Minnesota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. The 12th-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"; 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 variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
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 state's image of being populated by whites of Nordic and German descent has some truth, but diversity is increasing; substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants.
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.