South Dakota State Overview

State of South Dakota general data

  • Time zone: 7 hours less than Italy
  • Capital: Pierre
  • Main towns: Aberdeen, Brookings, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown.
  • Area: 199.732 km²
  • Population: 870,000 inhabitants approximately.
  • Population density: 4,35 residents / km²
  • State abbreviation: SD
  • Entry into the United States: It joins the United States on November 2, 1889, it is the 40th state to join the union.

South Dakota’s territory can be divided into four major physical regions: the Prairie, the Missouri Hills, the Great Plains, and the Black Hills. The state’s average elevation is 670m, with the highest point located on the summit of Mount Harney, (the highest mountain east of the Rocky Mountains), and the lowest at the bottom of Big Stone Lake. The territory rises from south-east to north-west rising from approximately 300m to 1,000m.

The Prairie region is part of the province of the central lowlands into which the North American subcontinent divides. It is a region of low hills formed during the glacial period. This region has rich soils for agriculture, especially in the James River Valley. The Missouri Hills region lies between the region just described and the Great Prairies; its land is unsuitable for agriculture (with the exception of those close to the Missouri river bank, where the state has the highest harvests), which is why it is generally used for cattle fodder. The Great Prairies region has slate and clay soil, and in some areas there is it is an abundance of forage, while other areas are very arid and have been heavily eroded by atmospheric agents. Finally, the Black Hills region is an area of ​​arid lands but which have valleys where silt brought by the streams that cross the territory has deposited and which has allowed exploitation for livestock use.

Virtually all of South Dakota’s rivers belong to the Mississippi-Missouri Basin. Tributaries of Missouri, (The main river that flows in the central part of the state from the far north to the southeast), are the James, Vermillion, Big Sioux, Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad and White rivers. The state’s major lakes lie along the Missouri River, created between 1956 and 1966 for flood control. The main reservoirs are the Oahe, the Sharpe, the Francis Case, the Lewis and the Clark. Other natural lakes are found in the Prairie region, with water in the spring and practically dry during the fall.

Flora and fauna– The flora includes the high vegetation of the eastern prairie and the low steppe grasses in the west; coniferous forests in the Black Hills and oak, elm, box and poplar forests along the rivers. The fauna includes pheasants, hares, coyotes, antelopes and bison.

Climate– South Dakota has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The average annual temperature varies between 5 ° C in the north-east and 9 ° C in the southwest. The average temperatures in summer throughout the territory fluctuate around 24 ° C. The extreme temperatures recorded in the South Dakota territory are -50 ° C and 49 ° C. The rainfall pattern shows similar variations between the north-west, where 380 mm of rain fall per year, and the south-east, where the annual average is 660 mm.


Pierre is the capital city of South Dakota, on the east bank of the Missouri River near the geographic center of the state, penultimate among the capitals of the United States by size. It is the administrative center of South Dakota and a distribution point for the surrounding agricultural region in which there are cattle ranches and grain crops.

Highlights include the 1910 South Dakota State Capitol, which has a grand marble staircase. A large display of Christmas trees opens in the Capitol on Thanksgiving. The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center is built into the side of a Missouri River escarpment. It traces the history of South Dakota’s Sioux tribes and gives information on the different ethnicities of the white pioneers who settled there. The Verendrye Museum, in Fort Pierre, is dedicated to French traders and explorers.

A school for Native American children is located in Pierre. The Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe are part of a major irrigation project for the region, and a Missouri River flood control aid is north of Pierre, and the Farm Island State Recreation Area is nearby..

The city was founded on the site of the fortified capital of the Arikara people. Fort Pierre developed as a site for the fur trade in the first half of the 19th century. After 1880, when Pierre became the terminus of the railway, it went through a period of rapid growth. In 1889, when South Dakota joined the Union, Pierre became the state capital.

South Dakota State Overview