North Dakota ( /- dəˈkoʊtə/ (listen)) 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.
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 km), 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.
The United States Census Bureau estimates North Dakota’s population was 760,077 on July 1, 2018, a 13.01% increase since the 2010 United States Census. This makes North Dakota the U.S. state with the largest percentage in population growth since 2011. The fourth least-populous state in the country, only Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming have fewer residents.
From fewer than 2,000 people in 1870, North Dakota’s population grew to near 680,000 by 1930. Growth then slowed, and the population has fluctuated slightly over the past seven decades, hitting a low of 617,761 in the 1970 census, with 642,200 in the 2000 census. Except for Native Americans, the North Dakota population has a lesser percentage of minorities than in the nation as a whole. As of 2011, 20.7% of North Dakota’s population younger than age 1 were minorities. The center of population of North Dakota is in Wells County, near Sykeston.
Note: Births in table don’t add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
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 North America’s richest farming regions. But a period of higher rainfall ended, and many migrants weren’t successful 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 gradually declined, 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 tight oil (shale oil) fields.
Elsewhere, the Native American population has increased as some reservations have attracted people back from urban areas.
North Dakota is one of the top resettlement locations for refugees proportionally. According to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, in 2013–2014 “more than 68 refugees” per 100,000 North Dakotans were settled in the state. In fiscal year 2014, 582 refugees settled in the state. Fargo Mayor Mahoney said North Dakota accepting the most refugees per capita should be celebrated given the benefits they bring to the state. In 2015, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the state’s only resettlement agency, was “awarded $458,090 in federal funding to improve refugee services.”
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. The age and gender distributions approximate the national average.
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 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:
North Dakota has the most churches per capita of any state. Additionally, North Dakota has the highest percentage of church-going population of any state.
A 2001 survey indicated 35% of North Dakota’s population was Lutheran, and 30% was Catholic. Other religious groups represented were Methodists (7%), Baptists (6%), the Assemblies of God (3%), Presbyterians (1.27%), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (1%). Christians with unstated or other denominational affiliations, including other Protestants and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), totaled 3%, bringing the total Christian population to 86%. There were an estimated 920 Muslims and 730 Jews in the state in 2000. Three percent of respondents answered “no religion” on the survey, and 6% declined to answer.
The largest church bodies by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 167,349; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 163,209; and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 22,003.
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.
North Dakota neighborhoods include: Absaraka, Alamo, Alexander, Alice, Amenia, Amidon, Ardoch, Arena, Argusville, Arnegard, Arthur, Arvilla, Ayr, Baldwin, Bathgate, Bismarck, Bowman, Braddock, Buffalo, Buffalo Springs, Cartwright, Casselton, Cavalier, Corinth, Crystal, Davenport, Drayton, Driscoll, Durbin, Edinburg, Embden, Emerado, Enderlin, Epping, Erie, Fargo, Fingal, Fordville, Forest River, Galesburg, Gardner, Gilby, Grand Forks, Grandin, Grassy Butte, Grenora, Hamilton, Harwood, Hatton, Hensel, Hickson, Hillsboro, Honeyford, Hoople, Horace, Hunter, Inkster, Johnstown, Keene, Kindred, Larimore, Leonard, Lincoln, Mandaree, Manvel, Mapleton, Marmarth, McCanna, McGregor, McKenzie, Mekinock, Menoken, Moffit, Mountain, Neche, New England, Niagara, Northwood, Orr, Oxbow, Page, Pembina, Prairie Rose, Prosper, Ray, Regan, Reiles Acres, Reynolds, Rhame, Saint Thomas, Scranton, Sterling, Thompson, Tioga, Tower City, Trenton, Wahpeton, Walhalla, Watford City, West Fargo, Wheatland, White Earth, Wildrose, Williston, Wilton, Wing, Zahl