North Dakota is a U.S. state in the midwestern and northern regions of the United States. It is the nineteenth largest in area, the fourth smallest by population, and the fourth most sparsely populated of the 50 states. North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, along with its neighboring state, South Dakota. Its capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo.
In the 21st century, North Dakota’s natural resources have played a major role in its economic performance, particularly with the oil extraction from the Bakken formation, which lies beneath the northwestern part of the state. Such development has led to population growth and reduced unemployment, resulting in North Dakota having the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation, behind only Hawaii.
North Dakota contains the tallest man-made structure in the Western Hemisphere, the KVLY-TV mast.
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North Dakota is a Midwestern state of the United States. It borders Canada and lies at the center of the North American continent. The geographic center of North America is near the town of Rugby. Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota, and Fargo is the largest city.
Soil is North Dakota’s most precious resource. It is the base of the state’s great agricultural wealth. North Dakota also has enormous mineral resources. These mineral resources include billions of tons of lignite coal. In addition, North Dakota has large oil reserves. Petroleum was discovered in the state in 1951 and quickly became one of North Dakota’s most valuable mineral resources. In the early 2000’s, the emergence of hydraulic fracturing technologies enabled mining companies to extract huge amounts of oil from the Bakken shale rock formation in the western part of the state.
North Dakota’s economy is based more heavily on farming than the economies of most other states. Many North Dakota factories process farm products or manufacture farm equipment. Many of the state’s merchants also rely on agriculture.
Farms and ranches cover nearly all of North Dakota. They stretch from the flat Red River Valley in the east, across rolling plains, to the rugged Badlands in the west. The chief crop, wheat, is grown in nearly every county. North Dakota harvests more than 90 percent of the nation’s canola and flaxseed. It is also the country’s top producer of barley and sunflower seeds and a leader in the production of beans, honey, lentils, oats, peas, and sugar beets.
Few white settlers came to the North Dakota region before the 1870’s because railroads had not yet entered the area. During the early 1870’s, the Northern Pacific Railroad began to push across the Dakota Territory. Large-scale farming also began during the 1870’s. Eastern corporations and some families established huge wheat farms covering large areas of land in the Red River Valley. The farms made such enormous profits they were called bonanza farms. White settlers, attracted by the success of the bonanza farms, flocked to North Dakota, rapidly increasing the territory’s population. In 1870, North Dakota had 2,405 people. By 1890, the population had grown to 190,983.
North Dakota was named for the Sioux people who once lived in the territory. The Sioux called themselves Dakota or Lakota, meaning allies or friends. One of North Dakota’s nicknames is the Peace Garden State. This nickname honors the International Peace Garden, which lies on the state’s border with Manitoba, Canada. North Dakota is also called the Flickertail State because of the many flickertail ground squirrels that live in the central part of the state.
North Dakota is in the U.S. region known as the Great Plains. The state shares the Red River of the North with Minnesota to 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 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 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 artificial 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.