North Dakota is the 18th largest state, but in population it ranked 47th in 2000, with 641,481 people. Its population density was just 3.6 persons per sq km (9.2 per sq mi). In 1930 the state had 681,000 inhabitants, but the population then declined to 620,000 in 1950. The population grew by about 2 percent in the 1950s, then fell 2 percent in the 1960s. From 1970 to 1980 the population grew by 5.7 percent, only to fall again by 2.1 percent between 1980 and 1990. It grew by just 0.5 percent between 1990 and 2000. In 2000 only 56 percent of North Dakotans were classified as urban dwellers. The rural population has dropped markedly, however, since 1950 and undoubtedly will continue to do so as farmers seek employment in the cities.
Some of North Dakota’s cities have shown sharp population increases. Bismarck more than doubled in population between 1950 and 1990.
North Dakota has three standard metropolitan statistical areas. The Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area, which extends into Minnesota, had a 2006 population of 187,000. The Grand Forks metropolitan area, which also extends into Minnesota, had a population of 96,500. The Bismarck metropolitan area had a population of 101,100. The city of Fargo by itself had 90,056 inhabitants in 2006.
Bismarck, with 58,333 people, Grand Forks, with 50,372, and Minot, with 34,745, were the only other large cities. Most of North Dakota’s cities are important railroad junctions and therefore serve as supply centers for their regions. Fargo and Grand Forks are university cities, as well as trade and commercial centers, and Minot has a large state college. Bismarck, the capital, is the administrative center of the state and also a major commercial center.
Bismarck grew up as a natural transportation junction because the Missouri River could easily be crossed at that site.
The ancestors of many North Dakotans emigrated from Norway, Germany, Russia, and Canada. In 2000 whites comprised the largest share of the population, representing 92.4 percent of the people. Native Americans, many of whom were of the Ojibwa and Sioux peoples, were 4.9 percent of the population; blacks were 0.6 percent, Asians were 0.6 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 1.5 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 230. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 1.2 percent of the population. "North Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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