North Dakota Geography, Population, Business and History

North Dakota is a state in the Midwest in the United States, which borders Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. The state has an area of ​​183,123 square miles with 755,393 residents (US Census, 2017). The capital is Bismarck.

The name is after the indigenous group of dakota, and means “friend, weapon trap”. The state is also called The Peace Garden State, The Sioux State and The Flickertail State, after flickertail, a land grain that is very widespread here.


North Dakota belongs to the prairie and gradually rises from 225 feet above sea level in the east to 1076 feet above sea level in the west. The most fertile part is the Red River Valley on the Minnesota border with deposits from Lake Agassiz.

The climate is extremely continental. The annual rainfall averages 430 millimeters for the entire state, the average temperature in January is between –3 and –12 °C and in July 28–31 °C, the growing season from 104 to 134 days. Only one percent of the acreage is wooded, 45 percent arable and 31 percent grazing land. To the southwest lies the North Dakota Badlands region, known for its special land formations. The geographic center of North America is near Fargo.


Of the population, 84.6 percent are considered white, 5.5 percent indigenous, 3.7 percent Hispanic, and 3.1 percent black (US Census, 2017). In 1890 and 1920, the proportion of people born outside the United States was 43 and 32 percent, respectively, but today the proportion of foreign-born is below five percent. There are a large number of Norwegians and descendants of Norwegians in North Dakota, and the traditional “Autumn Party” in Minot attracts thousands of Norwegians and Norwegians every year. In the period 1828–1955, 50 Norwegian newspapers were published in North Dakota, and it is still taught in Norwegian at the University of North Dakota and in several secondary schools.

Population growth was 0.5 per cent from 1990 to 2000. 56 percent of the population live in cities (2000). Major cities are Fargo, Grand Forks and the capital Bismarck. In Grand Forks there is a state university (1883), as is Fargo (1890). The most important denominations are Lutherans (50 percent), Catholics (33 percent), and Methodists. During the period 1918-1930, the state had a vigorous socialist movement, the Nonpartisan League, which had a majority in the state assembly and governor in the 1930s, and agricultural cooperation has also remained strong in the state later.

North Dakota sends two senators and one representative to Congress in Washington DC.


North Dakota is located in a belt that probably has the world’s largest and most mechanized agricultural areas. Livestock farming is the most important business route. North Dakota is a significant producer of barley, rye and spring wheat. In addition, flax seeds, potatoes, hay, oats and corn are grown. In the west, arable farming can only be run in the river valleys and irrigated areas, and extensive animal husbandry is used instead.

Extraction of oil and natural gas in the northwest has gradually become of great importance. Oil was first found in Tioga in 1951. The Garrison dam creates a lot of electrical power. The industry processes agricultural products and manufactures agricultural machinery. The military base for Strategic Air Command in Grand Forks is an important economic factor.


The area that is today North Dakota came to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In 1861 the territory of Dakota was created, and in 1889 it was divided into the states of North and South Dakota.

From the mid-1800s, North Dakota was one of the main areas for Norwegian immigration, and among others Sondre Norheim moved here. Drought and the depression of the 1930s hit North Dakota hard, contributing to a significant decline in the population.

North Dakota Population 2019

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