Spotlight: Dakota County, Minnesota
Area: 587 square miles
Named for: Native American Dakota Sioux tribal bands
Cities included: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Coates, Eagan, Farmington, Hampton, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Miesville, New Trier, Northfield, Randolph, Rosemount, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, Vermillion, and West St. Paul.
County seat: Hastings
Largest city: Eagan
Dakota County is the third-most populous county in the state of Minnesota and is bordered by the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers and Wisconsin.
The county has a rich history including providing materials for the construction of Fort Snelling and the signing of the Treaty des Sioux which ceded land from the Dakota Nation for the Minnesota Territory. The Dakota and Ojibwa regard the area between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to be sacred.
Dakota County is one of the nine original counties of the Minnesota Territory and is currently about one third suburban and two thirds agricultural or open space.
Development and population growth have occurred steadily since the 1950s when Interstates 35W and 35E brought expansion and construction throughout the region.
Dakota County is home to several historic places including the settlement at Mendota and several homes and other sites. It is also home to some of Minnesota's largest school districts.
There are 10 libraries that make up the Dakota County library system as well as nine parks and recreation facilities.
Residents of Dakota County represent a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds making Dakota County the third-most diverse county in the metropolitan area after Ramsey and Hennepin. The non-white population has grown by more than 90% in the last ten years with a growing number of African American, Hispanic and Asian populations.