Minnesota is a state in the midwestern and northern regions of the United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory. The state has a large number of lakes, and is known by the slogan "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Its official motto is L'Étoile du Nord (French: Star of the North).
Minnesota is known for its progressive political orientation and its high rate of civic participation and voter turnout. Until European settlement, Minnesota was inhabited by the Dakota and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of European settlers entered the state who had mainly emigrated from Scandinavia and Germany. The state remains today a center of Scandinavian American and German American culture. In recent decades, immigration from Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America has broadened its historic demographic and cultural composition. Minnesota's standard of living index is among the highest in the United States, and the state is also among the best-educated and wealthiest in the nation.
The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: The river got its name from one of two words in the Dakota language, 'Mní sóta' which means "clear blue water", or 'Mnißota', which means cloudy water. Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. Many places in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Falls ("curling water" or waterfall), Minneiska ("white water"), Minneota ("much water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, a combination of mni and polis, the Greek word for "city".
Minnesota is the 12th largest in area and the 21st most populous of the U.S. states; nearly 60 percent of its residents live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area (known as the "Twin Cities"), the center of transportation, business, industry, education, and government 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 partially cleared, farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation.