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North Dakota State Flag North Dakota

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The Geography of North Dakota

Click here  for a few definitions.

Longitude / Latitude Longitude: 97°W to 104°W
Latitude: 45° 55'N to 49°N
North Dakota map
North Dakota base and elevation maps
Length x Width North Dakota is about 340 miles long and 211 miles wide.  
Geographic Center
Explanation
The geographic center of North Dakota is located in Sheridan County, 5 miles SW of McClusky.
Longitude: 100° 34.1'W
Latitude: 47° 24.7'N
 
Borders North Dakota is bordered by Canada on the north and by South Dakota on the south. On the east, North Dakota is bordered by Minnesota and on the west, North Dakota is bordered by Montana.
Total Area North Dakota covers 70,704 square miles, making it the 19th largest of the 50 states.
Land Area 68,994 square miles of North Dakota are land areas.
Water Area 1,710 square miles of North Dakota are covered by water.
Highest Point The highest point in North Dakota is White Butte at 3,506 feet above sea level.
Lowest Point The lowest point in North Dakota is the Red River at 750 feet above sea level.
Mean Elevation The Mean Elevation of the state of North Dakota is 1,900 feet above sea level.
Major Rivers James River, Missouri River, Red River
Major Lakes Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe

The Land

From east to west, North Dakota is divided into three geographic regions. In the east is the Red River Valley. To the west of the Red River Valley is the Drift Prairie. The southwestern half of North Dakota is covered by the Great Plains.

The Red River Valley is flat. It lies along the border of Minnesota and is one of the most fertile areas in the world. This area of North Dakota is farm country and wheat and other crops cover the area along with livestock.

To the west of the Red River Valley is the Drift Prairie, rising from 200 to 2,000 feet over the Red River Valley. The Drift Prairie is separated from the Red River Valley in the north by the Pembina Hills. This area is marked by rolling hills, stream valleys, and numerous lakes where thousands of ducks nest every year. In the north are the Turtle Mountains.

About half of North Dakota is covered by the Great Plains. The Great Plains, in the southwestern section of the state, rise about 300 to 400 feet above the Drift Prairie east of the Missouri River. The area is hilly and rich in mineral deposits. Along the Missouri River, the land is lower. This area is called the Missouri Break. To the south and west of the river is an area of rugged valleys and buttes called the Slope.

The Badlands lie in southwestern North Dakota. This strip of beautiful monuments to nature stretches about 190 miles and is about 6 to 20 miles wide. The Badlands are a valley of stone and clay where wind and water have shaped the land into strange and beautiful formations; buttes, pyramids, domes, and cones colored in shades of browns, reds, grays, and yellows. In some areas of the Badlands the rocks contain lignite coal that has been burning for many years. The clay above these coal beds has turned bright pink and red. White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota stands 3,506 feet above sea level in the Badlands.

( North Dakota Close-up )

Climate (All temperatures Fahrenheit)
Highest Temperature The highest temperature recorded in North Dakota is 121°, Fahrenheit. This record high was recorded on July 6, 1936 at Steele.
Lowest Temperature The lowest temperature in North Dakota, -60°, was recorded on February 15, 1936 at Parshall.
Average Temperature Monthly average temperatures range from a high of 84.4 degrees to a low of -5.1 degrees.
Climate Average yearly precipitation for North Dakota, from 1971 to 2000, is shown on this chart from Oregon State University.
Sources:
The World Almanac of the U.S.A. by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, Copyright © 1998
D. Jerome Tweton and Douglas C. Munski, "North Dakota," World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/394320, August 15, 2001.
The United States Geological Survey Website
Maps.com http://www.maps.com
To North Carolina geography. To Ohio geography.

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