Pop. (2000) 4,919,479, a 12.4% increase since the 1990 census.
Capital, St. Paul.
Largest city, Minneapolis.Nickname, North Star State.
Motto, L'Etoile du Nord [The Star of the North].
State bird, common loon.
State flower, showy lady's slipper or pink and white lady's slipper.
State tree, red pine.
Minnesota is one of the nation's largest producers of iron ore. Methods developed to use lower-grade ores such as taconite have kept production up in spite of the depletion of once rich high-grade deposits. Granite (from St. Cloud) and sand and gravel production are also among the largest in the country. Wheat, once paramount in agriculture, has been surpassed by corn, soybeans, and livestock. The state is also a leader in the production of creamery butter, dry milk, cheese, and sweet corn.
Also of great importance to Minnesota are its waterways, which have been extensively developed near industrial centers. Locks and other improvements enable Mississippi River barge traffic to pass around the Falls of St. Anthony at Minneapolis. Duluth, at the western tip of Lake Superior, has one of the busiest inland harbors in the United States; the completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway (1959) made the city an important port for overseas trade.