Minnesota is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. The twelfth largest state by area in the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with just over five million residents. Known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", the state's name is the Dakota word for "water". Those waters, together with forests, parks, and wilderness areas, offer residents and tourists a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Approximately sixty percent of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods. The large majority of residents are of Nordic or German descent, but ethnic diversity has increased in recent decades. Substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants.
The state is known for its moderate to progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. It ranks among the healthiest states and has a well-educated and literate population.
Minnesota is the northernmost state apart from Alaska; its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th Parallel. It forms part of the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest. The state shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and Wisconsin on the northeast; the remainder of the eastern border is with Wisconsin. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba to the north.
- Ecology of Minnesota W
Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state.
In March 2008, The American State Litter Scorecard, presented at the American Society for Public Administration national conference, rated Minnesota along with Vermont as topmost Best states for litter/debris removals from public properties (roadways, streams, trails), resulting in an overall healthy environmental quality status.
Minnesota's first state park, Itasca State Park, was established in 1891, and is the source of the Mississippi River. Today Minnesota has 72 state parks and recreation areas, 58 state forests covering about four million acres (16,000 km²), and numerous state wildlife preserves, all managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There are 5.5 million acres (22,000 km²) in the Chippewa and Superior National Forests. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Park. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), is a 72 miles (116 km) long corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.
The state produces ethanol fuel and is the first to mandate its use, a 10% mix (E10) since 1997, and a 20% mix (E20) in 2013. There are more than 310 service stations supplying E85 fuel. A 2% biodiesel blend has been required in diesel fuel since 2005. As of December 2006 the state was the country's fourth-largest producer of wind power, with 895 megawatts installed and another 200 megawatts planned, much of it on the windy Buffalo Ridge in the southwest part of the state.
Minnesota has a growing network of hiking trails, including the 235-mile (378 km) Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.
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