North Dakota is a U.S. state richly seeped in history and tradition. Located in the Midwestern and northern regions of the United States, North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, along with its neighboring state, South Dakota. Named for the Native American Sioux tribe that once called the territory home – they had named themselves “Dakota,” meaning “allies” or “friends” – North Dakota is known as the Peace Garden State as well as the Flickertail State, after the region’s many flickertail ground squirrels.
North Dakota’s capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo. It borders Canada and lies at the center of the North American continent, and the tallest man-made structure in the Western Hemisphere – the KVLY Television mast – calls the state home. North Dakota has a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters.
At an area of 70,762 square miles, North Dakota is the nineteenth largest state in area, the fourth smallest by population, and the fourth most sparsely populated of the 50 states. In recent years, the state has become known for its abundance of natural resources – especially subterranean oil reserves located in the northwestern part of the state – that of which have provided a large boost to its economy, leading to a growth spurt in terms of population and the creation of jobs. North Dakota led the U.S. in job creation since 2009, with an annual growth rate of 7.32 percent. The state’s unemployment rate, as of December 2018, is at 2.7 percent, and has not reached 5 percent since 1987.
In addition to its newly-acquired reliance on oil – first discovered in the state in 1951 – North Dakota’s other great natural resource is soil, which contributes to the state’s great agricultural wealth; as a result, the state’s economy is based more heavily on farming – as well as the manufacture and distribution of farm equipment – than the economies of many other states in the country. The chief crop is wheat, and it is grown in nearly every county. Other high-profile crops that come out of North Dakota are canola, flaxseed, barley, sunflower seeds, beans, honey, lentils, oats, peas, and sugar beets.
In addition, North Dakota also boasts a great degree of mineral resources, including mass amounts of lignite coal. However, it was the discovery of oil that truly turned the fortunes of the state around, although initially the technology did not exist in the early 1950’s that would allow extensive drilling and mining of the notoriously difficult Bakken shale rock formations in the state’s western region that the oil was situated underneath. However, once hydraulic fracturing technologies emerged in the early 2000’s, North Dakota officials were able to finally take full advantage of the large oil reserves under their feet, transforming the economy of the state almost overnight.
Due in large part to recent developments in fracking and its increased ability to harvest oil, North Dakota has lower rates of unemployment than the national average, and increased job and population growth. Some estimates note that, at the current level of drilling, there is over 100 years’ worth of oil remaining in the state, ensuring that its economic good fortunes are likely to remain in place for quite some time.
North Dakota is the only state with a state-owned bank and a state-owned flour mill.
North Dakota originally began to experience mass settlement in the 1870’s, which was later than much of the United States due to the fact that railroads had not yet been adequately constructed in the region. Once the Northern Pacific Railroad began to make progress in building rail lines into the remote state in the early 1870’s, more white settlers began to migrate to the area, with many of them setting up large farms due to the extremely fertile soil. Soon wheat became a hot commodity, and the profitable sales of this crop attracted yet more settlers to the state in search of their respective fortunes. In 1870, North Dakota had a population of only 2,405 people; by 1890, this modest number had grown to well over 190,980 and counting.
Many Native American tribes called the area now known as North Dakota home before the area was settled by Europeans; the first settler to reach the state was Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye in 1738, who led an exploration and trading party to several Native American villages. Notable tribes that resided in North Dakota included the Sioux, Mandan, Hidatsa, Crow, Lakota, Santee, Yanktonai, Assiniboine, Plains Cree, Chippewas, Cheyennes, Sutaio, and many more. As the state became more and more settled by white people, a number of Native Americans entered into treaties with the emerging United States that defined the territories of specific tribes.
Upon the occasion of their admittance into the United States on November 2, 1889, a fierce rivalry developed between North and South Dakota over which state was to be the first to be admitted into the Union; however, due to the insufficient recordkeeping of the era, history has never officially recorded which state was actually admitted first, leaving the order a mystery to this very day. However, since North Dakota comes before South Dakota alphabetically, it typically appears first in any list proclaiming the order of admittance simply for that reason.
North Dakota boasts a unique set of laws governing the potential foreclosure of farm land within the confines of its borders; anti-corporate laws originally established around the time of World War 1 but still in force today, essentially prohibit a corporation or bank from owning the title of any property designated as farmland. Thus, it is almost impossible for any lending institution or mortgage company to foreclose on farmland in the state, as they are unable to take possession of the property afterwards. This law, which has been upheld by higher courts, has been contested and successfully defended many times over the years.
Another interesting fact about North Dakota is that it was one of the few states not adversely affected by the financial collapse of the housing market in the United States in the mid-2000’s, thanks to the fact that the Bank of North Dakota – which has powers on par with a Federal Reserve bank – exercised its power to limit the issuance of subprime mortgages, which allowed the state to avert the crash of housing prices.
North Dakota also has lower murder and violent crime rates than much of the United States, although in recent years the level of reported crime has risen by a significant degree; this increase has coincided with the state’s fracking-related oil boom, with officials blaming the influx of new workers into towns affected by the boom as part of the contributing factor for the subsequent increase in crime. However, despite the increase, the crime rate still remains very much below the national average.