South Dakota is situated in the western north central of the United States. The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing the state into two socially and economically distinct halves, known to residents as "West River" and "East River".
South Dakota has a total land area of 199,730 km², making the state the 17th largest in the Union. South Dakota is bordered to the north by North Dakota; to the south by Nebraska; to the east by Iowa and Minnesota; and to the west by Wyoming and Montana. Shaped roughly like a rectangle with irregular borders on the E and SE, South Dakota extends about 610 km E-W and has a maximum N-S extension of 394 km.
The centrally located city of Pierre serves as the state capital, and Sioux Falls, with over 140,000 people, is one of the largest cities in the state.
The Missouri River, the largest and longest river in the state, runs through the central part of South Dakota. To the east of the river lie low hills and lakes formed by glaciers.
Fertile farm country covers the area. To the west of the river the land consists of canyons and rolling plains. Other major South Dakota rivers include the Cheyenne, the James, the Big Sioux, and the White. South Dakota has many natural lakes, mostly occurring in the eastern part of the state.
Traditionally dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently required diversifying its economy in an effort to attract and retain residents. The state is still largely rural, while, with one of the lowest population densities in the United States.
The service industry is the largest economic contributor in South Dakota. This sector includes the retail, finance, and health care industries. Ellsworth Air Force Base, near Rapid City, is the second largest single employer in the state. Although other industries have expanded rapidly in recent decades, the five most valuable agricultural products in South Dakota are cattle, corn, soybeans, hogs, and wheat.
Agriculture related industries such as meat packing and ethanol production also have a considerable economic impact on the state. South Dakota is the sixth leading ethanol-producing state in the nation.
Another important sector in South Dakota's economy is tourism. Many people travel to view the attractions of the state, particularly those of the Black Hills region such as historic Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore, and the nearby state and national parks. One of the largest tourist events in the state is the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
South Dakota has a continental climate with four very distinct seasons ranging from typically very cold winters and hot summers. During the summers, the average high temperature throughout the state is close to 32 °C, although it often cools down to close to 16 °C at night.
Winters are cold with high temperatures in January averaging below freezing and low temperatures averaging below -12 °c in most of the state. Summers bring frequent thunderstorms which can be severe with high winds, thunder, and hail.
Average annual precipitation in South Dakota ranges from semi-arid in the northwestern part of the state around 381 mm to semi-humid around the southeast portion of the state around 635 mm, although a small area centered around Lead in the Black Hills has the highest precipitation at nearly 762 mm per year.
South Dakota Tourism offers many attractions and events located in South Dakota and throughout the Midwest. Exciting and international attractions such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, natural beauty of the Black Hills, Custer State Park, Badlands National park, rich culture, history and diverse landscapes.