Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome to Minnesota

Minnesota, is in the north central United States. Near the geographic center of North America, it is bordered on the north by the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, on the west by North Dakota and South Dakota, on the south by Iowa, and on the east by Wisconsin and Lake Superior. Minnesota entered the Union on May 11, 1858, as the 32nd state.
The area of Minnesota is 225,181 sq km (86,943 sq mi), of which 12,380 sq km (4,780 sq mi) is inland water and 6,594 sq km (2,546 sq mi) is a portion of Lake Superior under the state's jurisdiction. Minnesota thus ranks 12th in area among the 50 states. From north to south the state measures 653 km (406 mi), and from east to west it measures 576 km (358 mi) at its maximum extent and about 290 km (about 180 mi) at its narrowest point. The mean elevation is about 370 m (1,200 ft).
If you drive from the Canadian border on the north to the Iowa border on the south, you may think you are visiting several states and going through at least two seasons on the way.
If you start on a day in late April, you'll see snow on the ground. Around noon you'll be in central Minnesota, where the snow is gone and ice on the lakes has melted. Farther south later that afternoon, trees are full with leaves, farmers are finishing plowing, and it's spring. In a month, it will be spring in the north. You may like to check the weather map or the weather forecasts for today.
Another reason there seem to be several Minnesotas is that the state is at the crossroads of three types of terrain. Grassland plains and prairies are to the west and south, coniferous (cone-bearing) forest is to the north, and to the east is the hardwood forest, once known as the "Big Woods."

A Minnesota Poem

"Minnesota Blue" was written in 1985 by Cordell Keith Haugen as a tribute to his native state Minnesota. Mr. Haugen was born and raised in Northern Minnesota. Although he has lived most of his adult life elsewhere, the poet/songwriter continues to feel pride when he talks of the land of sky blue waters. "Minnesota was a great place to grow up, and remains a wonderful place to raise a family," he says today. "I feel a sense of pride when I read about surveys which rank the state of my childhood high in the things that really count -- like education, quality of living and concern for the environment."
This poem is not an official Minnesota symbol.
Minnesota, how I love you
Minnesota, I've been away too long
How I miss your clean fresh air, your lakes and rivers too
How I miss your Minnesota Blue
Do your golden fields of wheat and corn
Still shimmer in the early morn
Waving to the clouds as they drift by
Do moose and bear still rule the earth
In the Red River Valley of my birth
Do the Northern Lights still dance across your sky
Does the North Star still guide you
Do your farmers still provide you
With the way of life that we all learned to share
Do they still follow the Golden Rule
And dress up each week for Sunday School
Do your families still give thanks for living there
Are your skies still free of smoke and haze
Do your old folks still remember days
When your skyline was a grove of Norway pines
Does the North Wind whistle through your trees
Can you still smell wildflowers on the breeze
Do bass and pike still play with fishing lines
Do your children still walk the rails
Or discover hidden Indian trails
Do canoes glide through Minnesota streams
Can you hear the cry of the lonely loon
Do wolves still howl at your full moon
Is Viking Land still Mother Nature's dream
Do you still have dairies and rolling hills
And mines and quarries and flour mills
Do you still brew the best of America's beers
Do bobcats still cry at night
Does snow still fall so soft and white
Do icicles hang like crystal chandeliers
So many of yours have left to roam
But they still call Minnesota home
Like geese that fly above your lakes and wilds
And for every one of your million stars
There's a prairie son who's traveled far
Oh, please remember this Minnesota child.
Minnesota, how I love you
Minnesota, I've been away too long
How I miss your clean fresh air, 10,000 lakes and you

General information
Capital: St. Paul
State abbreviation/Postal code: Minn./MN
Governor: Tim Pawlenty, R (to Jan. 2011)
Lieut. Governor: Carol Molnau, R (to Jan. 2011)
Senators: Amy Klobuchar, D (to Jan. 2013); Al Franken, D (to Jan. 2015)
U.S. Representatives: 8
Historical biographies of Congressional members
Secy. of State: Mark Ritchie, D (to Jan. 2011)
Atty. General: Lori Swanson, D (to Jan. 2011)
State Auditor: Rebecca Otto, D (to Jan. 2011)
Organized as territory: March 3, 1849
Entered Union (rank): May 11, 1858 (32)
Present constitution adopted: 1858
Motto: L'√Čtoile du Nord (The North Star)
State symbols:
flower lady slipper (1902)
tree red (or Norway) pine (1953)
bird common loon (also called great northern diver) (1961)
song “Hail Minnesota” (1945)
fish walleye (1965)
mushroom morel (1984)
Nicknames: North Star State; Gopher State; Land of 10,000 Lakes
Origin of name: From a Dakota Indian word meaning “sky-tinted water”
10 largest cities (2005 est.): Minneapolis, 372,811; St. Paul, 275,150; Rochester, 94,950; Duluth, 84,896; Bloomington, 81,164; Plymouth, 69,701; Brooklyn Park, 68,550; St. Cloud, 65,792; Eagan, 63,665; Coon Rapids, 62,417
Land area: 79,610 sq mi. (206,190 sq km)
Geographic center: In Crow Wing Co., 10 mi. SW of Brainerd
Number of counties: 87
Largest county by population and area: Hennepin, 1,119,364 (2005); St. Louis, 6,226 sq mi.
State forests: 58 (nearly 4 million ac.)
State parks: 72
Residents: Minnesotan
2005 resident population est.: 5,132,799