South Dakota Facts

South Dakota is a midwestern state with one of the smallest populations in the nation.

Although much of the state is occupied by plains, it’s also home to the Black Hills National Forest, which is the site of Mount Rushmore.

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Visitors to South Dakota can explore Native American culture, the Old West, deep underground caves, and prairie ecosystems.

There may not be a lot of people in South Dakota, but the state still offers plenty of unique attractions!

Quick Facts

Capital: Pierre

Population: 870,000

Nickname: The Mount Rushmore State

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Key Cities: Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Brookings, Pierre

Postal Abbreviation: SD

Major Industries: Agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism

History

How did South Dakota get its name: Until 1889, North and South Dakota were one territory.

The territory was named for the Dakota Indian tribe that lived in the region. Dakota is the Sioux word for “allies” or “friends.”

Date admitted to the Union: Saturday, November 2, 1889

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Geography

Size: 78,116 sq. miles

Lowest point: Big Stone Lake at 966 ft.

Highest point: Harney Peak at 7,242 ft.

Counties: 66

Famous locations: Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park

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Famous South Dakotans

Tom Brokaw- journalist/TV newscaster

Brock Lesnar- wrestler

Hubert Humphrey- vice president

Corn Palace

January Jones- actress

Chad Greenway- football player

Mary Hart- television host

Fun Facts

South Dakota is home to some interesting attractions. In Mitchell, South Dakota, you can visit the world’s only Corn Palace.

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It’s made of over 3500 bushels of corn. Clark, South Dakota hosts the famous mashed potato wrestling contest.

The most popular tourist attraction in South Dakota is Mount Rushmore, which has the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt sculpted into its surface.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum started drilling into the 6,200-foot Mount Rushmore in 1927. The project took fourteen years and one million dollars to complete.

Jefferson Mount Rushmore

South Dakota has one of the largest American Indian populations at around 60,000 people and nine tribes.

It’s the home of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota tribes, which form the Sioux Nation.

The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs in South Dakota contains the largest collection of Columbian mammoth and Woolly mammoth bones ever discovered.

To this day, the bones haven’t been touched or moved at all.

It’s the only display of fossils in the world that has been left exactly as it was found.

Silicified-Fossil

There are two sculptures carved into the Black Hills: Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Crazy Horse was a Sioux Indian chief, and his sculpture is the world’s largest at 563 feet high and 641 feet long.

It’s part of an educational and cultural memorial focused on the American Indian.

Crazy Horse sculpture
Crazy Horse monument

The black footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America, has been reintroduced in South Dakota’s Sage Creek Wilderness.

More US state facts.

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