State: North Dakota – ND

Published on September 11th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


North Dakota was the 39th state to be admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889. It is located in the Upper Midwestern region of the United States. It is bordered by the two Canadian provinces to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south, and Montana to the West.

Despite the Great Recession of the 21st century, the state has bounced back with a boom in natural resources, oil especially. A rich reserve was found in the Brakken formation beneath the northwestern portion of the area. This boost in the economy has brought jobs with it, along with low unemployment and a growing population.

Today we’ll examine the geography. climate, and culture. First, let’s take a look at some key information about this place, one of the 50 U.S. States:

  • State Abbreviation: ND
  • Capital: Bismarck
  • Largest city: Fargo
  • Total area: 70,700 square miles (19th)
  • Highest point: White Butte (3.508 ft)
  • Admitted to the Union: November 2, 1889 (39th)
  • Nickname: “Peace Garden State”, “Roughrider State”, “Flickertail State.”
  • Motto: Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable
  • Time zone(s): Central UTC -6/-5 (most of the state) Mountain UTC -7/-6 (southwest)
  • State bird: Western Meadowlark
  • Fish: Northern pike
  • Horse: Nokota horse
  • Flower: Wild Prairie Rose
  • Tree: American Elm
  • Grass: Western Wheatgrass
  • State March: Flickertail March
  • Dance: Square Dance
  • Song: North Dakota Hymn

map of north dakota in the united states

ND Geography and Climate Overview

This state is located in the region of the United States known as the Great Plains. The Red River of the North is shared between here and Minnesota to the east. The Canadian provinces to the north are Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

There is a stone marker in Rugby, North Dakota which designates the “Geographic Center of the North American Continent.” The western half of the state is composed of hilly Great Plains. The north is part of the Badlands west of the Missouri River. Within these Badlands is the highest point in the state at White Butte.

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also found in this region. The north portion is also rich in fossil fuels and natural gas. Behind the Garrison Dam is Lake Sakakawea which is the third-largest man-made lake in the United States.

The central portion is divided into two areas: the Drift Prairie and the Missouri Plateau. The Red River Valley is an important area here that has rich soil as a result of being drained by the Red River. This is a major agricultural resource for that industry.

The eastern region is flat for the most part, and most of the state is covered in grasslands. The strong diversity in the terrain allows for over 2,000 species of plant life to thrive here.

The climate is classified as a continental classification. Summers are hot and winters are cold with extreme variations in temperature as a result of the inland positioning. Summers tend to be roughly subtropical and winters are cold enough to damage plants.

map of North Dakota

A Rich and Varied Culture

North Dakota is known for a strong presence of American Indians and their culture. The name “Dakota” is actually a corruption of a Sioux word “Lakota” which means “allies” or “friends.” The Lakota and Dakotah tribes originated in this area.

Native American social gatherings, known as “powwows” are still practiced regularly in the state to preserve this culture. These events were typically held in spring to celebrate the arrival of new life and the departure of the winter temperatures. These events involved singing and dancing and were celebrated by multiple tribes together at once.

Today these events welcome both Native Americans and non-Natives to join in. The United Tribes International Powwow is held each September in Bismarck. It is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the United States.

During the event, males will dress in clothing decorated with beads and colored feathers. Woman will dress in cloth and jewelry, dancing more subtly than the males. A wide variety of dancing styles are on display each year.

In the 1870’s, there was a large influx of Norwegian settlers near the Red River. Icelanders also came from Canada and settled in the same area. The town of Pembina was composed largely of Norwegian people when it was founded.

Several dishes and events of Scandinavian origin are celebrated here to this day. Many Old World folk customs have survived in this area. Techniques in weaving, silver crafting, and wood carving are still practiced. Turf-roof houses, something that originated in Iceland, are found in state parks here as well. Ethnic Norwegians represent 30.8% of the total population in the state.

Roughly 100,000 Germans migrated to the U.S. from Russia in the nineteenth century as a result of economic issues. They settled in North and South Dakota, along with Kansas and Nebraska. The south-central portion of ND became known as the “German-Russian triangle.”

All of these cultures contribute in various ways at the fine art museums in ND such as:

  • Chester Fritz Auditorium
  • Empire Arts Center
  • Fargo Theater
  • North Dakota Museum of Art
  • Plains Art Museum
  • Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra
  • Faro-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra
  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra
  • Minot Symphony Orchesta
  • Great Plains Harmony Chorus

There have been many musicians that came from this state. People ranging from the blues guitarist Jonny Lang, to the country singer Lynn Anderson, to the pop singer Peggy Lee, and big band leader Lawrence Welk.

Here you will find more churches per capita than any state. The population here is also the highest percentage of church-going people. Common outdoor activities here include hunting, fishing, ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling during the winter months. The most popular fish to catch are walleye, perch, and northern pike.

The cuisine here is also very different than in other places. A large portion of the Midwest is influenced by German dishes, but the Norwegian influences here are strong as well. This is also combined with the ethnic contribution of the Germans from Russia and the Native American presence.

In keeping with traditional Midwestern serving practices, dishes are usually served in a smorgasbord format instead of in courses. Notable dishes come from the German and Scandinavian aspects of the culture.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget to check out our list of North Dakota state facts next. You’ll be surprised how much unique information there is about this place. Thanks as always for reading and be sure to leave a comment about this state in the area below.

Printable map of North Dakota



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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