Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state on May 11, 1858. Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the state's name comes from a Dakota word for "sky-tinted water". Those waters, together with forests, parks, and wilderness areas, offer residents and tourists a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Nearly 60% of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, industry and education, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now cleared, farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation.
Minnesota is known for its moderate to progressive politics and social policies, civic involvement, and high voter turnout. Minnesota ranks among the healthiest states, and has a highly literate population. The large majority of residents are of German or Nordic 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 the original Native American inhabitants.
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. The state is 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. With 86,943 square miles, or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the twelfth-largest state.
Minnesota endures temperature extremes characteristic of its continental climate; with cold winters and hot summers. The record high and low span is 174 degrees (from -60 to 114 degrees) Fahrenheit (span of 96C°; from -51 °C to 45 °C). Meteorological events include rain, snow, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, derechos, tornadoes, and high-velocity straight-line winds. The growing season varies from 90 days per year in the Iron Range to 160 days in southeast Minnesota near the Mississippi River, and mean average temperatures range from 37 °F (2 °C) to 49 °F (9 °C). Average summer dew points range from about 58 °F (14.4 °C) in the south to about 48 °F (8.9 °C) in the north. Depending on location, average annual precipitation ranges from 19 in (48.3 cm) to 35 in (88.9 cm), and droughts occur every 10 to 50 years.
The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: Mnisota. The root mni (also spelled mini or minne) means, "water". Mnisota can be translated as sky-tinted water or somewhat clouded water.Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. Many locations in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Falls ("waterfall"), Minneiska ("white water"), Minneota ("much water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, which is a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city".