Welcome to Minnesota
Minnesota, in the north central region of the USA, has been
dubbed the 'land of 10,000 lakes'. The poetic name of the state is
a Sioux phrase meaning 'land of sky-tinted water'. Obviously this
means Minnesota is rather wet, thanks to antediluvian glaciers
which scoured the landscape, leaving numerous basins ready to be
filled by great rivers like the Mississippi.
The result is Lake Superior, with its rocky and scenic
shoreline, as well as thousands of other small bodies of water,
linked by hiking trails, ideal for outdoor recreation like camping,
kayaking, fishing and canoeing. In wintertime the countryside
becomes a wonderland for cross country skiing, snowmobiling and dog
sledding. Pleasant harbour towns and villages hug the north shore
of Lake Superior along the scenic Highway 61 drive, that offers
breathtaking vistas on its route to the Canadian border.
The original inhabitants of this watery world were the Sioux
Indians. In the early 19th century, French pioneers penetrated the
thick forests and found a treasure-trove of furry creatures like
beavers and muskrats, which sparked a prosperous fur trade in the
region, accompanied by fishing and logging. Iron ore was then
detected in the hills, and the influx of settlers eventually drove
out the Sioux. Today the northeastern extremity of Minnesota still
remains as largely unspoilt wilderness, much as it was when the
first Europeans came across it in the 16th century.
While there are many jokes about rural Minnesotan stereotypes,
most of the population of Minnesota is urbanised, with more than
half inhabiting the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St Paul, that
occupy opposing banks on the Mississippi River. The cities reflect
the jovial culture of the roots of the early settlers, who were
largely German, Irish and Scandinavian. The Twin Cities are
renowned for their entertainment, attractions and shopping
opportunities. Minneapolis in particular is a shopper's dream with
the mighty Mall of America situated in its suburb of
Information & Facts
Minnesota experiences a continental climate with warm summers
and cold, often frigid winters. Normal daily temperatures range
from 12°F (-11°C) in January to 74°F (23°C) in July. Heavy
snowfalls occur from December to April, especially in the
northeast. Blizzards hit Minnesota twice each winter on average and
tornadoes occur mostly in the south with approximately 18 tornadoes
in the state each year, mostly in July and August.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
GMT -6 (GMT -5 from March to November).