North Dakota is a large, sparsely populated state. It was settled mainly by farmers of Scandinavian and German descent. North Dakota's population has scarcely changed since 1915, but its urban-to-rural ratio has changed dramatically over the years. One-sixth of the people in the state live in Fargo, and that figure is growing all the time.
For more than a decade, the state has had a strong economy, with unemployment lower than the national average, job and population growth, and low housing vacancies. Much of the growth has been based on development of the Bakken oil shale fields in the western part of the state, but it has also had growth in the technology and service sectors.
North Dakota's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture. Although less than 10% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking 9th in the nation in the value of crops and 18th in total value of agricultural products sold. North Dakota has about 90% of its land area in farms with 27,500,000 acres (111,000 km2) of cropland, the third largest in the nation.
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