South Dakota

South Dakota is one of the northwest prairie states of the United States. It covers 199,731 km². To the west are the Black Hills, to the east are the Badlands, and to the east of the state is the Coteau des Prairies. The largest city is Sioux Falls, the capital is Pierre. South Dakota is home to several Native American reservations, most notably the Lakota. The state has the third largest population of Native Americans in the United States, after Alaska and New Mexico. South Dakota is bordered by North Dakota to the north, Minnesota and Iowa to the east, Nebraska to the south, and Wyoming and Montana to the west.

With 814,180 rooms. In 2010, it is the fifth least populated state in the country - ahead of Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and the least populated, Wyoming - and, with 4.1 inhabitants/km², the fifth least densely populated, ahead of North Dakota. North, Montana, Wyoming and the less densely populated, Alaska. It was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889 as the 40th state.

Its name comes from the Lakota and Dakota (Sioux) Amerindian tribes. In its territory is Mount Rushmore (Black Hills), where the busts of four Presidents of the United States are sculpted. This enormous sculptural group is one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world, and gives the state the nickname The Mount Rushmore State.

Its territory is divided by the Missouri River, which separates it into two socially and economically distinct halves known to residents as "east of the river" and "west of the river." Agriculture has historically been its main source of wealth. It is one of the leading states in the Union in wheat production. It also has one of the largest cattle herds in the country. Dominated by an economy based on the primary sector, it has sought to diversify to attract and maintain its residents. It remains, however, mostly rural.

The region that currently forms South Dakota was one of the last areas of the continental United States to be explored and settled by Americans. In 1858, the federal government would create the Dakota Territory, which included present-day North and South Dakotas, until then part of Minnesota. It was sparsely populated until the 19th century, when the first railway lines crossed it and this encouraged agriculture. Initially, only a few large landowners dominated the territory's economy. However, the success of these landowners and the railroads attracted thousands of people to the region. On November 2, 1889, the Dakota Territory was divided into present-day North Dakota and South Dakota, and both were elevated to state status, joining the Union.



1 Sioux Falls
2 Rapid City – Capital of the Black Hills Region
3 Aberdeen
4 Pierre
5 Yankton
6 Madison
7 Canton
8 Sisseton
9 Flandreau
10 Beresford
11 Keystone – Historic gold mining town, today shaped by tourism due to its location near Mount Rushmore


Other destinations

Badlands National Park is situated near Rapid City, Pennington County in South Dakota in the US. It covers an area of 244,000 acres.

Bear Butte is a natural geologic formation in Meade Country, South Dakota. Before the arrival of white settlers Bear Butte was revered as a religious site.

Wind Cave National Park is situated near Hot Springs, SD. It protects underground cave systems as well as land that surround it.


Getting here

By plane
The entry form is filled out on the plane - remember to register on the official ESTA website at least three days before departure to avoid unpleasant surprises at customs. South Dakota is one of the relatively remote states. From Europe you will have to change trains once or twice. Flights to Rapid City depart from Dallas, Texas, for example.

By bus
The Greyhound buses run from Denver to Rapid City via Buffalo, Wyoming in about 12 hours and also to Rapid City from Chicago via Sioux Falls and the endless Great Plains in about 21 hours. During this trip you will be changing time zones, so don't be an hour too soon to celebrate.

In the street
The 90 freeway traverses all of South Dakota between Wisconsin and Buffalo, Wyoming. Don't underestimate the distances, the plains are really huge and crossing them can be very nerve wracking. Plan enough breaks and, if necessary, an overnight stay.



Having your own vehicle is strongly recommended in South Dakota, especially in the Black Hills area, as there are only a few regular bus and train connections and the locals, as in many parts of the USA, usually do not trust hitchhikers. Taxis are expensive and the distances are long. Without your own vehicle, the trip to Mount Rushmore can become a day's hike.



Until 1889

When the first European explorers arrived in the region they found the Arikara, a sedentary people who lived mainly from agriculture, and the Cheyennes, who were nomads who lived mainly from hunting. Relations between these tribes were friendly. During the 18th century, after the arrival of the first European explorers, the Lakota, from the Sioux group, settled in the region. These were not well received by the Arikara, and they clashed frequently during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The first European explorers of the area were the brothers François and Louis-Joseph Gaultier de la Vérendrye, in 1743. They buried a lead inscription, with their names, where Fort Pierre is currently located. This was discovered by chance by some children at a school in the city, in 1913. Since then, this plaque has been part of the historical collection of the South Dakota State Historical Museum.

However, several decades before the arrival of the Vérendrye, the Frenchman René Robert Cavelier claimed the entire watershed of the Mississippi-Missouri River, which included all of present-day South Dakota, and which was part of the administrative division of the French colony. from Louisiana. After the departure of the Vérendryes in 1743, there would be few Europeans in the region. Only in 1785 did the first settler of European descent (Pierre Dorion, a French-Canadian merchant and hunter) settle permanently.

In 1763, as part of the Treaty of Paris, France ceded all of its territories west of the Mississippi River to Spain, the western half of the territory known as Louisiana. Thus, much of present-day North Dakota came under Spanish control. In 1800, the Spanish ceded these territories to France. He sold all of Louisiana to the United States in 1803.

President Thomas Jefferson tasked Meriwether Lewis and William Clark with exploring the region. They began doing so in August 1804. They camped near present-day Elk Point and established friendly relations with the Native American tribes of the region. In September, they headed northeast toward present-day North Dakota. They would return once again in 1806, on the return trip to the American east coast.

Lewis and Clark described it as a region full of animals whose hides were coveted by traders (such as bison) which attracted many hunters and traders to the region. The first trading post was founded in 1817. This trading post would later become the present-day town of Fort Pierre. However, the growing European population caused Native American tribes to increasingly fear the loss of their lands. Tensions then arose between Native Americans and Americans of European descent. In 1823, the Arikara attacked an American community, massacring its inhabitants. In response, the US government sent troops. The Sioux, enemies of the Arikara, allied themselves with the American troops. The Arikara were defeated the same year and confined to reserves.

Present-day South Dakota, initially part of the Louisiana Territory, was incorporated into the Missouri Territory in 1812. In 1834, the western portion would be ceded to the Territory of Michigan, a portion that would later belong to the territories of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

It developed rapidly during the 1830s, when it was discovered that steamships were capable of circulating in the region of the Mississippi River that cuts through its territory, encouraging hunting and the fur trade in the region. Hunting was the main source of income until the 1850s. Starting in 1857, large consortiums purchased significant amounts of land. These companies divided their land into small plots that were rented to farmers willing to farm in the region. These same companies also founded various cities in the area, such as Bon Homme, Vermillion and Yankton. In 1858, the Sioux agreed to cede their lands in the southwest. The consortiums and the departure of the southwestern Sioux from the region would attract many people during the end of the decade.

In 1861, the US government created the Dakota Territory (northern part of the Louisiana Purchase). This territory incorporated what is now the Dakotas, as well as parts of present-day Montana and Wyoming. In 1863, parts of the Dakota Territory were ceded to the territories of Montana and Wyoming, leaving only the territory currently formed by both Dakotas. The Homestead Act provided plots of land at no cost to families willing to settle in the region, in an effort to encourage settlement of the still sparsely populated region.

Various conflicts between European Americans and the Sioux Native Americans occurred during the 1860s. One of these conflicts was the Red Cloud War, which occurred between 1866 and 1868. The Sioux were against the construction of roads and the presence of white Americans within the present-day Midwest, believing that such roads would interfere with their way of life. The war was marked by various surprise attacks against citadels and American troops. The Sioux attacks ended in 1868, when the federal government agreed, through the Treaty of Laramie, not to build roads and prevent the settlement of the west-central region, west of the Missouri River, making the region a gigantic Native American reservation, the Great Sioux Reservation.

The federal government violated the terms of the Treaty of Laramie in 1874, when it sent troops led by General Custer within the boundaries of the Sioux Native American reservation, heading for the Black Hills, in search of gold. Large reserves of gold were found within the boundaries of the Indian reservation between 1876 and 1877, causing a "gold rush" that attracted thousands of people from other American states and immigrants to the region. In 1872, the first railway line was inaugurated that connected the state with the rest of the country, promoting the departure of gold extracted in the region and encouraging the settlement of the population and the cultivation of land in isolated regions. It became a large producer of wheat and corn. The agricultural industry would surpass mining as the region's main source of income during the 1880s.

The violation of the Treaty of Laramie led to one of the great rebellions by the Sioux, led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. The Native Americans carried out various attacks against white settlements, but were definitively defeated in 1877 and definitively confined to small reservations.

Thanks to gold mining and agriculture and ranching, the population of the entire Dakota Territory (including the region of present-day South Dakota) began to grow rapidly. However, the railroads that had led to the rise of the wheat and mining industries, as well as the settlement of the region, began to cause border-type tensions between the northern and southern regions of the Dakota Territory. These railroads (which were transcontinental, linking the American east coast with the west coast) crossed the Dakota Territory in an east-west direction. There were no roads connecting the north of the territory with the south, and transportation between both regions was difficult. The rapid population growth of the Dakota Territory caused the territory's government and its inhabitants to begin pressuring the United States government to have the territory elevated to statehood. However, due to divisive tensions, the inhabitants of the north and south of the Dakota Territory quickly demanded that each region have its own government.

In February 1889, the US Congress divided the Dakota Territory in two. Both territories then acquired their current political borders. The rivalry between both Dakotas was such that, after approval by Congress, both Dakotas demanded to be the first to become a state, therefore, US President Benjamin Harrison (after the ratification of the US Constitution by both Dakotas) ordered the Secretary of State James Blaine to mix up both documents, thus preventing us from seeing which of the two was officially elevated first, and President Harrison always refused to say which one had signed first, so it was never known who became a first. State of the Union. Thus, on November 2, 1889, South Dakota became the 39th American state, along with North Dakota. However, the North Dakota proclamation was published first in the Statutes at Large (by the simple fact of being first in alphabetical order) and often appears that way in many documents.


1889 — Present

The same year it became a state, a Native American movement began on the state's Sioux Indian reservations. This movement called for the return of ancient traditions and ways of life among the Sioux population. They had been forced to abandon many of these traditions and lifestyles as they were confined to small reserves, becoming sedentary. The name of this move was Ghost Dance. This movement was considered a threat by the US government. Their leader, Sitting Bull, was murdered by Indian police sent to arrest him. Many of Sitting Bull's followers armed themselves and united under the leadership of Big Foot. American soldiers were sent to disarm the Sioux. However, American soldiers ended up killing nearly 300 Indians, including women, children and the elderly, in the Wound Creek Massacre. This confrontation was the last attempt at Native American resistance against the occupation of the interior of the United States by Americans of European descent.

The first decades as a state were marked by the instability of the economy and the growth of the state's population. The population had grown rapidly, during the time when the region was part of the Dakota Territory. However, a period of prolonged drought began in 1889, and lasted until 1897. Agriculture and ranching entered a period of great recession, and the state's population growth stagnated. The end of the drought period in 1897 and the increase in wheat and corn prices, as well as the establishment of new free lands for cultivation (at the expense of the Native Americans, segregating them on reservations) began a new period of great population increase and economic prosperity in the state, which would last until 1911, when a new period of drought began. The end of this period, in 1914, and the First World War, made the state prosper economically again.

The largest period of economic recession in its history began in the mid-1920s, when declining wheat and corn prices on the domestic and international markets caused large debt among farmers. Many of these, unable to pay their debts, were forced to give up their properties to banks and move to other regions. This caused the suspension of payments of countless banking establishments in the state. This recession was aggravated with the beginning of the Great Depression, in 1929, and would last until the beginning of the 1940s.

To make matters worse, the longest period of drought in its history fell on the state (from 1930 to 1940) in addition to great sand storms and swarms of grasshoppers, which caused the destruction of the agrarian industry, great misery and poverty, which made that many went to other states in search of work, drastically decreasing the state's population, which went from 692,849 inhabitants in 1930, to 642,961 in 1940. Various socioeconomic assistance programs and public constructions by the local and federal governments, They were put in place in an attempt to minimize the effects of the recession.

Between 1927 and 1941, sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted busts of four United States Presidents on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The inauguration of this gigantic sculpture, near the city of Keystone, served as a framework for the history of the United States, and turned South Dakota into a major tourist focus.

The recession of the 1930s ended in 1941, with the entry of the United States into World War II, the period of drought and the fall in prices of agricultural products in general. South Dakota once again prospered economically, selling large quantities of agricultural and livestock products to the government. The local government also adopted programs encouraging tourism and secondary industry, seeking to reduce the state's dependence on the agricultural industry, as well as the population exodus (especially of young people) to other American states. However, economic diversification was slow and gradual. Between 1944 and 1966, four large hydroelectric plants were built in the state. The importance of tourism in the economy would become increasingly greater beginning in the 1960s. A recession in the state's agricultural industry would cause a demographic decline in the 1960s, although since 1970, the state's population has experienced growth. constant, and the problem of population exodus decreased.

In 1972, large floods destroyed the Rapid City Canyon Lake dam. The waters released by the dam failure ended up killing 238 people in Rapid City. In 1973, the town of Wounded Knee would be invaded and occupied by nearly 200 armed Native Americans. Native Americans demanded that the state government pay more attention to the problems facing the state's Native American tribes. The town was occupied for 71 days, with several shootouts between the natives and military troops, and two of the Native American Protestants died. In 1980, the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to pay $105 million to the South Dakota Sioux as compensation for land confiscated by the government in the 1870s. The Sioux rejected it, and to this day They continue to request the return of their lands.

During the 1980s, South Dakota sought to become a financial center, providing tax benefits to banks interested in locating their corporate headquarters in the state. However, Delaware provided better tax benefits, and most of the banks that intended to set up shop in the state moved to Delaware. Even so, various banks (mainly small or medium-sized) established themselves in the state, making the provision of financial services the main source of income for the state since then. The manufacturing industry developed drastically during the 1990s, beginning a period of relatively large population growth, which continues to the present day.


Physical geography

It is bordered to the north by North Dakota, to the east by Minnesota and Iowa, to the south by Nebraska, and to the west by Wyoming and Montana.

The most important river is the Missouri. The Missouri and its tributaries flow through practically the entire state, with the exception of the northeast region. The state's largest lake, Lake Oahe, is man-made, formed by the Oahe Dam. Forests cover approximately 4% of the territory.

The state can be divided into four distinct geographic regions:
The Dissected Till Plains occupy the southeast. They are characterized by the presence of large amounts of glacial sediments, left by ancient glaciers. It is also characterized by its relatively flat terrain and very fertile terrain. The region's soil erodes easily, causing the region's rivers to carve very deep valleys.
The Praire Drift occupies most of the eastern region. It is characterized by its terrain covered by small flat mountains, its fertile soil and its small glacial lakes, which attract thousands of wild ducks every year.
The Great Plains cover most of South Dakota, covering the entire central region, most of the western region, and much of the eastern region of the state. It is characterized by its relatively uneven terrain, marked by the continued presence of low mountains, by its low altitude, and by its fertile soil (although less than that of Drift Praire. Badlands (regions whose soil was extensively eroded) are common. on the Great Plains of South Dakota.
Black Hills (the smallest of the four geographic regions) covers the central west, located between the Belle Fourche River and the Cheyenne River, it is a small enclave of the Great Plains. The Black Hills are characterized by being a mountainous region, with an altitude between 600 and 1200 meters. The region has rugged terrain, with various deep valleys and rock formations, and is rich in minerals such as gold, silver, copper and lead. These geographical features make the Black Hills the main tourist attraction in the state. In one of these rock formations is Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills are also home to the highest point in the state, Harney's Peak, at 2,207 meters above sea level.



Much of its territory, excluding the Black Hills, is dominated by temperate grasslands. Mammals in this area include bison, deer, antelope, coyotes, and prairie dogs. Due to its altitude and precipitation, the ecology of The Black Hills differs significantly from the plains. The mountains are densely covered by various types of pines, mostly of the ponderosa and spruce varieties.



Due to its slightly rugged terrain and distance from large bodies of water, it has large temperature variations and an unstable climate, although not as unstable as its neighbor North Dakota. It has a continental climate with four distinct seasons that range from cold and dry winters to warm and semi-humid summers. During the summer, the average high temperature across the state is often around 32°C, although it drops to 16°C at night. It is not unusual for long periods of heat and severe drought to occur during the summer, with temperatures above 38 °C several times a year. Winters are cold, with average maximum temperatures in January below 0 °C and minimum average temperatures below −12 °C) in most of the state. The lowest temperature recorded in the state was -50 °C, in McIntosh, on February 17, 1936, and the highest was 49 °C, in Usta, on July 15, 2006.

The average annual rainfall ranges from semi-arid conditions in the northwestern part of the state (around 380 mm) to semi-humid conditions in the southeastern region of the state (around 640 mm), although a small area centered on Lead, in the Black Hills, It has an average rainfall of 760 mm per year.​

In summer there are frequent, sometimes severe, thunderstorms with strong winds, thunder and hail. The eastern part of the state is often considered part of Tornado Alley, and the state experiences an average of 30 tornadoes each year. Severe weather in the form of blizzards and ice storms often occurs during the winter.


Administration and politics

The current South Dakota Constitution was adopted in 1889. Amendments to the Constitution are proposed by the Legislature, and to be approved, they require the favorable votes of at least 51% of the state Senate and House of Representatives. , and by 51% or more of the electoral population in a referendum. The state's population can also propose amendments to the state Constitution through a process known as an initiative and referendum, a petition signed by at least 4% of the state's population. If this 4% is reached, a referendum would be held, where, to be approved, it needs to have at least 51% of the votes in favor. It was the first American state to implement the initiative and referendum process. A third method to make amendments to the constitution is through holding a constitutional convention, which to be carried out, needs to be proposed by one of the Chambers of the local Legislature, and approved by 75% of the members of both Chambers, and then, by at least 51% of the state's electoral population, through holding a referendum.

The main official of the Executive Branch is the Governor. This is elected by the voters of the state for terms of up to four years in duration. A person can serve as governor as many times as he can. Other elected officials are the lieutenant-governor, the treasurer, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the commissioner of agriculture and the superintendent of education, among others, for terms of up to 4 years.

The Legislative Branch is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has a total of 35 members, while the House of Representatives has a total of 70 members. It is divided into 35 legislative districts. The voters of each district elect one senator and two representatives, who represent each district in the Senate/House of Representatives. The term of office of the senators is four years, and that of the representatives is two years.

The highest court in the Judiciary is the South Dakota Supreme Court, composed of five justices. The term of office of persons who are elected for the first time as a judge of the Supreme Court is up to three years in length. At the end of this period, the population of the state, through a new vote, chooses between ending the term of this judge or allowing his position to continue. If he is re-elected, the judge in question is elected by the population of the state for a term of up to eight years, where after this period, a new vote is held again. It is divided into seven judicial districts, each composed of at least four judges. These judges are elected by the population of their districts for terms of up to 8 years. These judicial courts are headed by a chief justice, elected by the judges of their respective courts for terms of up to 8 years.

It is divided into 66 counties. Each of these counties is governed by a board of commissioners, composed of three to five members elected by the population of their respective counties for terms of up to four years in length. It has about 300 cities. These cities are free to choose their government structure. Most cities are governed by a mayor and a municipal council.

About 40% of the local budget is generated by state taxes, and the rest comes from budgets received from the federal government and from loans. In 2002, the state government spent 2.77 billion dollars, having generated 2.49 billion dollars. Government debt is $2.31 billion. The debt per capita is $3,036, the value of state taxes per capita is $1,285, and the value of government expenditures per capita is $3,647.

Since its creation and elevation to statehood in 1889, it has been dominated politically by the Republican Party. The state's first governor was a Republican. Historically, of every four people elected to the governor's office, three have been Republicans. Most politicians elected to legislative positions in cities and counties are also Republicans. At the national level, the majority of senators and members of the federal House of Representatives have been Republicans. Democrats only gained some strength in the 1950s, although Republicans remain dominant today.



Native people

The tribes based in South Dakota belong to the large language family of the Sioux and are assigned to the Lakota, Dakota or Nakota. They make up 20 percent of the population in some counties, e.g. B. West River. There are seven major Indian reservations in the state formed from portions of the West River Greater Sioux Reservation, Standing Rock Reservation, Cheyenne River Reservation, Pine Ridge Reservation, Rosebud Indian Reservation, Yankton Reservation, Crow Creek Reservation and Lower Brule Reservation. This large reservation was assigned to the once resident Sioux by the US government. Another large reservation is in the northeast of the state, the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation. There are also some smaller ones like the Flandreau Indian Reservation. The Indian tribes also own large areas outside of the reservations called off reservation trust land. South Dakota has the third highest percentage of Native Americans in the United States after Alaska and New Mexico.


Population and ethnic origin

South Dakota has 814,180 inhabitants (as of the 2010 census), of which 87.2% are white, 0.7% black and African American, 8.6% Native American, 0.9% Asian. 2.0% Hispanics. In 2000, 40% of the residents had German ancestors. The German language is still used by 1.8% of the population.



The first public school was founded in 1860, in Bon Homme, although this school was demolished just three months later, and its material used for the construction of a defense wall against indigenous attacks. In 1862, the Dakota Territory government created a public education system, and in 1864 the territory's first superintendent of public education was appointed. The first school built permanently was founded in 1865, in Vermillion. When the Dakotas were created, each continued to financially support all English language schools in the state. Later, the state also began providing budgets to schools that taught Native American languages on Indian reservations.

Currently, all educational institutions are required to follow the rules and regulations issued by the South Dakota State Board of Education. The Council is made up of nine members appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate, for periods of up to four years. Each major city (city), various secondary cities (towns), and each county is served by a school district. In cities, the responsibility for managing schools lies with the municipal school district, while in less densely populated regions, this responsibility lies with school districts operating throughout the county as a whole. Each school district has its own superintendents. South Dakota does not allow the operation of "charter schools," independent public schools that are not managed by school districts but rely on public budgets for their operation. School attendance is mandatory for all children and adolescents over six years of age, until the completion of secondary education or until the age of fifteen.

In 1999, the state's public schools served nearly 131,000 students, employing approximately 9,400 teachers. The private schools served about 9,400 students, employing approximately 700 teachers. The state's public school system consumed about $697 million, and public school spending was approximately $5.6 thousand per student. About 88.7% of the state's inhabitants over 25 years of age have a high school diploma.

The first public libraries were founded during the 1880s. Currently, the state has 126 different public library systems, which annually move an average of 8 books per inhabitant. The first institution of higher education founded in the state was Yankton College, founded in 1881, and closed in 1984. Currently, the state has 27 institutions of higher education, of which 14 are public and 13 are private. Of these institutions, 10 are universities and 17 are colleges. The largest university in the state is South Dakota State University.



Its gross domestic product was $23.12 billion in 2003. The state's per capita income, meanwhile, was $30,722. Its unemployment rate is 3.5%, the third lowest in the country, higher only than the unemployment rates in Hawaii and North Dakota.

The primary sector accounts for 8% of its GDP. Together, agriculture and livestock correspond to 8% of the GDP, and employ approximately 44 thousand people. The effects of fishing and forestry are minimal on the state's economy. Agriculture is one of the main sources of its income, no state in the United States depends as much on agriculture and livestock as South Dakota, and as a consequence, the percentage of the participation of the agricultural industry in the state GDP is the largest of any American state. The state has 33 thousand farms, covering approximately 90% of the state. It is one of the national leaders in the production of wheat, corn, sunflower seeds and bovine meat and milk, and has one of the largest bovine herds in the country.

The secondary sector contributes 18% of the GDP. Secondary industry accounts for 13% of the state's GDP and employs approximately 52 thousand people. The total value of products manufactured in the state is $5.5 billion. The main industrialized products manufactured in the state are electronic equipment in general, industrially processed foods, machinery, transportation equipment and petroleum products. The construction industry accounts for 4% of the state's GDP, employing approximately 28 thousand people. Mining contributes 1% of its GDP, employing about 1.6 thousand people. The main products are oil, granite and sandstone.

The tertiary sector accounts for 74% of its GDP. The state is a large financial center, which attracted various financial institutions through tax incentive programs. Financial and real estate services account for close to 20% of GDP, employing approximately 43 thousand people. Approximately 18% of the state's GDP is generated through community and personal services. This sector employs about 146 thousand people. Wholesale and retail trade, with 16% of GDP, employs approximately 111 thousand people. Government Services account for 14% of its GDP, employing approximately 71 thousand people. Transportation, telecommunications and public utilities employ 23 thousand people, and account for 8% of the GDP. About 56% of the electricity generated in the state is produced in hydroelectric plants. Most of the rest is generated in coal- or oil-fired thermoelectric plants.



The first railroad line connecting South Dakota with other regions of the country was inaugurated in 1872, in Vermillion. In 2002 it had 2,956 kilometers of railway lines. In 2003, it owned 134,683 kilometers of public roads, of which 1,093 kilometers were interstate highways, considered part of the United States federal highway system. Currently, two railroad companies provide freight transportation, but the state's Amtrak intercity network does not serve this state.

The busiest airport is Sioux Falls. Many airfields are scattered throughout rural areas of South Dakota, connecting more isolated regions to the rest of the state. Sioux Falls is the main road, rail and airport in the state.



The first newspaper, The Dakota Democrat, was first published in 1859, in Sioux Falls. For its part, the oldest newspaper in the state still in circulation is the Weekly Dakotian, a weekly newspaper printed for the first time in 1861, also in Sioux Falls, and which would become the current Daily Dakotian, with daily circulation, in 1875. Currently, about 125 newspapers are published in the state, of which nine are daily newspapers.

The first radio station was founded in 1922, in Rapid City. The first television station was founded in 1953, in Sioux Falls. There are currently 83 radio stations (of which 36 are AM and 47 are FM) and 19 television stations.



As a state of the United States, South Dakota is a semi-sovereign constituent entity with its own state-level institutions on the one hand and participation in the state-level institutions on the other.

The population of South Dakota is considered conservative. Republicans dominate and South Dakota is considered a classic red state.


State level

Republican Kristi Noem has been governor since 2019.

The state legislature is divided into a House of Representatives with 70 members and a Senate with 35 members. Because of the first-past-the-post system, South Dakota is divided into 35 Senate and 70 House constituencies. The Republican Party has a majority in both chambers (as of 2019).

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. It consists of a chief justice and four other judges.


Federal level

presidential elections
Republican candidates have consistently won presidential elections over the past few decades. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win South Dakota was conservative Southerner Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 election. The state provides three electors in presidential elections.

congressional elections
Like every state, South Dakota has two US senators and - due to the small population - only one representative in the US House of Representatives. South Dakota has been represented in the Senate by Republicans Mike Rounds and John Thune since 2015 and in the House of Representatives since 2019 by Republican Dusty Johnson.

As in North Dakota, its neighbor to the north, the prevailing combination of social conservatism and economic dependence on legislative subsidies for agriculture leads to a split in political allegiances: while Republicans have been the only victors in presidential elections since 1964, South Dakota has been the dominant force Democrats more often elected to Congress; the leader of the Senate Democrats until 2004, Tom Daschle, hails from South Dakota. George McGovern, who clearly lost to Richard Nixon in 1972 with an election campaign aimed at ending the Vietnam War, also came from this state.