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South Dakota

South Dakota is a state in the high plains of the northern Middle West. It is named after the Lakota (Sioux) American Indian tribe. South Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889. North Dakota was admitted on the same day (see Trivia, below).

South Dakota is bordered to the north by North Dakota, to the south by Nebraska, to the east by Iowa and Minnesota, and to the west by Wyoming and Montana. It is one of the six states of the Frontier Strip.

USS South Dakota was named in honor of this state.

The state is divided into 66 counties; see: List of South Dakota counties.


Official state objects

State bird: Ring-necked Pheasant
State flower: Pasque flower
State tree: Black Hills Spruce
State nicknames: Mount Rushmore State
State slogan: "Great Faces. Great Places."
State mineral: Rose quartz
State insect: Honey bee - Apis Mellifera L.
State animal: Coyote
State soil: Houdek
State fish: Walleye
State gemstone: Fairburn agate
State dessert: Kuchen
State drink: Milk
State grass: Western wheat

Important cities

See List of cities in South Dakota, List of South Dakota counties, Governors of South Dakota

Other features

See: List of South Dakota rivers

Colleges and universities


A bill for statehood for North and South Dakota (and Montana, and Washington) was passed on February 22 1889 during the Administration of Grover Cleveland. It was left to his successor Benjamin Harrison to sign proclamations formally admitting North and South Dakota to the Union on November 2 1889. However, the rivalry between the northern and southern territories presented a dilemma: only one, upon the President's signature on the proclamation, could gain the distinction of being admitted before the other. So Harrison directed his Secretary of State James Blaine to shuffle the papers and obscure from him which he was signing first, and the priority went unrecorded.

South Dakota license plates are numbered by county, with the first digit referring to the county of origin. Such a numbering system allows one to easily determine where the vehicle was registered. Counties 1-10 are ranked, roughly, by population. 11-67 are numbered alphabetically.

Harney Peak, in the Black Hills, is the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the French Alps. More than 70,000 people hike to its 7,242 foot summit each year.

The deepest mine in the United States, the Homestake gold mine (now defunct), is in the Black Hills of South Dakota, near the town of Lead. Its shaft plunges more than 8,000 feet beneath the surface. From 1969 until 1993, it was home to the Homestake Chlorine Solar Neutrino Experiment, famous for detecting the solar neutrino problem. Currently there is pending legislation that would give the mine to the National Science Foundation for use as an underground research laboratory.

South Dakota is home to the largest indoor, naturally heated, swimming pool in the world. Evans Plunge, heated from natural mineral springs, is in Hot Springs.

The Black Hills of South Dakota was one of the sites considered for the permanent home of the United Nations.

The largest and most complete fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex ever found was uncovered near the city of Faith, in 1990. Named "Sue," the remains are over 90 percent complete.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, South Dakota's population was estimated at 764,309 people. The population density is 9.9 people per square mile.

The population of South Dakota grew from 696,004 people to 754,844 in the 90s, a 8.5% growth.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The 5 largest ancestry groups in South Dakota are German (40.7%), Norwegian (15.3%), Irish (10.4%), American Indian (8.3%), English (7.1%).

6.8% of South Dakota's population were reported as under 5, 26.8% under 18, and 14.3% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.4% of the population.

The median income for a household in the state is $35,282. The per capita income for the state is $17,562. 13.2% of the population is below the poverty line.

"Rural flight"

South Dakota, in common with five other Mid-West states (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Iowa), is feeling the brunt of falling populations. 89% of the total number of cities in those states have fewer than 3000 people; hundreds have fewer than than 1000. Between 1996 and 2004 almost half a million people, nearly half with college degrees, left the six states. "Rural flight" as it is called has led to offers of free land and tax breaks as enticements to newcomers.


The religious affiliations of the citizens of South Dakota are:

  • Protestant – 67%
  • Roman Catholic – 25%
  • Other Christian – 2%
  • Other Religions – 1%
  • Non-Religious – 4%

The three largest Protestant denominations in South Dakota are: Lutheran (30% of the total state population), Methodist (11%), Baptist (6%).

External links

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