The land that today makes up North Dakota became U.S.territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The region was originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, until, along with South Dakota, it was organized into the Dakota Territory in 1861. The state was very sparsely populated until the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, and finally became a state in 1889. During the run-up to statehood, there was an intense rivalry between North and South Dakota over which state would be admitted to the union first. When the time came for their formal admission, President Benjamin Harrison selected at random which bill to sign first and did not record the order in which the bills were signed, though North Dakota is traditionally listed first. The state is renowned for its scenic “badlands,” which are part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Date of Statehood: November 2, 1889

Did you know? Dakota is a Sioux Indian word that translates to "friend."

Capital: Bismarck

Population: 672,591 (2010)

Size: 70,698 square miles

Nickname(s): Peace Garden State; Flickertail State; Roughrider State; Dakota

Motto: Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable

Tree: American Elm

Flower: Wild Prairie Rose

Bird: Western Meadowlark

Interesting Facts

  • Originally conceived of in 1928 by Dr. Henry Moore of Ontario, Canada, the International Peace Garden was intended to establish a memorial to perpetual peace between Canada and the United States. Encompassing 2,339 acres within North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba, the park attracted 50,000 visitors to its grand opening and dedication on July 14, 1932.
  • Attempts to drop the word “North” and rename the state “Dakota” were defeated by the legislature in both 1947 and 1989.
  • In 1999, a teenager discovered a “dinosaur mummy” on his uncle’s ranch near Marmarth. The 67 million-year-old duck-billed hadrosaur was so well preserved that much of its bones, tendons and ligaments remained enclosed in skin.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, who once credited his time spent in the North Dakota Badlands as critical to becoming the 26th president of the United States, fostered a legacy of resource conservation that has been memorialized by the creation of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Comprised of three distinct units in western North Dakota, the park covers more than 70,000 acres.
  • The geographical center of North America—marked by a 21-foot monument constructed out of stones—lies in the town of Rugby, North Dakota.
  • Agriculture is North Dakota’s leading industry, which employed nearly 24 percent of the state’s residents in 2010. The largest producer of about a dozen crops, North Dakota supplied 90 percent of the nation’s canola and 95 percent of its flaxseed in 2010.