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North Star State, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, The Gopher State™
Minnesota is located in the Midwestern region of the United States. The twelfth-largest state by area in the U.S., it is the 21st most populous, with just over five million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The state is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", and those lakes and the other waters for which the state is named, together with state and national forests and parks, offer residents and tourists a vigorous outdoor lifestyle.
Nearly 60% of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state, often referred to as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate Minnesota", consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less-populated northern boreal forest.
The extremes of the climate contrast with the moderation of Minnesota’s people. The state is known for its moderate-to-progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. It ranks among the healthiest states by a number of measures, and has one of the most highly educated and literate populations.
Minnesota's major fine art museums include the Weisman Art Museum, the Walker Art Center, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra are full-time professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the community. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is strong, which may be attributed to the cold winters, the large population of post-secondary students, and a generally vibrant economy. The Guthrie Theater moved into a new building in 2006, boasting three stages and overlooking the Mississippi River. In the U.S., the Twin Cities' number of theater seats per capita ranks behind only New York City; with some 2.3 million theater tickets sold annually. The Minneapolis Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of theatre, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids' shows, visual art, and musicals. The summer festival consists of over 800 performances in 11 days, and is the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.
In the warmer months, these activities often involve water. Activities include water sports such as water skiing, which originated in the state, boating, canoeing, and fishing. More than 36% of Minnesotans fish, second only to Alaska.
Fishing does not cease when the lakes freeze; ice fishing has been around since the arrival of early Scandinavian immigrants. Minnesotans have learned to embrace their long, harsh winters in ice sports such as skating, hockey, curling, and broomball, and snow sports such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
State and national forests and the 71 state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. There are almost 20,000 miles (32,000 km) of snowmobile trails statewide. Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails, including the 235-mile (378 km) Superior Hiking Trail in the northeast. Many hiking and bike trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter.