South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and DakotaSioux Native American tribes. South Dakota is the 17th most extensive, but the 5th least populous and the 5th least densely populated of the50 United States. Once the southern portion of the Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously withNorth Dakota. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of about 159,000, is South Dakota's largest city.
South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The state is bisected by theMissouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as "East River" and "West River". Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state's population, and fertile soil in this area is used to grow a variety of crops. West of the Missouri, ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on tourism and defense spending. TheBlack Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains sacred to the Sioux, are located in the southwest part of the state. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is located there. South Dakota experiences a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west. The ecology of the state features species typical of a North Americangrassland biome.
Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Encroaching miners and settlers triggered a number of Indian wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Key events in the 20th century included the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, increased federal spending during the 1940s and 50s for agriculture and defense, and an industrialization of agriculture which has much reduced family farming.
While several Democratic senators have represented South Dakota for multiple terms at the federal level, the state government is largely controlled by the Republican Party, whose nominees have carried South Dakota in each of the last 12 presidential elections. Historically dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently sought to diversify its economy in areas to attract and retain residents. South Dakota's history and rural character still strongly influence the culture of the state.
South Dakota is situated in the north-central United States, and is considered a part of the Midwest by the U.S. Census Bureau; it is also part of the Great Plains region. The culture, economy, and geography of western South Dakota have more in common with the West than the Midwest. South Dakota has a total land area of 77,121 square miles (199,740 km2), making the state the 17th largest in the Union.
Harney Peak, with an elevation of 7,242 ft (2,207 m), is the state's highest point, while the shoreline of Big Stone Lake is the lowest, with an elevation of 966 ft (294 m). South Dakota is bordered to the north by North Dakota; to the south by Nebraska; to the east by Iowa andMinnesota; and to the west by Wyoming and Montana. The geographical center of the U.S. is 17 miles (27 km) west of Castle Rock in Butte County. The North American continental pole of inaccessibility is located between Allen and Kyle, 1,024 mi (1,648 km) from the nearest coastline.
The Missouri River is the largest and longest river in the state. Other major South Dakota rivers include the Cheyenne, James, Big Sioux, andWhite Rivers. Eastern South Dakota has many natural lakes, mostly created by periods of glaciation. Additionally, dams on the Missouri River create four large reservoirs: Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case, and Lewis and Clark Lake.
South Dakota contains several sites that are administered by the National Park Service. Two national parks have been established in South Dakota, both located in the southwestern part of the state. Wind Cave National Park, established in 1903 in the Black Hills, contains an extensive cave network as well as a large herd of bison. Badlands National Park was created in 1978. The park features an eroded, brightly colored landscape surrounded by semi-arid grasslands. Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills was established in 1925. The sculpture of four U.S. Presidents was carved into the mountainside by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
Other areas managed by the National Park Service include Jewel Cave National Monument near Custer, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, which features a decommissioned nuclear missile silo and a separate missile control area located several miles away, and the Missouri National Recreational River. The Crazy Horse Memorial is a large mountainside sculpture near Mt. Rushmore that is being constructed with private funds. The Mammoth Site near Hot Springs is another privately owned attraction in the Black Hills. A working paleontological dig, the site contains one of the largest concentrations of mammoth remains in the world.
Much of South Dakota's culture reflects the state's American Indian, rural, Western, and European roots. A number of annual events celebrating the state's ethnic and historical heritage take place around the state, such as Days of '76 in Deadwood, Czech Days in Tabor, and the annual St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo festivities in Sioux Falls. Many pow wows are held yearly throughout the state, and Custer State Park's Buffalo Roundup, in which volunteers on horseback gather the park's herd of around 1,500 bison, is a popular annual event.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose semi-autobiographical books center around her experiences as a child and young adult on the frontier, is one of South Dakota's best-known writers. She used her experiences growing up on a homestead near De Smet as the basis for four of her novels: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, a well-known writer in her own right, was born near De Smet in 1886. Another literary figure from the state is Black Elk, whose narration of theIndian Wars and Ghost Dance movement and thoughts on Native American religion forms the basis of the book Black Elk Speaks. The award-winning children's book author and illustrator Paul Goble has been based in the Black Hills since 1977.
South Dakota has also produced several notable artists. Harvey Dunn grew up on a homestead near Manchester in the late 19th century. While most of his career was spent as an illustrator, Dunn's most famous works, showing various scenes of frontier life, were completed near the end of his career. Oscar Howe was born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and won fame for his watercolor paintings. Howe was one of the first Native American painters to produce works heavily influenced by abstraction, as opposed to ones relying on traditional styles. Terry Redlin, originally from Watertown, is an accomplished painter of rural and wildlife scenes. Many of Redlin's works are on display at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown.
Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota, with a 2010 population of 153,888,] and a metropolitan area population of 238,122. The city, founded in 1856, is located in the southeast corner of the state. Retail, finance, and healthcare have assumed greater importance in Sioux Falls, where the economy was originally centered on agri-business and quarrying.
Rapid City, with a 2010 population of 67,956, and a metropolitan area population of 124,766, is the second-largest city in the state. It is located on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, and was founded in 1876. Rapid City's economy is largely based on tourism and defense spending, because of the close proximity of many tourist attractions in the Black Hills and Ellsworth Air Force Base.
The next eight largest cities in the state, in order of descending 2010 population, are Aberdeen (26,091), Brookings (22,056), Watertown (21,482),Mitchell (15,254), Yankton (14,454), Pierre (13,646), Huron (12,592), and Vermillion (10,571). Pierre is the state capital, and Brookings and Vermillion are the locations of the state's two largest universities (South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota, respectively). Of the ten largest cities in the state, only Rapid City is located west of the Missouri River.
As of 2006, South Dakota has a total primary and secondary school enrollment of 136,872, with 120,278 of these students being educated in the public school system. There are 703 public schools in 168 school districts, giving South Dakota the highest number of schools per capita in the United States. The current high school graduation rate is 89.9%, and the average ACT score is 21.8, slightly above the national average of 21.1. 89.8% of the adult population has earned at least a high school diploma, and 25.8% has earned a bachelor's degreeor higher. South Dakota's 2008 average public school teacher salary of $36,674, compared to a national average of $52,308, was the lowest in the nation.
The South Dakota Board of Regents, whose members are appointed by the governor, controls the six public universities in the state. South Dakota State University (SDSU), in Brookings, is the largest university in the state, with an enrollment of 11,831. The University of South Dakota(USD), in Vermillion, is the state's oldest university, and has South Dakota's only law school and medical school. South Dakota also has several private universities, the largest of which is Augustana College in Sioux Falls.
Because of its low population, South Dakota does not host any major league professional sports franchises. The state does have a number of minor league teams, all of which play in either Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Sioux Falls is currently home to four teams: the Sioux Falls Canaries (baseball), the Sioux Falls Skyforce (basketball), the Sioux Falls Stampede (hockey), and the Sioux Falls Storm (arena football). The Canaries play at Sioux Falls Stadium, while the others play at the Sioux Falls Arena. Rapid City has a hockey team named the Rapid City Rush. The Rush began their inaugural season in 2008 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Universities in South Dakota host a variety of sports programs. For many years, South Dakota was one of the only states in the country without a NCAA Division I football or basketball team. However, several years ago SDSU decided to move their teams from Division II to Division I, a move that has since been followed by the University of South Dakota. Other universities in the state compete at the NCAA's Division II or III levels, or in the NAIA.
Famous South Dakota athletes include Billy Mills, Mike Miller, Mark Ellis, Becky Hammon, Brock Lesnar, Chad Greenway, and Adam Vinatieri. Mills is from the town of Pine Ridge and competed at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, becoming the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000-meter event. Mike Miller of Mitchell played at the University of Florida, leading them to the 2000 NCAA Championship game his sophomore year and won the 2001 NBA rookie of the year award. Mark Ellis of Rapid City played for the University of Florida and is currently a second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Becky Hammon of Rapid City plays for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars. Brock Lesnar, of Webster, is a former heavy-weight champion in the UFC and WWE. Vinatieri is an NFL placekicker who grew up in Rapid City and attended SDSU.
Fishing and hunting are both popular outdoor activities in South Dakota. Fishing contributes over $170 million to South Dakota's economy, and hunting contributes over $190 million. In 2007, over 275,000 hunting licences and 175,000 fishing licences were sold in the state; around half of the hunting licences and over two-thirds of the fishing licences were purchased by South Dakotans. Popular species of game includepheasants, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and turkeys, as well as waterfowl such as Canada geese, snow geese, and mallards. Targets of anglers include walleye in the eastern glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoirs, Chinook salmon in Lake Oahe, and trout in the Black Hills.
Other sports, such as cycling and running, are also popular in the state. In 1991, the state opened the George S. Mickelson Trail, a 109-mile (175 km) rail trail in the Black Hills. Besides being used by cyclists, the trail is also the site of a portion of the annual Mount Rushmore marathon; the marathon's entire course is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Other events in the state include the Tour de Kota, a 478-mile (769 km), six-day cycling event that covers much of eastern and central South Dakota, and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws hundreds of thousands of participants from around the United States.