SOUTH DAKOTA - STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA

Sioux Falls

South Dakota

South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of 77,116 square miles (199,730 km2) and an estimated population of just over 800,000. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of nearly 160,000, 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 the Missouri 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. The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains, is located in the southwest part of the state. The Black Hills are of great religious importance to local American Indians and the location of Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination. Other attractions in the southwest include Badlands and Wind Cave national parks, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and historic Deadwood. 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 American grassland biome.

Sioux Falls

Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, white settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads in the east. This settlement triggered a number of Indian Wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Key events in the 20th century included the Dust Bowl, increased federal spending during the 1940s and 50s, and continuing changes in agriculture. While several Democratic senators have represented South Dakota for multiple terms at the federal level, the state government is largely dominated by the Republican Party, whose nominees have carried South Dakota in each of the eleven presidential elections. Historically dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently sought to diversify its economy to attract and retain residents. However, it is still largely rural and has the fifth-lowest population density among U.S. states. South Dakota's history and rural character still strongly influence the culture of the state.
South Dakota has a rich paleontological history that includes the finding of one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever discovered and the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world, which are still being unearthed in the Black Hills. Hikers in Badlands National Park can periodically watch ongoing digs in what is considered one of the richest fossil beds in the United States.

Visitors can step back in time to the Wild West in Historic Deadwood. You can see where Wild Bill Hickok played his last hand of poker, visit the gravesites of Calamity Jane and other notable characters, and learn about the history of the gold rush in the area.

South Dakota is also abundant in water recreation. The Black Hills area is home to several lakes and streams, the Missouri River runs down the centre of the state, and north-eastern South Dakota is dotted with dozens of clear lakes. All of these bodies of water offer visitors the perfect opportunity for kayaking, fishing, boating and other water recreation.

South Dakota is home to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people, collectively known as the Great Sioux Nation. Several museums and cultural centres across the state depict the history and traditions of these nations as well as display ancient artefacts and modern artwork. Visitors may also experience this colourful culture at one of many powwows held across the state.

The early pioneers that conquered the prairies left a lasting legacy across South Dakota. Central South Dakota was the setting for the majority of the film, "Dances with Wolves," which won seven Academy Awards. In her book series, “Little House on the Prairie,” author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of her life growing up in the town of De Smet. Four of her six books were written about her family’s adventures on the prairies of South Dakota. You can tour her childhood homestead and see the places that inspired her classic books and a television series.

Luciano Mende

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