Today is D-day for the A-Z Challenge, and since I live in North Dakota, I thought it might be fun to give you a little insight into what it's like to live in the country's (almost) least populated state.
Total population: (about) 672,000
Entered the union: 1889 (acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase)
State tree: American Elm
State Bird: Mosquito (ha! - not really. That's more like the state joke).
State Bird (really): Western Meadowlark.
State beverage (!): Milk (I would have guessed Bud Light)
State flower: Wild prairie rose.
State dance: Square dance.
North Dakota is the most rural of all the states with farms covering over 90% of its land. Recently oil exploration has been booming in the west of the state and there's an emerging wind energy industry as well. We currently have among the nation's lowest unemployment at around 3%.
Some famous names from North Dakota: Warren Christopher, Angie Dickinson, Louis L'Amour, Peggy Lee, Roger Maris, Eric Sevareid, Lawrence Welk, Sakakawea (the rest of the country pronounces it wrong).
So what's it like to live in North Dakota? Well, it's ultra-conservative here, the primary religions are Catholic and Lutheran, and people here take their religion very seriously. Hunting and gun ownership is high. And it's kind of freaky knowing that there are nuclear weapons planted all over the countryside.
As a left-leaning independent who doesn't practice any organized religion and doesn't own any guns, needless to say, I don't really fit in. I'm not native to the state...I grew up on the West Coast. However, there are pockets of more liberal thinking, mostly at the state universities.
That being said, North Dakota is a pretty cool place to live. The crime is ridiculously low and the geography is stunningly beautiful. The weather is extreme, but once you've adjusted to it, it's no big deal. It adds to the beauty. And although I disagree with the ideology most people here live by, they are, for the most part, easy to get along with. Since I've lived here I have never once locked my car or house, and I feel safe giving my kids freedoms here I never would anywhere else in the country.
So although there are some trade-offs, it's been a pretty good place to live!