Minnesota – Land of 10,000 Lakes

Minnesota is the 32nd state of the United States of America and situated in the North of the country, sharing a border with Canada. As the 12th largest state in the US, it was made up of the eastern part of the Minnesota Territory and a small part of the Wisconsin Territory in 1858. Due to its many lakes it is also called “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

The name is derived from the Dakota Sioux language and translated means something like “sky-tinted water.” Almost two thirds of the population are living in the metropolitan area of the famous Twin Cities Minneapolis and St. Paul. The first is the bigger of the two and the latter the state’s capital. Some large, internationally active companies have their headquarters in these two cities. In Bloomington, a suburb of the Twin Cities, is the largest mall in the US, the Mall of America. The Twin Cities are said to be the cultural center of the Upper Midwest. Famous museums such as the Weisman Art Museum or the Minneapolis Institute of Arts are in those two cities. In addition, professional orchestras, rich in tradition, can be found there, such as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. With 30 theaters, the Twin City have the second highest number of theaters per capita after New York City.

Minnesota offers 66 state parks and 57 state forests with a total area of approximately 16,000 square kilometers (6,177 square miles) and various nature reserves. The first state park, the Itasca State Park, was established in 1891. The two National Forests Chippewa National Forest and Superior National Forest stretch across a total area of 22,200 square kilometers (8,571 square miles). The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with a total area of more than 4,000 square kilometers (1544 square miles) and a thousand lakes are in the Superior National Forest in the northeast of Minnesota.

Minnesota's economy underwent some profound changes over the past 200 years. Once being dominated almost exclusively by agriculture, forestry and trade, the process of industrialization caused the secondary sector to grow. Especially the northwestern region around Duluth profited from local iron ore deposits. However, since the 1950`s the service sector continuously grew to be a vital portion of the GDP, a trend similar to all industrial states or countries. Today, more than 80 percent of jobs are being offered in that sector, while only less than one percent  of all jobs are  in the primary sector. Within the US, however, the state still is one of the biggest suppliers of agricultural products such as sugar beets, sweet corn and peas.

The first settlers arrived at the beginning of the 17th century. They were French fur traders. When the Ojiwbe moved further West into Minnesota later on, tensions between them and the Sioux arose. Discoverers like Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft and Joseph Nicollet traveled the state and mapped it. In 1679, influenced by an expedition, Greysolon built a fort on the shore of Lake Superior and claimed northern Minnesota as a part of France.

As a consequence of the French-Indian War, however, France had to cede the region to the British in 1763. With the Treaty of Paris and the Declaration of Independence, the region between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi became part of the Northwest Territory and thus part of the United States. Nevertheless, the area had been strongly influenced by the British until ca. 1816. With the Louisiana Purchase, the US also acquired the southern and western parts of present day Minnesota from France. The first big immigration waves of German settlers, who still make up a large portion of Minnesota's present day culture, arrived between 1860 and 1870.