minnesota's population grew to over 1.75 million by 1900. Each of the next six decades saw a 15% rise in population, reaching 3.41 million in 1960. Growth then slowed, rising 11% to 3.8 million in 1970, and an average of 9% over the next three decades to 4.91 million in the 2000 census. As of July 1, 2007, the state's population was estimated at 5,197,621 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate of population change, and age and gender distributions, approximate the national average. Minnesota's growing minority groups, however, still form a significantly smaller proportion of the population than in the nation as a whole. The centre of population of Minnesota is located in Hennepin County, in the city of Rogers.
Race and ancestry
Over 75% of Minnesota's residents are of Western European descent, with the largest reported ancestries being German (38%), Norwegian (17%), Irish (12%), and Swedish (10%). As of 2006, 6.6% of residents were foreign-born, compared to 12.5% for the nation. The state has had the reputation of being relatively homogeneous, but that is changing. The Hispanic population of Minnesota is increasing rapidly, and recent immigrants have come from all over the world, including Hmong, Somalis, Vietnamese, Indians and emigrants from the former Soviet bloc.
The state's racial composition in 2006 was:
- 87.3% White (non-Hispanic);
- 4.4% Black (non-Hispanic);
- 3.8% Hispanic, a category that includes people of many races;
- 3.4% Asian/Pacific Islander;
- 1% Native American/Alaskan Native;
- 1.6% mixed race;
- 1.6% other races.
Although Christianity dominates the religious persuasion of residents, there is a long history of non-Christian faith. German-Jewish pioneers formed Saint Paul's first synagogue in 1856, and there are now appreciable numbers of adherents to Islam, Buddhism, and other traditions. But Protestantism is adhered to by the majority of Minnesotans, and Roman Catholics are the largest single denomination. A 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 32% of Minnesotans were affiliated with Protestant traditions, 21% with Evangelical Protestants, 28% with Roman Catholic, 1% each with Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Black Protestant traditions, smaller amounts for other faiths, and 13% unaffiliated. This is broadly consistent with the results of the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, which also gives detail on percentages of many individual denominations.
Once primarily a producer of raw materials, Minnesota's economy has transformed in the last 200 years to emphasize finished products and services. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of the economy is its diversity; the relative outputs of its business sectors closely match the United States as a whole. The economy of Minnesota had a gross domestic product of $234 billion in 2005. Thirty-six of the United States' top 1,000 publicly traded companies (by revenue in 2006) are headquartered in Minnesota, including Target, UnitedHealth Group, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp, and Best Buy. The second-largest privately owned U.S. company, Cargill, is headquartered in Wayzata. Minnesota's state budget is currently facing a $935 million deficit.
The per capita income in 2005 was $37,290, the tenth-highest in the nation. The three-year median household income from 2002-2004 was $55,914, ranking fifth in the U.S. and first among the 36 states not on the Atlantic coast. White families earned more income than the national average but among the population under age 18, more than 20% of Asians and Hispanics, more than 40% of African Americans and more than 40% of Native American girls in Minnesota lived in poverty.
Industry and commerce
Minnesota's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture; the city of Minneapolis grew around the flour mills powered by St. Anthony Falls. Although less than 1% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking 6th in the nation in the value of products sold. The state is the U.S.'s largest producer of sugar beets, sweet corn, and green peas for processing, and farm-raised turkeys. Forestry remains strong, including logging, pulpwood processing and paper production, and forest products manufacturing. Minnesota was famous for its soft-ore mines, which produced a significant portion of the world's iron ore for over a century. Although the high-grade ore is now depleted, taconite mining continues, using processes developed locally to save the industry. In 2004, the state produced 75% of the country's usable iron ore. The mining boom created the port of Duluth which continues to be important for shipping ore, coal, and agricultural products. The manufacturing sector now includes technology and biomedical firms in addition to the older food processors and heavy industry. The nation's first indoor shopping mall was Edina's Southdale Centre and its largest is Bloomington's Mall of America.
Minnesota is one of 42 U.S. states with its own lottery; its games include Powerball, Hot Lotto (both multi-state), and Gopher 5.
Energy use and production
The state produces ethanol fuel and is the first to mandate its use, a 10% mix ( E10) since 1997, and a 20% mix (E20) in 2013. There are more than 310 service stations supplying E85 fuel. A 2% biodiesel blend has been required in diesel fuel since 2005. As of December 2006 the state was the country's fourth-largest producer of wind power, with 895 megawatts installed and another 200 megawatts planned, much of it on the windy Buffalo Ridge in the southwest part of the state.
Minnesota has a slightly progressive income tax structure; the three brackets of state income tax rates are 5.35%, 7.05% and 7.85%. Minnesota is ranked as the 6th highest in the nation for per capita total state taxes. The sales tax in Minnesota is 6.5%, but there is no sales tax on clothing, prescription medications, some services, or food items for home consumption. The state legislature may allow municipalities to institute local sales taxes and special local taxes, such as the 0.5% supplemental sales tax in Minneapolis. Excise taxes are levied on alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. The state imposes a use tax on items purchased elsewhere but used within Minnesota. Owners of real property in Minnesota pay property tax to their county, municipality, school district, and special taxing districts.
Fine and performing arts
Minnesota's major fine art museums include the Weisman Art Museum, the Walker Art Centre, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra are full-time professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the community. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is strong, which may be attributed to the cold winters, the large population of post-secondary students, and a generally vibrant economy. The Guthrie Theatre moved into a new building in 2006, boasting three stages and overlooking the Mississippi River. In the U.S., the Twin Cities' number of theatre seats per capita ranks behind only New York City; with some 2.3 million theatre tickets sold annually. The Minnesota Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of theatre, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids' shows, visual art, and musicals. The summer festival consists of over 800 performances over 11 days in Minneapolis, and is the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.
The rigors and rewards of pioneer life on the prairie were the subject of Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag and of the Little House series of children's books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Small-town life was savaged by Sinclair Lewis in the novel Main Street, and more gently and affectionately satirized by Garrison Keillor in his tales of Lake Wobegon. St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the social insecurities and aspirations of the young city in stories such as Winter Dreams and The Ice Palace (published in Flappers and Philosophers). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was inspired by Minnesota and many places and bodies of water in the state are named in the poem.
Minnesotan musicians of many genres include soul star Prince, harmony singers The Andrews Sisters, rockabilly star Eddie Cochran, folk musician Bob Dylan, garage rock band The Castaways, pop songwriters Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Jonny Lang, and Soul Asylum. Minnesota has also produced cult favorites such as Hüsker Dü and The Replacements.
Minnesotans have made significant contributions to comedy, theatre, and film. Ole and Lena jokes are best appreciated when delivered in the accent of Scandinavian Americans. Garrison Keillor is known around the country for resurrecting old-style radio comedy with A Prairie Home Companion, which has aired since the 1970s. Local television had the satirical show The Bedtime Nooz in the 1960s, while area natives Lizz Winstead and Craig Kilborn helped create the increasingly influential Daily Show decades later. Actors from the state include Eddie Albert, Seann William Scott, Judy Garland, Jessica Lange, Jessica Biel and Winona Ryder. Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Gilliam and Mike Todd contributed to the art of film, and others brought the offbeat cult shows Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Let's Bowl to national cable from the Twin Cities.
Stereotypical Minnesotan traits include manners known as " Minnesota nice," Lutheranism, a strong sense of community and shared culture, and a distinctive Upper Midwestern accent sprinkled with Scandinavian-sounding words such as uff da. Potlucks, usually with a variety of hotdish casseroles, are popular at community functions, especially church activities. Minnesota's Scandinavian heritage makes lutefisk a traditional holiday dish. Movies like Fargo, Untamed Heart, Juno, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men, the radio show A Prairie Home Companion and the book How to Talk Minnesotan lampoon (and celebrate) Minnesotan culture, speech and mannerisms.
The Minnesota State Fair, advertised as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an icon of state culture. In a state of 5.1 million people, there were nearly 1.7 million visitors to the fair in 2006. The fair covers the variety of life in Minnesota, including fine art, science, agriculture, food preparation, 4H displays, music, the midway, and corporate merchandising. It is known for its displays of seed art, butter sculptures of dairy princesses, the birthing barn, and dozens of varieties of food on a stick, such as Pronto Pups, cheese curds, and deep fried candy bars. On a smaller scale, these attractions are also offered at the state's many county fairs.
Other large annual festivals include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Minneapolis' Aquatennial and Mill City Music Festival, Moondance Jam in Walker, and Detroit Lakes' 10,000 Lakes Festival and WE Fest.
Health and education
The people of Minnesota have a high rate of participation in outdoor activities; the state is ranked first in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise. Minnesotans have the nation's lowest premature death rate, third-lowest infant mortality rate, and the second-longest life expectancies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91% of Minnesotans have health insurance, more than in any other state. These and other measures have led one group to rank Minnesota as the second-healthiest state in the nation, and another to rank it fourth.
On 1 October 2007, Minnesota became the 17th state to enact a statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars with the enactment of Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007.
Medical care is provided by a comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, headed by two institutions with international reputations. The University of Minnesota Medical School is a highly rated teaching institution that has made a number of breakthroughs in treatment, and its research activities contribute significantly to the state's growing biotechnology industry. The Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned medical practice, is based in Rochester. Mayo and the University are partners in the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, a state-funded program that conducts research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart health, obesity, and other areas.
One of the first acts of the Minnesota Legislature when it opened in 1858 was the creation of a normal school at Winona. More recently, the state ranked 13th on the 2006–2007 Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, and is first in the percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma. More than 90% of high school seniors graduated in 2006, but about 6% of white, 28% of African American, 30% of Asian American and more than 34% of Hispanic and Native American students dropped out of school. Minnesota students earn the highest average score in the nation on the ACT exam. While Minnesota has chosen not to implement school vouchers, it is home to the first charter school.
The state supports a network of public universities and colleges, currently 32 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and five major campuses of the University of Minnesota. It is also home to more than 20 private colleges and universities, four of which rank among the top 100 liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Transportation in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Principal transportation corridors radiate from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and Duluth. The major Interstate highways are I-35, I-90, and I-94, with I-35 and I-94 passing through the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and I-90 going east-west along the southern edge of the state. In 2006, a constitutional amendment was passed that required sales and use taxes on motor vehicles to fund transportation, with at least 40% dedicated to public transit. There are nearly two dozen rail corridors in Minnesota, most of which go through Minneapolis-St. Paul or Duluth. There is water transportation along the Mississippi River system and from the ports of Lake Superior.
Minnesota's principal airport is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the headquarters and major passenger and freight hub for Northwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. Most other domestic carriers serve the airport. Large commercial jet service is provided at Duluth and Rochester, with scheduled commuter service to six smaller cities via Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines.
Amtrak's Empire Builder runs through Minnesota, making stops at Midway Station in St. Paul and five other stations. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound, Jefferson Lines, and Coach USA. Public transit in Minnesota is currently limited to bus systems in the larger cities and the Hiawatha Line light rail corridor in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Law and government
As with the federal government of the United States, power in Minnesota is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
The executive branch is headed by the governor. The current governor is Tim Pawlenty, a Republican whose first term began January 6, 2003, and who was narrowly re-elected in 2006. The current Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota is Carol Molnau, who was also the head of the Minnesota Department of Transportation until the Senate refused to confirm her appointment in February 2008. The offices of governor and lieutenant governor have four-year terms. The governor has a cabinet consisting of the leaders of various state government agencies, called commissioners. The other elected constitutional offices are secretary of state, attorney general, and state auditor.
The Minnesota Legislature is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The state has 67 districts, each covering about 60,000 people. Each district has one senator and two representatives (each district being divided into A and B sections). Senators serve for four years and representatives for two years. In the November 2006 election, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) gained 19 house seats, giving them control of the House of Representatives by 85–49. The Senate is also controlled by the DFL. In early 2008, the DFL picked up an additional seat in a special election to expand their majority to 45–22. The DFL now controls a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
Minnesota's court system has three levels. Most cases start in the district courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction. There are 272 district court judges in ten judicial districts. Appeals from the trial courts and challenges to certain governmental decisions are heard by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, consisting of sixteen judges who typically sit in three-judge panels. The seven-justice Minnesota Supreme Court hears all appeals from the Tax Court, the Worker's Compensation Court, first-degree murder convictions, and discretionary appeals from the Court of Appeals; it also has original jurisdiction over election disputes.
Two specialized courts within administrative agencies have been established: the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals, and the Tax Court, which deals with non-criminal tax cases.
Below the city and county levels of government found in the United States, Minnesota has other entities that provide governmental oversight and planning. Some actions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are coordinated by the Metropolitan Council, and many lakes and rivers are overseen by watershed districts and soil and water conservation districts.
There are seven Anishinaabe reservations and four Dakota communities in Minnesota. These communities are self-governing.
Minnesota's two United States senators are Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Amy Klobuchar. The state has eight congressional districts; they are represented by Tim Walz ( 1st district), John Kline ( 2nd), Jim Ramstad ( 3rd), Betty McCollum ( 4th), Keith Ellison ( 5th), Michele Bachmann ( 6th), Collin Peterson ( 7th), and James Oberstar ( 8th).
Federal court cases are heard in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, which holds court in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Fergus Falls. Appeals are heard by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul.
Minnesota is known for a politically active citizenry, and populism has been a longstanding force among the state's political parties. Minnesota has a consistently high voter turnout, due in part to its liberal voter registration laws, with virtually no evidence of voter fraud. In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, 77.2% of eligible Minnesotans voted—the most of any U.S. state—versus the national average of 60.93%. Previously unregistered voters can register on election day at their polls with evidence of residency.
Hubert Humphrey brought national attention to the state with his address at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. Eugene McCarthy's anti-war stance and popularity in the 1968 New Hampshire Primary likely convinced Lyndon B. Johnson to drop out of the presidential election. Minnesotans have consistently cast their Electoral College votes for Democratic presidential candidates since 1976, longer than any other state. Minnesota is the only state in the nation that did not vote for Ronald Reagan in either of his presidential runs.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have major party status in Minnesota, but its state-level "Democratic" party is actually a separate party, officially known as the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). Formed out of a 1944 alliance of the Minnesota Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties, the DFL now serves as a de-facto proxy to the federal Democratic Party, and its distinction from the Democratic Party, while still official, is now a functional technicality.
The state has had active third party movements. The Reform Party, now the Independence Party, was able to elect former mayor of Brooklyn Park and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura to the governorship in 1998. The Independence Party has received enough support to keep major party status. The Green Party, while no longer having major party status, has a large presence in municipal government, notably in Minneapolis and Duluth, where it competes directly with the DFL party for local offices. Official "Major party" status in Minnesota (which grants state funding for elections) is reserved to parties, which receive 5% or more of the state's general vote in the U.S. Presidential election. Status is revised every four years.
Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, defeating former Vice President and former U.S. Senator Walter Mondale (D-MN), who entered the race as the Democratic candidate after Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Senator Coleman was the mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota from 1994 to 2002 and served 17 years with the Minnesota Attorney General Office, holding the positions of Chief Prosecutor and Solicitor General of the State of Minnesota. In 1996, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the Democratic Party, Coleman joined the Republican Party, which more closely matched his values. In his 1997 mayoral campaign for re-election as a Republican, Coleman received 59 percent of the vote.
The state's U.S. Senate seats have generally been split since the early 1990s, and in the 108th and 109th Congresses, Minnesota's congressional delegation was split, with four representatives and one senator from each party. In the 2006 mid-term election, Democrats were elected to all state offices except for governor and lieutenant governor, where Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Carol Molnau narrowly won re-election. The DFL also posted double-digit gains in both houses of the legislature, elected Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate, and increased the party's U.S. House caucus by one. Keith Ellison (DFL) was elected as the first African American U.S. Representative from Minnesota as well as the first Muslim elected to Congress nationwide.
Sports and recreation
Minnesota has professional men's teams in all major sports. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is home to the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, and to the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball, winners of the 1987 and 1991 World Series. A new park is currently being constructed on the west side of downtown Minneapolis, which will be the home of the Minnesota Twins once completed. The Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association play in the Target Centre. The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild team reached 300 consecutive sold-out games in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Centre on January 16, 2008.
Minor league baseball is represented both by major league-sponsored teams and independent teams such as the popular St. Paul Saints.
Professional women's sports include the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Minnesota Vixen of the Women's Professional Football League, and the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women's Hockey League.
The Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota is a National Collegiate Athletic Association ( NCAA) Division I school, with sports teams competing in either the Big Ten Conference or the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Four additional schools in the state compete in NCAA Division I ice hockey: the University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State University, Bemidji State University, and Minnesota State University Mankato. There are ten NCAA Division II colleges represented by the North Central Conference and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in Minnesota, and sixteen NCAA Division III colleges represented by the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Winter Olympic Games medalists from the state include eleven of the twenty members of the gold medal 1980 ice hockey team (coached by Minnesota native Herb Brooks) and the bronze medalist U.S. men's curling team in the 2006 Winter Olympics. Swimmer Tom Malchow won an Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Summer games and a silver medal in 1996.
Grandma's Marathon is run every summer along the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, and the Twin Cities Marathon winds around lakes and the Mississippi River during the peak of the fall colour season.
Minnesotans participate in high levels of physical activity, and many of these activities are outdoors. The strong interest of Minnesotans in environmentalism has been attributed to the popularity of these pursuits.
In the warmer months, these activities often involve water. Weekend and longer trips to family cabins on Minnesota's numerous lakes are a way of life for many residents. Activities include water sports such as water skiing, which originated in the state, boating, canoeing, and fishing. More than 36% of Minnesotans fish, second only to Alaska.
Fishing does not cease when the lakes freeze; ice fishing has been around since the arrival of early Scandinavian immigrants. Minnesotans have learned to embrace their long, harsh winters in ice sports such as skating, hockey, curling, and broomball, and snow sports such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
State and national forests and the 72 state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. There are almost 20,000 miles (32,000 km) of snowmobile trails statewide. Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails, including the 235-mile (378 km) Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.
Minnesota's state symbols:
- State bird: Common Loon
- State butterfly: Monarch
- State drink: Milk
- State fish: Walleye
- State flower: Pink and white lady slipper
- State fruit: Honeycrisp apple
- State gemstone: Lake Superior agate
- State grain: Wild rice
- State motto: L'Étoile du Nord ("The Star of the North")
- State muffin: Blueberry
- State mushroom: Morel
- State photograph: Grace
- State song: " Hail! Minnesota"
- State tree: Red Pine also known as Norway Pine
- "Land of 10,000 Lakes"
- "North Star State"
- "Gopher State"
- "Land of Sky-Blue Waters"
- "Bread and Butter State"